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 !).

It’s Oh So Quiet …

There’s been a shortage of activity here on the blog for a few days.

Tumbleweed

It’s not that we haven’t been busy – just the opposite, in fact. We’ve been hit (in the nicest possible sense) by a bunch of large orders all at once, including two for new retailers (of which more anon). This is great, because it replenishes the Brigade coffers and allows us to spend more on developing new models, buying moulds, upgrading the stand etc. But the downside is that it doesn’t leave us enough time to actually do all of these things (remember, Phil and I both have full time jobs as well as Brigade). Every evening we spend at the workshop casting orders is an evening we don’t get to spend cleaning masters, making moulds etc. The price of success I suppose ! However, we’re getting close to clearing the orders which means we can get back to the task of releasing new models (such as the much-delayed British spaceships).

In the meantime, here’s something I made earlier … a Chain Home radar installation in 1/1000th scale, including transmitter and receiver towers and assorted buildings. These will be released through the Shapeways store since it would be utterly impossible to cast the lattice towers in metal !

ChainHome

And to go with them, a WW2 airfield set – based on a small airfield with blister hangars for 1-2 fighters, Nissen huts and various other buildings (including a couple of pillboxes). These will be metal castings in the 2mm range.

Airfield

And finally, still on the same WW2 airfield theme, a larger hangar based on a T2 type.

T2

End of the coaster

CDpile

Many years ago, when we first started selling fleet packs for some of our ranges (Aeronef being the first, followed by the spaceships range when we adopted Starmada) we hit upon the idea of providing a CD with stats on for the appropriate rules system. All fleet, grand fleet and starter packs had a CD with playsheets which could be printed off as many times as you like. When we started to do this, the idea of everyone being permanently wired up to the internet on a broadband connection was still some way off – those were the days of 28k dial-up connections (56k if you were lucky) and we still received a significant proportion of our orders through the post, indicating that not everyone could reach our website.

Nowadays we receive few, if any orders through the post (we might have had one or two so far this year), which means that just about everyone can reach the website. The information on the CDs we supply is all there on the website anyway, you can download playsheets and other information for a variety of rules systems from our gaming pages. Because of this, we’ve made the decision to stop shipping CDs with any of our packs – the only exception will be Aeronef starter packs and the Wrath of the Syren scenario pack, because these contain rules or other publications that aren’t downloadable. If you buy a copy of the Aeronef rules or Captain’s Handbook, these will still come on a CD along with the playsheets.

By doing this we save a little bit on the cost of each pack (plus the time saved in burning the CDs) which means that we can put off any sort of price rise for now. It also makes it easier to keep everything up-to-date, as we only have to add stats for new releases to the website rather than worrying about the contents lists of several different types of CD.

Talking of new releases … look out tomorrow for the first of the Salute items to hit the website.

Where are the new releases ?

So we know what you’re thinking … you released all of these shiny new models at Salute, why aren’t they on the website yet ? So here’s what’s going on …

QuestionMark

Firstly, we’d built up a bit of an order backlog over the last month or two (well, if truth be told we’ve had an order backlog ever since the 25th anniversary sale which we’ve never been able to clear). So to be fair to those people waiting for orders, we wanted to complete them before putting up the new items – after an order packing session last night this is almost done, there are only 3-4 left outstanding.

Secondly, some of the new items were rushed to be out in time for the show, and we haven’t quite got them ready for full release – we might have moulds and stock (well, what’s left after Saturday), but we don’t have decent photos of the new items for the website, we haven’t finished the stats to support the models in various sets of rules, etc. So we have a little bit of work to do to take the photos, generate stats etc.

And thirdly, we didn’t simply want to put up fifty new items to the website all at once and be swamped by subsequent flood of orders – having just cleared one backlog, we’d simply generate another. Frankly, Phil and I are knackered after Salute (it’s amazing how much work goes into preparing for one seven-hour show). So we’re going to release the new items gradually, one range at a time, over a couple of weeks or so in order to manage the demand. First will be the 6mm items – the Indonesian tanks and fighters – later this week.

That’s that then…..

So after weeks of preparation, late nights and long casting sessions Salute has come and gone for another year. Its always a busy day and again we didn’t get to see much of the show ourselves so have to resort to other people’s photo reports of the day to see what what was going on.

As ever we’re completely knackered. Fatally I sat down with the kids last night to watch some tele. Suddenly it was a quarter past midnight and we were all asleep in the lounge. After I got them off to bed I stupidly sat back downstairs. Once I’d woken up again at half three I finally made it to bed!

After having a couple of days off, we’ll get all of the new releases on the website to buy over the next few days.

Until then its time for a bit more sleep…..

trying to sleep

See you tomorrow …

Well, that’s it – the van is packed and ready to go, I’m just running off a last couple of bits and pieces off the printer but otherwise it’s an early night ready for a 7am start tomorrow. There’s been the odd hiccup (some combination of temperature and humidity means that the British spaceships I sprayed this afternoon look like they’ve been pebble-dashed !) but nothing we can’t survive.

We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible tomorrow – and for those that can’t make it for one reason of another, there will be many photo reports on the web I’m sure.

Waving Flags

Three days to go …

Yesterday evening the Brigadieress and I raised the flag – the new Brigade flag that is (I have no idea what some of you were thinking …).

The old Brigade banner (below) was a home-made affair with a charm of its own, and has served us well for many years. However, it’s beginning to show its age and the time has come for it to be pensioned off into well-earned retirement.

Banner

Its replacement is a shiny new, 10-feet high feather flag from the Hampshire Flag Company (we’ll give them a plug because we’re very pleased with what they’ve done and the service we received). It should give you a chance of finding us across the vast acreage of the ExCel centre on Saturday.

Flag

Fun with a dremel

Its just coming up to 1am and I find myself dremeling into the heads of Belgian ladies. Obvious really. What else would I be doing at this time.

I’ve one final mould to make for Salute and its the second one for the Bel;gian civilians. Unfortunately the heads aren’t a snug enough fit into the bodies to survive the vulcaniser without moving so each one has to be pinned in place. So I’m dremeling into the necks and heads of Belgian ladies.

sticking heads

 

Ever wish you hadn’t started something … ?

Five days to Salute and counting … and both Phil and I are posting on the same day, so you can tell how busy it’s getting !!

So we spent all our money on some shiny new display cases for Celtos, all that remained was the small matter of moving all the figures from the old case to the new one. Simples. Unfortunately I don’t think I realised quite how long this exercise was going to take. There are 275 figures (give or take) in the Celtos range, many of which are painted to a very high standard, the rest aren’t. We decided that the unpainted ones should at least be displayed with a coat of primer rather than raw metal, so they couldn’t be moved straight from the old cases to the new ones, they have to be removed, taken away and sprayed, then brought back. But of course they’re no longer in the correct order, so each figure has to be identified first before being stuck in the right spot (hence a laptop with photos of all of the figures to ID them, and a spreadsheet for keeping track of where I’ve got to).

Ah yes, removing them from the old case … the old case was make of wood, and I have no idea what I stuck them in with – but I did a good job! The figures have to be levered out with a sharp knife, lots of brute force (and commensurate care with the painted ones) and then the splinters of wood that have come away with the base have to be removed. There have been several repair jobs where separate arms have come loose and have had to be pinned and glued, and some paint chips will have to be touched up.

I took over the dining room table for an evening for this exercise … three days later I’m still there, and the exasperated looks and comments from the ever-patient brigadieress are increasing by the day …

DSC_2551

I’m sure it’ll all be worth it …

BTW, the Salute release list has been updated and tweaked again …