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Upstream Games House (UGH)

The Birthday Gift that Keeps on Giving

When Brian and I first married (which was before social media and when the Internet was just becoming a real thing, complete with browsers and pictures--so way before crowd funding websites were started), we used to sit on the balcony of our low-rent apartment, basking in the light of the moon and the neon store logos from the parking garage of the nearby mall-across-the-highway. We dreamed of a game company we wanted to call "Upstream Games."

In January of 2016, almost 20 years later, I asked Brian if he wanted to commission a set of birthday party zombies for his upcoming 40th birthday. It wasn't so much that I didn't know he'd like the gift as that it seemed a lot to ask someone to take on producing miniatures as a "present" for themselves. (Happy birthday, here's a heap of work for you!)


It was a pretty decadent birthday present and it took some convincing for me to get Brian to take on the task and actually spend that money on himself. While most of you know he has a large, special collection of rare and antique (OMG--they're considered antiques now!!) miniatures, game books, and games, what you might not know is that he's pretty good at trading and dealing in ways that pay for his game habit and making it break even. Convincing him was actually more difficult than you might imagine. But after many conversations in which I said, "Yes, you should do it." and he said, "But, that's crazy!", Brian agreed to do it and threw himself wholeheartedly into the task and created a Facebook group so he could share the process with his gaming friends.


Because he had long admired the old 1980s Kev Adams Citadel C-series zombie sculpts, we came up with the idea of producing a zombie party in honor of Brian's special day. As soon as the birthday project started, we realized that it had the potential to grow into more. This is still the best and most personal present I can think of giving him.


Call us crazy. (No really, it's OK, we ARE crazy) We decided not to use a crowd funding website. For one thing, we wanted every penny people spent purchasing the miniatures we produced to go into production of more miniatures and game content, rather than give a share to someone we've never met and who may not care one iota for gaming. For another, we wanted to maintain the personal feel of direct customer communication and ordering. We even wanted our friends in the worldwide game community to participate in the design concepts and development, to get excited with us when the greens arrived, and to ooh and aah at the boxes coming fresh from the caster. For us, this is personal. And although it took us awhile to get the website going and figure things out (and let's face it, we're still working on improvement and always will be) we're proud to be building this ourselves and inviting the rest of the world to contribute and join in when they feel comfortable or compelled by a quality product. And we hope you'll decide to buy a few miniatures and show your support. We'd also love to see your game photos and photos of your painted and finished pieces!

As things progressed we got Kev Adams on board, commissioned some gorgeous concept art from Laura Jordan, and started production. A loyal group of Facebook friends joined in and saw us through the process, step-by-step. We have enjoyed the fun and are happy that Upstream Games House was born from the endeavor. 

As always, promoting that oldhammer feeling of being able to create and play a game with any miniature and set of game rules is of primary importance to us. We like to play like we did in the good old days. We don't think you should have to buy a whole new book, or set of books, to continue playing the games you love. To that end, we've designed these miniatures to be compatible with your pre-existing systems and collections of miniatures.

It's the birthday gift that keeps on giving. Thank you for joining us in the party!

Sarah Kirkell

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