It’s oh so quiet …

It has been quiet on the blog of late, mainly because the Brigade elves are feverishly busy casting and packing the Xmas sale orders and getting them into the post. I had planned a couple of modelling articles, some previews of new products for next year, but it just hasn’t worked out …

We have managed a suitably festive cake review (well, we have to keep our strength up somehow !) – it’s the latest incarnation of Mr Kipling’s Festive Bakewells.
FestiveBakewells2014

Finally, a reminder – the last posting dates for anywhere overseas are long past, but UK first class post can still be sent up to the 20th, which is this Saturday. So if you get your UK orders in by 9am Friday morning (the 19th) I will do my utmost to get them in the post on Saturday and to you by Christmas (no promises, mind, but we will try).

Last Posting Dates 2014

It’s that time of year already – it’s rather crept up on us, due in part to the unseasonally mild weather which doesn’t feel much like November !

RoyalMail

Straight from the Royal Mail’s website, these are the last recommended posting dates for Christmas delivery this year (earliest first – overseas dates are all for airmail services):

BFPO (operational units) – 28th November
Far East, New Zealand – 3th December
Australia – 4th December
Africa, Caribbean, Central & South America, Middle East – 5th December
Eastern Europe, Greece – 8th December
Canada, Poland – 9th December
USA, BFPO (static units) – 12th December
Western Europe – 13th December
First Class UK – 20th December

And we obviously need a few days notice to make sure we can prepare your order in time to meet these dates. So orders for anywhere other than Europe, the USA and Canada need to be with us by this coming Sunday (the 30th); ones for other overseas destinations (anywhere in Europe, plus North America) by Sunday 7th; and UK orders by Sunday 13th for us to have the best chance of fulfilling them in time. Obviously we’ll do our best to accommodate any that arrive after these dates and we will do our best to ship everything as fast as we can over this busy period.

Don’t forget that we offer PayPal Gift Vouchers in various denominations which make great Xmas gifts, especially if you have a better half who doesn’t know exactly what to get you 🙂

Utter Madness !

We recently got wind of a change to the Royal Mail’s list of restricted items that can’t be sent through the post – (wait for it) water-based paints. According to the Royal Mail website, no more than four pots can be sent in a single parcel, each no larger than 150ml.

(the snippet below is taken from the Pendraken website)

We don’t sell paints, so this doesn’t affect us from a business point of view, but we do buy them, and it will affect us as gamers because it’ll inevitably lead to increases in the cost of shipping.

Apparently it’s to ‘protect other items in the mail’. Fair enough, but this doesn’t sit consistently with the ability to ship a litre of alcohol in a glass bottle – surely there’s far more chance of that breaking and making your credit card bill smell of whisky, than there is a plastic pot of Ultramarine blue leaking its copious contents all over the bank statements and birthday cards ?

Leon Pengilley of Pendraken Miniatures has started a petition to get RM to lift (or at least modify) this ban. We’ve signed it, we think every other gamer should too.

postpaint

The Last Post

It’s getting close to the last posting dates for Christmas again. You can find the official last posting dates on the Royal Mail website. However, to give us a chance to get your order ready, we will need a few days notice, so the last dates to get orders to us are:

Australia, Eastern Europe : Sunday 1st December
Canada, France, Greece, Poland : Sunday 8th December
USA, Western Europe (except France, Greece, Poland) : Wednesday 11th December
UK : Wednesday 18th December

If your order is anything other than a small one (> £20) or has any resin items included, please try to give us a few days extra. Obviously, if you can then please give us more notice if at all possible.

Post-box

This is probably a good time to post a reminder about our Gift Vouchers. These are backed by PayPal and can be used like cash on anything on our website – they are also valid during our sale periods.

Shapeways Free Shipping

Shapeways are currently offering free European shipping until midnight on Wednesday 27th. We know that shipping costs are a major bugbear for some potential Shapeways customers, so here’s your chance to avoid them. There are a couple of caveats; shipping must be to UK, Netherlands or German addresses, and the order has to be 60€ (roughly £50) or more. That said, we have noticed in the past that Shapeways often have similar offers in the USA at the same time (we just don’t get the e-mails since it doesn’t affect us), so North American customers may want to check the Shapeways website.

We will be placing an order of our own, so if anyone wants to order one or two items from the Brigade Shapeways shop, less than the minimum amount, then let us know by the end of Tuesday 26th. You can piggyback on our order and will only have to pay the cost of getting the model from us to you (which is less than Shapeways shipping would be).

free-shipping-euro-top

Going Postal – again !

RoyalMail

Our dear old friends the Royal Mail are at it again. Back in April they introduced a completely new price structure for UK packages with two new categories, small and large package, replacing the old parcel category. They also reviewed (ie increased) prices for overseas packages.

After a while with the new system we’ve been able to take stock of how this has affected us. The good news is that most of the inland parcels we send are still either large letters or small packages, so there’s no need for us to change our UK prices at all.

The main change for overseas parcels is that the minimum price for the smallest package has gone up again; we’ve had a few very small orders where the cost of the postage has been such that the total value of the order (goods plus shipping) has barely covered the postage costs, so we have ended up making very little if anything on those orders. So we’ve increased the minimum cost for an order by £1 for all overseas orders (Europe and elsewhere) BUT at the same time we have also decreased the percentage component of the shipping charge. The overall effect of this is to make very small orders quite expensive to ship (a couple of packs of flight stands or fighters, for example, is going to cost more in postage than the stands are worth – this is unfortunate, but it reflects the actual costs to us). But large orders won’t be a great deal more expensive, if at all (very large orders will actually see their shipping charges drop).

A further change we’re going to make is to introduce additional shipping charges for large/heavy items which don’t fit well in our percentage-based system. In particular this is aimed at the Celtos books, which weigh a ridiculous amount (the rulebook is getting on for a kilo !) and always leave us out of pocket on shipping costs. So these will now attract a higher percentage rate than other items. We show the cost of shipping on each item’s individual page on the website so it should all be very clear, but to emphasis this, any item that we categorise as heavy will have a weight symbol (below) shown next to it.

smallweight

One advantage of having implemented this is that we can also do the reverse for lighter items that we can justify charging less in shipping. These include small-scale aeronef and spaceship fighters, Land Ironclads contraptions etc. These will have a feather symbol shown on their page to signify that the postage charges are lower.
smallfeather

So that’s it for now – hopefully these changes will keep our shipping charges reasonably accurate (until the next set of Royal Mail updates !).

A post about … no post !

I had it all planned … this weekend I was going to blog about a new batch of models that were due to arrive Friday. Amongst others, these included the prints of the 2mm farms, factories and terraces which seem to have generated a fair bit of interest.

But no. UPS once again (literally) failed to deliver. According to their website :

Dartford, United Kingdom 07/12/2012 18:49 The package was missed at the UPS facility, UPS will deliver on the next business day.

So what exactly does this mean ? To me, it sounds like they forgot to put it on the van ! Which means I (and all of you) will now have to wait until Wednesday for a peek at the new buildings 🙁

So instead, you’ll have to be content with some release dates. Now it has to be said that we’ve never been the best at keeping to fixed release dates, but we’re going to try.

December

January

February

That’s far enough ahead for now (I’m getting a nosebleed thinking as far as February !). I think we’ve previewed all of these already, and we have the masters of most of them, so we’re well on the way.

Rescued from Parcelforce

Thanks to the New Zealand postal service we managed to track down the package of Belgian civilians that we feared had been seen for the last time.

It was held up because some import VAT had to be paid before it could be released. Unfortunately some bright spark at Parcelforce put the wrong name on the letter advising us of the VAT. So basically it made its way safely half way around the globe but the Royal Mail couldn’t send a letter correctly over a distance of ten miles……

So after a quick trip to the local Parcelforce depot yesterday we now have the figures in our hands. I’ll be adding them to the stack of new models that I’ll be feeding to the vulcaniser over the weekend.

Going Postal

I sat and did the Brigade post this week, as I do every week – weighing packages, printing out labels, writing customs tickets etc. And for the third week in a row, I took a sharp intake of breath at the end of it all. If you’re outside the UK you probably may not be aware that the Royal Mail hiked their prices considerably at the end of April. The main impact is at the lower end of the weight scale, where most of the parcels we send are – RM have effectively put the minimum prices of most services up by a pound or more. On each of the past three weeks we’ve lost money on postage, and that’s before we start taking account of the cost of packaging (ziplock bags, padded envelopes, boxes, even the labels used to print the postage – they all add up).

So … well, you know what’s coming next, don’t you ? Much as we hate to, we’re going to have to alter our postage charges structure, effective immediately. We’re raising the £1 handling fee per order to £2 + VAT (for orders from Europe) or £2.50 (Rest of the World) BUT at the same time we’ve reducing the percentage fees for both. UK prices will remain the same for the moment. The net effect of this will be to raise the minimum postage price for overseas orders, but by reducing the percentages the effect will be less for medium to large orders, and in fact large orders will cost less than they do at the moment. It’s on small orders where it will be most noticeable, but that reflects the changes that RM have made.

You can see the exact details on the ordering page on our website. If you have any queries or comments about this, please feel free to e-mail us about it.