Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A tale of four (postal) orders

This not a "test", because it was not really designed to be one: just an interesting "tale" about ordering miniatures all over the world, with different conclusions to be drawn about consumer services -- mostly, very positive conclusions.

In the evening of March 23rd I submitted four orders for WWI miniatures to complement my Turkish and Australian/British/Indian forces for the Middle East theatre. The four orders were not exactly comparable, as I picked and chose missing elements here and there. From Eureka in Australia I ordered a few Light Brigade mounted figures. From QRF, a mix of infantry and mounted troops both for ANZAC and Turks, plus a couple of guns and some MG sets. From Peter Pig, some WWI Indian bags plus a few other bags from the Sudan range, and some heads in sun hat for swapping and conversions. Finally, from Minifigs/Caliver a variety of items including more mounted Light Brigade and Indian infantry, plus British infantry in sun helmet, some Yeomanry troops and a Rolls-Royce armoured car. And a few bags to check out (Circassian cossacks, uh?) Minifigs was probably the largest and most diversified order, with QRF coming second in variety, Peter Pig third with a couple of unusual items. Eureka was probably the simplest, most straightforward order to fill.

The submission of orders and payment went very smoothly, with prompt email replies with payment receipts from Peter Pig, QRF, and Minifigs. For Eureka, I had to check back on the website. All in all, it was a total of three orders from the UK and one from Australia to be shipped to Chicago, USA.
[By the way: can you tell we just experience a dollar rally in currency markets?]

That was in the evening of Tuesday, March 23rd. On March 24th, an email from QRF announces that my package has shipped! Good, that's promising... I wonder how this little contest will play out. On the very same day, an email by Minifigs/Caliver tells me to expect the package by mid-April. ...mmm... this sounds a little optimistic. During the winter, my orders to Minifigs took about three weeks to ship, and other three-to-four weeks to be delivered: based on that experience, I was not really expecting my miniatures before early May, but we'll see.

A couple of quiet days follow, and on Wednesday March 31st... the Peter Pig order shows up in the mail! WOW, that was fast, five working days! On Friday April 2nd... surprise! Eureka package is at the front door, too! This is even better, seven working days from Australia! And yesterday, Monday March 5th, the large-ish QRF models are delivered! Excellent!

There is very little to say: these three companies showed a fantastic consumer service... it makes me want to go back and order more! Bravi! to all the gentlemen involved: Nic in Australia, Martin and Geoff in the UK.

Now I am rooting for a prompt delivery from Minifigs/Caliver. These are miniatures I love, and I know the staff at Caliver has been struggling a bit during the transition from the previous ownership. I have been a big fan of this line for several years now, despite the sluggish delivery performance. I can only hope that, by now, Caliver has successfully turn the situation around, and they will indeed succeed in having my package delivered by next week.

Overall, a very satisfying customer experience. Let's knock on wood about the final parcel.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

It has been almost 40 days since my last post. In the meanwhile, business took me almost on the other side of the planet for a trip to the Persian Gulf, and then a few days in Washington D.C. Unavoidably, traveling has slowed down my wargaming stamina. Although, there has been something else going on. The hobby flame comes and goes in spurt, and about every two months or so I feel the need to take a break from the current project and refocus on something else, different, or new. For financial reasons, I try to limit the new project at one per year, while old ones come back into the rotation cyclically. From November to February I was very much into Napoleonics, but after my traveling I felt the need to take a break from it, and direct my energies somewhere else, at least for a short while.

So, where do I stand right now? There is an old project gaining strength, and a couple of ideas about a new period to start in 2010.

Old project back on the workbench. This would be WWI Middle East -- Sinai & Palestine, Mesopotamia, and Gallipoli. I have almost completed a full Turkish regiment; I have a mix ANZAC brigade on foot ready and available (Australian and New Zealand troops), and I am currently working on a Light Horse brigade as well. Arabs were already available from my colonial collection. Assorted guns are also being painted. Also, being slowly worked on, a Indian brigade with one British battalion and three Indian ones, plus a Gurkha battalion just because nobody can make it without Gurkhas. I got some missing elements for all the above by filing a few small orders with UK Minifigs, Peter Pig, QRF, and Eureka. At the end, this should make for an interesting collection of troops for a fascinating area of operations. Pictures and progress report to follow soon.

New projects being considered. Fundamentally, there are two. Two and half, to be precise. One of them is WWII in the desert. I have a lot of scenery for this setting, again thanks to my colonial collection. I have some unpainted figures already, sitting in some box in the closet. I am holding back only because of the cost of adding armour. In 15mm scale, the quantity of tanks, armored cars, and various mechanical gadgets required for this front can be intimidating. I am almost tempted to mix 15mm infantry figures (which, in the case of Eureka and Peter Pig, tend to be on the smallish side of the scale, i.e. "true" 15mm) with 12mm tanks from GFI. In general, I am not fond of this type of mixing. But , ehi, I might try with a few vehicles, just to check whether the "feeling" is acceptable, or just plain wrong. Any comments?

Alternatively, project # 2 would be the Thirty Years War. Again, there are miniatures sitting in the closet, and again, I did some stimulating readings on the topic in the past. Here, the question mark relates to the size of those early war tercios, and I also question how a game of the period would "feel." I have a couple of good rules that could easily work: "Father Tilly" (the new edition), "Piquet - Anchor of Faith", "1644". The temptation is definitely there.

Finally, the "half" project I mentioned would be the the Russian Civil War. I can pour some enthusiasm in leading a White Army, but overall I find the military dimension of the whole affair somewhat lacking; or, maybe, I just need to study it more. This would be a natural progression from my WWI project (not the Mesopotamia/Sinai/Gallipoli: the "other" project about the European theaters.) And some of the miniatures could be used for any type of troubles in the 1920s -- Germany & Weimar, Poland, maybe even a pre-dated Very British Civil War, which appears to be the latest fad in wargaming. This theater would be very playable with any WWI rule set, and it would be a perfect way to test the Perfect Captain's "Red Actions" rules that I read with some interest some time ago. I'll keep this idea in the backseat for the time being, but it is not completely off yet, despite not being completely on, either.