IT Issues

I’ve had a bit of an IT problem for the last day or so (ie the Wi-Fi here at Brigade Towers is playing up), which has meant that I haven’t been able to get the next batch of new releases onto the website.

It’s also means that I can’t get any orders posted as I can’t get onto our PayPal account to print out shipping labels – so there’s a big pile of orders sitting in the office waiting to go.

So apologies to anyone waiting for their order – I’m hoping that it will be back by tomorrow morning so I can get everything posted before the weekend.

We’ll Be Right Back…

I’m off for a few days (the rest of this week, to be exact) for a short break to congratulate/commiserate with the Brigadieress for putting up with me for another year. All orders up until the end of yesterday (Monday) have been completed, but there will be a hiatus until I return to the workshop at the start of next week. The website of course remains open so you can still place orders, I just won’t get to them immediately.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with some upcoming new models – these are German spaceships, replacements for the older Osnabruck and Wuppertal models that are in need of a new production mould so we’re taking the opportunity to update them to new digitally sculpted designs. With a bit of luck they’ll form part of our Salute portfolio this year (which is already frighteningly close, just five weeks away).

Death and Taxes

Towards the end of last year, I wrote a post on the Royal Mail’s last posting dates before Christmas, commenting that I thought it would be “our least exciting post of the year“. This year I’m getting in early for that accolade with this piece.

I had a number of emails during the sale concerning the way our shopping cart system works, in particular related to the application (or non-application) of VAT – customers outside the EU worried that it hadn’t been deducted correctly, or others in the UK or Europe questioning why a big lump of tax had been added to their order when they checked out. So this is my best attempt to explain how it all works and who or what it applies to. I’m not an accountant, which I’m hoping will be an advantage as I’ll try to explain things from my layman’s point of view. I’m also looking at it from the point of view of the Brigade website only, there may be some special cases or rates that don’t apply to us, in which case I won’t complicate matters with those. So if you’re’re all sitting comfortably, then I’ll begin…

VAT
VAT stands for Value Added Tax – it’s essentially a sales tax. In the UK it’s levied on most goods and services, although only if the company supplying them is registered for VAT. Companies over a certain annual turnover threshold (currently £85000) are required to register for VAT in the UK, although ones with a lower turnover can voluntarily register (there are advantages to being registered – for example, you can claim back any VAT you pay out). Incidentally, this needs to be borne in mind for overseas customers ordering from other sites – I’ve seen complaints on TMP for example complaining that company X didn’t deduct VAT for an order from the US or Canada, when company X may simply not have been registered in the first place. But that’s by-the-by, since Brigade most certainly is VAT registered.

Rates
The current rate of VAT for most goods is 20%; there are some different rates for other specific items, but none of these apply to Brigade except for books, which are zero-rated (which means that although they are technically eligible for VAT, the current rate is 0% so no tax is charged on them).

Prices on our website or blog are always given with VAT included. So an item that is listed at £6 is actually £5 plus 20% (£1) VAT. On the website we state the amount of VAT on each item page, but if you’re trying to work it out for yourself, remember that VAT is 1/6th of the total price (not 1/5th, as might seem the obvious calculation).

The Shopping Cart
The way the cart works has changed slightly. The values that go into the cart are without VAT – so if you add our previously mentioned £6 item to the cart, the value that actually goes into it is £5 (plus the shipping cost for the item is added to the running total). VAT is only added later once you give the system your shipping address and it can then determine whether or not you need to pay the tax. If you’re within the the main 28 EU countries (not those in the EEA) then you will be charged VAT; anywhere else in the world, you won’t. So when you checkout, if your delivery address is within the EU, 20% will be added to the order total. But remember, the value that went into the cart was without VAT, so the total amount you will be charged is still the same as was stated on the website initially.

Shipping
HMRC have decreed that VAT also has to be added to any shipping costs at the same rate as the rest of the order. If you place an order for books only then that rate will be zero, so no VAT is added. If the order is a mix of books and other items, then the higher rate of 20% VAT is added to the entire shipping cost.

Example
Below are five images showing an example from start to checkout. I’ve captioned each image so as you scroll through the gallery, hopefully everything will become clear!

OK, I think that’s it – I hope it all makes sense, but if anyone has any questions (or, just as importantly, if I’ve got anything wrong or could explain it better), please let us know.

I’ll now get back to the far more interesting and important task of making little model tanks and spaceships now…

Merry Christmas!

One final update before we shut down the centrifuge for the Christmas holiday. We’ve managed to clear almost all of the sale orders, which at one point didn’t look very likely, but a week of long days (and evenings) means that we won’t be returning after the new year to a pile of unfinished ones. Frustratingly, there were two we weren’t able to get shipped; one needs a couple of items from another manufacturer that we’ve run out of, while the other needs a 15mm building, the mould for which split at the most inconvenient time and we just haven’t been able to make a new one. We’ve also sorted out all post-sale orders that reached us by the end of last Friday (21st). All remaining UK-bound parcels were posted on Saturday, so with a bit of luck they might arrive on Christmas Eve. There are a few overseas ones left to send that will go to the post office on Monday, so while they’ll only sit there for a couple of days, at least they are in the system. I will be at the workshop Monday morning to try and clear a couple of orders that have arrived over the weekend, but even if I do they won’t get posted until later in the week.

Phil and I are now taking a break until the New Year; the website remains open for orders, but nothing will be processed until the melting pot gets powered up again on January 2nd. Have a great Christmas holiday everyone, we’ll be back in 2019 with lots of exciting new models.

That’s all – finally!

So the sale is over for another year – we’ve finally disabled the code, a bit later than planned (we’ve had a few extra orders today, obviously we’ll honour the sale discount on those). There were also some annoying issues with an update to the WordPress editor that stopped us posting this morning :-/

The response to the last few days of the sale was unexpected to say the least – the value of the orders placed between Friday and Sunday was more than we took in the whole of October ! This means that we may have difficulty clearing the entire queue before we break for Christmas. We will do our best, but some of the orders that arrived towards the back end of Sunday may not quite make it out until the New Year. We’ll keep you all updated…

Spanish Skies

The sale is sailing serenely on – this morning I took another big batch of parcels to the post office, we’ve now shipped all orders up to and including December 8th (apart from the last one to arrive that day – no particular reason, I just ran out of time yesterday !). However, there was a big burst of orders on Sunday, prompted no doubt by the fast-approaching end of the sale next weekend, so that will slow me down a bit.

In the meantime, I’ve spent the odd hour or two working on further new releases – more Aeronef, following on from last week’s British smaller vessels. This time I have a pair of larger vessels – the first is a new version of the Chilean battleship Santiago. The old model (out of production for some time) was notable for it’s two huge quad gun turrets, so I’ve kept that aspect of the design, although it’s also been given two smaller light gun turrets.

The second new vessel is a Spanish fighter carrier. One of the aspects of the Spanish capital ships that I really like is the raised front-to-back walkway on both vessels, so I’ve taken this and enlarged it to make a narrow flight deck. Below this at main deck level is an aircraft handling area with an anti-aircraft turret at each corner. The fighter models on deck are British Fitton Scouts which I used for sizing purposes. It remains to be seen if the Spanish get their own aircraft design…

Aeronef Previews

First off, the latest sale update … we’ve shipped all but three orders from November, so I’m currently about four days behind – which isn’t too bad, it means I’m at least keeping up and not slipping any further. I’m hoping that we can repeat last year’s achievement of clearing everything before the Christmas holiday starts.

In between stints at the workshop I’ve been doing a little bit of design work. One of our goals for next year is to start replacing all of the cruisers and escorts for the major powers now that we’ve finished the capital ships (well nearly – the USA will get their new models first thing in January). We’ll start with the British, with the aim of having those ready for release at Salute in April. There are seven models to be replaced, and we’re also hoping to squeeze in a couple of new designs as well.

As you can see, I’ve based these new ones on the existing designs but with the addition of separate turrets on the larger vessels (which then gives us the option of offering an AA version of the Arethusa by swapping out the gun turrets for AA ones). And they’ll generally just be slightly better overall with more details and little touches like windows that are inset rather than proud of the surface.

Exeter heavy cruiser

Arethusa destroyer

Frigates (l-r) Steadfast, Cossack, Osprey, Cygnet

Orion Light Cruiser

The Last Post 2018

Probably our least exciting post of the year, but it has to be done … 🙂

We’ve had the Royal Mail’s last recommended posting dates for Christmas this year; I’ve listed them below, something to bear in mind if you’re buying presents and want them to arrive in time for December 25th. Also bear in mind that I can’t always dispatch orders on the day they arrive, especially at this time of year when we’re busy with the sale. As you can see, you still have plenty of time.

  • UK (First Class mail) – Thursday December 20th
  • France/Belgium/Eire/Luxembourg – Tuesday December 18th
  • Western/Central Europe (airmail) – Monday December 17th
  • Canada/USA/Czech Rep/Poland/Italy – Friday December 14th
  • Greece/Turkey/Australia/NZ – Monday December 10th
  • Cyprus/Malta/Asia/Far East/Eastern Europe – Friday December 7th

Talking of the sale, I’m doing reasonably well – I have caught up a bit. All but a handful of orders up to last Thursday (22nd) have been sent, and several after that date (mostly orders for just rulebooks, which don’t need any casting and can be sent immediately). I have three huge orders to do that will occupy all of my time today, but by the end of this week I hope to have the backlog down to manageable proportions.

Now to see who reads all the way down this far … thanks ! Here’s a preview of a new Hammer’s Slammers tank destroyer, the Silverback. Readers of Miniature Wargames will have seen this already in the review section, but it’ll be new to the rest of you. I have masters for the 15mm and 6mm (hi David !) versions and production moulds for the 15mm hull have already been made, I’m just waiting on Phil to make the master mould for the metal parts. It’ll be one of our first releases of 2019 and might even squeeze in the back end of this year. It’s a bit of a monster, equal in size to a Slammer’s M2 blower tank and carrying the largest gun (25cm powergun) of any vehicle in the Crucible.

Crisis Management

The name of the show run by the erstwhile Tin Soldiers of Antwerp is perfect for all sorts of punning headlines; however, this year it’s a little nearer to the mark.

Crisis 2018 is on Saturday, November 3rd, and I will be there as usual in the second hall, in my regular spot by the west wall. As always for any show, we welcome advance orders – in fact they’ve already been coming in. You can either place an order and pay in advance using the collect in person option on the website, or just drop us an email with a list and pay on the day. And if you read on, you’ll see that it’s especially important this year if there’s anything specific you’d like to get from us.

Apart from a couple of the larger shows when we hire a van, I generally travel to shows in my trusty people carrier, complete with roofbox for extra storage space – this includes the drive to Antwerp for Crisis. This year however there seems to be a rush on cross-channel travel, and I’ve been unable to secure a place for a ‘high car’, which means no roof box. So why, dear reader, should you care ? Because it means I’ll have to leave behind a not-insignificant amount of stock because of the reduction in space. Exactly what that will be isn’t yet clear, and may not be until I try loading the car, but I’ve already determined that I won’t be able to bring any 10mm or 15mm SF buildings as they take up quite a bit of room; I’ll probably also have to drop a couple of boxes of starter packs and army packs. With this in mind, the stock list for Crisis is likely to be along the lines of:

  • Celtos – Decent stock of all individual figures, small unit packs and medium and large army packs
  • Aeronef/Imperial Skies – All of the most popular fleet packs (the major powers) but not the smaller nations; a good selection of individual capital ships in blisters; rulebooks and accessories for Imperial Skies; no grand fleet packs or starter packs
  • Small Scale Scenery – the full range of all models
  • Spaceships – full range of fleet packs; no individual models except for new releases
  • Hammer’s Slammers – rulebooks; the full range of 15mm models; a selection of 6mm detachment packs and the more recent 6mm Slammers releases as individual models; some 15mm detachment packs
  • 15mm SF – full range of 15mm vehicles, figure packs and accessories; no buildings
  • 6mm SF – full range of army packs, company packs and building packs; no individual models
  • Great War Belgians – full range of figures
  • Magpie Miniatures – individual figures and packs
  • Squadron Commander – full range of blisters packs; no individual models or starter packs
  • Crom’s Anvil – full range of figures
  • I will not be able to bring any 10mm SF buildings, Iron Stars or Land Ironclads miniatures.

So if there’s anything that I’m not bringing that you’d like to order, please get in touch and I can arrange to have it with me.

Holiday time again

As previously mentioned, I missed Colours this weekend because of a rather more important event. The Brigadieress and I are also away for a short break, so although the website will remain open, I won’t be around until the very end of this week and there will be a slower than usual turnaround on orders for the 7-10 days and delays in answering queries.

Because of this, we’ve decided to hold onto any new models and will instead release them at Tabletop Gaming Live in a fortnight. Previews will be along soon…

You still have a week or so to place orders for collection at TTGL, I’ll be casting the last ones on the Wednesday before the show.

Arrivederci!