As many of you have noticed, Kickstarter and other Cloud Funding sites are all the rage right now. For the most part, Kickstarter produces products and services that wouldn’t find funding any other way. But now, established companies are getting in the game to mine the veritable gold found in Cloud Funding. At this point, Mantic, Reaper, and even Penny Arcade have produced Kickstarters– only a matter of time before we see Pepsi joining their ranks?
Whatever you think of Kickstarter, it has produced some truly pointless and obvious money grabbing projects.
One such project is Blue Table Painting’s “Turbo Army” Kickstarter. Blue Table Painting is one of the largest and oldest painter for hire miniature companies, they produce average paint jobs are semi-reasonable prices. Now, I have never met Shawn Gately owner of BTP, but I can say I have met his sisters wives, and they were extremely personable. The “Turbo army” project is designed as a way for BTP to raise funds in order to have pre-made armies ready to sell. They are offering no new services, no new materials, just the same stuff they have always done.
Pledges are nothing more than discounted services they already provide! The best pledges can get you painting DVDs that they are producing for the first time. So why not make a Kickstarter for DVD videos? Why “Turbo Armies” especially when they already sell Pre-made armies?
Even if, they were truly serious about “Turbo Army”, the idea of the whole project screams Kickstarter bandwagon jumping. Looking deeper though this could be an attempt to save the company, here are some recent posts and emailers.
Forge World Order Needed
Looking for a client to place a FW order for us. You order the models and tell us the USD amount. We give you a credit for service for that amount plus 20%. So a $500 order would give you a $600 credit. It’s awesome!
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you can do it. The minimum is $400 USD out to make the Express ship minimum. We need $2300 USD ordered but you can do part or all as you see fit.”
Mix 1 part BTP anonymous painter claiming “they don’t even have the money to order the models and supplies needed for current orders” and 1 part BTP looking for a prospective client to BUY Forge World models for the studio (to the tune of a $2300.00 order), stir and chill. Result? Well, doesn’t that lead a reader to conclude BTP may very well be AT LEAST $2300.00 in debt/behind on obligations?
Followed by this…
” Hero of the Imperium 2012
All right folks, here are the details. Contact email@example.com if interested or if you have questions.
This is a limited offer; there is only two golden slots left. This is the absolute best special that BTP offers, and we don’t do it very often. Indeed, it’s possible that we may never offer them again.
You get a $5,000 credit to be used for painted/finished figures for $3000.
You get a $2,500 credit to be used for painted/finished figures for $1600.
Once you pay, the credit becomes available by by degree each month, starting thirty days after you pay, at the rate of minimum 1/10 the total amount per month over the course of five months. I sometimes fulfill them at a faster rate.
This credit cannot be used to pay off current or past projects. It’s only for new, future projects.
On a case-by-case basis you can also pick up second-hand armies we have for sale.
It’s the ultimate bulk deal. I personally guarantee to uphold my end of the bargain. I give you my word to act in good faith. No shenanigans.
Please contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.
There are a few conditions. The credit is can be used for materials (ie the models/kits) but those need to be assembled and painted by BTP as part of the deal (ie you can’t just have us mail you kits). Some miniatures lines are not available through this deal (eg Forge World).
If you are dis-satisfied in any way, you agree to notify us and let us make reasonable amends. This deal is subject to our normal Terms of Service in our service guide.
The normal discounts for materials are not cumulative with this credit.
You can also send your own models to be painted. You don’t need to get them through BTP.
The credit can only be used for commonly available materials (for example: not Forge World).
This special is the best deal offered to date. It is not cumulative with other specials. Exceptions: L2, Tank Factory, and Artistic License (those specials are cumulative with this one). Other specials/deals or whatever work with this one only at BTP’s discretion.
BTP can reasonably clarify or amend unclear areas of the deal. There are always little gremlins that get in works. We both agree to be reasonable.
Besides the whole kind of scamy nature of these advertisements, the real bombshell came from a soon to fired employee that puts everything together.
I’m a BTP employee and will remain nameless for obvious reasons. Most of the critical observations in this thread are indeed accurate.
The Kickstarter is indeed a money grab, and a desperate one at that. BTP is a slowly failing business that is going further into debt by the day. Much of the debt is in the form of credit owed to its customers. Many weeks they don’t even have the money to order the models and supplies needed for current orders, even though 50% down payments were made. Those down payments are often spent on previous orders and payroll. I hope for the sake of the Kickstarter supporters that it fails because much of the money will be spent before Kickstarter obligations are met.
I can verify most of what Trojan has said of his experience at BTP. I’m sorry you wasted your time and money, I wish I could warn others before they do the same. But you did get a glimpse of the real BTP. I don’t know why you wern’t hired, but you should be gratefull that you weren’t. I really feel sorry for the guys that relocate out here and get stuck. The ones that rent from BTP are really in a tight spot.
I actually feel a bit sorry for Shawn as well. I don’t know that he is outright dishonest. He has grand dreams of Shawnland, and lives there to much to actually manage a successful business.”
Then to add injury to insult we have some dubious employment practices from one “trial employee”,
I was paid $8.00 an hour. I was there 8 AM to 7-8 PM Mon-Thu and 8-noon Fri but claimed only 40 hours because overtime was not authorized. I was told at 1130 AM on Friday by Josh that I was not authorized overtime and that “they” wanted to talk to me later. I took the hint and packed my stuff and left. I drove straight through back to Texas 22 hours, calling my wife on the way to tell her I was heading home and that she had been right (ugh).
My cost for the entire trip to/from plus lodging was over $1,000.
I was initially interviewed by Shawn via Skype. Art Director Josh sat in. Shawn asked the questions and after each question, he would mute the mic and lean over to Josh and interpret to him the meaning of my response. Several times he missed the mute and I should have known then to forget it, but I was sucked in by what I took to be an opportunity I might one day regret not going for.
In one instance during the interview, in response to question Shawn asked about my willingness to work for what they were paying, I told him that I get a disability retirement check from the military that gives me a bit of a cushion. He asked me to wait and talked to Josh – without muting – about how careful you have to be hiring disabled people and all the ADA rules. So in my opinion he might have just offered me the trial to be safe but never had any intention of keeping me on. Too bad for him, though, he would have received a $14,800 tax break for hiring a disabled vet.
At the end of the Skype interview – about 35 minutes – they invited me out for a trial.
They sublet a 4 bedroom house and rent out the rooms (part of Hollingsgate or whatever they call their joint real estate venture that also runs Valhalla). I was told by Shawn it was $15.00/night when interviewed but it turned out Sarah charged me $25.00 (better than $65 for a hotel, but still not what they had told me).
My accommodation was a small room with no furniture other than a single-wide bed with a sleeping bag on top of the mattress. I signed a 3 or 4 page rental agreement for 6 nights. I left Friday so did not use 2 nights I paid in advance for. Of course they kept the money. I returned the key to the house but never got my $10.00 key deposit back either.
I was referred to as “newbie” by a several people. Few introduced themselves, though I must admit I really like Mrs. Gately, whose sunglasses I repaired. She was very nice. So was Jon.
I was never invited out to lunch or over to anyone’s house or out gaming. Never met with Shawn and he skipped right past me during his famous Studio Updates. The only time we spoke was in passing. A few of the others were just downright rude.
Though Josh called me “Padawan” once or twice, I was never taught anything. Oh, he did once ask me why I was using my own brushes and straight away brought me over a fistful of hobby brushes more suited to painting a mural than a miniature. I did not use them. .. I couldn’t.
I’ve been painting miniatures since 1987, but was willing to learn some new stuff but got nothing. I think that I painted as good or better than anyone there from what I saw – and as fast – but did not really get a good feel for the talent level because of the assembly-line-hurry-up-nature of the place.
I received an art scholarship when I was 10 years old. I have B.S. degrees in history and art. I am a hard worker. I’ve done work for the Smithsonian and for numerous museums and private individuals,
but looked forward to learning what they had to teach me. I have 25 years miniatures painting experience. I worked for President Bush for 2-1/2 years taking care of all of his art and memorabilia. I was a museum curator for 5 years. But apparently I fell short.
Those are the facts and an opinion or two. Can’t say much more than that. I do know that BTP has a huge painter turnover issue and must need painters bad. Check out the recent group photo on the BTP blog. Only 4 or 5 out of the 16 people in the picture are full-time painters.
I cannot say more for fear of violating one of the numerous non-disclosure forms I was instructed to sign (they did manage to find time for that).
Besides the terrible experience, I cannot believe that BTP runs a sweatshop motel for folks to stay at!? That is some serious third world shit!
This leads me to believe that BTP is attempting to raise capital in order to save the company and using Kickstarter as a “loan” all of which is pretty reprehensible.
If you want more gory details just check out the TGN thread or the Dakkadakka thread that have popped up! There are a lot of quotes including some BTP tax issues from the past…
As I said before I don’t know Shawn Gately, but this does sounds very similar to a certain cut foam snake oil salesmen everyone has grown to love…
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