Sunday, 12 November 2017

Brace Yourselves...

Well, I have an hour or so on my hands before my compulsory Sunday evening spent watching an 80s film of often questionable quality - It's my hobby - and so, I thought I might just vent some spleen about a situation which really, REALLY irks me.

As a full time painter who makes his - admittedly comfortable - living painting figures 5 days per week, I get through a LOT of figures every year. Now, I probably do more trade with many companies and have a higher turnover on their products than some bricks and mortar establishments.

But, because I am not a reseller in the traditional sense - whoops I feel a rant brewing - I do not get trade discounts with the majority of manufacturers. In fact I often go to a friendly bricks and mortar store or a trade show stockist and get a discount there, with said stockist being more than happy to take cold, hard cash from my hands.

You will note, that I emphasise that I pay in advance for my stock, and don't ask or expect credit of any kind, and that if a stockist rather than a manufacturer can cut a deal with me which is agreeable to I and they, and moreover know that I will be back again with a similar order shortly thereafter, a manufacturer would see that there is money to be made from bona fide full time, professional painting outfits who seek to offer an 'all in' client package.

In fact, I can say with all sincerity that there are some truly awful figure ranges out there, which have sold more figures than one might expect, due to the paint work. The By Fire & Sword range are often truly awful castings which belong in another decade in terms of sculpt and production values, but I have been obliged to paint a few thousand of them because I paint them very nicely. I no longer accept commissions for those models because I think my clients are paying a premium for sub standard figures, and I am having to put in way more effort than is reasonable to make these white metal mutants look fit for purpose.

Another very well known manufacturer has been in the past, only too happy to use images from my website - WITHOUT CREDITING MY WORK - and has, I know sold a lot of figures as a result, but refuses to this day to offer a trade discount other than the bulk discounts that anyone else can get. That is frankly despicable and rubs me the wrong way.

One company who attended a now defunct Northern show used to make their money to cover their outlay in attending, just on my purchases. Then they cut their reasonable discount to an insulting level, and so, I took my business elsewhere and they lost a large envelope of £20 notes every time they went to that show, and shortly afterwards stopped attending.

The worst types are those who almost sneer when you approach them and explain that you are a full time figure painter - I won't name two of them who are serial sneerers, but if the mood takes me in future, I may tell a rather amusing anecdote about one of them and a tale of supply of the most dire castings ever, of the other - as if you are unworthy of recognition as a part of the wargames industry.

Mind you, there are some people I've met who think that an 8-10 hour day bent double under a high powered lamp creating what are in reality individual works of artistry are not even worth the national minimum wage, so it's not just the trade.

In my own armies, the number of models can be staggering, and if I do paint say 1-2000 15mm Renaissance for example, you can be damn sure that the company who made them, will get some knock on business on the back of my toil. Like it or not you lead pushers out there, I am good advertising for you and if you don't treat me with respect, your models don't get any space on my website, instead going straight to the always appreciative client, who comes back time and time again, admittedly resulting in more business for you, but considerably less than might otherwise have been generated by a few pictures and a credit.

There are also some very notable exceptions, almost all companies who showed a bit of kindness and cut me a penny or two off the cost of a unit when I was a kid 35 years ago, or whom drove me to a the railway station when I spent 5 hours getting to their open day and had only 35 minutes before the last train home. These were in my opinion as a member of the public, the true ladies & gentlemen of the hobby who could see that by genuinely nurturing a client - even a 13 year old boy with deep pockets - would ensure a lifetime of loyalty.

To this day, when I can do business with these people, I do so. I get slightly less than what might be considered 'trade', but at the same time the cost of the figures is already reasonable compared to some of the others who apply eye watering mark ups for poorer castings. In return, I have an understanding that I pay cash with order and would never be so presumptuous to expect a line of credit. For my part, I give them large orders and we are happy on both sides. In turn I can pass a small saving on to my clients and save them the time of having to source their models, then have them forwarded to me for beautification.

I know this may seem like a pointless rant, but it's not. Painters as I have already said, move a LOT of lead in a year, and can often be instrumental in locating problems with a mould based on the castings they see, or even glaring historical inaccuracies, the correction of which can make a difference to future sales - the location of the magazine on a sten gun on the wrong side of a model for instance.

There are a few 'two bit' painters out there, but the majority of us are hard working professionals who take a real pride in what we do and who also have a vast amount of information in our heads, sometimes with more knowledge of a period in history than the manufacturer who is producing little lead dollies for it.

If there are two ranges of models which are equally good, you can be sure that a client will choose the one on which the painter can offer some incentive. Its a win/win scenario in this case with happy client, happy trade customer and happy manufacturer, who have all benefitted to some degree.

Right, with that little rant off my chest, I will bd you a very sincere 'good night' and join the memsahib for our weekly dose of 80s visual gratification.



  1. It never fails to amaze me that people are unable to see what a good deal it is to offer someone such as yourself a reasonable discount! It also saddens me that there are people out there who think you should be working for less than minimum wage. Oh the joy of running your own business.

    1. Thankfully, all of my account clients are great people to work with and appreciate my efforts, as I appreciate their repeated long term custom. But, every now and again, someone comes along and attempts (note I say 'attempts') to take the proverbial metaphorical...

  2. "Metal mutants," just cracked me up. :-)


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