What way to go and what to take...
So it is convention time, or show time if in the UK and the boss says to you ‘Right which of all of our mighty ranges and books are we taking this time?‘. Now this conversation happened weeks ago for Salute 2012 but it is the same each time and for every event. Unless you load up five large vans, get three twenty four foot stands, turn over a ton (no not joking) of white metal alloy into miniatures you simply cannot take everything with you. So you must choose what to take and know that whatever you choose you will be the saviour of some and the cause of damnation for others.
A lot of wargamers seem to think that asking at a trade stand for a single miniature from a pack that you once carried in 1994 for a range out of production and you not having it to hand is tantamount to treason. Well, I try and keep everyone happy but it is just not possible. Not everything there has ever been can be to hand. That is the reason for ‘collect on the day’ orders to avoid dissapointment. That is before you get to the fact that we have both Alternative Armies (Flintloque, Slaughterloo, MOTH, Firefight 2.0, Erin, Typhon, DarkeStorme) and also 15mm.co.uk (HOT,HOF,SHM,ASQL2.0,HOF Fire-Team, USE ME, Isarus, Medus, Altuos, 6mm sci-fi etc). So choices must be made…but what?
I am sure that every miniature wargame company has to make these choices and not everyone does it by throwing a D6 dice and chancing to fate (I did that only once!). So how do you choose? What are the parameters? Due you take the new, the old, the best seller, the remainder stock, the traded in, the stuff at the back of the warehouse, those items you inported that are too heavy to send in the mail, stock that came back from stores and is already packed and priced..the list goes on. While I cannot tell you how others make their choices I can tell you my own system which I feel is close to how others do it.
15mm fantasy and science fiction wargamers seem to like having an entire range to choose from as they tend to buy an entire ‘army’ in one go while at a show. This means I ensure the whole HOF and HOT ranges are there with their rule systems. Then I watch with amazement as whole stacks of packs are lifted off the racks by one customer! On the other hand 28mm Fantasy, Science Fiction and Flintloque players seem more to like the idea of the new and the small force. That is they pick a few packs or even just one as a painting project; often adding to an existing force. It is not odd for a new limited code (this season it is VLE12 Villiam Bedsforc the Bombardier) to run through so much of its number to have it out of stock by the end of the year. Those interested in rule books and there are many tend to pick a system and then purchase every title in it. The best example of this I can give you is the USE ME series of titles with wargamers buying a half dozen booklet at a time covering sci-fi, fantasy, WW2, ACW and more.
I always take every code we have released in the last year, since the last Salute, that way those customers we tend to see only once a year have something new to see and to purchase. I avoid taking anything left laying about in the warehouse as it is often there because it does not sell well and space as I have said is at a premium. The same goes for stock from retail stores. This is often in need of re-packing, re-pricing and can be codes that did not sell through too.
As for traded in I run a unique service at Alternative Armies called ‘The Swop Drawer’ where we will accept at retail value limited codes from the Flintloque range (LE’s, VLE’s and LEU’s) in exchange for other codes from the range limited or not. The gamer pays the freight to us, we pay it back to him. The codes swopped must be sold out though not ones that are still in stock. This is a slow process but twice a year, once at Salute and once in the run up to Christmas I put out a list or a rack and its first come, first served for the sold out packs again at face value. This will be the fourth year of the swop drawer at Salute.
After this the space that is left is given over to two main areas, for all the pins on all the racks are now full, the areas of painted miniatures and new range titles. Alternative Armies employees a team of painters and supplies thousands of high quality pro-painted miniatures (from our ranges, all by hand, all in Scotland) covering all of our game systems. These are sold as singles and units and are out to see, to be examined and handled too. Customers love to see what they buy. The new range titles, well I have to pick three, and this year it is HOF Fire-Team (released at Salute first!), Flintloque the Skirmish (the game we are known for all over the world) and USE ME which has gone from six to twelve titles in just over a year and has made me very proud.
So that is what I take, what I chose this time. The choices are rational and cover as many bases as it is possible to but they will not please all. They do not please me but only because I ‘know’ that I will be asked at least one hundred times across the day for something we did not bring. But space is limited and the demands for it come by the dozen. We take the new, the limited, the traded in, all our books and rule systems, two entire 15mm ranges, a spattering of the massive Ion Age and Flintloque ranges plus a focus on painted miniatures and three of the array of titles we publish. I pick and choose and I smile!
See you all in London…