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Meet the Steel Colosseum Team: Tim Popelier

steel colosseum meet the team Tim Popelier

Steel Colosseum is now live on Kickstarter! Zatu Games' first publishing deal alongside Needy Cat Games, Steel Colosseum, is a competitive team combat arena game designed by a wonderful team of creatives. Here on the Zatu blog, we are going to introduce you to each member of the Steel Colosseum team and see if we can find out any sneaky details.

This week, we'll be talking to Tim Popelier. One of the biggest and most exciting elements of Steel Colosseum is that of the bespoke miniatures. Tim sculpted the 6 robots that you will be controlling within the games. From the speedy and agile Relay to the sturdy and reliable Sentinel, Tim sculpted each of our robot cast.

Name: Tim Popelier

Job Title: Sculptor

Favourite Food: Mustard soup

Favourite Biscuit: Can’t go wrong with Dutch speculaas

Favourite Movie: Casablanca or Pacific Rim, depending on my mood

Favourite Character: Snufkin

Favourite Band/Artist: Ayreon

Hobbies: Besides making cool stuff for a living and being a huge nerd of all possible flavours, I like hiking and biking around the countryside

Tell Us About Your Role Within Steel Colosseum

I just did the miniatures really, nothing to it I tend to say. For some projects, I do the design of figures myself, but in this case, there was a very strong chain of creation. Sophie and James already had a good idea of what the theme of each robot was and roughly what sort of frame it should have.

From there, Chris did a bunch of great initial sketches which we workshopped as a group. That was also the bit where I had to do the worst part of my job: telling people “no, that idea is super cool but won’t work on a model this type or size.” Still though, with all the collaboration, by the time Chris had produced his final designs, it meant we had all the best ideas from the whole team included and all that was left for me was filling in small detail areas in ways that would work well for production. I did end up doing a lot of work on the poses of the figures, which isn’t something I do a lot of in mechanical design, and that was a lot of fun. I am very happy with how the character and playstyle for each robot came through in the poses.

As to my personal style and influences, I think I am pretty evenly split between hard-edged mecha/robots from Gundam, VOTOMS, Pacific Rim and the like and on the other side the much more rounded and characterful styles of Studio Ghibli, the personal works of Hayao Miyazaki in particular. Adding to that the mechanical design by Makoto Kobayashi which combines the two sides and adds a good layer of wear and tear which I am also fond of in my works. Cool robots get cooler if they are rusted and dented!

How Did You Get Into the Board Game Industry?

I have a background in goldsmithing, which has a lot of overlap with miniature and model design, especially on the manufacturing side. I started off doing small commissions of wargaming miniatures for friends on forums. My first commission was for Eureka Miniatures in Australia of all places, right on the other side of the world for me. From there I’ve branched out into miniatures and models for all sorts of games and toys. Board games are a very “pure” design space, as the thing I design has to be feature complete, unlike wargaming miniatures where you expect the customer to do building and painting to get the model all the way there. In a board game, it has to pop and do its job right out of the box.

What Was the First Game That You Backed on Kickstarter?

That’s been a while, I had to look that up! Jadepunk: Tales From Kausao which offered a great action-packed setting for the Fate RPG, along with a nice crunchy make your own magitech equipment system, which is definitely one of my weaknesses.

In Three Words, How Would You Describe Steel Colosseum?

Scrappy robot brawl? Stompy bot fight. Robo(t) Wars/Rally - there, three words and multiple punctuation marks, that counts, right?  What is the exchange rate between punctuation and words these days anyway?

Just Between Us, Tell Us Something That We Didn’t Already Know About Steel Colosseum

Shiba Zero started as a beagle. I think we went through multiple breeds of a dog before settling on the final design.

On a more personal note: so. many. cables. They all kind of blend together when you look at the models in play. I had to put them there. When I close my eyes I see cables.

And Lastly, Tell Us About Your Favourite Character Within Steel Colosseum

It has to be Magnetron. Firstly because that is the common way of referring to a microwave oven here in the Netherlands. But mostly because it was the first robot I worked on. It was a bit of a trial run before committing to the whole project. I did a lot more design on it myself because we hadn’t yet nailed down the group design thingy I talked about before. Sometimes that can be a hurdle, but on Magnetron everything just went. The car door on its chest gave me a lot of trouble. I think I did that over 4-5 times - but, otherwise, it came together in one go pretty much fully formed. Ideas and details just sprang to mind and fit. Designing it affirmed for me as well that, yeah, this is going to be a great project to work on!

Meet the Team

Meet the rest of the Steel Colosseum team by heading over to our blog. We've also got an exciting series on each of the Steel Colosseum robots, so be sure to check them out!

Editors note: This blog was originally published on March 9th, 2022. Updated on May 17th, 2022 to improve the information available.