WizKids, Inc. is an American Seattle-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. It was purchased by sports-card manufacturer Topps, Inc. in 2003. (Topps was, in turn, acquired by Michael Eisner's Tornante Company and Madison Dearborn Partners in 2007.)
Topps shut down Wizkids operation in November 2008 giving the economic downturn as the reason for the closure. The company was then purchased in September 2009 by NECA.
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; and Martin A. Stever, Executive V.P.
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.
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. 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 WizKidsEdit
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 PurchaseEdit
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 "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. 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.