Fighting 15s, Eureka Miniatures and AB Figures

Fighting 15s’s visit to Salute each year is also the time I get an opportunity to talk to Nic Robson of Eureka Miniatures and Tony Barton of AB Figures about the future. This year there was a bit of a shock in store, because I gave Nic five months’ notice that Fighting 15s will stop selling Eureka Miniatures and therefore, by association, AB Figures in the UK.

Fighting 15s will, therefore, cease to be Eureka’s agent from 4 September 2019. The plan is that Fighting 15s will continue to cast licensed figures and supply Eureka and AB Figures from stock for orders placed up to 3 September 2019. From 4 September, Fighting 15s will supply orders from existing stock only. During the notice period Fighting 15s will not back-order items.

My aim is quite simply to take semi-retirement. The unsociable hours that have resulted from the pre-Brexit rush for orders have simply prompted me to take the decision a year earlier than I intended. I want to concentrate on my own ranges, on revitalising the Gladiator Miniatures and Martian Empires lines acquired from Black Hat Miniatures, and on my much-neglected hobby and garden. The Flags for AB range will be rebranded Fighting 15s flags and continue to be available through Fighting 15s. And Fighting 15s’ shows representative Colonel Bill’s will add Gladiator Miniatures ranges to its offering at UK shows. I will no doubt be able to find time to modernise the website and take the required new pictures for Gladiator Miniatures.

In answer to the obvious question: I would have to stop being Eureka’s agent at some time in the future, and this is simply a good time to do so. Nic, Tony and I remain good friends. I have hugely enjoyed representing their ranges over the past 15 years for Eureka and 13 years for AB.

Nic and Tony will be discussing what will happen about Eureka and AB in the UK, and what they intend will be revealed in due course. Please don’t unduly pester them for information: an announcement will happen when they have made a decision.

Ian
Fighting 15s

Fighting 15s: Brexit update 11 April

In light of the announcement that Brexit is extended until 31 October (or 1 June if the U.K. does not hold EU elections), Fighting 15s reopened today to new orders.

Please note that Ian is on holiday and will not resume work on orders until 16 April at the earliest. Also, Fighting 15s is not currently back-ordering items that are either out of stock or that go out of stock.

Fighting 15s: Brexit update 21 March

Fighting 15s is currently closed to new orders, as expected, until 16 April. We apologise for the inconvenience, but it’s not as if we aren’t working hard trying to clear international orders before a possible no-deal Brexit on 29 March: we are down to the last few before we turn to outstanding domestic orders.

At the moment of writing, the EU is considering whether to extend the Brexit period to 22 May. Update (22 March): The EU has granted two extension dates to Brexit: 12 April if the UK does not agree to the current deal, or 22 May if it does. Parliament also still has to change the law to prevent the UK leaving the EU on 29 March for either of those dates to be valid, so a no-deal Brexit on 29 March is still a possibility. (Update: The law was changed on 27 March.) The first extension date falls within Fighting 15s’ closure period and will have no effect apart from delaying when we can implement changes to the shop; the second may well force a second temporary closure period on us, again so we can clear orders to international customers.

In the run-up to B-day, however, some things have become clearer.

First, on 13 March, the draft import tariffs for the UK were published. These reassuringly show that the expected extra duty on toy soldiers will be 0%, so imports from Australia of AB Figures and Eureka Miniatures will not be any more expensive than they already are. So we will be able to continue importing them to the UK.

Second, yesterday HM Revenue and Customs very kindly sent out what to do in the event of a no-deal Brexit advice with regards to imports. Nine days to go and HMRC sends out advice that was needed three months earlier. But basically Fighting 15s will be filling in far more customs forms than usual.

Third, our post office is now displaying advice that any parcels for the EU that are sent as from 25 March will need to have customs forms (the CN22) on them just in case. This means, of course, that we need to give EU orders a bit more leeway on safely departing the UK tax free, and so this weekend will be devoted to dealing with them. Update: The post office cancelled this advice after the new possible Brexit dates were announced.

So, if you have an order in at Fighting 15s, rest assured we are working hard to complete it. International orders are receiving priority, EU ones first, so they can be sent by 24 March. We’ll then pick up the slack on domestic orders. After that, hopefully the position on Brexit will become clearer and we can sort out the tax regime for each country in the online shop, ready to re-open on 16 April. Update: All domestic and international orders were cleared before the original B-day deadline of 29 March – Fighting 15s is now on holiday, and provided that the shop can be updated in time will reopen on 16 April (a no-deal Brexit on 12 April will probably make this impossible until the shop ca be updated).

Update (2 April): In the event of an abrupt no-deal Brexit on 12 April, please note that Fighting 15s will initially reopen only to UK customers.

Please note that it is still possible to add items to the shopping cart in the Fighting 15s shop. However, it is not possible to check out. We could hide every single item in the shop, but feel that would stop the shop being used to plan future orders – plus it would look damnably empty.

Fighting 15s’ closure 15 March to 15 April 2019

Fighting 15s is closed from 15 March to 15 April 2019, and will be reopening on 16 April.

The closure period was originally intended as our Brexit closure period so adjustments could be made to the online shop to account for changes to cross-border taxation, and so that we could clear all international orders before any such changes took place. We have at all times assumed the worst – that a no-deal Brexit will happen on 29 March. At the time of writing, it still might.

Accordingly, we booked holiday for some of this period so that Brexit could blow over in peace, so even with potential changes arising this week from decisions in Parliament, Fighting 15s was always going to be closed for two weeks. Some of this “holiday” time was going to be used to rearrange more of the workshop, sort out parts of the online shop, and in general get Fighting 15s fitter for business on 16 April. Plus, with Ian going away for a few days the business is going to be a bit short-handed at this time.

Fighting 15s has been experiencing something of a spate of panic buying from customers. When three weeks’ worth of orders came in last week, we knew we had to shut anyway to cope. This amount of work takes us up to and beyond our holiday period, so we decided to stick to our original closure dates. We work full time on Fighting 15s by the way, and we’re currently running flat out. Even so, we will not get some orders completed, and accordingly are focusing on international orders first.

We appreciate that the spate of temporary closures is inconvenient for customers. However, it is important that we serve those many customers who have already placed orders, and get their orders out as promptly as possible.

One customer asked why only Fighting 15s is affected, and the answer is down to the nature of our business and the products we sell. In short:

1. We are VAT registered, so there is a potential for double-taxation on international orders placed this side of Brexit but posted the other side of a sudden no-deal Brexit. The terrible uncertainty of what trading conditions are going to exist is one of the reasons why we forecast Fighting 15s would have to close from 15 March to 15 April to get all orders out the door and to adjust the website to cope. All that stuff on the news about businesses clamouring for clarity? It’s true.

2. We don’t have the staff to deal with an abnormal number of orders caused by one freak event. It’s not worth employing anyone with no experience just to get over a short period of high numbers of orders, when normality will resume somewhen.

3. Our products mostly come from the other side of the world. Customers are concerned about the future, easy availability of the high quality ranges that we sell. For wargames businesses in the UK that make and sell their own ranges, there is only the uncertainty of future metal prices and of the future availability of rubber moulding discs. There is no question about the future of our own ranges, such as Gladiator Miniatures, for example.

Fighting 15s fully intends to continue to import and represent AB Figures and Eureka Miniatures beyond Brexit. We have just placed orders for new releases from both manufacturers, but with manufacture, dispatch and shipping taking nearer three months nowadays these will not be arriving in the UK soon. Our first restocks for the year are now arriving and a number of items marked out of stock on the site will shortly be restored.

Fighting 15s will be at Salute this year on Colonel Bill’s stand. We are not taking orders for the show (although Colonel Bill’s can for the unit packs it stocks) because the show is actually in our holiday period, and because Eureka and AB are there as well. Ian has booked several days in London around Salute with the aim of talking to AB’s Tony Barton and Eureka’s Nic Robson.

Fighting 15s: Brexit update 11 March

Incredibly, with 18 days to go, there is still no clear idea of trading conditions in a post-Brexit world. Parliament will decide this week whether to accept or reject Theresa May’s deal with the EU, and if the deal is rejected Parliament will then decide whether to have a no-deal Brexit, whether to extend the negotiating period, or potentially whether there should be a second referendum.

A no-deal option basically throws trade with other countries into chaos with regards import and export taxes, and back in January – because Fighting 15s has to plan that far ahead – a short closure period for Fighting 15s looked like the only option. Back then, closing from 15 March to 15 April looked as if it would avoid most of the immediate tax issues and allow orders to customers in EU countries to be dealt with in time. The period from 15 March to 28 March was envisaged as a period where Fighting 15s would clear international orders first, then deal with domestic orders.

Ian booked holiday to escape some of the madness, so whatever happens this week in Parliament, Fighting 15s will close from 29 March to 15 April with just an appearance at Salute (6 April) on the Colonel Bill’s stand to show Fighting 15s is still active. The online shop will be shut during this closure period.

If this week Parliament decides to put back Brexit by, for example, two to three months, to allow more negotiating time, Fighting 15s will, of course, remain open up to and including 28 March and then work out the next planned Brexit closure period. [Update: The government didn’t act in time so as to guarantee more negotiating time, so Fighting 15s has kept to its temporary closure plan.]

Please note that Fighting 15s has not been, other than items to complete customers’ orders, ordering in new stock. Nic at Eureka and AB Figures has been busy completing our shipments that were ordered in November and December 2018 with the aim of them arriving before B-day (29 March). Fighting 15s is still expecting two consignments before then, and has two recent arrivals to unpack and sort that will bring some of the out of stock items back into stock. The reason Fighting 15s is not ordering new stock is simple: until any tariffs are known, it is madness to commit to buying stock at an unknown price and potentially selling it at a loss. As a result, Fighting 15s is not currently back-ordering items for customers’ orders if those items go out of stock. [Update: The draft tariffs were published on 13 March, and from the 1,478-page document it looks as if there will be no extra duty on imports of toy soldiers, so it will just be VAT on imports as is currently the case. But frankly, 13 March is a tiny bit late in the proceedings.]

Fighting 15s has a more than adequate supply of rubber moulding discs and casting metal to cover any immediate post-Brexit supply issues so there is no risk to the supply of our own ranges and of licensed castings. Fighting 15s is also financially secure enough to withstand a month of closure, so whatever happens this week Fighting 15s will definitely reopen, initially to UK customers, on 16 April.

This article will be updated when events this week in Parliament clarify what is happening.

Price increases on AB and Eureka Miniatures

Fighting 15s regrets that delivery costs, energy costs and raw metal costs mean that prices have risen with immediate effect on figures from AB Figures and Eureka Miniatures of Australia. Shipping costs in particular are accounting for a bigger proportion of costs than previously and are the main reason for the rises. Metal and electricity are relatively tiny contributors to the cost of figures, but we still need the cash flow from sales to pay the bills.

We have slightly better royalty rates on Eureka’s 18mm SYW range, compared with AB Figures, and are still reviewing the impact of costs on this range. Currently, the range is not significantly affected by the above increases but because Fighting 15s also supplies this range to retailers, we may have to change prices to maintain margins.

Some codes in our Gladiator Miniatures range – mainly elephants, chariots, wagons and equipment – have recently been adjusted in price accurately to reflect metal costs, and we will be reviewing prices shortly for this line and our Fighting 15s ranges. Although we now buy metal in greater volumes to get a better price, the new price is still more than previous prices for smaller volumes.

AB Figures: 15mm Napoleonic Mamelukes and Chasseurs of the Guard

AB Figures’ latest releases in its 15mm Napoleonics range have arrived at Fighting 15s. The releases include the following additions to the French Imperial Guard:

AB-IG79 Mameluke of the guard
AB-IG80 Mameluke officer (one-piece casting)
AB-IG81 Mameluke trumpeter
AB-IG82 Mameluke standard bearer
AB-IG83 Chasseur a cheval of the guard, later uniform
AB-IG84 Chasseur a cheval officer, later uniform
AB-IG85 Chasseur a cheval trumpeter, later uniform
AB-IG86 Chasseur a cheval eagle bearer, later uniform

Tony Barton has also sculpted a new French line lancer officer (IFC09A), now available as an option in the lancer command pack (IFC09-10). For the Peninsula British he has added flank company skirmishing (AB-B11A).

Link: https://www.fighting15sshop.co.uk/new-arrivals-808-c.asp

AB Figures: 20mm Western Desert British

The latest 20mm World War II releases from AB Figures have arrived at Fighting 15s. The releases are:

AB-INB36 Infantry in jerkins – HQ section
AB-INB37 Infantry in jerkins – heavy weapons
AB-INB70 Western Desert British infantry advancing
AB-INB71 Western Desert British infantry prone
AB-INB72 Western Desert British 3in mortar
AB-INB73 Western Desert British company HQ
AB-INB74 Western Desert British Vickers HMG teams
AB-SPA06 US drivers

All are available to buy now in the Fighting 15s shop.

Link: https://www.fighting15sshop.co.uk/new-arrivals-808-c.asp

28mm Eureka Miniatures: Granbretan Wolf Order

The 28mm Granbretan Wolf Order figures from Eureka Miniatures for its Hawkmoon line are now listed in the Fighting 15s shop. These are a very late addition to the shop because the box containing them has been in the workshop for months. This is entirely my fault because the box’s arrival coincided with the death of my mother, and so it has just sat on a shelf as a painful reminder of events since January. It has been the one thing with which until now I have been unable to cope.

The result is a somewhat half-arsed addition to the shop, as now I have unpacked and sorted the box, I discover that I have clearly forgotten to order the Karmarg flame lance troops, who came out at the same time, and the Karmarg cavalry. These codes are now listed in the shop, but it is not possible to order them as yet: the add to cart button has been removed, and they are described as not in stock. I will remedy this as soon as I can. For now, if you want to order these figures, please do so by email.

Ian, Fighting 15s

Link: https://www.fighting15sshop.co.uk/hawkmoon-1111-c.asp