Earlier today, AnimEigo CEO Robert Woodhead sent a notice to backers stating that orders for the Bubblegum Crisis Blu-Ray set will close on June 1. The set, which will be shipped in two tiers, will include a number of extras previously not found AnimEigo’s Bubblegum Crisis sets, including the Bubblegum Crisis: Grand Mal comic by Adam Warren, and R. Talsorian Games’s Bubblegum Crisis RPG books. The Basic edition ships in a basic Amaray case with either a key chain or a commemorative coin, while the Premium Edition will include a chipboard box, as well as both chotchkes.
At last, the Kickstarter drive comes to a close. With over $160,000 collected since October 25, 2013, it’s not hard to argue that the project has been a success on a financial level. Thousands of fans came together with the hopes of creating what could be the One Set To Rule Them All, so to speak. All that was needed, really, was their input on the project when the time came.
That was the crux of Woodhead’s idea for CrowdProduction, that the fans themselves would come together to share ideas and suggestions to build the best product possible. Bonus goodies, extra features, and even subtitle formats would be proposed by the crowd, and put to a vote by the entire backer population.
And, for the most part, it worked. From the day the drive ended, backers flooded into the project’s forums, to share their thoughts on what they’d like to see. Some wanted to see Scramble Wars, a 1993 OVA that mashed together the characters of Gall Force and Bubblegum Crisis. Others petitioned for rare items, like the B-Club comics and cassette audio dramas. While not everything was able to be done, due to licensing matters, time, costs, or some combination of the three, a number of interesting and fun ideas bubbled from the customers. Those that didn’t want to bound out with suggestions found other areas to contribute. Some began work on subtitles in everything from German to Japanese, while others contributed to the community wiki for the show.
This set was something people wanted to be proud of, something they wanted to show off and really be happy to be a part of. And, while the execution did sometimes feel a bit fast and loose, people were happy to roll with it. The process often felt like a college project, as backers shared, discussed, bickered, and argued. Arguments, while rare, resolved quickly, and the general morale through the process was high. Woodhead was a constant commentator, responding as quickly as he could with costs, estimates, and updates, while at the same time giving the “how” and “why” behind each addition and alteration.
That’s not to say the process was flawless. There were numerous opportunities for improvement as a whole, which seemed to arise as people really began to dig into the production process. Certain parts of the process, particularly the voting for the extra features, seemed to bring out the worst in the community. There was a great deal of ire that certain things were funded while others weren’t, or that items like subtitle tracks might go un-used, despite the hard work of the fans creating them. There were blow-ups in the forums over budgets and the feasibility of added items. Some wanted a new dub, others wanted the AD Police OVAs, and others still pitched to have everything, from obscure video games to board games included in the box. It felt a bit directionless at times, and a number of people felt like they were shouting into the void as they argued over things that might not have had a chance in hell of actually being included.
Still, that was part of the charm. The community aspect, the whole “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” moments that actually became reality, it all just seemed to work out. Through all of the bumps in the road, there were pleasant surprises. Each e-mail update seemed to promise new possibilities, as we slowly saw a truly enviable product come together. While I do hope that the process is tightened up in future drives, the idea of CrowdProduction as a whole was something truly unique. Fans were able to make a truly special product through this, one that will not be sold in stores, not offered outside of eBay or the Amazon Marketplace. It’s an item that has everybody’s fingerprints on it, which will reflect the power of many, coming together to create their ideal release.
At this point, there are still a few months before the sets reach backers. At this point, all we can really do is hope that everything will come together, and that the release itself lives up to the hype that’s been building through the CrowdProduction process.
Note: Pre-orders for the set are still open, and will remain so until June 1.