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

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

Fighting 15s FAQs: What does out of stock mean?

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: Privacy and the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation

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.

Fighting 15s has slightly tweaked its privacy policy at https://www.fighting15sshop.co.uk/privacy.asp to suit the new laws.

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.

We don’t record other information about customers. We have no idea what wargames periods you prefer, other than by general patterns of your orders, or of any other interests, penchants or peccadilloes. The privacy policy is a general purpose document that allows us to know these things in the event that we have customers’ permission to collect them.

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.

Our preferred means of passing on news is via Facebook and our WordPress blogs (Fighting 15s news and oozlumgames.com). If you don’t want to see what we do on Facebook, unlike and unfollow the Fighting 15s page (https://www.facebook.com/Fighting15s/). The power to sign out of following a WordPress blog remains solely with the follower: WordPress site administrators do not, repeat do not, have the power to delete followers. Details of how to unfollow a WordPress blog may be found at https://en.support.wordpress.com/following/.

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…