Brandon: Today we are joined by Levi Schneidewent of Trollworks. If you missed my review of two of his dice towers that I purchased you can read that here and then read the following interview, or read this interview first and then read the dice tower review. Either way. Enjoy!
Levi: When I was a kid my brother used to call me the little “Troll”. My workspace is in basement of a 1923 firehouse which happens to be a Fallout shelter; sort of a cave. It’s the home of Rockhead’s Comics and Games, it occupies the ground floor and the second story (9000 sq ft) (owned by my brother). When I was just starting the business my brother was kidding around and said, “Go to your cave little troll and get to work.”—Trollworks
How did you get started making game accessories?
Levi: I would like to tell you a happy story of how it all began, but I lost my job of 23 years due to the economy and I didn’t want to go back into daily grind; so, I took the opportunity to create a job just for myself.
What is your design process like? How do you come up with the pieces you make?
Levi: Many of my designs come from customer requests. If I feel the finished product is marketable I do a cost/time study, then a product offer.
What is your best seller?
Levi: The marketplace is flickered, at times I get lots of requests for Dice Towers or Movement Trays or Storage Systems. I don’t have enough market history yet to do any trend mapping. I sell a lot of dice towers during the Holidays, a lot of trays during Regional’s, and then storage system sales increase after the Holidays.
What is your favorite accessory that you make?
Levi: Design is what I like to do best; so my favorite accessory is coming up with new projects. In fact, that’s a weakness of mine. I have designed and built many more projects where only one gets built.
Do you do custom work or take requests for something to stock?
Levi: Yes, I do custom skins on many of my products (dice-towers, movement trays, storage units, movement markers, dice) and I also do custom scratch work. My rates are driven by the usual factors such as design time, material cost, amd product time, but I give discounts on the marketability of the project.
I make an FMTG storage case that was a customer request. The project should have been close to $100, but it had marketability, so I did the project for $50.00. I currently set said item for $50 on my Etsy shop.
How often do you design and add new items?
Levi: As needed/requested or when orders are slow. I build everything on demand, my turn around time is 3-5 order to ship
What tools and equipment do you use?
Levi: I am currently running 2 Universal Lasers, but I have a large compliment of support equipment (woodworking, paint booth, sandblaster, 3d printer). I have invested a lot into my equipment.
What games have you been playing lately?
Levi: Since I work in a game shop and live over a game shop I have plenty of opportunity for gaming:
RPG– Deadlands, D&D 5th ed, Shadowrun, Hackmaster online w20d
Miniature– 40K, Flames of War, Airdrome 1.0, D&D, Imperial Assault
BoardGames– we have 1200 library games.
Electronic– Civilization, Galactic Civilization, X-Com, Windward
What do you do when you aren’t making amazing dice towers?
Levi: I’m a lone wolf, coupled with the fact that I’m the boss/owner; I can come and go as I please. So, I travel in my Kia Soul conversion camper (kayak, bicycle, 5’8’” bed, attached canopy, off grid solar power, 12v refrigerator, lights, fans, low voltage charging station). So, travel, camping, cycling, and kayaking.
Levi is currently on a well deserved break after hitting GenCon, but can be found at this fine location:by