|Industry||Collectible miniatures games developer and publisher|
|Justin Ziran, Zev Shlasinger|
|Products||Mage Knight, HeroClix, MechWarrior, Pirates Constructible Strategy Game, Star Wars PocketModel Trading Card Game, Halo ActionClix, Star Trek: Attack Wing|
NECA/WizKids, LLC, of simply WizKids, is an American company based in New Jersey that produces tabletop games. WizKids is best known for its collectible miniatures games (CMGs) Mage Knight, HeroClix, MechWarrior, and HorrorClix, all of which make 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. 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.
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 Wehrs, 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, Washington. 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; Martin A. Stever, Executive V.P; and Marc Sachnoff, President of WizKids Licensing and Media, who made the innovative deals bringing together the Marvel and DC comics character universes into the HeroClix line.
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. 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.
The Topps Company announced on November 10, 2008, that it intended to close WizKids and discontinue product lines including HeroClix. 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.
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 WizKids assets sold did not include Shadowrun and Battletech, which were retained by Topps Inc.
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.
Beginning with The Infinity Gauntlet in 2012, WizKids began to implement Storyline Organized Play programs. These programs would let gamers go to their local store once a month to play in an event that built up to a grand finale. Players are typically rewarded for attending multiple events before the finale. Storyline Organized Play themes have included No Man's Land for DC, Fear Itself for Marvel, The Dominion War for Star Trek, and others. WizKids continues to implement tweaks to their Storyline Organized Play programs.
WizKids produces both licensed and first-party games. Many of the games WizKids utilize include patented elements like the Combat Dial System. WizKids produces both physical items, like HeroClix, as well as digital transliterations, like Quarriors! for IOS.