Here’s a story that got lost in the server outage yesterday: Topps has announced they are shutting down their WizKids division, effective immediately. Topps acquired the gaming company WizKids in 2003, after WizKids had already made a splash with HeroClix, the collectible figure superhero game, as well as subsequent releases HorrorClix, Halo, Star Wars and AVP games.
Scott Silverstein, CEO of Topps, said “This was an extremely difficult decision. While the company will still actively pursue gaming initiatives, we feel it is necessary to align our efforts more closely with Topps current sports and entertainment offerings which are being developed within our New York office.”
Upon notifying our partners, Topps will immediately pursue strategic alternatives so that viable brands and properties, including HeroClix, can continue without noticeable disruption. To that end, WizKids will continue supporting Buy it By the Brick redemptions for Arkham Asylum, and the December Organized Play events for HeroClix.
For consumer announcements, please refer to www.wizkidsgames.com over the coming days for further information.
HeroClix still has a loyal, money-spending following (Remember THE Galactus?), so it’s hoped that a new home will be found for the games. ICv2 speculates on possible suitors.
Among the topics arousing speculation is the possible landing place for the WizKids brands. There are only three other companies in the collectible miniatures game business at this time. Wizards of the Coast, which has several collectable miniature lines, including Dungeons and Dragons, Star Wars, and Axis and Allies, would seem to be a logical candidate because of its experience in handling licenses, its existing relationship with Lucasfilm (which licenses WizKids to produce its Star Wars Pocket Model Game), and its Seattle-area location, which would make it convenient to absorb any WizKids staff. But WotC recently revamped its D&D Miniatures, turning them into supporting pieces for the D&D RPG (see “WotC to Stop Supporting D&D Minis Skirmish Game”) and moving away from totally random packaging, making its appetite for collectible game acquisitions questionable.
While it’s easy to see WizKids’ sudden end as a product of the shrinking economy, a bad fit with Topps’ central business — cards and candy — was probably part of the issue as well. Topps was acquired by a company led by former Disney CEO Michael Eisner after a savage board struggle last year.
You know, some to think of it, when that deal was announced, Eisner threw around the idea of doing comic books. Did anything ever come of that?