Sunday, May 29, 2011

Unboxing: Games Workshop Finecast Huron Blackheart

With all the hubbub over the last couple of weeks regarding Games Workshop's Finecast branded models, I thought it would be a good idea to pick up a Huron Blackheart model and do an unboxing, to see just how good these are.


Finecast models now come in a clam pack type of packaging. This new packaging really helps promote the visibility of the model. And when you actually see the models on their sprue, it becomes very apparent why Games Workshop switched packaging, as they would never have fit in the previous design blister pack.

The new Finecast Huron Blackheart in clam pack, front view.

Games Workshop has done a very nice job with this new packaging. They have taken the opportunity to update the look and feel of the packaging so it displays more nicely on peg displays. It's easier to search the rack for what you need, because there are full colour pictures representation of the painted model inside. So if you know what you are looking for by sight, it makes searching less organised racks much faster.

This packaging also allows you to view the contents of the clam pack, to check the quality of the model before you purchase it. It also gives a nice visceral feel to buying these models as you can easily grab a few clam packs of various models, and sort through them as you decide what to get. Being able to view the models can sometimes make or break that decision. In this case, it actually helped me decide to buy Huron, as I was never impressed with the metal version of this model, but the detail I could see was enough to convince me this model was far superior.

Huron is clearly visible from the back, making selection easier!

The other nice thing about these clam packs is the flat shape. Which means they hang very nicely on the rack, and they also stack and pack more neatly, for those of you who are hoarders, or like to collect a whole army before building it, and so keep it neatly tucked away until then.


One of the other improvements they have made to the clam pack is to eliminate the need to cut it open. Behind the hanger hole, you will find two slots that are die cut into the back of the clam pack. The purpose of these is to create a tear tab. If you carefully lift it up, and then pull it back, you will be able to tear the clam pack open for easy access to the miniature!

This tab makes the clam pack easy to open without tools!

A word of warning is probably advised here, be careful not to overdo the tearing, as you could potentially send the parts flying, and accidentally cause damage if you exert enough pressure as to bend or break the frame. But with care, you can easily open the clam pack and remove the contents.

Carefully peel back the tab to open the clam pack.

Tear across the top to make the opening big enough to remove the model.

Having removed the model from the packaging, let's take a closer look. Here are some close up pictures showing the model on the frame. As you can see, there is a lot of flash, and there are also a lot of runners, gates, and air vents. This is necessary for resin to ensure the mould is completely filled, and to reduce internal voids and surface bubbles.

Front: Huron and Axe arm.

Back: Huron and Axe arm.

Front: Backpack, claw arm, and pet.

Back: Backpack, claw arm, and pet.


Having unpacked the miniature, it is time to start the building process. The first thing to do is to carefully remove all of the parts from the frames. Using flat sided hobby clippers, carefully clip the runners about 1mm from the model. This helps prevent damaging the model with the clippers. It also leaves little gate debris on the model. By leaving about 1mm, there is enough material you can easily get a hobby knife behind it and gently slice the sprue off the model.

As you cut the model, you will find that the resin is actually very pliable. It is easy to clip, and because it is so flexible, you are not as likely to damage the model if it were to flex, which often happens with delicate plastic model bits.

Here you can see Huron and all the bits removed from the model. Notice the gates and large flash I left on the model. You should also be mindful of small parts during this stage. If you are not careful, you can easily mistake a small delicate part for sprue, and either cut through it, or discard it with the frame!

Everything is neatly clipped. Watch for small parts, like Huron's Thumb!

Once all the parts are clipped from the frame, it is time to start deflashing. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of this process. The best way I've found to deflash a resin model like this is to start with a soft to medium bristled toothbrush and gently scrub the model. Be careful during this step as fragile parts can be easily bent, or broken, especially if there are voids in the model. This step will help quickly remove all the papery flash without needing to slice into it.

If this does not remove all of the papery flash, that's OK. You can clean that up in the next step, with a hobby knife. In this step, first you should gently cut off any of the thicker papery flash, air vents, and the large gates. The knife will cut through this very easily, so be very gentle. Make short controlled strokes, so the knife does not go out of control and gouge the model, or worse, slice your hand open. When cutting off the gates, tackle them a small bit at a time. It's easy to whittle the gates off in this way, and it will help you avoid damaging the surface of the model, as well as leave a nice clean finish.

After the paper flash, vents, and gates have been removed, you can then use the knife in a scraping manner to scrape off the lines of flash. Do this in a fashion similar to deflashing plastic, by gently running the blade along the flash line. Due to imperfections, you may find it necessary to slice along the flash. If you do, remember to do it in short controlled strokes, holding the knife close to the blade so it's easier to control. You can also use a needle file, or a very fine grit emery board, but do so very carefully as it's easy to be too aggressive and remove more material than intended. A very gentle touch is what's needed here.

Remember to be careful during this process. It's all to easy to cut a gouge into the model, or break some of the more fragile parts off. This is normally not something that would be an issue with metal models, but the trade offs are worth it for the final resulting quality, and repairs are easy and nearly seamless. Even doing this carefully, I actually broke two parts off the model during cleaning!

Even some of the more robust parts can be broken, despite how careful you are.

Repair and Assembly

Once you have all of the parts deflashed, you can start assembling. Before you do that though, this is a good time to inspect the model for damage, bubbles, and large voids. You will often find bent parts as well, and this is a good time to straighten them.

Damage is usually obvious, because a part has broken off, or there is a gouge, or some large visible imperfection, in this case, the large chaos symbol on the backpack was broken, as well as one of the liquid phials on his hip. Bubbles usually appear as small pin holes in the surface. If you look at the pet, you can see a few bubbles on the rump of the creature. Voids are, essentialy, large bubbles that usually manifest inside the model, but can also appear as large holes on the surface. In this case, the left shoulder pad had a void on the plate.

Fixing these imperfections can be relatively easy. The wonderful thing about resin models is that when they break, they usually break cleanly, and a small dab of superglue and a few minutes holding the part in place are enough to fix it. This resin is porous enough that the superglue bonds very well, and a little goes a long way. In fact, the broken parts were so well attached after I repaired them, that they seem stronger after the repair.

Voids and large bubbles can be repaired using some modelling putty or greenstuff. Just fill the hole and smooth it out with a sculpting tool. Small bubbles can easily be filled with superglue, and a little baking soda. In this case, I chose to leave the voids on Huron, as it seemed to fit in well with all the battle damage. I did fill in the bubbles on his pet though.

Due to the nature of the casting process, it's very common to find you have bent resin parts. With metal, you could usually apply a little pressure and bend such things back, but with resin, you must be careful not to break the part when bending.

On this model, I found that I had to straighten some of the chaos spikes, one of the phials, as well as his axe. To make it easier, and to avoid breakage, a very simple method is to hold the part in hot water for about a minute. The resin will soften up nicely and you can very easily bend the part back to shape. Once you are happy with the shape, dip the part in cold water for about a minute. This will make the resin harden up and keep the new shape. This is also useful for repositioning limbs, or other slender body parts.

It's also a good idea to wash the parts before assembly. As surely, during deflashing, there will be remnants of dust and debris that may stick to the model. Cleaning it now will prevent that debris from becoming a problem later when you start gluing things together and find that a part does not fit because there is a chunk of material that got stuck where it shouldn't.

Final assembly is very simple. While a metal model may require that you pin the parts together to ensure a strong bond, the resin is light enough that pinning is largely unnecessary for most models, though you may still want to consider pinning for larger models, or models with fragile connection points.

Make sure the joints are clean, and before gluing, dry fit the parts to ensure there is no additional scraping necessary to fit the part. Apply the glue with a fine tipped applicator. A small amount of superglue on one side of the joint is all it takes. Spread it out evenly, and gently press and hold the parts together for about 45-60 seconds. This will ensure the glue is absorbed into the porous resin on both parts, and create a very good bond. In this case, less is more, so be careful not to over do it, or the joint may be weakened.

Finished Assembly

Here is the final product. As you can see, the detail is very fine. I have seen a lot of Huron Blackheart models, and every one I've seen has had a tremendous loss of detail around the head, and the damaged portion of the torso and legs. The Finecast model, however, is very clean and crisp. It's much better than the metal model for retention of fine detail, casting quality, as well as ease of assembly. The quality alone was enough to make me choose this model for the unboxing, as I have refused to purchase a metal Huron Blackheart, because of all the flaws.

"Join me! Together we can put an end to this destructive conflict...."

Here you can see the shoulder pad damage due to a void. I carved it out to look
like damage instead of build it back up.

The backpack required extra care between the exhausts. The Chaos Star looks
much nicer after it's been repaired and straightened in hot water.

The damaged leg and head detail is superb on the resin model, far superior
to the equivalent metal model, where they ended up as just blobs on most casts.

Time Savings

All told, I spent about 3 hours working on this model. Most of that was in deflashing. It was not difficult, just time consuming because there was so much. And this model actually had minor flash compared to some of the others out there. Mind you, the average builder may not spend as much time deflashing as I did, but I wanted to treat this model right, plus I hate flash and mould lines, so tend to spend longer cleaning them up. That aside, this model could have easily been built very quickly.

In fact, the amount of time saved just from not requiring pinning is amazing, allowing you to build models more quickly and, as a result, get more models built. This model only took 5 minutes to assemble! As I said, deflashing is still a relatively time consuming process, especially if you are as picky about it as I can be, but for those not as picky about flash and mould lines, or making repairs, it is fair to say that a Finecast model can be cleaned and assembled in minutes, rather than hours that many metal models would potentially require.


After having spent a lot of time cleaning, repairing, and building this model for you to preview, I decided one more thing was required. There has been much talk about the durability of the Finecast resin. All along, I planned to conduct a test of the durability, by conducting a drop test from table height, onto a hard floor, to simulate potential falls off the game table.  As I built the model, and discovered how fragile it was, I approached this final test with a little trepidation. I was almost sure that the model would break at the repair points, and suspected the thumb might break at the join.

With great trepidation, I placed the model on the edge of my workbench, and pushed it off, to simulate an elbow or a sleeve knocking it off a game table. The model did have some breakage, and as I suspected would happen, part of the chaos star and the thumb snapped, but not where or how I expected. Amazingly, the superglued repair and joints were very strong. Had this been a metal miniature, it surely would have smashed into it's component parts without pinning, and probably been bent if it was pinned. But the resin on the Finecast models is flexible enough to absorb major impacts, resulting in minor damage at worst, based on this test.

The picture below shows the damage that actually occurred. The talon broke off the thumb, and one of the spikes on the chaos star broke as well.

Momma! I got a booboo!!!

Wanting to repair the model, I was not holding up hopes that I would be able to recover the tiny parts that snapped off but I was very lucky and found them quickly. I repaired the model right away (though I considered leaving the chaos star as it was because it looked appropriate) and the damage is almost imperceptible after the repair.

Almost like it was never broken!

I also planned to do a 6 foot drop, just for laughs, but after the results of the 3 foot drop, ended up changing my mind on that one. After all, it's only occasionally that I drop my whole army from a height of 6 feet while moving it to the basement, and it shattering on the concrete floor below...

Final Impression

Overall, I'm very pleased with the Finecast Huron Blackheart, and believe this is a good start to a great brand for Games Workshop. The details are very crisp and clear. The material is soft and easy to cut and clean, so it will make excellent conversion fodder. It is also flexible, and will avoid snapping if bent, though I advise not to push the limits. It is heat malleable, and easy to permanently bend or straighten. The joints are very crisp and make for excellent adhesion with super glue, and because the model is light enough and the joins solid enough, I doubt pinning will be required for most models, though it may be something to consider for the larger models with large wings, and the like.

The only negatives I can see are inherent problems that occur in resin casting. First, I must point at the imperfections in the surface of the model, with bubbles and voids. This is actually quite common across the line of models, as I looked at most of the available models when I purchased this model. So, this makes these models a more advanced level due to the methods required to repair such imperfections. It is also something that I hope Games Workshop will be able to reduce as they gain more expertise with their new casting system.

The second issue I have is due to the huge number of gates on the new frame. There are so many of gates on the models, and some of them are in very questionable places, resulting in difficult to clean chunks on the models.

Third, resin can only withstand so much punishment, and I fear that as Games Workshop expands the Finecast line of models, they will end up making thinner and thinner parts, which will inherently be more fragile. A good example of this happening already is with the Forgeworld models, with super thin sword blades and hilts, causing broken parts which become very difficult to repair.

Negatives aside, I think this is a great product line, and look forward to seeing all the new models that are forthcoming.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Editorial: Finecast Resin... Is It Really Safe??

There has been a lot of discussion on the internet about Games Workshop's new Finecast series of models, which are being cast from resin.

This talk ranges from cost, to detail, to availability, and to safety.

Games Workshop has been approached by many people as to the safety of the new resin models, mainly because of the fears of the toxicity of resin, being a carcinogenic product.

While I have had no direct confirmation that Games Workshop has had this new resin vetted for toxicity, and there is nothing on their website which specifically states that the resin is non-toxic, a statement HAS been made at the Games Workshop Facebook page.

Games Workshop

Also, chaps, we've spotted the odd comment about the safety of the resin. As with all our products, this has been vigorously checked. There are currently many formulations of resin used across the world. The resin material we are using for Citadel Finecast models has undergone testing by a leading international toy safety testing agency. They identified no risks to health and recommend no special precautions.

I do know Games Workshop takes the safety of their product very seriously. If they did not, they would not have switched from lead to tin pewter in the 90s.

And if they were not conscientious about safety they would not have responded so quickly to the findings of Canwest Global, a major Canadian News Network, when they discovered several years ago through independent lab tests that there were traces of lead in the yellow paint from the Warhammer Battle for Skull miniatures paint set.

From the article:

CanWest News Service chose toys for testing after speaking with 10 Canadian families with children of various ages and asking what toys their children play with or want for Christmas. The university's Earth sciences lab conducting the tests also selected several toys in order to include products with a wide range of surface materials and textures....

...The yellow paint colour in the Warhammer paint set had the highest levels of lead compared to the other toys, at 60 milligrams per kilogram, according to the lab tests.


The company that makes the Warhammer set, Games Workshop, said the yellow paint should not test for higher lead levels compared to others because the same pigment is used for other colours in the paint set. After speaking to its supplier, the company said some contamination must have occurred that resulted in the presence of lead.

The company said, "it is most probable that some form of contamination has been made" when the paint was put in containers or the containers were being filled.

The company also said it conducts its own tests and places a high priority on safety.

Due to the nature of the product, and the nature of the hobby, Games Workshop must take health and safety seriously.

But what has not been mentioned at all, anywhere I can find, to this date and time yet, is the effect of dust particles.

The health implications of inhaled dust particles are not to be trifled with. Far too long have we seen the negative effects of breathing dust in our society, through many industries (i.e coal mining, lumber mills, rock quarries, etc). Here is what the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety has to say about breathing in dust, its harmful effects, and how to protect yourself.

You aren't necessarily going to be able to engineer a dust free process, not without fume hoods and other types of equipment, but that is why Games Workshop (And every other model and toy company out there making hobby supplies) must do that for us. So, in a nutshell:

Use of personal protective equipment may be vital, but it should nevertheless be the last resort of protection. Personal protective equipment should not be a substitute for proper dust control and should be used only where dust control methods are not yet effective or are inadequate.

It should go without saying, when working with any materials that give off dust, you should do what you can to protect yourself. Companies like Games Workshop, though they do what they can to ensure the materials they are putting in their products are as safe as possible, can not prevent you from exposing yourself to harmful materials through your own actions....though it would be nice to see at least a warning label suggesting that ALL dust can be harmful, and to wear dust masks when cutting, filing, or sanding.

So, when preparing any models, be they plastic, metal, or resin, or when doing things like painting with spray paint and airbrushes, be sure to do so safely. Ensure that you are minimizing the amount of dust you are creating, and controlling the flow of air to draw the dust away from you, and finally, even with all of these precautions in place, make sure you wear a good micro-filter (if not nano-filter) dust mask.

After all, our hobby is meant to be fun, and we want you all to be around for a very long time to keep the hobby alive!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Finecast Spotted....

Today, Games Workshop has revealed a little more of the Finecast resin line of models.

So far, it looks interesting.

Of special interest is that the models themselves are on sprues, which verifies the fact that the moulds have been completely redone from the original masters.

The other thing to note is the clam packs, which are also pictured. They are heat sealed shut, to ensure no parts go missing during shipping. I've never been a big fan of clear clam packs being heat sealed around their entire perimeter, as it makes reuse harder, and I thought they might simply staple them shut, as suggested in my previous editorial. But I can understand the decision to go that route, to ensure nothing falls out of the pack. All too often I've had blister packs where the seal did not take and parts have gone missing.

Go to the Games Workshop website to see some samples of the lovely models so far, and to see the pictures of the sprues and clam packs.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Wayland Games' Initial Response to new Games Workshop Regional Trade Policy

Hello readers.

Today I received my newsletter from Wayland Games in which they have made a response to the new Games Workshop trade policy restricting trade by region, creating a trade embargo with Australia.

Here are the contents of the letter.

Hi Everyone,

Before we start, if you'd allow me to present a little background about Wayland before we get into the meat of the issue I'd be grateful.

We laid out our little web store back in August 2008, our beginnings were humble, with my brother and I packing orders in a spare room. It wasn't ideal but it was what we had to start with and we grew and grew through the continued business of our loyal customers through four warehouses to our current location. In thirty three months we have gone from a spare room in Essex, UK with my brother and I packing boxes to a global operation with fourteen full time staff which is now positioned as one of the largest if not the largest independent hobby retailer in the world. We run our business today as we always have done, in a professional and ethical manner both within the letter and the spirit of the law. Almost all suppliers like us, customers enjoy our openness and service-oriented outlook and whilst we're realistic enough to know we're not by any means perfect we will always strive to improve to ensure our central tenet of great prices and better service.

Managing such growth has been far from simple; we have experienced growing pains like any business in any sector that has exploded in market share terms. Our growing pains have also been more painful as we continually seek to adjust to a shifting commercial landscape from our dominant supplier, Games Workshop. Like many of you, I believe that Games Workshop produce a fantastic product which gives endless joy to countless people. I am proud to be associated with them. Unsurprisingly, therefore, I read with real concern the statement by the CEO Mark Wells over the new trade terms which effectively prevents us selling Games Workshop supplied products outside Europe. Mark’s statement can be found here

Mark seems to be clearly of the view that on-line retailers ( and we are not purely that, of course given our bricks and mortar presence) “free ride” on the back of Games Workshop’s bricks and mortar outlets. We have sought over the years, and I thought with some success and recognition, to demonstrate to Games Workshop the value that we provide not just in terms of sales but also in terms of pre and after sales service (not to mention our activities at trade fairs), which is clearly equivalent to the service that is provided on the “ground” by bricks and mortar outlets. Quite aside from the legality of Games Workshop’s actions, we are confused by the commercial attitude of Games Workshop which hampers our ability to sell to hobbyists to the clear disadvantage of both Games Workshop (albeit maybe not their retail arm) and the hobbyists themselves.

I will not air anyone’s dirty laundry in public. Therefore, I am writing to Games Workshop separately (its board, lawyers and their principal shareholders) to share my concerns in greater depth. I hope that commercial common sense will prevail and that we can continue to work with Games Workshop to expand their market and bring a great product to as many people as possible at the best price possible. After all, Games Workshop not only has a clear responsibility to the market but also a clear responsibility to its shareholders (which, after all, could be you and me!).

In the meantime, we believe after the announced terms are implemented we shall be able to continue to offer all of our loyal customers the same product range that we offer today. There may be a small lead time to implement but we've been given a rather short period to react. We will comply fully and completely with the new terms and conditions of sale imposed upon us and will not contravene them in any capacity whatsoever (albeit we would not wish that to be seen as acceptance of their legality), all we seek to achieve is that customers both old and new are able to benefit from our view of the market wherever they are located. We all love our hobby.

Over the next few weeks we'll be providing updates as to how the process of implementing these changes is coming along, the chances are we'll use Facebook to disseminate this information as it is a great platform for customers to interact with us and each other.

We look forward to continue to serve you and we always will.

Keep on Wargaming.

Wayland Games

Should you wish to comment on our response, please feel free to do so via our facebook page

Sounds like Wayland is planning something big. Big enough that it will allow them to distribute outside of the EU. Some speculation suggests they would be selling product to a local distribution business and then acting as a middle man. But the more logical step to me is that they would set up their own offices for distrubtion outside of the EU, and through inventory transfer, continue distributing from those new regional offices to the rest of the world.

Either way, it sounds like they intend to continue servicing their customers and are doing their homework now to prevent any major legal roadblocks.

I wish all involved well in this endeavour.

Games Workshop Citadel Finecast Announcement

Today, Games Workshop made the full announcement about the upcoming release of their new Finecast line of miniatures.

For those who are yet unaware, Finecast is their new branding for their miniature casting process which replaces their metal line of miniatures with a resin line of miniatures.

Despite all the negativity GW has received in the last week about price increases and and the trade embargo, and their ludicrous canned response, this addition of the Finecast branded line is actually very exciting, and, in my eyes, a very good thing for the hobby - and a long time coming.

The reasons for the switch to a resin casting process and a metal casting process is many fold.
But the primary reasons as I understand it, and GW has indicated, are that the raw material is cheaper and has a steady price over the long run, not fluctuating as wildly as the commodity prices of metal; and the inherent quality of resin versus metal casting, when looking at mouldability and detail, is significantly higher.

There are other benefits to the switch to resin, such as being easier to model with, being easier to cut, convert, pin, etc. And easier to play with, move, and travel with, as they are significantly lighter. So, for those of us who are among the jet setting gamers, who bring our armies with us when we travel, it will make your carryon baggage much lighter, as you will no longer need to have any miniatures in metal - except of course your legacy models.

In their press release, Games Workshop announced the miniatures will be available in stores starting on Saturday May 28, and in mass quantity, where you will find over 100 new clam packs and boxed sets on display. The stores will also have a new look, to showcase the new branding of the Finecast range, and you will likely see a Finecast Point of Sale spot in the stores, with all the trappings of the new Finecast logos, and backgrounds, and such.

They also mention new packaging, called clam packs, which will be replacing the blister pack as we know it. And you will have already seen clam packs in use by Games Workshop previously. A good example of that is the Urban Barricades and Walls.

This appears to be another cost saving measure in terms of their production process, since a clam pack is a single piece, and requires almost no post processing to seal to a card shell, yet a card insert can still be placed inside for branding purposes. And after the staple has been removed, it can easily be opened and closed numerous times, for storage of your model after purchase, if you are a hoarder (like me).

Here is an example of what the new Finecast clam pack might look like.

So, what about the detail of the models? Will it really improve? Of course I am reserving judgement until I can actually see and hold a Finecast model and hold it up side by side with a metal version of the same model, but from all the pictures GW has posted so far, the detail is definitely sharp and crisp, and there is no loss of detail, and at least one staffer I know has suggested they will be buying Finecast versions of models they already own, as they are that much better.

I expect it will be better too, simply due to the nature of the materials, and likely having all new moulds. Not to mention, Games Workshop has already got a lot of experience with resin casting, not only from their Forgeworld line, but from their preproduction casting of model masters (as seen at Games Days over the last few years) and 3 Ups, in their past. This vast well of experience will undoubtedly stand them in good stead.

Some of you have inquired about the safety of resin, especially since resin dust is known to be carcinogenic, and Games Workshop made a concerted effort to switch from lead to tin pewter in the 90s due to the toxicity of lead. Well, from what I am told, and what GW is indicating is that this is a special resin blend with non-toxic materials. Again, judgement will be reserved on this one, but I suggest always handling with care, and using a dust mask when working with the material, even for minor flash cleaning.

Overall though, my impression on the upcoming Finecast is a positive one. It's just a shame that it is being tainted with all of the negative news about price increases and regional trade embargoes.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

GW Responds to The Uproar

Ok. As you know, this week Games Workshop has been in the sights of the blogosphere and the forums, including my own editorial, and for good reason.

First, because they formally announced a switch from metal miniatures to the system they are calling Finecast, read resin, ostensibly to reduce cost of materials due to market volatility.

Then immediately after that announcement, the news that they were putting an embargo on trade between regions was released to the internet, where it was learned that countries like Australia would no longer be able to order from such places like Maelstrom, where they could buy their goods at reasonable prices instead of having to suffer their exorbitant, if not extortionate suggested retail price.

GW then followed up with a very long list of price increases, ranging from 3% to 25%. These are not increases across the board, but they are significantly large where they have been implemented, even on models that were JUST released. You would think that they could have priced those models properly when released. Nah, that would have stifled off the block sales. Better to get the huge volume of splash release sales, then raise the prices as soon as that volume returns to the normal flow of goods.

Well, the internet has spoken, and boy are people mad. Madder than I ever remember them being, to the extent they swamped Games Workshop's Facebook page with negative feedback, and took up letter writing campaigns, with petitions and open letters to Games Workshop.

And GW has heard...and even stirred enough to respond.

Here is a copy of their response.

Dear **********,

Thanks for contacting Games Workshop about the change in our trading terms for European accounts. I know this has frustrated you and for that I am truly sorry. As a long standing customer, you deserve to know why we made this decision.

As you know, we introduce people to the Games Workshop hobby of collecting, painting and gaming with Citadel miniatures through our Hobby Centres and local independent trade accounts. Games Workshop Hobby Centres run introductory games and painting sessions, beginner lessons, hobby activities and events. We provide all these services free of charge. We only recover this investment if customers then buy products from us.

Where we don’t have a Games Workshop Hobby Centre, we support local independent trade accounts. These businesses provide a convenient place for customers to buy our products close to where they live. We support these businesses with local customer service teams and warehouses to ensure customers have immediate access to our best selling products and new releases. Many customers discover the hobby this way.

In addition we invest millions of pounds every year in our design studio and factory to ensure that each month we release more new products. This makes the Games Workshop Hobby more exciting for existing customers, helping them stay in the hobby longer. We can only afford to do this because of the volume of customers we have recruited and developed through our local Hobby Centres and trade accounts.

It is for this reason that we have changed our European Trade terms. Over recent years, a number of currencies have moved a long way from their historical relative values, and this has opened the door for some traders to try to take advantage of these currency movements and offer deep discounts to overseas hobbyists. This has been the case with European internet traders selling to some of our customers overseas.

While this may seem great in the short term, the simple fact is that European internet traders will not invest any money in growing the hobby in your country. Their model is to minimise their costs and free-ride on the investment of Games Workshop and local independent shops in creating a customer base.

The inevitable consequence if this was allowed to continue is that Games Workshop would not be able to operate Hobby Centres, nor to support local trade accounts. And if this happened in more territories outside Europe, the loss of volume would leave Games Workshop no choice but to scale back our investment in new product development, further eroding our customer base. Not something that we or our customers would want us to do.

That is why we took the decision to take legitimate action to restrict European trade accounts from selling the goods they purchase from Games Workshop outside Europe.

While I understand that you may still be unhappy with our decision, it was taken to ensure we can continue to support the Games Workshop hobby communities around the world through our Games Workshop Hobby Centres and local trade accounts. And to ensure we continue to invest in developing the best possible new product releases every month. I hope therefore that over time you will see the benefits of this decision for you and your hobby.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Wells
Chief Executive
18 May 2011

Wow. Not only is it steamy BS, it's canned steamy BS. They may have well just addressed this letter "Dear Sucker".

The logic within this letter does not make sense to me at all. I have gone over it time and again and all I see is the exact same canned response they have been feeding us for years.

There is a quote I would like to remind you of. "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. - Albert Einstein"

Well, Gamesworkshop, it's been years. Years. And you keep coming back with the same message. And every year you do the same thing, and come back with the same message. You have not changed your strategy, that I can see, for price structure, retail distribution, etc, yet you seem to expect that continuous and extreme price increases, and monopolistic manipulation of the free market by locking in regional pricing and preventing business from advertising your product and actually trying to compete and sell your goods. But it's not working. You keep having to come back to this point in the infinite circle you are on, and do the exact same thing, starting another lap of your insanity.

I'm not going to even bother trying to tear this apart. There are many others out there who are doing a fine job of it.

But I will take a moment to remind Games Workshop that they made this bed by not going to a universal price list for their goods, and then let exchange rates actually be reflected in the true price. GW, you claim that the cost of goods are higher in other regions due to shipping costs etc., to which I say BULLSHIT. If that were true Games Workshop would not feel they have to impose an embargo and restrict sales by region because those stores in other regions where prices are cheaper would not benefit from the sale to other regions which would require the goods to be shipped. Yet those stores did, and successfully, for years. They shipped goods at discounted prices and succeeded, even after those added costs were factored in. Why? Because Games Workshop has kept regional prices artificially high, allowing for that opportunity.

Games Workshop is not a government. They should stop trying to act like it in this case, and let the free WORLD Market actually work. Switch to a single price structure and let the market adjust and grow.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Editorial: On Games Workshop's Recent News - Finecast, Price Increase, and Trade Restriction

Many of you will know, over the last few weeks, there has been much speculation and many rumours surrounding Games Workshop's sudden pulling of almost their whole line of metal miniatures from their own retail stores and independent retailers. Naturally, a move this drastic was sure to generate a lot of speculation, especially when you consider just how much of the product line from Games Workshop was made in metal.

Much of the speculation revolved around the possibility that Games Workshop would be re-releasing the miniatures in some form or another. Some suggested that such models would be strictly direct only, others that they were dropping metals for all new plastic kits, and then there was a growing surge of speculation that production of metal models would be converted to a resin production process.

The obvious reasons for such a move would be to eliminate the volatility of cost of metal, specifically tin, ergo reducing production costs and allowing a price reduction across the metal product line.  Tin, the basic metal used by Games Workshop since their change from lead in the 90s for health and safety reasons, is a commodity material, and has seen drastic price swings over the last two years. So drastic were these commodity price swings that many casting companies, and their industrial customers, are seeking methods to control those price swings, such as making massive orders at reduced costs, and demanding locked raw material prices from their suppliers. Countered by those same suppliers tacking on commodity fees to cover their costs in excess of the agreed base price, especially for fabricated goods. Ending in ever increasing and out of control price increases for a raw material.

Obviously, since profit is determined by the simple formula Profit = Price - Cost, and costs were arguably increasing out of control, this had to eventually come to a head. 

That moment obviously came for Games Workshop recently, as they set in motion plans to change their production process in a most dramatic fashion. This change first becoming part of the public consciousness when they pulled their metal lines, without a word to their customers. So, after weeks of speculation, that flame only fanned by Games Workshop's relative silence on the matter, Games Workshop have finally officially announced today that they are indeed re-releasing much of the removed metal product line as resin models with the new process brand called Citadel Finecast.

"Games Workshop's quest to create the best quality miniatures in the world is about to take a huge step forward...
On 28th May we are launching Citadel Finecast miniatures to the world.
Don't miss the full announcement on on the 23rd May to find out more." 

Though this press release was sparse in detail, it definitely ties in with the speculation that Games Workshop has converted production for this model line from tin, to resin... I will refrain from pointing out the potential health hazards with resin, except the pointed reminder that Games Workshop deliberately moved away from lead miniatures in the 90s due to fears of lead poisoning...
This announcement was made at the same time that Maelstrom Games, a UK based brick and mortar games and hobby store with a strong internet store, issued a press release on their website that Games Workshop was imposing new trade conditions prohibiting them from conducting sales outside of the European Union.

That same press release also substantiated the speculation of the new material for the Finecast range to be resin.

Onto other Games Workshop news. We'll shortly be stocking their superb Finecast range, which - if you didn't know already - is most of their deleted metal models, re-released in resin but somewhat more expensive than the original. Those will be on general sale on the 28th of May, for Games Workshop do not wish us to put them up for sale until then so they can keep up with demand." 
This was followed by a list of Finecast pricing, as well as another list of much of the rest of the range, of forthcoming price changes. Admittedly, a couple of prices appear to have dropped, but the vast majority of models have gone up. Increases which range from about 3% to a whopping 25% increase across the range.



We all know that hobbies like ours are not cheap. In fact, we also mostly know that our specific hobby is not high in the realm of expensive hobbies, after all, once you have your basic army, that's all the expense you really need to worry about, at least initially. The fact we are collectors and want new stuff, or need to get a couple new things once in a while is what gets us, ultimately, to spend more money on the hobby.

The real issue, as I see it, is not the actual expense of the hobby, but the sheer audacity of the price increases. Ostensibly GW is going to resin to help reduce the cost of production. It's the ONLY reason they would make such a drastic and dramatic change to their production process on such a large scale, because the dollars involved are big. As a requirement of my own job, I have a fundamental understanding of this kind of fundamental process change, and the only reason to undertake such a massive change is for cost savings, and a big savings. Therefore, to turn around and increase prices so dramatically, far beyond any price increase they have ever done by as much as 25% in many cases, is purely and simply a gouge the customer cash grab play.

Not. Cool.

Couple this with the HUGE disparity in regional pricing (Compare Canadian and Australian prices at the Games Workshop Online Store to the US and UK for a shocking eye opener), and the lack of equivalence to the international exchange rates, where customers of some countries are paying nearly DOUBLE what customers from other countries are paying, though neither the exchange rates, nor the duties and shipping costs can justify that price (hence the prevalence in international web stores), and it is clear there is a lot of room for profit margin in the price of the product already. Especially when combined with the newest tactic GW is using to prevent international web store sales to those same higher priced regions, ostensibly to "protect" the local brick and mortar independent retailers from unfair competition. I have nothing against web stores or brick and mortar stores competing and discounting, etc. This is a standard retail tactic, and works, when it's on a fair foundation for competition.... But it's not! And it hasn't been for over a decade.

Well, GW, shame on you. Shame! Because you are the ones who created the environment of unfair competition by creating regional price structures that do not account for low cost shipping, and deep discounts available in other regions because they receive better whole sale pricing. 

This environment of unfair competition is not the fault of the businesses who are competing and succeeding. It is entirely a result of GW not responding appropriately to changing economic climate, and fluctuating currency exchange rates. They banked on those rates returning to previous levels, but I have news for them. They aren't. In Canada's situation, it's been about 5 years, roughly stable at par with the US dollar, yet they still mark up Canadian prices by 20%, when there is no valid reason to do so.

It is that misguided and blatantly exorbitant abuse of pricing that has people so upset, and it's something many of us in the hobby, and who have had the ear of GW higher ups, have been saying will happen for the last several years. Unfortunately, this most recent price reaction is exactly the opposite of the advice they have been freely getting from seasoned and experienced economic and business veterans, who are also hobbyists... and far exceeds smacking of pure greed.

Those who know me, know I rarely speak so negatively about GW. So know that I'm not just echoing the crowd and jumping on the "Oh no, prices are up again" band wagon. This is something that has concerned me for many years, even as a former employee, then hobby rep. Forever have they spun the same story that "prices will soon be realigned, and there will be price drops". But with this newest production process change, and the ongoing exorbitant price increases, they have put the truth of light to their own lies....something they have been warned about for years. 

Will this stop me from participating in the hobby? No. It won't stop me from buying the models I need/love for my army, either. Though I will be far more judicious in my spending and it will impact how much I can actually buy, because my hobby budget is shrinking as inflation continues, though salaries do not seem to increase accordingly. I am fortunate that I have an abundance of models to build and paint, so will only see the pricing impact when I finally need to purchase new models. But others are not so fortunate. The youth of the hobby will be hit hardest, as it becomes more costly to even enter the hobby, let alone build a new army. There is only so much money to go around, and when dealing with an economy slow to recover, and set for increased inflation rates, this is not likely to change as necessities edge out luxuries.

In the end, despite what GW believe and claim, this move will not help local retailers as their sales will continue to decrease. It will only harm the hobby because it makes the product less accessible. It forces people to buy less product, therefore reducing their sales further. And looking back at that simple formula I posted earlier, reduced sales equals reduced profit. And it can quickly spiral out of control as prices continue to rise in a desperate grab to maintain their profit, not just grow them.

GW needs to remember the simple precepts of macro-economics, and start thinking these things through more carefully. They also need to start remembering that the hobby can only be sustained if your customers don't flee, as it's really a very niche and grass roots type of hobby. And it's those grass roots hobbyists who will keep the hobby alive, but only if it's something they can afford.

And they need to remember it fast. Before they doom the hobby.

Games Workshop Price Increase - Wave 2

As mentioned earlier, Games Workshop is increasing prices again. At first it looked like it was just for the new Citadel Finescale line, but here is a list of product outside of that range, and corresponding new prices in US dollars, supplied from an anonymous retailer.

If you are interested in what Canadian prices would be, increase the new price by about 20% and you will not be far off. Interesting considering the Canadian dollar is currently higher than the US dollar, and has been for quite some time. In fact, the Canadian dollar has been at parity with the US dollar for quite a few years now, yet Canadian prices have consistently been 20% higher since the dollar was only worth about 80 cents US.

Product Description                       Old Price      New Price

ASSAULT ON BLACK REACH             $90.00         $99.00
CODEX BLACK TEMPLARS                $22.00         $24.75
CODEX DARK ANGELS                     $29.00         $33.00
CODEX SPACE MARINES                 $30.00         $33.00
CODEX SPACE WOLVES                  $29.00         $33.00
CODEX BLOOD ANGELS                   $29.00         $33.00
CODEX CHAOS SPACE MARINES       $29.00         $33.00
CODEX ORKS                                $29.00         $33.00
CODEX ELDAR                               $29.00         $33.00
CODEX IMPERIAL GUARD                 $29.00         $33.00
CODEX TYRANIDS                          $29.00         $33.00
CODEX GREY KNIGHTS                    $29.00         $33.00
CODEX NECRONS                           $22.00         $24.75
CODEX DARK ELDAR                        $29.00         $33.00
CODEX TAU EMPIRE                        $22.00         $24.75
CODEX CHAOS DAEMONS                 $29.00         $33.00
WARRIORS OF CHAOS ARMY BOOK     $29.00         $33.00
EMPIRE ARMY BOOK                        $29.00         $33.00
BRETONNIAN ARMY BOOK                 $29.00         $33.00
WOOD ELVES ARMY BOOK                $29.00         $33.00
DWARF ARMY BOOK                        $29.00         $33.00
SKAVEN ARMY BOOK ENGLISH           $29.00         $33.00
VAMPIRE COUNTS ARMY BOOK          $29.00         $33.00
LIZARDMEN ARMY BOOK                   $29.00         $33.00
WARHAMMER ARMIES ORCS & GOBLINS $37.25         $41.25
HIGH ELF ARMY BOOK                      $29.00         $33.00
DARK ELVES ARMY BOOK                  $29.00         $33.00
OGRE KINGDOMS ARMY BOOK            $29.00         $33.00
DAEMONS OF CHAOS ARMY BOOK      $29.00         $33.00
BEASTMEN ARMY BOOK                    $29.00         $33.00
WARHAMMER: TOMB KINGS               $37.25         $41.25
HOW TO PAINT SPACE MARINES        $29.00         $30.00
HOW TO PAINT TANKS                     $29.00         $30.00
UNIFORMS & HERALDRY OF THE SKAVEN  $24.75         $29.00
NECROMUNDA UNDERHIVE                 $41.25         $49.50
BATTLEFLEET GOTHIC RULEBOOK       $41.25         $49.50
WARMASTER RULEBOOK                    $45.00         $49.50
INQUISITOR RULEBOOK                     $45.00         $49.50
WAR OF THE RING: BATTLEHOSTS      $24.75         $29.00
EPIC ARMAGEDDON                          $41.25         $49.50
BATTLEFLEET GOTHIC ARMADA          $40.00         $49.50
SPACE MARINE COMBAT SQUAD         $22.50         $25.00
SPACE MARINES ASSAULT SQUAD      $29.75         $33.00
SPACE MARINE SCOUTS                    $22.50         $25.00
SPACE MARINE VINDICATOR              $44.50         $49.50
SPACE MARINE BATTLEFORCE            $90.00         $110.00
SPACE MARINE LANDRAIDER              $62.00         $66.00
SPACE MARINE PREDATOR                 $44.50         $49.50
SPACE MARINE WHIRLWIND               $44.50         $49.50
SPACE MARINE SCOUT BIKE               $12.00         $15.00
SPACE WOLVES BATTLEFORCE           $90.00         $100.00
KHORNE BESERKERS                         $33.00         $37.25
CHAOS SPACE MARINE LAND RAIDER   $62.00         $66.00
CHAOS SPACE MARINE PREDATOR      $44.50         $49.50
CHAOS SPACE MARINE DEFILER         $62.00         $66.00
POSSESSED CHAOS SPACE MARINES  $29.75         $33.00
CHAOS SPACE MARINE VINDICATOR   $44.50         $49.50
ORK BATTLEFORCE                          $90.00         $100.00
ORK BOYZ MOB                               $24.75         $29.00
ORK LOOTAS AND BURNAS                $24.75         $25.00
ORK BATTLEWAGON                         $62.00         $66.00
ORK GRETCHIN                                $15.00         $16.50
ELDAR DIRE AVENGERS                     $33.00         $37.25
ELDAR GUARDIANS                           $33.00         $35.00
ELDAR BATTLEFORCE                        $90.00         $95.00
ELDAR FALCON GRAV TANK                $41.25         $49.50
CADIAN HEAVY WEAPON SQUAD         $35.00         $38.75
CATACHAN HEAVY WEAPON SQUAD     $35.00         $38.75
IMPERIAL GUARD SENTINEL                $25.00         $30.00
IMPERIAL GUARD VALKYRIE                $62.00         $66.00
TYRANID WARRIORS                        $35.00         $42.00
TYRANID CARNIFEX                         $45.00         $49.50
TYRANID BATTLEFORCE                  $105.00         $110.00
TYRANID TRYGON/MAWLOC              $49.50         $57.75
TYRANID HORMAGAUNT BROOD          $24.75         $29.00
TYRANID TERMAGANT BROOD            $24.75         $29.00
NECRON BATTLEFORCE                     $90.00         $105.00
NECRON MONOLITH                          $62.00         $66.00
DARK ELDAR KABALITE WARRIORS       $24.75         $29.00
DARK ELDAR WYCHES                       $24.75         $29.00
DARK ELDAR HELLIONS                      $24.75         $25.00
TAU XV8 CRISIS BATTLESUIT             $22.25         $24.75
TAU BATTLEFORCE                           $90.00         $110.00
TAU HAMMERHEAD                           $44.50         $49.50
TAU SKYRAY                                   $44.50         $49.50
SOUL GRINDER                                 $62.00         $66.00
IMPERIAL CRASHED AQUILA LANDER     $24.75         $30.00
AEGIS DEFENCE LINE                        $22.50         $24.75
SKYSHIELD LANDING PAD                  $39.50         $41.25
IMPERIAL BASTION                          $29.75         $30.00
HONOURED IMPERIUM                       $24.75         $25.00
40K TREES                                     $8.00         $8.25
URBAN BARRICADES AND WALLS         $20.00         $22.00
WARHAMMER 40K BASING KIT            $20.00         $24.75
CHAOS MARAUDER HORSEMEN            $22.00         $24.75
CHAOS KNIGHTS                              $24.75         $29.75
WARRIORS OF CHAOS BATTALION       $90.00         $100.00
EMPIRE GENERAL                              $22.25         $26.50
EMPIRE VOLLEY GUN / ROCKET BATTERY $24.75         $25.00
EMPIRE BATTLE WIZARDS                 $22.25         $24.75
EMPIRE FLAGELLANT WARBAND          $28.00         $29.00
EMPIRE PISTOLIERS                         $22.00         $24.75
EMPIRE BATTALION                        $105.00         $115.00
BRETONNIAN PEGASUS KNIGHTS         $35.00         $41.25
BRETONNIAN PEGASUS KNIGHT           $15.00         $18.25
DWARF CANNON                              $22.50         $25.00
DWARF BATTALION                          $90.00         $100.00
SKAVEN CLANRATS                          $33.00         $35.00
SKAVEN BATTALION                       $105.00         $110.00
VAMPIRE COUNTS GRAVE GUARD        $33.00         $41.25
VAMPIRE COUNTS CORPSE CART        $25.00         $26.50
VAMPIRE COUNTS BATTALION            $90.00         $100.00
LIZARDMEN STEGADON                     $41.25         $49.50
LIZARDMEN TEMPLE GUARD               $33.00         $41.25
LIZARDMEN BATTALION                    $90.00         $105.00
GOBLIN REGIMENT                           $30.00         $35.00
FOREST GOBLIN SPIDER RIDERS         $30.00         $35.00
NIGHT GOBLINS                              $30.00         $35.00
ORC WARBOSS                               $22.25         $26.50
BLACK ORCS                                  $33.00         $41.25
ORCS AND GOBLINS BATTALION         $95.00         $105.00
HIGH ELF REPEATER BOLT THROWER   $22.50         $25.00
HIGH ELF PRINCE AND NOBLE             $22.25         $26.50
HIGH ELF ARCHMAGE AND MAGE         $22.25         $26.50
HIGH ELF CHARIOT                           $25.00         $26.50
HIGH ELF BATTALION                      $100.00         $105.00
DARK ELF COLD ONE KNIGHTS            $24.75         $29.75
DARK ELF BATTALION                       $90.00         $105.00
OGRE KINGDOMS GNOBLARS              $30.00         $35.00
OGRE KINGDOMS BATTALION             $90.00         $105.00
GIANT                                           $45.00         $49.50
DREADSTONE BLIGHT                       $29.75         $30.00
WARHAMMER FORTRESS                   $90.00         $99.00
MORANNON ORCS                            $27.25         $33.00
RANGERS OF MIDDLE EARTH              $27.25         $33.00
KNIGHTS OF MINAS TIRITH               $24.75         $25.50
CORSAIRS OF UMBAR                       $27.25         $33.00
HARADRIM RAIDERS                         $25.00         $25.50
DWARF WARRIORS                          $27.25         $33.00
DWARF RANGERS                            $27.25         $33.00
ARMY OF THE DEAD                        $27.25         $33.00
WARRIORS OF THE LAST ALLIANCE    $27.25         $33.00
MORIA GOBLINS                             $27.25         $33.00
THE RIDERS OF ROHAN                    $25.00         $25.50
THE FIGHTING URUK-HAI                  $27.25         $33.00
WARRIORS OF ROHAN                      $27.25         $33.00
WARRIORS OF MINAS TIRITH            $27.25         $33.00
MORDOR ORCS                               $27.25         $33.00
WARRIORS OF HARAD                      $27.25         $33.00
WARG RIDERS                                $25.00         $25.50
EASTERLINGS                                $27.25         $33.00
WOOD ELVES                                 $27.25         $33.00
BALROG                                        $50.00         $57.75
URUK-HAI SCOUTS                          $27.25         $33.00
OSGILIATH RUINS                           $24.75         $25.00
RUINS OF MIDDLE EARTH                  $19.75         $20.00
BLOODLETTERS OF KHORNE               $24.75         $29.00
DAEMONETTES OF SLAANESH            $24.75         $29.00
PINK HORRORS OF TZEENTCH            $24.75         $29.00
BLOODCRUSHERS OF KHORNE            $53.75         $54.50
TEMPLE OF SKULLS                          $29.75         $30.00
(6)SKULL WHITE SPRAY 400ml            $15.00         $15.75
(6)CHAOS BLACK SPRAY 400ml            $15.00         $15.75
(6)PURITY SEAL SATIN SPRAY VARNISH 400ml   $15.00         $15.75
CITADEL SPRAY GUN PROPELLANT 3 PACK    $8.25         $9.00