USEME Zombie Dawn makes a return from the dead…


I wanted to do a quick shout out about one of my own titles from the highly successful USEME series of Wargaming Titles; UM009 USEME Zombie Dawn.  It is now back in print after a gap of a couple of months and I am greatly pleased to be able to say that its second print run is larger than the first.  At the weekend I went to see World War Z at the cinema which was good but the book version (rather different…well actually REALLY different to the film) was what was in my mind while I wrote this title a couple of years ago.  It was actually down right funny to see Glasgow portrayed as Philadelphia in the film.  St Georges Square is very familiar to me and with its, as far as I know, unique bright red tarmac surface it looked sod all like America!  🙂

The 2nd print run features only an update to the listing of top sources for inspiration and an update to the list of available titles on its last page.  When the book went to print originally its ninth position on the list was the end of the list but now it goes up to number fifteen and Zombie Dawn is nearing the middle of the listing of titles.  More on the new titles when the time comes.

Because of the new movie being at cinema’s now I asked for and got permission to put up a special ‘Z Deal’ this week.  So until Monday of next week you can go to and get a print copy of UM009 and a pack of 15mm Zombies (sixteen of them) for just 6.25GBP saving thirty percent off list.  Excellent eh!

Shameless self promotion finished!


May Day Fun!


May Day is one of those days in the year when things seem more possible than not.  What do I mean by this?  Well simply put that on this day depending on what you believe its time to:

  • Smash the Capitalistic System
  • Go on Strike
  • Celebrate a Pagan God or two
  • Dance around a Maypole
  • Lick the dew from the morning grass
  • Run about kissing random people

While I may have done some of these things (not telling you!) it did put all me in the mind to suggest a ‘free postage’ weekend at Alternative Armies and  Its a holiday weekend in the UK so I think across four days, Friday to Monday, it will do a lot of bored and itchy wargamers good to know they can cash in on my ‘urge to splurge’.  It will be interesting to see the results.

As for the image in this posting, that is what will be on the two websites and associated email campaigns too.  I knocked it up…like it?  I am no artist, not like Mr Jackson or Mr Croes but I like it plenty.  Its like me…blunt!  🙂


Salute 2013 for GBS


The Shirt and the Badge

Well that is Salute by for another year and while others have posted their reviews of the show (very few this year compared to previous years, or perhaps I am missing them) I have just got to it as its a long trek home and the wind down afterwards always takes a day or so.  So how was the show for me and for Alternative Armies?


The front of the mighty Excel Centre home of Salute 2013

Personally for me I thought that Salute 2013 was down on last year in terms of attendance and that the average spend in the trade hall was lower too.  How do I know this, well I don’t for sure but I can guess at it from the following information.  No que at the gents toilets at 1pm, only a minute’s wait for a coffee at 2pm and a virtually empty hall half an hour before the doors closed.  The crowd was never all that dense at any trade stand.  As always the Warlords were polite and helpful and the Excel staff were excellent.  The weather was lovely and the traffic shuffle out of London was easier than normal too.  Oh and I noticed some of the free plastic miniature sprue that was this year’s entry gift left laying once all the stands were broken down so I have a good half dozen of them!

For Alternative Armies it was a good day considering the above and while the total take was down on last year the overall month of promotion (which ends this Friday) was WAY up on the year before mainly due to a great pulse of SHM, Laserburn, Security Force Alpha and HOT orders on  So all in all it was a super top month for the company.

I did not purchase anything this year at Salute which is odd and for once I did not get offered any freebies either (not a lot of give away for me awwww!) but it was kind of my plan as what I did want to do with my wargaming budget this month and what I got for doing Salute was to get a brand new wargaming table.   So no new rulebooks, figures or terrain but I did get the table TODAY and its a beauty but more on that in another posting.


A photo for the Typhon demo game 2013

I have also decided that I will not be doing any more demo games at wargame conventions myself as I did not get to play Typhon myself at all.  My attention was taken up with conversations, hand shaking and other duties.  It seems my infamy is too great just to toss the dice all day anymore.  Thank though to Craig Andrews of Barking Irons and Orcs in the Webbe fame for fielding the Typhon game four times in the afternoon.

Eve Hallow attended Salute for the first time this year and he did an excellent post about it too.  He travelled to London with my good lady wife…but he did make her carry his dirt filled coffin all the way to Excel!

Great to catch up with Edward Jackson, Steve Young, Bob Naismith, Sam Croes, Craig Andrews, Bill Hilton, Sandy B, Rob Alderman, Elton Waters and Russ Grey on the day; you guys make the trip worthwhile alone.  Thanks also to the hundred plus wargamers who spoke with me I can’t name you all but I took all your input and suggestions onboard and thanks for the kind words too.


Feel the Force in one to one scale!

So good result all in all.  I will see you there next year!


Two Mad Weeks and a new Postage Image

Self Gratifying…only a bit!

Two weeks ago I posted about an offer that was putting on that would give free postage on all orders for any address in the whole world.  That would be on an order for anything or any number of orders too…which as it turned out was just as well!  I am knackered and rather sweaty from the extra effort!

What a fortnight it has been for the company.  It turned out that thanks to email campaigns, website promotion, blogging posts and word of mouth that not only was order volume up by a large degree but we also sold items from every single range we have including codes so odd that we do not keep them in regular stock.  Customers placed two, three, four orders across a week or more and we had orders from half the nations of the world.  Most of the orders were as normal from UK, Europe and North America but there were a whole load from Australia and New Zealand (as I had predicted).  While it will be another week until all the orders placed are sent out I think we dealt really well and the majority of orders went out in our normal two day turnaround right up to the start of this week when the strain started to show.  Even so that is still a fast turnaround and as one email said ‘dear I live in Illinois and my order from you in the UK arrived before my order on the same day from a company in this state!‘.

I do not yet know if economically it made sense to make this promotion as numbers are still to be crunched but in sheer number of orders it can be concluded that wargamers love getting free postage more than any one single promotion on a range or a percentage discount on product codes across the website.  If it did make business sense and I think it might well turn out to have then we may make this offer again during the festive season.

As an aside there were several emails and one phone call that I took during the offer that asked if we took credit cards (we do) and if we charged different postage rates normally by world region (we do not).  This set me thinking that perhaps the existing postage image on the header of might be out of date or a little confusing so donning my virtual design hat I put together a new one.  You can see it above.  It is bright, clear and easy to understand conveying the idea of postage and telling of the flat worldwide rate. Below it are the standard icons for Paypal and all the major credit cards.  We will see if it makes a difference.


Advertising in Miniature Wargames Issue 352 – Results!

Following up on last months look at the result of advertising in Miniature Wargames Issue 351 it’s time for a round up on the advert placed in Miniature Wargames Issue 352.  You can follow the link backs to previous posts to see those results and the advert in question but it was an advert for the Altuos 15mm Renaissance range of white metal historical miniatures.

Last month’s look at the results of magazine advertising were positive in fact has continued to receive orders citing the USE ME advert right up to this week.  So quite happy there. However the response to the Altous advert have been quite frankly a disaster.  Enquiries and orders citing the advert were virtually non existent and the level of sales for the Altuos range actually fell 25% overall during the calendar month of the advert.  How the advert actually reduced sales is beyond my ability to understand but I expect (and hope) they were not connected.  Web views on those pages relevant ran about 10% down on the month before but total visits remained the same.  Based on the results of last months questionnaire on the Notables Yahoo Group it seemed that outside of the UK few read MW magazine and many prefer to get content online too.  But there was a solid core of players who read it each month.

The 15mm Renaissance range is fairly popular for  Not on the same level as HOF 15mm Science Fiction and Laserburn but it more than holds its own for players of FOG and DBM and so on in the historical gaming clubs and societies across the world.

Frankly this has left me rather glum and puzzled.  Comments and thoughts welcome on this by reply or by email.

So what is the link between advertising and figure / rules choice for wargamers?


A Pin for a Real Flintloque Fan

My CCI Demo Team pin badge from the 1990’s!

Funny what a rummage turns up.  I thought I had lost my unique hand painted pin badge back from 1997 when the CCI Demo Team ruled the land and I was the cheery chap touring the globe playing Flintloque.  The pin above went with me to Salute, to Gencon UK, Gencon USA, to Poland and Italy, to many other places too and more stores than I can remember.  That pin depicting the ‘Grand Duck’ or the Colonel of the 105th Rifles Oswold Pebblekettle along with a gun metal grey shirt and the CCI demo set of miniatures graced hundreds of tables.  It was one of the first made, if not the first.  Possibly painted by Pete Knifton who did all of the early artwork for Flintloque in the 1990’s; it was a long time ago.

I am feeling generous though and perhaps might give this away to one REALLY lucky fan of the World of Valon.  I will go over to the Notables Yahoo Group and ask for suggestions on how to do it.



Advertising in Miniature Wargames Issue 351 – Results!

We were approached at by Media Shed who are the advertisers of Miniature Wargames magazine to take out adverts with them.  After discussion we decided on a series of three adverts with them in issues 351,352,353.  A  It had been quite a while since we last advertised in a UK magazine so we decided to give it a go and see what happened.  It is now into the release month of the second of those three agreed issues so that means the statistics for the first month’s advert are now complete.  So, how did this advert work out?

Using a combination of customer responces to email and also web statistics and traffic to certain pages of the website along with information from the previous three months of the same sources we came to the following conclusions about this advert.

   1.  Total website visits to both Alternative Armies and dropped by 10% during the four weeks the MW351 advert ran.

   2. The pages of the website dealing with the subject of the advert (the USE ME Series of titles) rose in the rankings of pages by popularity ending in second place for that period.

  3. Of the total sales of paper books covered by the MW351 advert some 40% can be directly attributed to viewing the advert in print.

  4. Sales of the download titles in the USE ME Series doubled during the period of the advert.

  5.  The advert was a reasonable success with an uplift over normal in sales and interest in the USE ME Series.  However it was not as successful as other email and postal campaigns on the same subject with a lesser cost involved to the company.

So in conclusion we are satisfied with the results of the advert and look forward to the results of the next two in issues 352 and 353.

I have started a thread over on the Notables Yahoo Group asking how many of its 550 members regularly read Miniature Wargames magazine and of them how many saw and acted on the advert for USE ME.  Also if what kind of advert they prefer, listings, information and so on.

Lastly those of you who read my blog and are not members of the Notables or prefer to please put your views in the comments thread of this posting.  I welcome your comments!


An Advert for Miniature Wargames Issue 353

The Ion Age gets an Advert!

Busy, busy this week and despite a full ‘to do list’ written on my traditional blank A4 piece of paper (which looks like a bomb site by Monday afternoon!) I have fallen behind somewhat.  But I am busy rectifying that and here is the latest bit of work now complete and sent off to John at MediaShed.  Our half page advert for the issue after next of Miniature Wargames magazine.

After adverts for USE ME and for Altuos it is the turn of the Ion Age to get the full colour treatment in print.  The 28mm science fiction range is way too big to be listed so I opted for a general information and introduction advert which told a bit of a story and gave basic information.  Along with this some eye candy of the latest pack release and the cover of MOTH.  I had some space left so a sub-advert for Asgard 25mm Space Marines went in featuring the superb paintwork of Sam Croes.

Click on the image above to see the advert in full.


New Blister Backer

A ‘rough’ of the new Alternative Armies and blister backer card

Some of you might have noticed I have been in a ‘hobbit hole’ for the last two days and have not answered my usual three dozen or more personal mails a day. Well I had been handed a new and urgent task; to replace the current now almost extinct blister backer used by Alternative Armies and  I had expected to be doing this but due to the placing of a large trade order into the USA last week it was moved up the job list to ‘do it right now!’ status.

Those who purchase their miniatures from stores or at conventions will know what a blister backer is.  A piece of card with all the needed information about the company and about the product which goes inside a blister of miniatures allowing the customer to know what he is looking it along with how much it costs.  These used to form the back of a blister but those were ‘heat sealed’ use once blisters which we have not used for a decade or more.  We use a ‘clam shell’ plastic blister which is more secure but also is reusable and many wargamers use them to transport finished figures too!  So they full fill the same purpose but are no longer the ‘back’ but the name remains much like ‘watching a video’ does despite it being a DVD!

If you click on the image above you can see a low rez rough of the new design. Size wise it is 105mm by 75mm in dimension. It is simple and effective and tells you all you need to know over an attractive mottled blue with the famous Alternative Armies ‘arrowhead’ embedded in it.  The blue is used as it is the best colour behind white metal miniatures to be able to see them properly and the blank white area on the front is for the placement of the ‘product label’ which tells the customer what code he is holding.  This is different for each pack of course.

I will be catching up with the backlog of email soon as I can but this is turning into one hectic week!


Remembering it for me Wholesale…minus the trip to Mars

I heard last year that there was going to be a new version of Total Recall the story by Phillip K.Dick and the movie from nineteen ninety starring my childhood hero Arnold Schwarzenegger.   While the older film directed by Paul Verhoeven was only loosely based on the short story by Dick it is the version of the story that is ‘mine’ as I saw the film years before the read the original story and while Quail become Quade it did not matter to me.  So I was super happy that once more I would be heading into a tale of flash memory, assassins and a trip to the Red Planet of Mars.  But no!

It seems, having now watched the trailer for the new film, that not only is the man mountain missing but the whole ruddy Martian landscape is too.  That is correct, Mars will not be featured in the new movie!

This is a shame as I am planning to do some Martian landscape wargame boards with a distinctive red hue in order to play some games of USE ME.  Since there is no Mars I will have to look into other sources such as Red Faction and perhaps Ghosts of Mars for scenic inspiration.

I intend if I can to go and see the new film in August despite there being no Mars, Mutants or such and despite it starring Colin Farrell who is not an actor that I admire (anyone remember Alexander the Great, SWAT, Daredevil…I could go on).  If I do then I will post about it, perhaps I will be wrong and it will be a cracking near future action film.  Or it could turn out to be not quite as awesome as that.  So to finish off….

Here is the trailer for the new film.  Enjoy.