Miniature Ordnance Review looks at the world of historical and fantasy miniatures wargaming and model building. From 15mm Flames of War, to Warhammer 40K, to 1/35th scale tanks, with some potential surprises on the horizon - you'll find them here!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

All is Truly Quiet on the Martian Front

Roughly two months after the Robot Peanut / Alien Dungeon website went down - followed of course by the normal levels of rampant speculation on the internet, we finally got the following announcement via Kickstarter this morning:

Official Announcement

Posted by Alien Dungeon

We regret to announce that effective January 27th, 2016, Robot Peanut Studios, LLC, and its associated brands, Architects of War and Alien Dungeon have permanently closed their doors.

Our sales plummeted precipitously in the 3rd and 4th quarter of 2015 and never recovered across our online retail operations as well as hobby shop and distributor sales. We could not maintain our business under these conditions and despite a continuing series of sales and marketing efforts, we have been forced to file for bankruptcy. The case has been filed in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania at case number 16-20247. Please contact an attorney if you have any questions.

We set out six years ago to start a company providing exciting and entertaining intellectual property primarily in the analog gaming market. RPS began with miniature games with the intention of expanding to board and digital games. While the All Quiet Kickstarter project brought in significant sales for us, the cost of development, manufacturing, and shipping exceeded the sales numbers and we were relying on sales beyond the Kickstarter in the broader market to carry the costs and expand the game. These sales never materialized in sufficient quantities. It is just that simple - we sold stuff through the Kickstarter that essentially ended up just above cost and then paid for the shipping. All Quiet just didn’t generate enough money for its scale. In addition, our original cost estimates based on quotes and time frame from various vendors Pre-Kickstarter were exceeded, making the business model untenable without retail sales that never materialized.

We are very sorry that it has come to this. Certainly not the outcome we dreamed of when we started the company. To our investors, the Kickstarter supporters and our loyal customers, we’d like to thank you for your support. It has been difficult not communicating during this legal process, but we have had to go through a process and that has been well outside any of our previous experiences.

This will be our last communication. Customer service inquiries will not be answered and there will be no additional communication on Kickstarter. We do not know what the final disposition of All Quiet and or other product brands will be at this time. We have to forfeit our participation in such matters to the court.

Barb and I must move on and find employment and start putting our lives back together. To our friends, investors, vendors, and loyal customers, thank you for helping us try to fulfill our dream and we wish you the best possible future.

Yours Sincerely, Barb and Ernie

The original Kickstarter raised a little over $300,000 and had just north of 1000 backers. Unfortunately it is now absolutely clear that Alien Dungeon drastically over-committed themselves with their ambitious list of stretch goals which were unlocked like clockwork during the original campaign. Plastic molds (as was used for the tripods and steam tanks) are very expensive in terms of up-front cost, and only pay for themselves with large volumes - large volumes which apparently never materialized.

This whole experience is a cautionary tale for both Kickstarter backers and creators. Only companies with a strong business plan and a realistic appraisal of true costs will be able to successfully bring a product to market, even with the large infusion of capital a campaign like this generates.

Sadly at this point All Quiet on the Martian Front is now "owned" by the court, and its disposition is up to them. At this point if anyone is interested in following up on the disposition of the IP, molds, and any remaining game inventory, I'd advise contacting the Pennsylvania court and referencing the above case number. Honestly part of me wishes I had the money to buy the IP and see if there is a way to revive the game, but I know it will likely take a six figure investment to do that.

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