05 June 2009

The HE figures have arrived in Berlin!!!

The late Holger Eriksson with a few of his masterfully designed and executed figures.

The Grand Duchess informed me in her e-mail this morning that the thirty Holger Eriksson cavalry and two Charles XII guns I ordered recently have arrived from Sweden. Hurrah! She received a notice in the mail yesterday and walked to the post office to retrieve the package. Later, Sonja opened it to check that everything was ok. Verdict? Everything passed with flying colors. Wow, talk about rapid service! So, that just leaves the Garrison Prussian artillery crew, which will be sent on or about the 9th or 10th of the month. I can't wait!

It's very interesting, this whole notion of rapid, courteous service. All of the companies/retailers I have dealt with in the past three years, since beginning the Grand Duchy of Stollen project, have been great (Tom at GFI, Rich at RSM95, Peter at Spencer Smith, Rob at Garrison, and Peter at PB Toys, et al). The various miniatures I have purchased have all arrived quickly and, except in one instance, undamaged. And these were replaced at no charge just as quickly. Neither has it made any difference where these orders have come from -- Russia, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Great Britain, or here in the United States. Pretty amazing when you think about it.

Back in the early 1980s, when the teen-aged, long-haired Stokes began painting 15mm Napoleonic figures, it was very different as many of you will, undoubtedly, remember. I liken it to the stone-age. You had to write actual, REAL letters, requesting figure catalogs from a given manufacturer or retailer. It took a long time for the sometimes badly mimeographed, unillustrated catalogs to arrive. Sometimes the envelopes arrived opened, minus the requested sample figure or two. We had no internet. PayPal had not been thought of yet. So, you wrote another letter, detailing your order very carefully and including payment with it. I paid for my very modest orders of figures with either a check or money order, sometimes giving my money to either my mother, or grandmother, who then wrote a check for me. And it took weeeeeeeeeks for orders to arrive, even if you paid extra for air postage. And when your order turned up, something was invariably missing.

Given my intital expereince with one Baltimore retailer (The Ship Shop) in early 1984, it's a wonder I even began painting figures at all. Following the Christmas holidays, I made a small order in early January for some 15mm Jacobite French and British Napoleonic infantry as well as some lancers and hussars. When the order finally arrived in March, it contained only the infantry. It took until mid-July to get the cavalry part of the order filled, and that took repeated letters of inquiry and telephone calls to the Baltimore-based retailer in question, plus a letter or two to Jacobite HQ in Britain.

To be fair, I finally recieved an apologetic letter from Jacobite HQ, explaining the various problems -- including a nasty accident suffered by the guy who cast the molten metal in the molds -- that had prevented them from filling a number of orders during late 1983-early 1984. I was obviously not the only one inconvenienced. But all of my letters and calls to the American retailer, who advertized the figures in his ads in The Courier and Military Modeling, went unacknowledged and unanswered. Incidentally, the cavalry figures that finally completed my small order were sent directly from the U.K. free of charge. So, service eventually came from some quarter, but it took too much work, and I never ordered Jacobite figures again. Too bad really, but there you are.

My, how things have changed in the last quarter century. We really have been spoiled by rapid and usually very good service. While the basis of the Grand Duchy of Stollen project has to do with old school wargaming nostalgia, the once slow, at times rather poor, service is a facet of the hobby that I certainly do not miss. It will be fun to get to Berlin, greet the Grand Duchess, recover a a bit from the flight(s), have a cup of real coffee or two , and then set up the thirty Holger Eriksson cavalry on the coffee table to ogle them.


Fitz-Badger said...

I'm curious, as someone who has occasionally traveled to a place where I would stay for a week or two and would have free time to work on hobby stuff if I wanted, are you bringing paints or anything to work on the minis?

If I drive somewhere I can put together a small "kit" of stuff for sculpting and/or painting. But when I travel by air I wonder about loss, confiscation, leakage, etc.

Martin said...

Ohhh...idono Stokes. Within reason, I always liked waiting for the packages to arrive. The delicious sense of anticipation if this would be the day that the mailman delivered the goodies.

As a matter of fact, the Markgraaf is now waiting for three boxes of those neat Zvezda Swedish Dragoons to arrive from Texas! Late Breaking News - their Russian Artillery Set has been released! Huzzah!

Stokes Schwartz said...

Nope, I'll be traveling soldier and painting kit-free. I'll only be away three weeks, and we'll be doing some traveling while in Germany, so I think I'll manage.

Best Regards,


Stokes Schwartz said...

Hi Martin,

I agree. Anticipating the arrival of a package is great. . . to a point. But when the waiting period takes weeks or months longer than is absolutely necessary, it's a bit of a headache. Just my opinion.

Best Regards,


Stokes Schwartz said...


As an addendum, I took an Xacto knife and that very first regiment of Revell plastic musketeers on our honeymoon in 2006 and was lucky to sit down with them twice during the three weeks we were gone. And the Grand Duchess was not exactly thrilled to discover that I'd taken along soldiers for that particular trip either. So, I'll do without for this trip. ;-)


Bluebear Jeff said...


That sounds like a very wise decision, sir. Don't upset the Grand Duchess, she's too much of a treasure . . . after all, how many of our wives buy us figures?

-- Jeff

guy said...

Your post brought back memories of trying to order stuff in the late 70's and early 80's. Payment was by postal orders as I did not have a cheque book. The most patronising and dismissive response I had was from Minifigs who told me in no uncertain terms that their Roman horses were not small and I should conduct proper research. I don't think I ever received an order from them which was not short. I must have only been about 10 and they must have realised this from my childish handwriting. My orders were similarly tiny and they presumably saw me as a nuisance.

I still however had hours of enjoyment reading their catalogue and Military modelling magazine and drawing up lists. I swiftly transfered my loyalty to Hincliffe as I saw the photos of Peter Gilders troops.

On a separate note, I have just started reading a biography of Peter Young called 'Commando to Captain Generall'. Two 'l's' apparently as this was his rank in the Sealed knot. Reading about his war service at the moment but it does then move on to his time at Sandhurst and his involvement with wargaming.


littlejohn said...

Yes I would agree those guys you mentioned are top notch in service! Its really great to get a fix...(er, I mean figures...) right when you need them. Those days when you waited anxiously for stuff back in the 70s...a tough thing when you had sunk your last 10 bucks of High School job money in 15mm Minifigs strip figures or Scruby N scale only to have to stalk the postman every afternoon after school in anxious anticipation!


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