Our website shopping cart system, which has been working fine for ages (since the last time a bunch of changes by PayPal broke it) has started playing up again. I’d been wondering why we’d had a very quiet (ie dead) weekend for orders, until a prospective customer very kindly let us know what had been happening. It appears that you can place one item in the shopping cart and everything is fine, but if you try to place any more in it then this rather helpful error message appears:
I’m guessing that once again PayPal have made some changes to their system, and hopefully (as they have in the past) the problems will suddenly resolve themselves in a day or two. In the meantime, if you want to place an order with us, you can send me an email and I’ll get back to you with a PayPal invoice (hopefully they still work !) as soon as I can.
I returned to the workshop on Tuesday to tackle the medium-sized pile of orders that had built up over the Christmas holiday week. Fortunately it wasn’t too bad this year, following my last minute blitz to clear out the sale orders before I finished work (late) on the 22nd of December.
Although it’s a short 4-day week, we’re returning to normal with a new release planned for tomorrow. The moulds are all ready to go, but I need to get a move on to paint some sample models ready for photography – if this takes longer then the release might be delayed until the start of next week.
In the meantime, here’s a useful pair of somethings for the Imperial Skies players out there. One of the items in the kickstarter was a set of very useful laser cut counters, some for marking altitude and others for keeping track of command points. These sold out completely and there were no spare sets at all (I don’t even have a set of my own!).
We’ve recently had some new counters made so that anyone who missed out on the first offering can have their own sets. The originals were made from a special laminated two-colour plastic which was rather expensive so we haven’t used it again, instead these new versions are made from normal opaque acrylic, albeit in the same colours.
Set one consists of twenty altitude markers, ten HIGH and ten LOW, in red and black. The second set has twenty circular command point counters in blue. The counters are surface etched – this etching can quite easily be coloured using acrylic paint pens if you wish, and I’ll be writing an article on how to do this quite soon.
We’ll, that’s it for 2017. I’m now off until January 2nd, so while the website will remain open for business, no orders will be processed until I return.
In a rather unexpected turn of events, I did in the end manage to clear every outstanding order (except for one, but that was down to a resin mould failing at just the wrong moment), including one that came in this afternoon. The metal delivery arrived in the nick of time this morning, which was a relief. There were several very large orders which were all for similar items (6mm Slammers and opposition) which I was able to do as one very big batch, saving a lot of time. And I was also very lucky that most of the post-sale orders have been straightforward, either things that were quick and easy to cast or that I already had in stock. Which is great, as it means that 2018 will start with a clean slate rather than a 2017 sale hangover as previous years often have.
The orders won’t be posted until after Christmas – there’s no point, as nothing will be delivered over the holiday so all they’d do is sit in a Royal Mail depot for several days. I’ll shift them all during next week.
Finally, while waiting for the metal delivery this morning I made some resin moulds for some of next year’s early releases. This is what went into them…
The sale usually ends quietly, with the odd last day order, but most people generally get their orders sent in plenty of time.
Not this year.
I’ve finally had a chance to sit down and process the flurry (torrent!) of orders that arrived at the end of the sale. And I’m stuffed. With three days left until the Christmas holiday starts, I have (at a conservative estimate) four days work minimum to clear the remaining orders. If I work three 10-hour days at the workshop, everything goes to plan and I work at optimum pace, I might get the current order queue done by Friday. Of course, that assumes that our metal resupply appears very soon (I’ve burned through as much metal in the last four weeks as we’d usually use in almost three months, which is why I’ve been a bit caught out) – as mentioned yesterday, my current stocks will run out sometime Thursday.
This might seem like a bit of a ‘woe is me’ whinge, but there is an important message trying to get out, which is that any orders placed between now and Jan 1st will not be processed until the New Year. I have the full week off between Christmas and the New Year, so won’t be returning until Jan 2nd.
I will try to contact anyone whose orders are delayed on Friday, once I know where we are.
So the Christmas sale is all over for another year; I pulled the plug at 7am on Monday, allowing a small flurry of last minute orders to sneak under the line earlier that morning.
Assuming all goes to plan, I should just about get all sale orders shipped by the end of this week, although I will be hard pushed to get to any others that arrive between now and Friday. Everything up to December 11th has already gone (apart from one which is waiting on a restock of etched brass parts) and there’s another pile of parcels which I’ll take to the post office later this morning. The one possible fly in the ointment is that I’m obviously burning through metal supplies much faster than usual, and although I ordered more last week, I don’t know when that will arrive – if it doesn’t get here by Thursday then I will run out, and production will simply have to stop until it does turn up.
Thoughts are already turning to the start of next year and the first 2018 releases. Unusually, we’re ahead of the game as far as new models go; we have everything planned from now until March, design work is all finished and we have most of the masters in hand. One of the early releases will be a batch of 15mm Slammers models, filling in a few gaps and increasing the options available to both Hammer’s regiment and other forces. Below you can see a couple of new variants of the standard M9 combat car; on the left is the M9A14 crew car used by the Lightning Division, which is essentially a modified command car with a pair of gatling turrets on the roof.
On the right is the M9A10 cargo car, an open backed flatbed GEV transport. Some units use a variant (the M9A16) fitted with a calliope turret mounting eight 2cm powerguns for air defence – we’ll release this at the same time, I just didn’t have a photo of one assembled. This photo was taken just before the masters went into a mould, so I might be able to sneak out a couple of castings by the end of the week.
As you will have seen from Phil’s post, we had a rather inconvenient internet failure last week. Apparently when our new router was installed earlier in the year, the engineer left the cable to the old one unterminated, which was causing lots of noise on the system and affecting the rest of the street and surrounding area. So last week they fixed the issue by essentially blocking us off, rather than tracing the real source of the problem – and then acting surprised when we complained about losing our service!
However, a new engineer visited yesterday, got straight to the root of the problem and, after a bit of rewiring (accompanied by a modicum of swearing) had us back online within an hour.
I’ve caught up with emails again, placed several urgent orders for packaging and other supplies, paid the bills, processed all the orders that have arrived in the meantime and we’re pretty much back to normal. I’m about 3-4 days behind on sale orders, or, putting a positive spin on things, most (not quite all) orders placed before the 28th have been posted.
I’ve also double checked all orders and issued refunds to three or four people that hadn’t had the sale discount deducted. I’ve also had a couple of orders with the incorrect shipping options selected, so in those cases we will need to issue invoices to cover the extra postage costs.
Onto something a bit more relevant that might actually interest some of you – here’s another of our new models to look forward to next year – or part of it at any rate. This is the hull master of the Neo-Soviet Mammont heavy tank, which is another 6mm model that I’ve scaled up to 15mm. It’s been restyled to match the other recent Neo-Soviet releases, and the hull will be in five parts – the main body of the hull plus four track units. As for the turret, that has already gone for moulding so I’ll show that off once we have castings. Phil delivered a master mould earlier this week, so if I have a bit of time I’ll photograph some of the new bits from that.
My colleague Mr Francis is temporarily finding himself back in the dark ages with no broadband access and limited ability to reply to emails!! He is expecting that normality will be resumed by the end of the week.
In the meantime our Christmas sale is still ongoing and he will be keeping his nose firmly pressed against the grindstone casting and posting out orders as they come in.
The sale has gone off with a bang and a veritable Niagara of orders. I’m trying to keep up as best as I can, but at the moment I’m running a couple of days behind. All orders (with a couple of exceptions) to the end of Monday have been completed and I’m roughly halfway through Tuesday’s ones – although there’s been a slight hiccup with a minor broadband issue that prevented me doing today’s post in time, so they’ll have to go to the post office tomorrow instead. I generally tackle them in strict order of arrival, first-come-first-served, although if I get two orders for similar items then I’ll do those at the same time as it’s generally more efficient to do so.
Since we have no new releases during the sale, we like to post pictures of new items that you can look forward to in the New Year. A box of bits turned up from the printer at the end of last week and one of those was our first brand new item for the 15mm Hammer’s Slammers range. It’s an uparmoured version of the M2A4F command tank (designated the M2A4FUA). I’ve sat it on a standard blower hull for the photo since I didn’t have an uparmoured hull handy. The turret is a brand new 3D designed piece rather than a conversion of the existing command tank turret, and should be available sometime in January.
So amongst other things, over the past couple of weeks since SELWG I’ve been trying out the moulds for the Hammer’s Slammers models we recently acquired.
Some have been fine, while others don’t seem to like our resin too much – it seems to grip the rubber and rip bits off them. This was once a blower tank hull…
The problem has been compounded by a lack of resin – our usual supplier normally manages next-day deliveries, but this latest order has taken almost two weeks, which means I’ve had to conserve my stocks to cover website orders, instead of being able to cast lots of Slammers models (and blower tanks hulls needs lots of resin); yesterday afternoon, when I hoped to be in full production mode, I’d completely run out. However, I have managed to gather a bit of stock for Crisis tomorrow – I have some combat cars, a handful of blower tanks with a selection of turrets, a few artillery Hogs and a few jeeps. Not as much as I’d hoped, but enough to be getting on with.
We’ve started remoulding all of the vehicles in our normal rubber which we know works with our resin, so with a bit of luck we’ll have the first of them on our website in the next week or two.
Right, it’s off to the channel tunnel for me, to catch a train under the sea and then drive up to Antwerp for our last show of the year, Crisis.
Today we have a couple of additions to our EuroFed spaceship range, replacing another two of the older range of models. These should have been released a week ago, but my broadband went down and I couldn’t upload them…
Both are cruisers – the Valmy and Condorcet, medium and light cruisers respectively. Going back many, many years, the original Condorcet was the first spaceship model we ever made (and somewhere in Brigade towers is the silicon rubber mould – now black with age and use – from which we drop cast them over my kitchen stove !). These versions retain the same size and layout but with improved detailing to match the other new EuroFed ships.
SFS-420 – Valmy class Cruiser – £2.25 SFS-422 – Condorcet class Cruiser – £1.75
We’ll have stock of these at Crisis on Saturday, along with a massive selection of our other stuff – see you there !