WizKids

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WizKids/NECA LLC
Type Private
Industry Collectible miniatures games developer and publisher
Genre Collectible Gaming
Founded July 2000
Founder(s) Jordan Weisman
Headquarters New Jersey, U.S.
Area served Worldwide
Key people Justin Ziran
Products Mage Knight, HeroClix, MechWarrior, Pirates Constructible Strategy Game, Halo ActionClix, Star Trek: Attack Wing
Parent NECA
Website www.wizkidsgames.com

WizKids/NECA, LLC is an American New Jersey-based company that first made its mark in the game industry producing collectible miniatures wargames. WizKids was purchased by and is a subsidiary of National Entertainment Collectibles Association. The company was founded in 2000 by Jordan Weisman, a veteran of the game company FASA.[1] It was purchased by sports-card manufacturer Topps, Inc. in 2003.[2] (Topps was, in turn, acquired by Michael Eisner's Tornante Company and Madison Dearborn Partners in 2007.)

WizKids was acquired by NECA in September 2009.[3]

History[edit]

WizKids was best known for its collectible miniatures games (or CMGs) Mage Knight, HeroClix, MechWarrior, and HorrorClix, all of which made use of the company's Clix system, in which the changing combat statistics and abilities of each figure were indicated by a turnable dial inside the base underneath the figure. Their last CMG was Halo ActionClix (based on the console game Halo), released in August 2007.

WizKids was founded in 2000 by Jordan Weisman, previously of FASA, to publish Mage Knight. Mage Knight was the first collectible miniatures game. Early employees joining Jordan in this endeavor were his wife Dawne, who led the company's graphic design; his father Mort, who ran international sales; his brother-in-law Ray, who ran domestic sales; and Jenny (Trisko) Berg, previously of Bungie, who was in charge of marketing.

In 2001 the company went from being "virtual" to having its own office in Bellevue, WA. Employees had previously been spread through Washington, Illinois, and Missouri. Mage Knight was selling as fast as it could be made, and the company moved into the hobby's list of 10 largest publishers. The employee count went up to over 30, including Don Gorski, COO; Tom Virgin, CFO; Martin A. Stever, Executive V.P; and Marc Sachnoff, President of WizKids Licensing and Media, who made the innovative deals bringing together the Marvel and DC comics character universes into the HeroClix line.

Though they proved less successful, WizKids also produced the short-lived CMGs Crimson Skies, Shadowrun Duels, and Creepy Freaks, as well as a baseball-themed CMG called MLB SportsClix. A CMG called ToonClix was announced in March 2006, but canceled before it was released.

Example of a Clix figure

In July 2004, WizKids created a new product category with the release of their first constructible strategy game (or CSG), Pirates of the Spanish Main, featuring miniature ships assembled from pieces punched out of styrene cards. Their next CSG was a science fiction game called Rocketmen, released in the summer of 2005, followed by a NASCAR CSG called RaceDay later that year, though these last two games were discontinued shortly after. By 2007, WizKids was also calling some of their releases involving CSG elements "PocketModel" games, beginning with the Star Wars PocketModel game.

In 2005, WizKids released their first collectible card game, High Stakes Drifter, which was discontinued after its initial set. In May 2006, they released their second CCG, a licensed game based on the reimagined Battlestar Galactica TV series.

WizKids entered the board game market with a board game called Tsuro in 2005, followed in 2006 by Oshi and Pirates: Quest For Davy Jones' Gold, a board game based on the Pirates constructible strategy game.

The company also owned the rights to the role-playing games Shadowrun and Classic Battletech, which they licensed to FanPro in 2001. Later in 2007, the franchise was licensed to InMediaRes, the games' publisher.[4] A game created by the company called Zypods (with a physical structure similar to Matryoshka dolls) had a limited release, but was never distributed nationwide.

Topps Shuts Down WizKids[edit]

The Topps Company announced on Monday, Nov. 10 2008 that it would be closing down WizKids and discontinuing product lines including HeroClix. Topps CEO Scott Silverstein commented "This was an extremely difficult decision. But in light of the current economic conditions, we feel it is necessary to align our gaming initiatives more closely with Topps current sports and entertainment offerings which are already being developed within our New York office."

In the statement announcing the close of WizKids, Topps also indicated that it was pursuing alternatives to discontinuing brands so that brands such as HeroClix could continue on without any noticeable disruption in future product offerings.

Continuation and NECA Purchase[edit]

At the July 2009 San Diego Comic-Con, National Entertainment Collectibles Association (NECA) was showing off a Thor figure for Heroclix, indicating that they might be the new parent company for WizKids. On September 14, 2009, NECA announced that they had purchased the assets of WizKids from The Topps Company. NECA will be continuing the HeroClix family of games under the WizKids brand. The WizKids assets sold did not include Shadowrun and Battletech, which were retained by Topps Inc.

The "Buy It By the Brick" retail promotion returned with the Marvel HeroClix: Hammer of Thor set. Unlike previous offerings, the promotional figure (Ragnarok Surtur) was available with the 10-pack brick purchase at retail locations, rather than through mail-in redemption.[5] With the following set DC HeroClix: Brave and the Bold the promotional figure (a Batman and Catwoman duo-figure) returned to redemption through WizKids/NECA, though this time done online.

Spider-Man swinging through the air, attached to a black base.
Spider-Man on a HeroClix base.

Partnership with MFV[edit]

In April 2013, WizKids announced that they would be working with MFV in order to release TabApp Elite. This helped to integrate figures with the Combat Dial System into digital form. Releases for TabApp include the sort of comic book properties that WizKids is known for, such as Spider-Man, Man of Steel, and others.

Storyline Organized Play[edit]

Beginning with The Infinity Gauntlet in 2012, WizKids began to implement Storyline Organized Play programs. These programs would let gamers go to their local store once a month to play in an event that built up to a grand finale. Players are typically rewarded for attending multiple events before the finale. Storyline Organized Play themes have included No Man's Land for DC, Fear Itself for Marvel, The Dominion War for Star Trek, and others. WizKids continues to implement tweaks to their Storyline Organized Play programs.

Production[edit]

WizKids produces both licensed and first-party games. Many of the games WizKids utilize include patented elements like the Combat Dial System. WizKids produces both physical items, like HeroClix, as well as digital transliterations, like Quarriors! for IOS.[6]

Games and products[edit]

Board Games[edit]

Books[edit]

Collectible Card Games[edit]

Collectible miniatures games[edit]

Constructible Strategy Games[edit]

Pocketmodel Games[edit]

Awards[edit]

Board Game Geek[edit]

2012 Golden Geek Best Thematic Game: Mage Knight Board Game[8]

Diamond Comic Distributors Gem Award[edit]

2010 Game Product of the Year for DC HeroClix Blackest Night Starter Set

Origins Awards[edit]

2010 Best Miniature Figure or Line of Miniature Figures of the Year for Marvel HeroClix Hammer of Thor Expansion

2011 Best Miniatures Game Rules of the Year for DC HeroClix Blackest Night Starter Game

2013 Best Miniature Figure Line of the Year for Marvel HeroClix: Galactic Guardians

2013 Best Family, Party, or Children’s Game of the Year for Quarriors! Dice Building Game

2013 Best Miniature Rules of the Year for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Campaign Starter Set

References[edit]

External links[edit]