Two figurines from “War in Christmas Village” | Courtesy of Joe Wright

As Christmas has stretched its suffocating tinsel further and further, with cheap plastic snowmen clogging supermarket aisles as early as September, the zeitgeist has begun to offer more alternatives to the saccharine shopping fest. 

Enter Louisvillian Joe Wright and his “War in Christmas Village” series of figures, created with the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign.

The set includes a line of 1/60-scale tabletop gaming figurines, and while that might sound like gibberish to some of you, there are no doubt just as many of you who grew up with similar games like “Warhammer,” “HeroClix” or any of the hundreds of others that include small figures, massive campaigns and many-sided die.

Christmas turns evil. | Courtesy of Joe Wright

Insider caught up with Wright to talk about the figures, his Kickstarter and what comes next for Jackalope Enterprises, the company he formed to produce these delightfully wicked characters.

As a kid, Wright spent time gaming with friends, but he fell out of the habit in college. But years later, he became interested in crafting

“So midlife crisis hits … I got into crafting, and then found tabletop crafting,” said Wright.

Specifically, he got into building sets and backdrops — tiny cities, essentially, in which figures played out their epic battles. A self-described art school dropout, Wright had the skills to excel at his new hobby.

“I’m, like, ‘Oh, this combines everything,’ ” he said.

He began to conceive a line of figurines, but he spent some time with a different project before he settled on his current yuletide carnage.

“My first idea was zombie-oriented, because zombies are really big and they have been really big,” he admitted. “And I was, like, maybe I should just capitalize on what I think is a trend.”

Despite the fact that it seemed like a solid fiscal decision at the time, Wright just didn’t warm up to the work on his zombies, and the project stalled.

Joe Wright with his figurines | Photo by Eli Keel

Wright isn’t a big fan of Christmas. Like many on the macabre side of this cultural divide, his favorite holiday is the one most at risk from the creeping Christmas encroachment.

“Halloween is my favorite holiday,” said Wright. “I get upset when I see Christmas in August.”

There’s also a not-too-subtle political statement in these figurines, a satirical take on “War on Christmas” that is often talked about in conservative news.

Then, a chance encounter in a craft store inspired his current creative endeavor.

“I was still in these crafting groups, making things, and I had gone to a big box store and bought some extra Christmas village figurines — and then modified them,” he explained.

He gave Santa an axe, turning him into a tough-as-nails Christmas warrior. Frosty got a war hammer and shield, which turned those two coal eyes into the dead-eyed stare of a serial killer.

So with his idea in hand, he started working on the designs for a “War in Christmas Village.” Wright works up the ideas and the concepts, and then he teams up with a sculptor who helps brings them to life.

When it came time to put these figures into production, Wright turned to KickstarterWith an initial goal of $6,000, interest in these figures quickly raised the initial goal and went on to bring in a total of more than $9,000.

Series One | Photo by Eli Keel

“War” went into production, and now the figures have made their way to their Kickstarter backers and are available through Wright’s eBay page.

With the success of the first series, Wright and the rest of his team at Jackalope Enterprises began work on a second and third wave of “War in Christmas Village” figurines.

Series Two, dubbed “She Ain’t Havin’ It,” features a crossbow-wielding Ms. Claus, fending off a small army of Christmas-bedecked zombies. Wright said this series is important because women characters in gaming are too often relegated to the role of eye candy.

“In the gaming industry, a lot of women are scantily clad in bikinis … That’s so stupid. Boob armor would kill you,” said Wright, adding a special call out to the look popularized by character Red Sonja.

Ms. Clause is tough and fully clothed.

Series Three, “Oh Christmas Treent, How Deadly Are Thy Branches,” features a killer Christmas tree, a close relative to the Ents of “Lord of the Rings.” The treacherous tree is accompanied by festively wrapped yet monstrous presents, and the pernicious pine faces off against a crew of axe-wielding elves.

Again, the Christmas spirit helped boost the current Kickstarter, which still has over two weeks to raise money and continue past its goals.

Krampus | Courtesy of Joe Wright

A personal favorite of Wright’s figurines is Frau Perchta the Christmas Witch. I was not familiar with the character until Wright dropped the knowledge on me, and it made my black little coal of a heart grow three sizes.

Another northern European figure of folklore, she comes out and punishes people who work over the Christmas holiday by scooping out their insides and replacing them with garbage before sewing them back up. I’m practically giddy, which is a Christmas miracle.

For now, the figures to be used in existing tabletop gaming systems. Gamers often use their creativity to bring a whole host of characters to their favorite games. But at the urging of his fans and supporters, Wright is working up a set of rules and has written back stories so the figurines will have their own tabletop world in which to play.

Then again, non-gamers like myself might be inspired to create a bloody Christmas Village for the mantel. 

The next round of “War in Christmas Village” figurines is on Kickstarter, the existing figures are on eBay and check them out on Facebook. And remember the words of that classic Christmas carol: “They see you when you’re sleeping.”

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Eli Keel
Eli Keel is “pretty much” a Louisville native. You may have seen him around town reading poetry, short stories, dancing or acting. He’s a passionate locavore, so you may have also seen him stuffing his face at one of Louisville’s amazing restaurants. When he isn’t too busy writing short stories, he blogs at amanwalksintoablog.wordpress.com.