Saturday, 13 March 2021

Ups and downs, a funny old week that was!

Having cleared the decks with the 18mm's shipping off to Australia and the 40mm's gradually making their way to Graham C their new owner, plus John's box finished and packed for posting I find myself in that curious state of mind that the freedom to cast around for something fresh brings. Of course safely shipping hundreds of fragile figures always brings a certain amount of anxiety, especially where one suffers from it anyway. On Monday the large box went off to Australia via Parcelforce Global Priority, it contains 4 strong inner boxes with the bases individually wrapped in bubble wrap and is now on it's way. 

Impressed with the Parcelforce home pick up service we went with their 24 hour delivery service for the first box of 40mm's. Now this was a substantial package at 9.8 kg's with all the figure bases glued down to the bottom of the box with PVA and then packed out with enough bubble wrap to destroy the planet (it will be recycled), topped with polystyrene sheets. I attached a Fragile sticker and felt confident that it would be absolutely fine. Next day I was horrified to hear from Graham C that the box had been severely damaged in transit with one end torn open and the figures basically a jumbled mess. Several heads had come off and four were missing from the box, in addition some of the horses were bent over and riders unseated. I can only imagine that the box had been either dropped or given a kick underneath to do that much damage. Luckily it looks as though everything was restorable, muskets bent back straight and I have spare French heads to replace those lost. Graham said the horses took the worst of the damage but he was able to straighten them and bend back into position. It will require a bit of repair work and TLC but we will sort it out together. By the time I received the news I had already dispatched a second large package containing two inner boxes using the same service. This one arrived yesterday, still a bit of damage but not as bad luckily, A few heads off, some Spanish infantry off their bases and damage to the rocket battery base with a couple of the resin figures broken at the ankles. I really do not understand what Parcelforce does with them, again it had a fragile sticker on but clearly no care was taken. We have one more large consignment to go next week, but I'll be changing the packing style internally and using UPS instead, I'm taking no chances and that's the last time I use Parcelforce. 

On a slightly brighter note a couple of the EPIC sprues arrived this week. This was my first close up look at these figures and for me the jury is still out on them. Clearly they are very well designed, very detailed and in accurate shoulder to shoulder pose with the majority of muskets corrected shouldered on the right. I wasted little time in getting 6 of the strips undercoated in black and later picked out a few jackets and trousers in Flat Earth, my go to base shade for 'Butternut' uniforms. I think it was at this point that it struck me that even a 3 base unit is going to take a LOT of painting compared with say a standard 24 figure 15mm unit. Given that the demands of painting these little figures are no different from standard 15mm's in terms of detail the investment in time of producing a 60 figure unit will be about the same as for example painting 3 x 24 figure Peter Pig regiments, I really don't think there would be much in it as given the way these are cast it is quite tricky to accurately pick out colours where the figures slightly overlap. I'm going to try to get some more paint on them today and see how things go, but I have to say at this stage I'm still undecided.

I did return to painting the Eureka British infantry and have finished off the first section, half the second section, and the redeploying PIAT team, and should finish off the second half today long with them Vickers MG team. Despite what I said previously I could not resist ordering some Germans, so 3 x 10 figure infantry squads along with support weapons and command figures are on their way for the simple reason that I do really enjoy painting these sculpts.

As I said, a funny old week of ups and downs but hopefully things will settle down a bit more this week.










10 comments:

  1. A funny old week indeed. The postal story re the figures is the stuff of nightmares. Is there a chance that so much metal has set of ParcelForce scanners and they have opened the boxes (badly) and then not repackaged properly? Either way 2 out of 2 is. Bad score against them.

    I think the Epic figures do hold that surprise for the painter, mine took ages to paint, much more than I would have anticipated before starting out. It does make the prospect of 2500 of the buggers quite daunting and they are a cheap figure in terms of raw buying price, but not in terms of painting investment - though I suspect there is a knack to a quick paint job. The thing that struck me was that despite all my work on the detail, at normal gaming distance, it disappears, which just reinforced to my mind that just because the detail is on the figure (nice) a more impressionistic way of painting is probably for the best.

    I will be interested to see what your AB Germans look like. I have them unpainted, but my own view is that the sculpt quality is not so fantastic that it is worthy of the premium price. I like the dynamic poses though and perhaps once mine get paint on, my opinion may improve. I was looking at them yesterday for some basing ideas and noted that they are bigger than the PSC 1/72, not enough to matter, but enough to note.

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    1. Hello Norm, the photos of the first large box looks to me like it's either been thrown down or dropped. I had driven back from Spain over 1000 miles with the figures all glued down in those boxes including some bumpy stretches of road and couple of dodgy French cheap hotels with unmade car parks and then on and off the shuttle which involved a fair bit of bumping and they were fine. Live and learn I guess, at least everything is now OK save 4 French heads lost and some damage to basing which can be repaired.

      The Epic figures - you have nailed it there Norm, my thoughts exactly. Today I spent about an hour and a half finishing the first two strips of figures. I decided to approach them not as 15mm figures but as 6mm figures from the painting style point of view and it's been more successful. These are never going to be units that will reward individual close scrutiny but as you say at arms length the mass effect is what you see and to be fair I think this is the thinking behind the concept. I'm going to base these first 2 strips in a bit and post a pic here which I will hope will illustrate what I mean. Next 2 strips should be faster now that I have the colours down and dot and dash style sorted :) Anyway Norm, I'll probably keep going now with them.

      AB Germans I just had to see what they are like and if it comes to it I'll just paint and sell them to get my money back.

      All the best,
      Lee.

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  2. Lee, I worked for many years as a manager in mail order (in pre website days) and we shipped thousands of parcels via Parcel Force. The customer service team used to refer to them as 'Parcel Farce' which actually was a little unfair, the vast majority of stuff arrived safely and on time but of course there always was the odd disaster. I'm not sure if any of the carriers are 'better' these days but for our current business we use Royal Mail and (despite what people think) their service is excellent and we seldom have anything lost or damaged.

    If you are still kicking around for a new project I would prod you gently in the direction of the Crimean War which I know you thought about a few years ago - Eureka do some nice 18mm figures!

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    1. Hi Ian. To be fair of all the parcels I have posted over the years this is the first time I have had a problem, just had to be the lovely 40mm's! I thought that the weight at 9.8kg's and size would prevent it being thrown around, I'm just so relieved that everything can be repaired because when I saw the photo Graham took (and Graham has taken all this in stride) I had to go have a stiff drink :)

      I did look at the Eureka Crimea range which is excellent, but wanted to find something that represents less of a financial commitment just in case a year down the line I get fed up again.

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  3. This side of the pond it is considered "common knowledge" that putting 'Fragile', 'This side up', or 'Do not Bend' on a package just draws attention and is considered a challenge by delivery service employees. I don't know how true that really is.

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    1. That did actually occur to me, but I dismissed it as being a product of my twisted mind :) I recall some undercover filming inside a major London distribution depot several years ago when parcels were being thrown and kicked about by laughing employees, most of whom were on 'casual' contracts and really didn't care less. Anyway, fingers crossed for UPS and I am going to pack the f**k out of them this time.

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  4. Wow man that was pretty bad luck with Parcel farce (as we call them round here). It sounds like you did your best to keep those minis protected and I’m sure Graham understands it was the fault of the delivery muppets and not you. Doesn’t do much for your confidence levels though does it! I had that sprue of ACW figs and tried to palm them off on Norm, before having a quick go at painting them. Gave up almost immediately and agree they may well be somewhat of a time sink. By the way I’ve not been following you here for some reason, so apologies - I’ve now corrected that particular omission!

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    1. Hi there JBM. Not a great few days I must admit! It took me a couple for weeks to pluck up the courage to get them on their way, but as I said above they had travelled 1000 miles in those boxes from Spain with a fair few bumps on the way and nothing moved. Live and Learn I guess just the one box to go now but it does include 32 British cavalry which are basically 4 part kits and the bulk of the British foot including 48 Highlanders with notoriously weak bayonets thanks to a blip in the sculpting process so going to take extra precautions :)

      Re the Epics, I think I have found a solution in terms of my approach to painting them, all will be revealed in the next post.

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  5. Lee,
    These things happen, Anyway main thing is the figures are all recoverable without too much effort. For the epic pieces there's a few good pieces on YouTube re painting and it's definitely a case of less is more and paint for effect. Like you I'm usually if the detail is there it must be painted but for these guys I've found that hints of straps belts buckles etc is just as effective especially when you start putting them on the bases and they're deployed in regiments, the majority of the detail is quickly lost.
    One article went as far as just a simple block paint on the rear of the strip for the front rank and the front of the figure for the back,! Although I'm not going that far.
    They're now advertising extra Command strips and the skirmishes/ dismounted cavalry although today I'm hoping to test print some of the ACW figures from Eskice
    All the best

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    1. Graham, I'm just thankful that the damage was not worse than it was, as you know I was very proud of those figures.

      I had a good think about the Epics and how best to approach them and have now cracked through 3 bases (6 strips) that I'm pretty happy with, I'll describe it in my next post. Main aim was to get the painting time down as far as possible but with a reasonable result en mass.

      Future releases look good and the command strips will be very useful. Just a shame those Iron Brigade and Zouave sets were not £20.00 boxes with half the number of figures?

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