Fighting 15s is taking over the 15mm and 18mm ranges from Black Hat Miniatures, and ownership officially transfers this weekend at Colours.
All the 15mm ranges will be sold as Gladiator Miniatures – as they were before Black Hat produced them. The 18mm Martian Empires range will be sold under the Martian Empires name in the Fighting 15s shop.
All the codes have been uploaded to the Fighting 15s shop and will go live within the next week. I have been working hard to make descriptions consistent, and remove quirks of spelling. There will still be errors that I will kick myself over each time they become apparent…
Until the moulds and stock arrive, the pictures will be the same as used by Gladiator and Black Hat – some of these go back to 2002 and the era of modems and tiny image files, and are not satisfactory for today’s website. Some codes were never photographed. I will be updating and adding photos as soon as possible, but there are more than 800 codes to ink, photograph and edit, so please bear with me.
I have all the masters and production masters, and I should take delivery of the moulds within the next week.
Looking ahead, I aim to use Fighting 15s’ shows rep, Stuart Armstrong at Colonel Bill’s, to offer army packs of the Gladiator Miniatures ranges at UK wargames shows, but this will take some months to organise. Stuart already takes some AB, Eureka and Fighting 15s figures to shows.
Mark Severin at Scale Creep Miniatures will continue to carry the figures in the USA so there should be no disruption in service to US customers.
In future, all Gladiator Miniatures will be cast in lead-free pewter. This affects the costs of figures, originally priced for a much cheaper lead-tin mix, and because adding VAT will also affect the price to customers in the EU I have taken the opportunity to reorganise the contents of many of the packs to reduce the impact on final price of tax.
Standard packs of Gladiator Miniatures 15mm infantry and cavalry therefore now contain 8 infantry or 4 cavalry to fit in with the rest of Fighting 15s’ ranges – and most of the rest of the wargaming hobby. A standard pack is now £3.40 inc tax. Chariot packs and elephant packs are £3.60 inc VAT. Command packs typically contain 5 foot or 3 mounted, and cost £2.55 inc VAT – the number in a command pack varies from range to range and descriptions of command as being “1 set” will be changed as soon as possible. Standard Martian Empires packs will be £3.60 inc VAT and continue to include 8 infantry or 4 cavalry.
Note that Mike at Black Hat Miniatures will continue to produce and distribute Coat d’arms paints, as well as focus on his 54mm toy soldier business, Imperial Miniatures. Fighting 15s will continue to represent AB Figures and Eureka Miniatures in the EU.
The most common question I am currently asked by email is whether items marked out of stock in the Fighting 15s shop will be coming back into stock. This is in spite of the subject being covered in the FAQs, and to which the short answer is yes.
Here’s a longer explanation.
Rather than let back-orders build up for codes that go out of stock but that are on order at a supplier, we switched this year to marking such items as out of stock rather than keeping them available to buy. This reduced the post-Christmas back orders to a manageable dozen, rather than the usual 50+ that can result from the long lead times in obtaining new stock, and eliminated long waiting times for follow-on items for most customers. There were and are exceptions, as, for example, we have this week posted follow-on items for orders placed in February.
Fighting 15s re-orders new stock pretty much every week, including items that either we can see are going out of stock or that have gone out of stock, based on typical demand (i.e. we prioritize the most popular items). We are still waiting on stock ordered a number of months ago, and have a long chain of orders waiting for processing by suppliers, so even though we predicted an item would go out of stock and re-ordered in good time, our replacements have not yet arrived. And yes, yes it can seem that an item is out of stock for a long time as a result.
Note that we get 25 to 30kg shipped from a supplier such at Eureka/AB in Australia in one go, and the time taken to build up a consignment to that weight is one of the main determining factors that affects when we get new stock. It is also why we cannot say exactly when an item will come back into stock – we won’t know until about five days before it arrives.
Sometimes we can get in new stock and it sells out within hours of it coming back into stock, increasing the time that it is apparently out of stock – blink and you miss it, so to say. We can’t predict this happening.
Sometimes items go out of stock quickly because they feature in wargames news, magazine articles or a forum post. This is a position that is difficult to recover from quickly with long lead times for replacements, and so an item may actually go out of stock for several months. The week we suddenly sold out of turtle tanks was a surprise indeed.
Very rarely an item goes out of stock because the mould is shot. If we make the mould then we can remedy this quickly, but replacements for licensed moulds have to be fitted into the suppliers’ schedule. AB horse code H05 was recently subject to this, for example, but we now have a replacement and so the code is back in stock.
So, rest assured: an item that is marked out of stock will usually be reordered. A few items that rarely sell are not immediately re-ordered, but in general if it’s a code in a top-selling range such as 28mm modern, 20mm WWII or 15mm Napoleonics, it will be on re-order before anyone even asks.
Fighting 15s woke up this morning to a message from a customer welcoming us to the growing group of exiles from The Miniatures Page, also known as TMP.
Indeed, our account on TMP (theminiaturespage.com) has been locked and therefore Fighting 15s is no longer able to engage, as Fighting 15s, with this US-based wargaming news page and forum.
What Fighting 15s had done was get involved with a discussion on TMP about the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), which came into effect on Friday and which affect any business, website or organisation worldwide that collects or uses personal information about EU citizens. TMP Editor Bill Armintrout had posted in response to a question about where was TMP’s privacy notice that the poster should “Check the site FAQ”.
“TMP may promise in the FAQs not to sell on information about membership, however, it engages in direct marketing to its users through email campaigns to encourage them to take up supporting membership. Because TMP engages in direct marketing to EU citizens or residents, it therefore will fall foul of the GDPR. It would take precisely one disgruntled TMP user to make an issue of this, so you better hope you don’t have any lurking on a ‘Foreign Union UK’ forum.”
This post has, as far as we can work out, since been deleted by the editorial team.
Perhaps our oblique reference to UK forum frothersunite.com (FU-UK), known for a long-running and scatological campaign of ridicule against Bill Armintrout and TMP, rather than pointing out the legal truth of a matter with the intention of helping is what resulted in a locked account, but we shall never know. But it is clear to us that Bill and TMP can’t handle the truth.
There are, of course, more modern-looking, active sources of wargames news and discussion than The Miniatures Page that don’t shut for maintenance for two hours every morning just when you want to read them in the UK. We recommend that you try some of the following:
If there’s one thing guaranteed to make customers snooze it’s a piece on new EU privacy legislation, especially one for which all the official information is poorly explained as to its effects on small businesses and customers. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into effect on 25 May 2018, excels at being especially obfuscatory and confusing.
In short, because Fighting 15s does not ask and has never asked customers to sign up for direct marketing (email newsletters, promotions, and such), and does not engage in direct marketing, the GDPR has minimal effect.
The GDPR requires businesses to get customers to confirm that they want to receive direct marketing by actively ticking a check box consenting to such marketing. Fighting 15s does not send out direct marketing, and therefore there is no check box on the website in the checkout process. Our webshop provider does offer direct marketing tools but we have not signed up to them.
Fighting 15s holds essential information for the processing of customers’ orders: name, address, email and phone, plus the system will record the IP address used when placing the order. Obviously we need name, address and contact details so we can send out orders, confirmation emails, fulfil our legal obligations to provide a durable copy of the current terms and conditions, and to contact a customer in the event of questions about an order. The IP address is required in the event of digital product sales to help prove the origin of an order for VAT liability.
Customers who do not want such information held on record may request its deletion by simply emailing or writing to Fighting 15s, and we will remove it from the shop (the GDPR doesn’t seem to have considered a requirement for proof that the person emailing to have such information deleted is actually that person, but it would seem sensible). However, Fighting 15s is legally required to hold customers’ essential information for seven years for tax/accountancy purposes, and therefore we can delete only what is historic information – currently information obtained before 6 April 2009, the start of the 2009-2010 accountancy year.
Financial information is handled by third-party processors, so we never see payment details if customers place and pay for orders through the online shop. Our payment processors are PayPal and Barclaycard.
Of course, non-EU businesses that record details of EU customers are supposed to adopt the GDPR. As with reporting VAT on digital products, Fighting 15s by and large cannot see businesses outside the EU conforming. Except the UK after Brexit. Good old law-abiding Blighty will be the only country that conforms to a law that also encompasses Martians and Venusians should they start direct marketing to the people of the EU.
In summary, Fighting 15s’ policy remains as it always has been: we won’t bug you by sending out a relentless stream of marketing drivel. If you want drivel, you have to come to us…
AB Figures’ latest releases in 20mm are for the German Afrika Korps, adding infantry and more artillery crews to the existing sets. Please note that all Afrika Korps sets have been re-coded and start AB-ING7 – the Fighting 15s site has been updated to reflect this change.
Future releases will include an infantry command set and engineers. These are not yet available in the UK.
Fighting 15s is currently exceptionally busy with orders. March is usually our busiest month of the year for orders and 2018 is true to form.
Although orders will be processed as soon as possible, they may take longer than usual for Ian to get through. Orders that need casting may have to wait until a casting window becomes available at weekends.
Please be patient, especially if you have submitted an order by phone or email: our policy is always to give priority to paid-for online orders, and this means that orders for which payment has not been processed wait.
Stock is updated manually on the site, which means items that go out of stock may not be updated as quickly as usual. The shop does not use an automatic stock update system because it is not relevant for items cast by Fighting 15s – these items would risk being marked out of stock in spite of being available.
Fighting 15s will be on the Colonel Bill’s stand (TD19) at Salute, Excel London, on 14 April 2018.
Please note that the closing date for advance orders for the show is 1 April. I am unavailable in the week or so running up to Salute and have to cut-off advance orders early this year.
Advance orders may be made by phone, email (please don’t send attachments) or by sending a message via the Fighting 15s Facebook page. Fighting 15s can no longer offer a collect at Salute option in the shopping cart because of a change in how the shop’s delivery system works. Payment must be in advance by card or PayPal: at Salute, Ian will be in Colonel Bill’s livery and operating Colonel Bill’s till. Fighting 15s cannot, therefore, take cash payments on the day.
Colonel Bill’s is Fighting 15s’ official stockist of Eureka 18mm SYW figures and Fighting 15s’ medievals. In addition to our lines that Colonel Bill’s usually carries, there will be a selection of Napoleonic unit packs of 15mm AB Figures at the show. Packs on the stand are based on our best-sellers, and by its nature the selection will therefore be limited. Orders for 20mm WWII AB Figures must be made in advance.
Advance orders for collection at Salute may also be made for our clearance lines of Oddzial Osmy, Shadowforge and Laughing Monk figures. These ranges, however, will be removed from the Fighting 15s shop on 1 April.
Eureka Miniatures has its own, separate stand at Salute. Please do not confuse the two when placing advance orders.
Just a heads-up that this week is particularly difficult as I have to fit in, among other things, surveyors for probate valuations, solicitors regarding wills, and I have to travel to the depths of Kent to meet my sister and scatter my mum’s ashes. So although I will be working on orders on and off during the week, service will not be up to its usual speed. I had recovered to just a day or so behind, but I regret that this will lapse again: I expect to catch up just before I take some long-planned holiday and throw everything out of whack again. Janet will be at HQ while I am away, but because she doesn’t understand anything about toy soldiers please don’t expect sense from her if you phone.
Thanks to everyone who has sent their condolences. It really is appreciated.