Toy Soldiers Unite and Patreon

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This topic contains 11 replies, has 0 voices, and was last updated by  Sgt. Dutch 2 years ago.

Toy Soldiers Unite and Patreon

  • Sgt. Dutch

    I’m going to be brutally honest with myself here, and admit that I feel I have been coasting along for the past two years when it comes to Toy Soldiers Unite.
    With TSU, it is my responsibility to encourage, share, promote and hopefully inspire members of the Army of Toy Soldiers and their own projects. At the same time, I feel the urge to contribute more. I want to do videos again, or podcasts, write stories like my recent Tale from the Digital Bunker, and weave a world somewhere between fiction and reality.

    But that’s not all I want to do. I want to get more in depth with the passions that you all have, and explore the creativity of individuals and groups outside of the Army. What I want is to show the world the creative talents that reside in all of us, to inspire everyone to look within themselves and ask “What makes me happy?”

    The world is changing. The internet has laid the foundation for the exchange of ideas, dreams, projects and communities. Technology and robotics are freeing people from mundane, boring, repetitive work. And ideas such as Universal Basic Income are picking up momentum. This is the beginning of The Singularity, and with these changes the vision of a Utopian Playland becomes all the more important.

    So why haven’t I been doing these things I’ve mentioned? I’ve done them before to varying degrees of success.

    Time and resources.

    Time I can find. Resources as well. But both are costly. And when it comes to other people, I want to make sure they get what they deserve as well. Toy Soldiers Unite has operated on a rough break-even basis for the past few years. I take absolutely nothing from it, except to cover expenses like the MCM Expo in London. It provides no end of confusion at the local council office when I explain the hours I work for absolutely no money. (click reveal spoiler for a rough conversation)

    “Is it a company?”
    “It’s sole trader venture.”
    “Oh. But you make no money?”
    “Not really no.”
    “And it’s not a charity?”
    “Not really that either.”
    “So what exactly do you do?”
    “Run a little online shop to cover the costs of running a community encouraging creativity, imagination and world domination.”

    Now I’ve spoken with several Toy Soldiers about this idea and it’s been received well, so I’ll share it with everyone. I’d love the feedback, and suggestions provided.

    Patreon is a way for fans and members of communities to contribute financially to artists and creators. People can choose to donate between $1 to $10,000 on a monthly basis to help support their favourite artists. Examples include the singer Amanda Palmer, or the online critic Jim Sterling. Musicians, writers, photographers, artists, makers, engineers, models, and even some more NSFW ventures.

    What I’m proposing is creating a Patreon to enable me to dedicate my time fully to Toy Soldiers Unite (as a company) and the Army of Toy Soldiers (you, the brilliant community). The money would go towards things like basic living expenses, but also to cover the costs and expenses of expanding TSU, such as travel expenses, tables and places at events, propaganda/advertising, maintenance of the site, a new and improved server, and other such things.

    But of course those contributing, patrons, would be rewarded according to their contribution.

    • Thank you’s on posts, videos and such, and the title of “Malevolent Benefactor”
    • Behind the scene blog posts and videos
    • Monthly raffle for a painted Nerf gun.
    • Votes on what to do next
    • Early access to whatever the hell I’m making
    • Probably quite a few other things as well.

    These are just ideas, and I’d love to know more what Toy Soldiers would hope for in return for becoming a regular patron.

    But I’ll say this. Regardless of patreon or not,, the forums, the main chat, everything will remain open to all. You being a part of this community is something I should thank you for, not charge you for the privilege there of. And all of the content will still come to the site. Patreon member would just get earlier access.

    So please share your ideas and thoughts. Feedback is really wanted on this.

    Sgt. Dutch

  • Geoff Nicholson

    My thoughts on this are twofold. I wholeheartedly advocate Dutch finding a way to make his passion pay for his participation, but I think that tying it to TSU directly might be too much. Thus far, he has been running our website and being our fearless leader and all. He’s been paying for hosting services using the store and however much money we throw at him at times.

    But I wonder if TSU is the patreonage, or if the Pinecone Broadcast should be the ‘perk’. Yes, the Pinceone Broadcast is connected to the world (domination) view of the Army of Toy Soldiers, but most Patreon campaigns are to support an artist providing an art. I’m sure if I look further I can find more of a ‘keep this existing business going’ example, but paying the server maintrnance and to free Dutch himself some time to make more things like Pinecone Broadcasts isn’t what I’d contribute towards.

    What I WOULD contribute towards is more pinecone broadcasts. I can see the TSU site being an incidental side-project to the Pinecone Broadcast and to Tales from the Bunker, but giving Dutch a chance to flex his creative muscles and pay him for THAT.

  • Cpl.Deimos Poe

    Firstly, i would like to thanks to you Dutch for all the time and work you put into keeping all this maintained and together. While i am not a super active member(looking to rectify that) i am friends with and communicate with several members on a fairly regular basis. That being said i fully support the use of patreon to help with things for the TSU. It will hopefully allow for certain processes to run a little smoother because as unfortunate as this is….almost everything requires money now. An idea that i have is to let the Youtubers in the TSU also try and help contribute by having a link to the patreon added to their channels.


    Regardless of what gets done or not, Dutch i am honored to be a part of the TSU. Several of you guys are very dear friends to me that i am glad i had the opportunity to meet online(hopefully in person too someday)

  • Sgt. Dutch

    I just want to expand on the definition and difference between ‘Toy Soldiers Unite’ and the ‘Army of Toy Soldiers’.

    Toy Soldiers Unite is a business. It is the website, it is the social media accounts, the youtube channel, the Armory, and everything that gets called ‘Official’. It IS a business, but one that’s owned by myself. And it’s primary purpose is to support the community and that’s you.

    The Army of Toy Soldiers is you. The community. The divisions. The invasions. The missions. The Gaming Mammoth (to a degree as we all work on that). When someone writes a story for the main feed, that’s you giving me permission to share and promote it. Another example is Dr. Malice & The Absinthetic Orchestra. He is a Toy Soldier, and it is Toy Soldier music, and he’s given me permission and rights to sell HIS music. I/TSU doesn’t own it unless you expressly say so in writing.

    It is a symbiotic relationship. TSU would not survive without the Army, and the Army would have no central point of convergence without We support each other, and will always continue to do so. Contributions from the Army like tales from the digital bunker, artwork, and content fill TSU through and through. And TSU provides the stable foundation for The Army to do it’s thing, offering guidance, resources and support where possible.

    If this sounds a tad boring, overly complicated, or ruins the mystery within TSU-HQ, I’m sorry. It’s just the best way to keep things going while working within the law.

  • ….We could all pitch in to buy an island and become a micronation like Sealand. Make our own laws, and turn the digital bunker into a real thing.


    Actually I get quite the adrenaline rush at the thought of creating our own micronation.

  • Sgt. Dutch

    Alright, I’ve been told how I’ve explained the idea comes across a tad…. itchy.

    Setting up a Patreon is for the benefit of Toy Soldiers Unite. The content created would be made by myself, or those employed or commissioned by TSU. And even then, after a week or so of early access on Patreon, it would come straight to TSU for the entire public and army to enjoy as well.

    The amount of time and resources I have dedicated over the years has been costly, so to continue keeping the bunker from crumbling, putting Toy Soldiers Unite (the business) into a Patreon format would be beneficial for everyone. Because this would be a full time job, and I wouldn’t expect anyone to do a job and not get paid for it. Right now, it’s a part time job that I don’t get paid for. But remember, becoming a patron is entirely optional! You’ll still get to use the site, you can use the forums, the Gaming Mammoth, invasions and missions will continue. 

    Content created by the Army of Toy Soldiers, the stories, the comics, the art work and the music, videos made by other toy soldiers, it all stays where it is, and will get featured on the front page as ever, and no one makes a profit on those. I’m not in the business of stealing others stuff and selling it as my own.

    Please understand that I love this job, and I’m lucky to be part of such a brilliant community, and help maintain it. It has allowed me to explore my own creativity in the past, albeit rather haphazardly, and I want to continue to allow others the potential to explore their own creativity. All the while providing the story of The Army of Toy Soldiers and the Digital Bunker.

  • Lt. Sophie

    @Hobnobener-Martial Geoff said:
    But I wonder if TSU is the patreonage, or if the Pinecone Broadcast should be the ‘perk’. Yes, the Pinceone Broadcast is connected to the world (domination) view of the Army of Toy Soldiers, but most Patreon campaigns are to support an artist providing an art.

    That inclines that the Patreon would solely be for the Broadcasts, which are not even sure to continue as far as I am aware. But that really limits what Patreon could do. We could finance so many more things through it that would benefit the community as a whole.

    A few ideas:

    • Design and have printed custom fabric for accessories and clothes for the Amory
    • Create regular comics based or not based on Bunker adventures and get them printed to hand out at conventions, invasions, etc. (possible special editions and art prints for patrons)
    • Compensate those who regularly work for TSU unpaid in their free time (such as our codemonkeys), so they can focus on their work here more
    • The ultimate goal of a friggin’ Army of Toy Soldiers meet up. Seriously, we could make this work.

    And there’s many more. I will be honest with you here. I put a lot of time and effort into TSU, what is happening behind the scenes of the Gaming Mammoth is a lot more than you can see on the outside.So far, I paid for any materials and costs that came up, for the Mammoth or otherwise. But I also have to tell you that I have rent and food to pay for, and my time and resources are therefore limited. And as I see it, others feel that way, too. If there was a way to compensate those who regularly work unpaid overtime for TSU in some way and spend their resources on it, then I will gladly welcome that idea. Hell I’d be happy if someone just paid for the fabric I need for making more bandanas and other accessories.

    We all benefit from it as a community in my eyes, cause there will be more quality content. And not just Pinecone Broadcasts, but different kinds of content. I see no reason we should limit this to the Broadcasts only.

  • Sgt. Dutch

    Thanks everyone who’s responded in this thread so far.

    Let’s have deeper look at what is possible as a result of doing Patreon.

    • Pinecone broadcast (maybe) but certainly regular videos. Once a month perhaps to start off with, fortnightly and then maybe weekly. Some maybe discussion about topics close to the Army’s heart like Nerf guns, technology and robots, creative skills. Others may be interviews with people about their own personal projects from filming, blacksmithing, carpentry, writing, etc. And there could definitely be more of the fictional element, a short sketch or something about TSU-HQ, toy soldier Timmy and robot #4646.
    • Articles and stories. Written articles, again about stuff dear to the Army. I used to have a feedreader that drew news and interesting projects from across the internet, and I’d re-enable that to provide inspiration for things you’d like to read about. Maybe even how-to’s, DIY’s, cosplays, and more. This would certainly be on a weekly basis at minimum.
    • Improve the site. When we rebuilt the site 5 years ago, we opted to go with WordPress since it was free. However not all the features we want or need are free, and sometimes require premium plugins for which you have to pay yearly licences. Same goes for security. I want to offer SSL (it’s when there’s a green HTTPS in the corner of the address bar) to guarantee (as best as possible) security and trust in regards to our Digital Bunker.
    • Commission 3rd parties and Toy Soldiers for projects and content. Credit where credit is due of course. I know Lt. Sophie for example could do something rather awesome for The Armory. As could others. It means the upfront cost of something is covered and any profit or commission can be paid.
    • Collaboration with other creators. For example Professor Elemental lives not too far from me. The only reason I haven’t taken him up on his offer of a collab is because of time and money to get down there. Steampunk artists, post-apocalyptic creators, cyberpunks of every variety, and youtubers, it’s all something I’ve been dying to explore.
    • And yes, a meet up. Imagine for a moment actually having a location in the UK , Europe (and remotely organised one in the States), set aside specifically FOR the Toy Soldiers. Not just invading an event, but a proper one or two day event at a location to do whatever it is we want to do. NERF war, paintball, theme park, workshops. That’s an idea that’s worth exploring.

    Now my expectations are fairly grounded. I’m not expecting this to be an overnight success, after all this is a subscription type thing, completely optional, and for those patient enough, all of these things end up on a week or so after an early access reward for patrons. And it will be a building process. Not everything will be done in the first week or even month or first 3 months. There’s a trial and (t)error process everyone goes through. And it isn’t solely aimed to be consumed by those already a member of the Army of Toy Soldiers. I personally consume content from a variety of sites and communities without actually being a part of the main fanbase of something. I like Iron Maiden, I’m not part of their fanclub. I watch Ben Heck, Barnacules, Yogscast and Tek Syndicate videos and read the articles, but I didn’t register on the Tek Syndicates site until recently. But after I’ve watched a few videos, found something useful or insightful I do show my support in some way, from sharing the link with others who might like it, to selecting a reward tier on their Patreon if they have one.
    I’m looking at this all for the long haul, in terms of years.

    Patreon is an established system, and trusted. It has security measures in place because they’re handling a lot of money after all, and has a wealth of resources for a variety of creator categories.

    Now, again, I have no intention of using other peoples content as part of the Patreon reward system unless A) given permission or B) it’s a matter of Showcasing already available content (and even then I’ll be checking with the original creator). Like for example I might do a video, or podcast, or article on what the Digital Bunker is and the curiosities within. In which case I could mention the infamous Hot Dog Man, the robot that appears out of nowhere to lost Toy Soldiers on the brink of starvation, and in which case I’d link to the original story and mention it was initially created by Danov Valravn. I wouldn’t be making my own story based on Danov’s work unless he gave me permission to do so. Frankly, he conveys that story far better than anyone else as he’s the one that came up with it.

    Or I might highlight the podcasts by Keptin Sari and Scouter715 or Dr Malice and Lucas Usagi’s music, telling people about them, linking them and giving credit where credit is due. Does not mean I USE these podcasts as content for the reward system. Instead it directs people who have discovered the Patreon first to TSU and the creations of the Toy Soldiers.

    What I WILL use is my own brain, content I’ve already created, and the resources of the TSU site itself. Logo’s, established mythos, missions, and such. The intellectual property that falls under Toy Soldiers Unite’s ownership itself.

    And who IS this going to be aimed at? Who do I think will support myself and TSU? Well I’d hope a few Toy Soldiers would be interested, and maybe there can be an additional badge on the forums to show you’re a patreon supporter perhaps?
    But I’m also looking afar, at the internet in general. Steampunks, dieselpunks, cyberpunks, writers, artists, fellow consumers of entertainment. English based countries, though who knows, we manage to get translations done, we might end up with a whole new batch of regulars in Japan, home of the giant frigging robots.

    As part of the setup process of Patreon, I’ll be making a collection, a portfolio so to speak of my own works and Toy Soldiers Unite (the site side, not the community, again, that’s YOUR stuff) to provide proof of what’s possible.

    If there any more questions, let me know here in the forums. That way I don’t have to repeat everything in private.

    Make content. Don’t use others stuff without permission. Entertain the Army AND the world. World Domination.

  • Silent Addle

    So, I’ve got to voice my opinion, I am in favour of taking this route but I can understand why some might not see it as a positive thing.

    Personally when I see this, what I see is the TSU self-funding to a pool which can be tapped for various projects, such as buying resources for items that can go on sale through the site, purchasing propaganda or business cards in advance of an event or even organising something just for us to enjoy.

    I mean the amount of times I’ve seen a discussion of cool projects we could pursue popping up, only to end with “If only we had the money”, of course we’re not talking about having “Buy an actual bunker” type money, but having enough stored up so we can fund a small batch of books, enough to get a few CD’s made and yes even pay for some promotional work.

    We’ve all bought patches and badges, but there’s only so many we can get before everything is covered in the things, right? So how else are we meant to support and ensure the operation of the Army? I know we’re not all going to be able to open our wallets and throw money at the screen, but something like Patreon allows us to support the site when we’re feeling particularly rich in a month.

    Like all things, funding the TSU needs to be done right, but I think together we can do it, it’s not just about getting a bucket of money, but having enough spare for when we need it, being able to fund ourselves all together and maybe have a little fun with it.

    That’s just how I see it at least, your mileage may vary.

  • I like the idea of TSU having a Patreon. 

    If we create this Patreon account, it would allow for not only more content to be posted, but more traffic to the site. More people watching the videos, reading the stories, listening to the podcasts and music, etc. This means that more people will be apt to share the TSU content, thus sharing the links to the Patreon. 

    Plus, if people REALLY like what they see, they’ll join, and create more content with more links to the Patreon!

    PS. I’d be willing to make BTS videos for my current project as a perk, Dutch.

  • Firstly, many thanks for using my demented creation, The Hot Dog Man as an example of others’ IP existing within the TSU canon. 

    I personally feel that the Patreon is not such a bad idea. What it will need is to be clear what people are getting when they pay in, allow for the creative divisions to get involved should they choose to and finally, be entertaining.

    If we do ever get the big meet up going, then by the Gods I am going to throw some serious work into that. There is so much we could do and learn from each other and it would be wonderful to do so in our own little asylum.

  • Sgt. Dutch

    @Spymaster General Danov Valravn said:
    Firstly, many thanks for using my demented creation, The Hot Dog Man as an example of others’ IP existing within the TSU canon. 

    I personally feel that the Patreon is not such a bad idea. What it will need is to be clear what people are getting when they pay in, allow for the creative divisions to get involved should they choose to and finally, be entertaining.

    If we do ever get the big meet up going, then by the Gods I am going to throw some serious work into that. There is so much we could do and learn from each other and it would be wonderful to do so in our own little asylum.  

    Thanks for the support, Spymaster.

    And being clear about what people get out of it is an absolute must, yes. The rewards will be clear, scheduled, and distributed accordingly. As for divisions and such getting involved, that’s on the to-do list, as it requires some definite distribution of rights and legalities which will get worked out. That will come after establishing a working schedule for myself/TSU to ensure rewards and content gets out when it has to.

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