I like what Paizo is doing with Pathfinder, in particular, the way they are leveraging other products and the 3rd Ed SRD in order to put together a new, composite product -- and sell the hell out of it.
What Paizo has shown us with Pathfinder is what Wyrd Miniatures showed us with Malifaux. You can have the nicest minis in the world sitting around, but unless you've a game of some sort to go with them, gamers tend not to be interested. To be fair, Reaper really should have got off their butts and sorted this out well before Paizo did it: it's a bit like if GW did hohum sales until the Warstore decided to create a game called "Warhammer Forty Thousand" and "Sigmar, What A Guy").
What this means for us out here is that there's more character painting to be done -- and its needs to be done in volume, cheaply, and quickly.
You would think character mini painting is a much bigger challenge than painting blocks of uniform figures, and you would be right. There are no efficiencies in painting, scale, or design. Figures need individualized attention not only from the painter but from me and Suraj (design), and this simply is not scaleable (and we've certainly learned not to mess with things that aren't scaleable).
We do manage painting blocks of characters though, but we do it by:
- using reference pictures we're asked to match or use to get general theme and feel
- hand-waves from the client towards the right direction ("make them look Arabian!")
- being left entirely to own devices ("it's clearly a jungle native in a grass skirt. Make him brown!").
Clients have the same challenges when working with a mass of individual characters a well though, so this is usually how things work out.
The problem is when we only have a few characters to deal with -- this is where things are manageable enough for the client to give detailed instructions per miniature ("red sash, yellow shoes, green eyes, black belts and pouches, etc...") but the time involved in execution starts scaling massively. This is one of the reasons we charge a minimum order free or urge people interested in just a single miniature, to try over at Coolmini.