Phil and I have belonged to Maidstone Wargames Society since … well, the dawn of time it seems ! We are respectively the third and second longest-serving members, behind the the club’s esteemed secretary.
Every year the society holds an Open Day as a showcase to promote what we do and hopefully attract a new member or two. This year’s event is next Saturday, June 24th. It’s held at our normal meeting place, Linton Village Hall, a couple of miles south of Maidstone itself. This year there are eight games covering a wide range of periods plus a number of static displays. You can chat to the members about the games or the club, or join in if you feel like having a go at anything.
Firstly, an apology – Easter has played havoc with my normal weekly schedule, so I’m a bit behind in getting orders to the post office – not casting and buyfilling the orders, that I’m on top of, but there’s a big pile of them in the office that need to be posted. Hopefully I will get to the post office this morning with all orders up to Tuesday, and we’ll soon be back to normal.
Onto other matters, yesterday was our final planned day of stocking up for Salute (I might get a bit more time in later today, but that depends on how much mail order casting there is left to do). I’d already topped up on existing models so the day was entirely given over to creating stock of all our new show releases.
Phil had finished the last of the new production moulds on Sunday and yesterday was the first time some of them were used. I spent the day casting many, many Terminators, Xarledi and Yenpalo infantry (in two scales), EuroFed ships, Squadron Commander fighters and more.
Tomorrow I’ll be collecting the hire van, packing it up and heading off to London to set up the stand – we’re lucky that the venue is just 45 minutes away from Brigade HQ (traffic permitting) so there’s no need to stay over, I’ll be back home in the evening and Phil and I will head up first thing Saturday morning. Salute is the one show when we’re joined by the honourary third Brigadier for the day, Jeremey, who takes care of the Celtos end of the stand.
Let’s have a brief change of pace from Salute for once – Beasts of War are inviting nominations for their 3rd annual awards, and you can win a prize for suggesting something for any of their categories. Far be it from us to seek to influence the jury, but maybe someone could sneak something of ours into a category or two ? Imperial Skies for best game, or one of our new Aeronef models in a miniatures category ? We’ll leave it to you to decide…
You can find all the details by clicking on the logo below.
Yesterday the power went out at the workshop, mid-casting session, and didn’t come back for the rest of the day. Unfortunately this plunged me into pitch darkness and meant I wasn’t able to finish all the outstanding orders, which is a pain. Everything placed up to last Friday (Feb 3rd) has been packed and sent, but after that you’re now in the queue. With a bit of luck it will have been fixed today and I should be able to get back to casting tomorrow.
Sunday sees us (well, me) attending a new show – Red On Blue In Nottingham, or ROBIN for short. Given Nottingham’s position as the centre of UK wargaming’s Lead Belt, being the home of an awful lot of the major players (us excepted, of course) it’s surprising that there hasn’t mean a show held there in recent years. I’m heading up Saturday afternoon ready to set up Sunday morning first thing. I should have a decent stock of all of our new releases (assuming of course that I get power back tomorrow !). Because this is a solo show, I’ll have a full quota of army packs, starter packs, rulebooks etc, but no individual stock of 6mm, spaceships, Squadron Commander or Aeronef (although we have started carrying a selection of Aeronef capital ships) – I just don’t have the space or the will power to lift and shift that much stock. I will have individual 15mm vehicles and figure packs, Celtos and Magpie figures, Great War Belgians and the full 2mm range.
I feel like we’re fighting a constant stream of niggling problems at the moment. PayPal are rolling out updates to their shopping cart software which keep breaking (if only temporarily) our website in minor but irritating ways – firstly there was the issue with shipping costs, which was then followed by the (fortunately brief) problem with VAT calculations. Touching as much wood as I can find, I think I’ve solved (or worked around) both of these.
The Brigade printer (barely two years old) has been playing up and the black heads are constantly clogging, which is costing a fortune in ink for head cleaning – to the extent that a new printer might be cheaper than the ink cartridges I keep buying. The last gasp is a third-party head cleaning kit, so wish me luck with that …
The latest one ? Back in early November I noticed we were getting low on flying stands and put in an order to get us through the sale. We received a partial order before Christmas (most of the black stands but no clear) and we’ve now been told that the manufacturer’s injection moulding machine is out of action and it could be weeks or even months before we get any more of either type. This is a pretty critical item to run out of, since they are supplied in all Aeronef fleet, flotilla and starter packs.
So at the moment we’re limited to just black bases. However, as an alternative they’re offered us white flying stands so we’ve ordered a big batch of those and will be using them as replacements in Aeronef fleet packs as soon as they arrive.
On the plus side, yesterday I cleared the order backlog and everything up until the end of this weekend has been cast up, packed and will be sent later today (woo-hoo !). And Phil has been churning out moulds like there’s no tomorrow, so the new release list is looking good 🙂
So the sale is all over for another year – this time we’ve been unusually efficient with turning orders around, although there are still a few remaining that came in on Thursday and Friday for me to mop up this week. However, all sale orders should ship by Christmas barring anything unforeseen.
I’m at the workshop for the first half of this week and will continue to process any new orders as they come in. The last posting date for all overseas destinations has gone, so although I will still post out orders, don’t expect to see them until well after Christmas now. The exception is UK orders – I will endeavour to get all remaining sale orders for the UK posted before last post (Wednesday), but anything else will probably not make it for Christmas Day.
The website will remain open as always, but we’re taking next week off, so any orders placed after the middle of this week will have to wait until the New Year. Once the sale orders have gone I’ll be concentrating on admin, some maintenance and tidying around the workshop, and hopefully some design work on new items. I’ll return to the workshop on Tuesday January 3rd after the New Year bank holiday.
The Christmas sale is merrily sailing along (excuse the pun), and I’m going up to the local post office almost daily with piles of orders to be dispatched. It has ten days to run, so you still have plenty of time to make a saving (although be mindful of the last posting dates if you’re hoping to receive anything before Christmas). As things stand we’re pretty much up to date with orders – I have managed to clear the backlog so orders are being turned round pretty swiftly. We have a couple held up by a failed resin building mould that Phil is rapidly remaking, and we had run out of Imperial Skies turn rulers (again). However, new supplies of those were delivered today so they’ll be out the door in the next day or two, and are also back on the website.
We’ve had a cold spell here in the UK, so the workshop is, to say the least, a little nippy – this was the temperature inside the workshop when I switched on the machines the other day. I have a fan heater that keeps the casting room warm (if I don’t then the oil inside the air compressor motor is too viscous and it won’t run), but the main body of the workshop tends to resemble a walk-in freezer !
We’ve managed to stay on plan this year, so I’ve spent the majority of the last couple of weeks casting, packing and posting orders. I’ve also managed to find time to do some design work on new releases for next year and we have some interesting new bits lined up – there are new releases planned in the spaceships, Aeronef, Small Scale Scenery, 6mm and 15mm SF ranges for the first three months of next year. For now, here’s a preview of the hull of a new 15mm tank I’ve been working on…
One of our most popular 15mm ranges is the PacFed (Pacific Federation), probably because of their futuristic look with the wide grav skirts and rail guns. The designs are based on their 6mm counterparts but with a rather different styling and much more detail (as befits some of the first 3D sculpts we made). We decided recently that we would upgrade the models in the Polyversal pledge to the standard of the 15mm designs and showed off the 3D models. Now we have the models in hand and we’ve started casting in anger to fulfil our part of the pledges.
We thought it might be interesting to show some side-by-side images of the old and new models for comparison. As you can see, we’ve kept them pretty much the same size and layout as the originals but otherwise they’ve had a commplete facelift. One lesson learnt from previous rescales has been to beef up the proportions of the guns otherwise they can be too spindly. In addition, I’ve also found it can be a good idea to increase the thickness of turrets as well, as a straight scaling from the 15mm models can leave them looking a bit thin. I’m sure it doesn’t need pointing out but, just in case, the old models are on the left of each picture 🙂
We have now finished remodelling all of the PacFed range in 6mm, including a couple of 15mm vehicles that haven’t previously been available in 6mm (the Raeside and Dundas). We have masters of all of them which are just about to be committed to moulds (in fact I picked up a fresh batch of blank moulds from the manufacturers this morning) so there will be more photos once we’ve been able to cast the first masters.
It’s all hands to the pump here right now – the Black Friday offer seems to have kicked the sale into overdrive (it was going well enough anyway). I’ve been trying to turn round orders as fast as possible to avoid any sort of backlog building up, but this weekend’s flood of orders means that I’m now running about 4-5 days behind – so orders placed up to yesterday will hopefully be posted by the end of this week.
Normally I try to process orders in the sequence that they are received, so that everyone is treated fairly. However, as the first of the last posting dates starts to loom into view I will prioritise orders so that they have the best chance of arriving for Christmas. Essentially, this means I’ll try to make sure orders get posted in time for their respective dates.
Saturday 17 December – Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg
Wednesday 21 December – UK
I’m afraid that the last posting date for Antartica has already passed…
Obviously we aren’t always able to ship out orders on the same or next day, some may take several days to a week to process, so if you want to place an order as a present, please, please don’t leave it to the last minute.
UPDATE 11/11/2016 – we’ve been informed that this issue has now been fixed, so all should be working again.
We’ve had a notification from PayPal this morning that there is an issue at their end with the shopping cart system – they’re apparently working on it. For some customers it’s fine (we’ve had several orders this morning) but for others it’s been playing up for a couple of days.
In the meantime, if you’re unable to complete your transaction at the checkout stage, you can send us a list and we can send you a PayPal invoice in return – this part of their system is working fine and you can pay that way.