Coronavirus procedures at Fighting 15s

Updated: 24 March 2020

Fighting 15s is working normally, casting and packing orders. The loss of our casting room roof is suddenly the least of our worries, though with luck we will still be able to get that fixed in April.

Our ability to continue sending out orders depends on the postal service. We are still able to post out orders, and are using Royal Mail’s click and drop service. This allows us to post most orders at a post box, avoiding the need to queue at a post office. Customers, however, will no longer get tracking numbers, but most orders will be able to be delivered through a letterbox without requiring a signature.

The location at which we post orders is currently deserted by the time we turn up, so there is no risk of coming into contact with people. We combine our trip to the posting box with a trip to buy food, so orders may not go out every day.

Larger parcels that cannot be posted in this manner will be delayed until we make a trip to the main post office. Or we will instead arrange delivery by courier.

International orders may be affected by reduced air freight capacity or the closure of borders. Orders to Italy are already going by road, not air.

Good sales of our remaining stocks of AB and Eureka figures in the six months after the ending of our agency should allow us to weather a closure period if that becomes necessary, unless toilet paper goes up to £100 a pop. We have plenty of casting metal and mould blanks, and will be working on improving our online shop and remaking old moulds in the event that closure is enforced by Government restrictions on movement.

In the event of us becoming zombies, we will come for your brains. If The Winchester is still open, go for a pint and wait for it all to blow over.

Stay well, stay safe.

Ian
Fighting 15s and Gladiator Miniatures

 

Au revoir to the EU

The UK officially leaves the EU on 31 January 2020, but will the world end on 1 February? No. There is no change in the trading relationship between the UK and the EU until the end of the transition period, currently set at 31 December 2020.

During the transition period, VAT will continue to be charged at UK rates on orders from EU customers and mercifully there will be no faffing about with customs documentation until near the end of this period. Again, Fighting 15s expects to have to close for a few days around the end of the year to make the necessary tax adjustments in the shop. But it’ll be the Christmas holidays anyway, not some stupid date near the end of the tax year during peak sales season.

Looking ahead, at some point Fighting 15s envisages that all value declarations for tax on exports will be managed electronically by the sender, as it is for items sent by courier to places such as the USA. This may put an end to the excessive handling fee charged by various countries’ postal services which, as Fighting 15s has argued before, is the most damaging aspect to trade with the EU post-Brexit from the point of view of a small business because this charge will put customers off from ordering. No one wants to pay VAT plus a 10 euro handling fee on just 16 euros worth of figures. Fighting 15s will, therefore, investigate other delivery options for EU customers once the picture of what is happening becomes clearer.

Fighting 15s may, in the due course of time, consider engaging an EU agent.

Ian
Fighting 15s and Gladiator Miniatures

Christmas hours for Fighting 15s and Gladiator Miniatures

Last year, Fighting 15s shut completely for two weeks over Christmas and the new year. Although it turned out to be a lovely break from everything toy soldiers, the reality of the return to work was a nightmarish backlog of orders that took months and months to beat into submission.

So, this year, Fighting 15s and Gladiator Miniatures will remain largely open over Christmas. We’ll be shut on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, and will be off to see family one random day during the holiday season, but otherwise, we’ll be at work processing orders, casting figures, making moulds, updating the website and in general keeping on top of everything. Orders may be a bit slow going out, but they will go out. The online shop, of course, remains open every day.

We will also be at work planning new releases from Gladiator Miniatures over the coming year. Stay tuned!

Last posting date for Christmas has gone: we cannot now get your order to you in time for the big day. Many thanks to everyone for their custom over the past year.

It only remains to say Merry Christmas, God Jul, Joyeux Noël, Frohe Weihnachten, Feliz Navidad, Buon Natale, Feliz Natal, Wesołych Świąt, Счастливого рождества! and Vrolijk Kerstfeest to our customers in the UK and beyond.

E Day arrives

I thought it would never happen, but Fighting 15s is no longer the EU agent for Eureka Miniatures and AB Figures. My agency ends today (4 September, or “E Day”) and Fighting 15s embarks on a new journey as a manufacturer in its own right.

It’s hard to believe that 15 years ago I emailed Nic Robson of Eureka Miniatures when I saw his new 18mm British Napoleonics on a forum, and asked whether he had a UK agent. When he replied that he didn’t, I asked if he wanted one. The result was that in fairly short order boxes of 18mm British Napoleonics and 28mm Seven Years War bears appeared under my desk and I began the work of introducing Eureka Miniatures to the UK and Europe. It seems hard to believe anyone could get so lucky today, now that internet use is so commonplace.

I’d like to thank Nic for putting up with me. I’m quite difficult to deal with when I know what I want, and I can say what I want pretty bluntly, for which I blame 20 years of journalism and being paid to be right about everything. It has been a blast dealing with him, Tony Barton of AB Figures, and the various members of Eureka’s staff in my time: Tony Ramsden, Jack Garley and John Chadderton.

I’ve said that I’m basically taking semi-retirement to focus more on the house and garden. But rest assured, I have plenty to do: Gladiator Miniatures (the former Black Hat 15mm) needs reorganising to be fit for the next 10 years, with new moulds, new horses for some ranges, and better photographs of what are some quite marvellous figures (and new versions of the less marvellous ones). Martian Empires needs completing. Those Oddzial Osmy 15mm Napoleonics I’ve owned for years may eventually appear now that I have time to rework and remould them. Plus I aim to start expanding the 40mm offerings for the former Flashing Blade and D’Arlo ranges. As to the question, where to start? rest assured, the answer is new photographs for Gladiator Miniatures!

Oh, and I may find time to take a paintbrush to some figures for the first time in years.

Ian
Fighting 15s and Gladiator Miniatures

Fighting 15s: now running on live stock levels

Work on changing the Fighting 15s shop to live stock levels is almost complete: just the 28mm Wars of the French Revolution range from Eureka Miniatures and the 15mm Ancients from AB remain to be done. That means that the most popular ranges are available to buy again and that in theory it should only be possible to order what is either in stock or can be cast to order. The shop does tend to randomly hide categories, so please contact Fighting 15s if you feel a range is missing or unavailable.

Of course, live stock levels depend on the accuracy of the counting, breakages, and on mispacks by suppliers, but hopefully they will provide confidence to customers that any code once ordered will be in stock.

The shift to live stock levels means that Fighting 15s will be ready for the change in agency for Eureka Miniatures and AB Figures on 4 September. On that day, the shop will shut for maintenance, and reopen later (probably on 5 September) with only our own ranges and the actual remaining stock from Eureka and AB available to buy. The ranges will only be removed completely if the new agent for Eureka and AB opts to buy Fighting 15s’ stock outright, otherwise Fighting 15s will simply run down stocks naturally.

We repeat that any order placed by or on 3 September 2019 for AB or Eureka Miniatures that are cast under licence by Fighting 15s in the UK will be honoured, and licensed casting will continue after 4 September only to complete those orders.

Fighting 15s stops being Eureka’s and AB’s agent on 4 September 2019; the new agent takes up the reins on 5 September 2019. Because the changeover is only just more than six weeks away, Fighting 15s is not ordering into stock new releases from Eureka Miniatures or AB Figures.

Changing to live stock levels is one of those ghastly, massive efforts I was hoping not to have to do once Fighting 15s was just Gladiator Miniatures and my own figures, because it is not an appropriate system for a manufacturer that casts to order because everything is either in stock or can be made. However, to be fit to be able to have holiday in August, the shop was either going to have to close to orders for a week or I would have to disappoint customers by being unable to supply items that had become out of stock because someone else had ordered it first. Hence the upheaval now, making the most of the fact that I have caught up on orders and had the time to start the work.

I am particularly glad it’s almost over. And that I won’t have more upkeep on the live stock system caused by new stock arriving, and increasing the workload considerably.

Ian
Fighting 15s and Gladiator Miniatures

Fighting 15s shop: live stock levels

Parts of the Fighting 15s online shop are inaccessible at present because I am switching the whole of my stock to live stock levels. This simply means that if an item is shown in stock, then customers can buy it up to the stock limit.

This has been largely irrelevant up until now because so many of the items I sell are cast to order, and because I can get key items quickly if necessary from Australia. However, as Fighting 15s heads towards the end of its status as agent for AB Figures and Eureka Miniatures, it’s important that all items from those manufacturers are set to live stock levels. That way, come E-day on 4 September, Fighting 15s can simply run down stock and I can provide an inventory for the new agent if they decide to take on the stock. There’s no guarantee of this, hence plan B is to continue listing items on the site until they sell out: live stock levels will automatically ensure that a code is delisted and hidden when it runs out.

Obviously, this is a huge amount of work, because I have to count the existing stock. Therefore, all items have been set to a stock level of zero until I have been able to count the stock for that code: one they have a stock level of more than zero they will reappear in the shop. So, although the shop looks empty in places, it will fill up again over the next week or so. I am focusing on getting all the AB codes live first. The Imperial French, Imperial Guard, Peninsula British and the 20mm WWII lines are already done. Eureka’s 10mm Fantasy and 18mm Seven Years War lines are also running on live stock levels.

I’m doing this now rather than nearer E-day because orders have dropped to a manageable level. My apologies if the short downtime for some items affects buying plans, but at least when codes are set to live stock levels customers can buy knowing that what they’ve ordered should be in stock – subject to my counting errors.

Gladiator Miniatures, Martian Empires, and Fighting 15s figures and flags are unaffected by the change because earlier this year I set them to high stock levels. They are therefore still available to buy. I may have to cast figures or get flags from my designer, but this usually involves a delay of one week at most. Shadowforge Miniatures and Laughing Monk are also set to live stock levels, but these ranges are clearance items.

Ian
Fighting 15s and Gladiator Miniatures

Countdown to E Day

Or should that be E-less day? But certainly not AB-day, which belongs in a bathroom. Yes, the bad jokes don’t stop.

With slightly more than two months to go before Fighting 15s stops being Eureka Miniatures’ agent, and therefore also AB Figures’ agent, what is going to happen?

Eureka Miniatures has now chosen its new agent. That agent takes up the reins from 5 September and may take orders from customers for AB Figures and Eureka Miniatures from that date, but no earlier. Up until that date Fighting 15s is still the agent and is the point of contact for orders for AB Figures and Eureka Miniatures in the UK and EU. For forthcoming new releases, such as Eureka’s 15mm Sumerians, the new agent is obviously the best point of contact now. All questions about stuff you’ve seen on the Eureka US site but which aren’t officially released yet or even available on the Fighting 15s site or on Eureka Miniatures’ site in Oz may also be directed at the new agent.

In accordance with Fighting 15s’ letter of notice to Eureka, Fighting 15s will continue to cast licensed figures and supply Eureka and AB Figures from stock for orders placed up to and including 3 September 2019. For new orders from 4 September, Fighting 15s will supply items from existing stock only. At some point we will temporarily close the AB and Eureka sections of the website for maintenance to introduce live stock levels – that way, when they are re-opened it will only be possible to order what is actually in stock. In practice, Fighting 15s will hide the AB and Eureka sections of the site sometime after hours on 3 September, and gradually reveal those categories for which stock still exists, along with live stock levels so that is not possible to order more of a code than remains in stock. The Gladiator Miniatures and Martian Empires sections of the site are ready for live stock levels to be enacted and therefore will not be switched off.

Licensed casting at Fighting 15s will cease on 4 September except to complete orders placed up until and including 3 September. The new agent does not have casting facilities at present, so all their stock is likely to come from Australia to begin with.

The new agent may decide to buy our remaining stock or if not, as outlined in our letter of notice, Fighting 15s will continue to dispose of any remaining stock. The new agent has already blocked me on Facebook, so the prospect of handing over remaining stock is in doubt.

Fighting 15s flags (Flags for AB) will remain with Fighting 15s and is unaffected by the change in agency. I will try to remove any Flags for AB branding as soon as possible.

Colonel Bill’s, Fighting 15s UK shows agent, will be unable to place new orders for stocks of AB Napoleonics and Eureka SYW from Fighting 15s as from 4 September. Because Colonel Bill’s has paid for and therefore owns its existing stocks of these figures, remaining figures will continue to be available through Colonel Bill’s while stocks last. Stuart at Colonel Bill’s will be taking on some of our Gladiator Miniatures lines of figures. Eureka’s new agent will be taking AB Figures and Eureka Miniatures to shows at some point in the future.

I intend the transition to go as smoothly as possible given that it’s a massive change. I look forward to your custom for AB Figures and Eureka Miniatures up to 3 September, and for Gladiator Miniatures, Martian Empires and Fighting 15s flags and figures afterwards.

Ian
Fighting 15s and Gladiator Miniatures

Fighting 15s acquires Gladiator Miniatures from Black Hat

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.

Ian
Fighting 15s and Gladiator Miniatures

Links

Fighting 15s: www.fighting15sshop.co.uk

Gladiator Minatures: www.gladiatorminiatures.co.uk

Black Hat Miniatures: www.blackhat.co.uk