There's a lot of Cyberpunk this year, with the upcoming 2077 video game and the update to the original RPG Cyberpunk Red. But you can never have too much and LimboDivision209's cyberpunk heroines look incredible, so we sat down with their creator Ed to talk about them, his inspiration, and what it's like to start a company in 2020.
TechRaptor: Tell us a little bit about the history of LimboDivision209. Where did the inspiration for starting LimboDivision209 come from and how did it all start?
Ed: There are a lot of fantasy-based pretty female miniatures in the market already, but a lack of sci-fi based designs. Limbodivision209 was created so people like myself can enjoy sci-fi Waifu and Mech at the same time.
After learning and training myself the fundamentals of concept design and sculpting software, I quit my architect job and founded LImbodivision209 Ltd.
TR: Where is your company/studio based? How many people does it have?
Ed: Limbodivison209 is based in New Zealand and I am the sole employee of it so far. The work is done through contracts with freelancers around the world. I think this is the best business model for entrepreneurs like myself.
TR: You mentioned you previously worked as an architect. Has it helped you with miniature design?
Ed: To be honest, I won’t recommend that my children go to a university if they have some clear passion for things they are good at. I think the majority of high-end education nowadays is unnecessary for people who have clear goals (except careers like lawyers or doctors). Most of the skills that I am using now are not from academic study.
However, the study at an art academy in Germany has provided me with very important insight in design. There are universal principles in all kinds of designs, such as the golden rule of form follows function. These can be applied to architectural designs, graphical designs, miniature designs, and many other design fields.
I think the more efficient way to utilize higher education is after one gets some experience in the field they want to do, then go to university to select the subjects they need, not for degrees, just the fields related to his/her goal.
TR: How difficult was it releasing your first miniature?
Ed: Not as difficult as you may think, I am lucky to know many excellent professionals: concept artists, sculptors, and manufacturing specialists. Additionally, my experience of design and long time modeling helped a lot too. Most importantly my lovely wife goes to work to support the family while I run the business.
TR: What’s your process for creating a project and how long is it from initial idea to finished piece?
Ed: It’s a process of looking for inspiration at the beginning and then finding good references. These will help the concept artist to quickly create some sketches of the project. After 3 or 4 rounds of design exchanges, we will finalize the concept design and pass it to the sculptor to build the 3d model. If I do the project by myself I will directly enter the 3d modeling phase after finding references, the designing and sculpting will happen at the same time.
The 3d printing and test casting will happen next after 3d modeling is completed. At this phase, I work together with the manufacturing specialist to pinpoint the potential problems for casting and go back to sculpting software to tweak the models so it will suit the requirement of manufacture.
The whole process usually takes several months.
TR: A lot of companies now are using crowdfunding to start projects. Was that a consideration for you?
Ed: I would like to use crowdfunding for larger projects such as a miniatures board game. It is not worth the effort if I want to release something every 2 or 3 months.
TR: How far ahead are you in terms of concepts and designs? Do you work from start to release on a project, or are you already designing the next project while completing the current?
Ed: We have several projects in the pipeline. Currently, the latest project is aiming for next year's August release. This provides redundancy in case we encounter unforeseen difficulties.
TR: You release your products both in 35mm and 75mm, which are slightly different markets in terms of gamers and hobbyists. Was it always the plan to offer products to both markets?
Ed: There are people like the scale of the miniatures to match their existing collections of other brands and be able to use them for tabletop games. 35mm is a good choice for better details and is able to have a good body proportion (compared to 28mm).
There are customers who like better details for painting purposes, the 75mm scale is more towards the needs of hobbyists.
What enables us to do both scales cost-efficiently is the digital design and 3d printing technology, we basically use the same 3d model for both scales, with some changes to suit the production requirement.
TR: Do you consider yourself more of a gamer or hobbyist?
Ed: I have a long history of building and painting models (since 1995), this hobby consumed more time than my academic study, but roughly the same as my gaming time. So I consider myself both.
TR: Do you have a world design for your miniatures? Are we going to see background lore or stories about it?
Ed: Yes, there is a world behind the characters, and I am gradually building it. There was an apocalypse and humans thrived again. In this new age, the form of modern countries disappeared, the society back to Feudalism. Once again kingdoms become the major entities on earth, thousands of small colonies each got their lord/knight to protect them. At the same time, advanced ancient technologies are scattered among these kingdoms and colonies, which become precious resources to trade with or fearsome weapons to one's foe. Mighty knights and their AI robot companions protect the colonies and fight enemies in the name of their king or queen.
I am planning to do short stories for this genre, there is a lot of potential to be explored in this world. It will reflect some of my thoughts on modern society and its future.
TR: Tell us about the latest projects you have next for pre-order. Where did the inspiration come from? Tell us about their characters?
Ed: Currently, we have Holly&Koni as our Halloween special and Tanya Shadowbane. Both available for pre-order now, and we aim to ship them out at the end of November.
Holly&Koni are experts on hunting the monster called Anoroc, they travel through different kingdoms to help people defeat this invisible creature.
Tanya Shadowbane was in the intelligence unit of Colonial Marines, she was discharged because she executed her target instead of surveillance. She then began her career as a bounty hunter and became quite successful at it.
Our next release after the current ones will be Kelly Speed with her trusty Warthog bike. Kelly is a well-born spoiled girl who finally finds the place where her talent shines. She also made some modifications to her ride: a portable fridge to store her booze, which helps her to drive unpredictably in combat.
Kelly is concepted by Pan Renwei and I designed/sculpted the Warthog. I always want to make a mono-wheel bike with some big guns on it. I tried to design it to be as functional as possible, such as weight balancing, pivot method, gun stabilizing, engine and gearbox, etc. Pan helped me to explore several options during the character design and I am very happy with the final result.
We are aiming to release Kelly in December.
TR: Which is your favorite of your previous projects?
Ed: It has to be Lancelot and MisswarmJ. This project has everything I love. A badass mech, hot waifu, and cosplay.
TR: You mentioned cosplay, what does it have to do with your miniature project?
Ed: Cosplay design is also one of my hobbies, and I have been doing it for several years. To have a cosplay of my miniature characters is a no-brainer choice for me. It’s a coincidence that I happened to see MisswarmJ’s work and love it, her body proportion even surpasses anime characters. So I contacted her and in the end, we agreed to shoot a cosplay set of my character, which is tailored for her.
I designed and ordered the costume and MisswarmJ did a fantastic job with it. So far the business model is that we give a discount code to each other’s products in our online stores. We will try to do more collaborations in the future.
TR: Some of your products have quite sexualized designs, why do you pick up this style, and are there criticisms on this particular style?
Ed: There were some criticisms for sure, similar to the infamous “where are her organs?”. I am happy those people aren’t my customers. While we all know the trending of feminism and the anti-sexualization movement through the mainstream entertainment industry. I won’t pretend to stand on the moral high ground and tell everyone how we should not interfere with art for reasons of political correctness. In reality, this kind of trend actually benefits small profile businesses like mine, while bigger brands shy away from spiced character designs, we are not restricted and able to explore this area freely.
TR: Are sci-fi designs as popular as fantasy ones in the miniature market?
Ed: No, they are not. The difficulty and risk in sci-fi designs are much higher than fantasy themes. It is easier to design a fantasy warrior's armor by looking at some real medieval examples as reference. Not that you can draw the exact shape of it, but the looks of such items are imprinted in our culture and everyone usually knows what they are and the functions of them. So when you have similar armor in your designs, it’s easier to communicate with the audience.
On the opposite side, far fewer people know what a plasma engine should look like, thus making the sci-fi designs harder to tell by only looking at them. This usually results in the style like Star Wars and Warhammer 40K, where most designs have some origin to historical items or people, so the designs can be understood better. Even though they are supposed to be built/living in the future.
However, on the light side, by doing more hardcore sci-fi designs we have fewer competitors than traditional fantasy themes and other half sci-fi themes like steampunk. As long as we provide the audience with high-quality designs, I believe we will have steady growth.
TR: What’s next for LimboDivision209? What are the future plans?
Ed: We are planning to release new miniatures every two months in the near future, to bring more cool looking characters and vehicles to our customers.
For the far future plan, a good friend from the film and gaming industry is working together with me to create a video game, which will be set in the universe of my miniature series. This is a bold plan that aims to create a unique world where we can have cool designs of sci-fi vehicles and characters. Currently, everything is still in a very early concept phase, I will release more news once we have a prototype demo.
TR: With the video game project, what made you decide to go for digital instead of a miniature board game, which your products are more related to?
Ed: I was planning a board game in the beginning. However, the recent international political tensions between China and the western world will have a huge impact on the board game industry in near future. Since most of the board games are manufactured in China currently, the decoupling will force the business shift to other countries in about 2-3 years, which will cause great uncertainty. If I start to design a board game now, there is a high chance it will come out at the wrong time. At the same time a good friend of mine in the gaming industry is willing to collaborate with me to do an indie game. So I think it’s time for me to learn some new things, such as game engines and related softwares.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that we can’t have a miniature board game or war game in the future when the dust is settled down.
TR: Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us Ed.
You can pre-order Holly&Koni and Tanya Shadowbane from the LimboDivision209 store now, as well as all their other incredible miniatures in both 35mm and 75mm. We will be previewing both Holly&Koni and Tanya Shadowbane on TechRaptor in the very near future.