Monday, September 28, 2009

[ 08 / 16 / 05 ] R.I.P. Phigs Miniatures

I really haven't said much publicly about my rather sudden closure of Phigs a couple
of weeks ago. For the most part, this is simply because the whole thing didn't really
call for theatrics or mourning at this point. Still, I've gotten quite a lot of emails
since wondering about what happened, and, mostly, wondering if there were still any
figures left.

The latter question is now easier to answer than the former - there were, but there
aren 't any more now. You had your chance, then you had a last chance, now they're
gone.that 's really all I'll say on the subject.

To the question of "why?" I'll be somewhat more verbose and a lot less trite (or the
other way around), if only because people seem to have entirely the wrong impression
about the whole thing.

First and foremost, despite the conclusion of this chapter of the story being rather
sudden, it does not mean anything actually changed in my life recently. Everything is
fine, the family and the sculptor are all well and quite happy, but thanks for the
concern, however unnecessary.

Truth is, it's been done for months, I just forgot to turn off the lights.

What cannot be forgotten along the by and by is that Phigs should never have been
anything more than a hobby. I think it got started as more or less just that, but it
got delusions of grandeur somewhere along the way. It was supposed to be just a bit of
fun, a way to make miniatures that I wanted to play with and maybe get you guys to pay
the casting costs. If it had never been anything more than that, i may have liked it
more. My first mistake was making the Valkyries.

It seems a little odd to hang such a yoke upon the only release Phigs ever had that
turned an actual profit, but the fact of the matter is that I didn't really have any
particular interest in the concept - but I knew they would sell, they were half-naked
norsewomen after all. Selling them was my motivation for making them, not my own
interest or artistic cravings. Sure, they sold, quite a few, actually, but they
changed the entire Phigs experience forever. When I turned around and released a team
that I desperately wanted for myself, the Gnolls, and they failed financially by any
comparison, I found myself increasingly torn between what interested me and what
could provide what was ultimately a trivial increase in my pocket change. Releases
bounced back and forth between things I actually wanted to make and things that I
thought I had to make and at the end of the day, what I wasn't doing is enjoying my
hobby. I was sacrificing all of my available hobby time, and almost all of my
potential hobby joy to a miniatures line that at its most capitalist excess could
barely pay half of the bill for my new computer.

I think I lost interest with the Black Widows. They were such an obviously formulaic
and immature effort aimed at the lowest of basal urges to be found amongst our hobby
that I must profess rather profound embarrassment to have attached my name to them in
the first place, all things considered. The last nail in the coffin was the complete
failure of the multi-part humans. As this episode of the comic suggests, I had come to
find criticism of the paucity of poses available to small operation like mine to be an
almost infuriating nuisance - when I struck out in a rather expensive direction
specifically designed to rectify that specific and omnipresent complaint only to have
the entire effort find an audience devoid of either interest or excitement, I knew it
was over.

it wasn 't just me, then, clearly you guys were bored too. Sure, I was over here
playing the frustrated artist churning out functionality instead of inspiration, but
people weren 't buying either anymore anyway. I think that people started to take it
all for granted. When I first started Phigs, there was a desperate novelty to it. You
guys grabbed the stuff up quickly when it came out and clutched at it like some
wondrous new gift no matter what they happened to be. The idea of independent
football-themed miniatures was still essentially unexplored in 2001, and I think that
everyone assumed it was going to be a brief aberration at most. My lazy tenacity
ultimately undid that initial wonder. When the Razorbacks were still available almost
four years later, the reception to anything new was going to be marginal at best. The
public rightly assumed that the figures would just be around forever, and if they
didn 't feel like dropping their cash on them this week, they could just get around to
it at some indefinite point in the distant future. And what's more, by releasing a few
things every year, that same public which no longer felt any particular compulsion to
act also felt no particular need to settle for what I felt like making. Instead of
buying just about anything simply because it was new and different also rightly began
to act like more rational consumers and were only buying what really interested them,
which, increasingly, was not anything I was making. Somewhere along the way, other
people started making football themed figures as well, the looming parent company
started providing new official miniatures to muddy the pool even more, and the whole
scene degenerated into a morose, stagnant pond of complete indifference from both
sides of the sales counter.

So , that 's where we were two weeks or so ago. I had a line of figures I didn't really
feel like selling which you didn't really feel like buying. I couldn't even hang onto
my previously ill-placed neurotic pursuit of some sort of life-affirming immortality
through creation anymore once I'd discovered that all of that comes from your kids
instead. It was done. Time to finally turn off the light. And so, I did. Phigs didn't
fall to market forces or personal tragedy, it fell to mutual disinterest. No use
crying over that, then.

And that was the end of it, it was indeed done. Nothing more, nothing less, and I am
completely at peace with the situation. If Phigs had really failed, if I still needed
some sort of ego-stroke from it, if there was still any vitality left in it, maybe it
would be different, but at the end of the day, there is simply nothing more for me to
get from it and the continued trickle of orders, and the accompanying special
out-of-the-way trips to the post office were becoming something I was more annoyed by
than buoyed by. Phigs was supposed to be a hobby, a hobby that annoys you has little
chance of justifying itself.

So, maybe I'm more than just OK with the end, then, I'm in a way a little relieved.
Relieved to be free from the agonizing over what to make next, getting frustrated with
the lack of time available, having to go to the post office, yadda yadda yadda...

Truth be told, I'm going to enjoy actually just painting miniatures again.