Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Cheap Figures

As mentioned yesterday, here are the horses I have been working on.

They have taken far more work than I expected.

Years ago I used to use a technique of undercoating black, highting the raised areas white, applying oil paint and then brushing it off with a blusher brush. The result was a really beautiful glossy horse. But for some reason I have lost the knack.

With the result I have been fiddling about about with highlighting and shading for the best part of a week.

Still they are not looking too bad, and grouped up with a rider, and nicely based they should look good - from about five feet away....

And not being able to wait for GW to issue my dream kit of three buggies in a box for the price of Kanz, I took the plunge and bought the old kit.

I got a good deal online.

And I think I have enough stuff left over from the battlewagon and bits to tart them up to hide the really appauling Orks that come with the kit.

Mohicans are so last season.


I have been continuing to follow the thread over on TMP relating to the collapse of Wargames Factory.

My highlight of the day was this....

"This is from Howard Whitehouse on the WF forums (the link to which was removed from the WF site).

Hey fellas:

I've been quiet since all this happened. A week ago (or a bit more) I was chasing down orders. Then it became clear that the problem was not 'missing' orders so much as 'we have these packed but someone (let's call him, say, 'George') has taken money out of the account so we have to scrape around to find more'.

Great. A raft of packages not going to those who've paid for them simply because we need a grand to ship 'em out.

So Tony begs or borrows some money. But then the bank account is frozen by, um, other parties.
And we are all, apparently, out of a job.

And all the packages sit at Triangle.

I'm sure that, job or not, Tony and John would deal with these if the Chinese partner would play nice. But so far, that hasn't happened.

For myself, I am embarrassed that our customers have been treated so badly."

Which was followed shortly afterwards by this....

"First of all, I am glad that those who know me speak highly of my honesty and integrity. Indeed, those that don't know me have not impugned my reputation, and I thank them for that. It's also fair to say that I can only vouch directly for things I have seen and been part of, rather than been told and believe. Nobody showed me the cheque book stubs, and I have not driven to Boston to look at a list of unsent orders. While I accept what those I have come to know well over the past three years have told me, I don't necessarily expect others to do so."

Not wishing to impugn his reputation but which is it? Have you been chasing orders or not? Not that it matters particularly but the odd thing about this story is that there are so many contradictions, and curiously they seem to relate to conduct of those throwing the mud.


Whilst digging around - well googling - I found myself wondering just who was running the business?

I ask this specifically because of the Union and Liberty League.

To those not in the know, this is not a dodgy right wing political party, but your chance to get the figure of your dreams (wet dreams possibly). The basic idea was that you would submit your idea for what they should produce - Spartan Teddy Bears With Boobies - and if you and 100 other people committed to buying 10 sprues of these figures, then they would make them - and give you $100 in gift vouchers if your idea went into production.

Of course people thought this was a marvellous idea - it didn't take much of search to find forums on which the eager hopefuls were chattering about what they wanted - 6mm this, 54mm that, something that looks like a Necron but not quite - in short it was a warehouse managers nightmare.

And if you are being optimistic then perhaps it does have some merit. After all if 100 people want such a product, then why not a 1000, or 1,000,000. Who knew they wanted a frisbee, or a George Foreman grill until someone took the bold step and made one?

And for those laymen amongst us it does serve as a handy indicator of costs involved in the business. Namely that if you sell 1000 sprues - at whatever the price you are selling them for - then you make a profit.

Or perhaps not. Who can say?

Certainly when it was announced there were those who had their doubts.

Such as Chicklewis...

"This announcement just flabbergasts me. My experience with Plastic Injection Molding suggests that tooling prices are ten times higher than the $1,000 USD up front with which Wargames Factory claims they will be able to start production.

If you Wargames Factory folks can actually make this plan work, you will achieve status as minor gods.

All the BEST to Ya !


But Tony Reidy of Wargames Factory was confident...

"Thanks Chick! We've crunched the numbers as we're confident given our capabilities.

The $1/sprue is a good faith deposit -- but you don't pay it until the sprue has hit 100 customers/1000 sprues "pre-ordered" (which are soft, no-money down pre-orders)

Once we hit 100/1000 -- we contact everyone and if they all agree to put $1 USD down per sprue ordered, we make the sprue.

(Prior to this – when we hit about 500 -- we will start showing work-in-progress shots and take feedback -- so that everyone sees what they are going to get)

And then when it's in plastic, we ship it out and charge the rest -- which will typically be about $4-8 or so per sprue depending on what it is."

He was clearly in the optimistic camp.

But hang on...

If someone told you they had crunched the numbers and told you they could make it work, what would you think they meant?

Personally I would think that they had covered their costs. After all the compnay already has a range of figures that is selling and presumably making money. Surely this new venture is a way of testing new markets, and isn't going to damage the existing business?

After all I am not great at maths but if Chicklewis is right and it costs $10,000 then getting $1 up front leaves them $9,000 short, and even when remaining balance is added it still leaves between £1,000 and $5,000 shortfall.

But Tony is back to explain further....

"The 100-person minimum in conjunction with the 1000 sprues (i.e. roughly 10/person -- but you could order 1 and someone else could order 19)…

The reason for this is that we want to produce sprues that will have more "life" in them after the initial 1000. 1000 gets us on our way to breakeven on the project, but we need to sell substantially more to make this financially viable.

With 100 individuals showing interest (as opposed to John the OFM ordering 1000 sprues of War of Jenkins Ear – hi John!) we have an indicator that there are probably more people out in the wide world of wargaming who would be interested in that set. Whereas John's WoJE mold will sit gathering dust on a back shelf (although who knows, we may be surprised!)

The real benefit of the program is to get your idea out to the larger audience of wargamers and see who's with you and can make your idea a reality!"

Note the phrase 'gets us on the way'... and the admission that the scheme was not financially viable.

This was launched in 2008.

Two years later the Tony Reidy has seen his ownership of the company go from 41% to 4%, and now there are further allegations....


"The problems were there before this. I have still never had anyone from WF answer as to why WSS Sprues I paid for in October, which were available for delivery in November were sold again to retail customers at shows (hundreds of figures at a time according to posts here on TMP)rather than being sent to me."

Which if true is pretty serious. Not least because if we go on the figures above these sprues are already losing money, and without people like RobH pre paying would never have been produced.

Of course it is handy that the company has a ready made fall guy in the shape of Lonnie/Lonny.

I can't help feeling that if this Lonnie character is guilty of anything, then perhaps he is guilty of telling the truth. And that is perhaps why this house of cards has collapsed in such a dramatic way. I've worked in places where you spend all day fielding calls complaining about stuff that is not your fault, and in the end it is pretty wearing, and quite frankly the only way to stay sane is to inform people of realities.

But no, the Wargames Factory supporters would have it that he is a Judas - which at least implies he is still being paid - a backstabber, an ingrate etc, etc, etc....

btw... an explanation has appeared in response to RobH, and dear reader, perhaps you can make more sense of it than I - especially with regard to why customers who had already paid for product should have to wait for the goods they have paid for....

It comes from BurlesonBill....

"Actually Rob, yes you have had this (or is it these) questions answered before. I have answered some of them, and I have read answers to you from Howard on public forums, including this one. But, here you go again as the song says:

1st – The "100's of sold sprues" you refer to were at the Fall-In convention. They were a batch of loose sprues with no packaging that WF paid to have flown over because you don't go to a Con as a vendor without product and because WF wanted to get painted samples for box art and PR, and to have reviewed by the gaming press (such as it is). At that time they had a freight manifest and every expectation that the actual retail product would be in hand in November.

2nd – Due to the foul-up (deliberate or accidental, really doesn't matter at this point) that caused the actual product shipment to be impounded and quarantined by US Customs, there still was no actual "product" in November, It was early December before product actually arrived at Triangle. True, it was in the US in late November, but could not be released or touched by anyone for 20 business days.

3rd – Once product was delivered to Triangle, Tony worked pretty much round the clock seven days a week to get it packaged by Triangle, sort orders, box them and print labels, and get them ready for posting. And some did post out.

4th – From some time in November until almost the first of the year, there were problems with the internal e-mail system linked from the web site and the storefront, with customer contact e-mails being deleted or segregated as SPAM. Howard and Tony both went online (including here) and made the public aware of this and began trying to sort things out. That is why Howard published his direct (i.e., personal) e-mail address here on TMP and on the Lefora Forums for people to contact him. And this was in no way "selective"; I assisted with the WSS design and was in constant contact with Tony up until the e-mail problem. I couldn't get through it, neither could Howard, neither could anyone else.

5th – Why did some retailers like Caliver get product when you didn't? You would probably have to talk to Lonnie about this since his role was as Sales Manager for the distributors and brick & mortar retail customers, NOT for orders from people like you and I.

6th – Some orders to individuals were shipped as previously mentioned, perhaps their pre-order was placed before yours, I personally don't know. My pre-order wasn't shipped either. But, when the bulk of the pre-orders were packed and ready to ship (December 18th), that is when Tony and company found out that the funds collected had been transferred out of the Company bank account and there was no way to pay for shipping costs. I was on the phone with Howard during this time and e-mail, and we don't know for sure how he did it, but Tony raised the necessary cash to ship the orders (about $1,000) and (perhaps foolishly in hindsight) deposited it in the account. That was when Tony was told the funds would not be released to cover the shipment costs and when the rest of this sordid drama "hit the fan". Tony had already announced that this shipment would now be going out on January 7th, and once again had no funds available to actually accomplish this."

Oh well, I guess it should be a lesson to all of us to be careful what we wish for... if you want cheap figures, get one of these 3d printer.

I suppose we should be grateful for small mercies, and while I wish either Perry's or Victrix would hurry up and make some French foot artillery in plastic (though failing that I will just go and buy some metal ones) I certainly would rather they were operating on a sound business model. After all the last thing I would want is the Perry's or Victrix, or indeed GW, shouting at me on the net and telling me how I am in the wrong for wondering why I have waitied three months for my order, because the money I gave them to make the stuff, at a loss, is frozen, as is the money I gave them to cover postage and packing.

No doubt the saga will roll on tomorrow.


quotes courtesy of The Miniatures Page

No comments:

Post a Comment