Hi guys, It is a week away from the biggest Toy Soldier show of the year. But if you are like me, you can’t make the trip to Chicago. Usually I search the internet before and right after the show to see if I can pick up some new information on the hobby. Usually for the most part, the new releases or previews are done at the Chicago Toy Soldier Show. So besides searching the internet, I am doing some of my our research.
The past week I had asked Ken Ciak a few questions and then followed up on some others to create this blog article. It was a thrill to chat with Ken and learn more about him and his company LOD ENTERPRISES. So let us begin.
“LOD Enterprises is a manufacturer and distributor of plastic collectible toy soldiers. The firm, based in Green Bay, WI, draws on the rich history of plastic soldiers and playsets to create new figure sets for the collector’s market. The company started in 2014 with Ken Ciak as its managing member.”
This year LOD will have Set # 3 of the War with Troy, and previews and some pieces of the Ancient Warship & Trojan Horse available.
Warhorse Miniatures: Hi Ken, I would like to thank you for taking some time to answer a few questions. I would like to say that I like your figures and what you have done for the hobby.
Ken Ciak: Thank you for the opportunity to discuss for a few minutes about the figures and accessories from LOD Enterprises. I appreciate the compliment about the War at Troy figures. It has been very rewarding working with a lot of talented people who more than help to make my vision and ideas a reality. The response from collectors has been great and motivates me to keep working hard to create more figure sets.
Warhorse Miniatures: Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in all of this?
Ken Ciak: My background would not directly lead anyone to think of me to enter into the toy soldier hobby. I am part of the three & three-quarters inch Star Wars generation so while toy soldiers were still readily available, my focus with toys and collecting changed mightily in 1977. That being said, I always enjoyed toy soldiers and playsets. I like the ability to have a full complement of figures and diorama pieces all in one box. I purchased a couple of American Revolution sets from Classic Toy Soldiers in 2010 and 2011 before grabbing the TSSD Romans and Barbarians set when Nick and DeAnna released it.
Warhorse Miniatures: What was the hardest part about getting started?
Ken Ciak: The hardest part of getting started actually turned out to be relatively easy as soon as I started reaching out to people in the hobby and toy soldier community. I had zero idea of how to go about it but found that people at the Toy Soldier Show in Chicago were always approachable and willing to help. My initial thought was to get either Nick or Ron Barzso to create a set where I would be willing to invest to have my Trojan War playset made by one of them. I certainly over simplified the process, but found both of them (along with many others including Bill McMaster) able to guide me through the process. Three years later, I am no expert and still learning with each day but the journey has been fun and introducing a new set is gratifying as the previous one.
Warhorse Miniatures: I like the adventure that you have taking us with the War with Troy series. First the Walls of Troy and some figures, then you expanded with Chariots and additional figures. Lastly character figures, the Trojan horse and now a galley. Has our journey finished or has it just begun?
Ken Ciak: Thank you for sharing that you are enjoying the War at Troy adventure. The Iliad is one of my favorite books and I remember reading a version of the Trojan War in the 6th grade and being hooked. The story is rich with characters, both mortal and immortal, and filled with action. The journey is not over as there are additional figures and accessories in the pipeline for development.
Warhorse Miniatures: So what new line of figures would you start or what do you think you might do in the future?
Ken Ciak: As for future releases, there are a few ideas that the sculptor and I are working on. There will be another War at Troy figure set that will combine characters and possibly allies of the Trojans (Amazons). I would like to release a WWII figure set in the next couple of years. We have also kicked some ideas around for a Christmas set that is not a toy soldier set, but would include Santa, elves, and reindeer and aimed more towards kids.
Warhorse Miniatures: I am happy to see that you are now producing some figures that were originally produced by Barzso Playsets. Any other Barzso sets that you might produce in the future?
Ken Ciak: The Barzso figure sets are wonderful and I am honored/humbled to be able to continue to market them. Ron has done a tremendous job in the hobby and been a great guy to visit with and discuss opportunities. We had talked last fall about the Revolutionary War and Robin Hood figure sets and re-releasing them. Ron had them made at the same factory in Hong Kong (Eastcorp Toys) that the War at Troy sets are produced. I liked the opportunity to expand into two other eras, especially two eras that I enjoy. Also to do so with a popular and well-done brand of Barzso Playsets. It has worked out well for me and the market has been very responsive to having all four of the figure sets available again. Ron and I have spoken about some other sets and there is a possibility of producing another one or two in the future.
Warhorse Miniatures: What other Barzso sets do you think you might produce in the future?
Ken Ciak: Regarding Ron Barzso, I had an opportunity to visit with him yesterday and we are going to discuss some figure sets at the Chicago Show. I am excited about the opportunity and they will be new figure sets. We will announce the subject and details next weekend. As for his older sets, they will not be recast by LOD Enterprises at this time.
Warhorse Miniatures: Great News!!! Will the figures from you and Barzso be a new subject or an existing theme from Barzso? Also do you think it will be one or two different sets?
Ken Ciak: The figures with Barzso will be an existing theme and there will be multiple sets. Ron and I are going to hash out the details on Thursday when I arrive and I think he/we will announce it right away after that. Our trading rooms are close so I am hoping it creates some buzz with the weekend traffic.
Warhorse Miniatures: Thanks Ken, is there anything else you would like to talk about regarding LOD Enterprises.
Ken Ciak: I appreciate the opportunity to talk about LOD Enterprises and our time in the toy soldier arena. It has been a quick three years. We are continually working to improve our product and introduce plastic soldiers to fans of all ages. We are working on a set of rules for war gamers (hoping for an early 2018 release) and will continue to expand on the successful figure sets we offer.
New Sets, Ancient Warship & Trojan Horse
War of Troy Set # 1
War of Troy Set # 2
War of Troy Set # 3
Walls of Troy
Ok guys, I am going to wrap this up. This article took me longer to prepare than I thought it would. I am still learning about the blogging and try out new features. I hope everyone enjoyed the article. Here are a few tip bits and some new things that I decided to add at the end.
I am excited to hear about the news with LOD and Barzso. Plus to see what other future items the LOD comes out with. Right now LOD is one the most interesting companies, I feel good with them continuing on making quality products for years to come. The wargaming rules for his figures sounds promising, and maybe it gets some new collectors into our market. Me and Ken talked about a few other things, he likes read about history. When we talked about the WWII figures, I mentioned on how collectors are with uniforms and weapons. They expect more when it comes to recently eras. I am glad to hear from him that he will take his time to get the details right with these future figures.
Warhorse Miniatures: I think making toy soldiers is hard. I mean that sometimes it is hard to make collectors happy. If you do make a WWII figures, collectors want to see both sides made together. I have been waiting for some new Japanese soldiers for years now.
Ken Ciak: That is one of the most appealing aspects of the hobby is working hard to achieve a set with appropriate details even for the most discerning customer. I will be taking my time to make sure I have all of the details down for the WWII set. The Bronze Age and the Iliad have a been a passion for a long time so many of the aspects are “easy” for me to gather from a research and knowledge standpoint.