The 2021 Smoother Mover Awards

Smyth Moving and Storage was a prominent Seattle company in my youth. They also had ads in print and radio that trumpeted the claim that Smyth was the smoother movers. Hence the name of this post.

I’m doing a year end shout out to those folks I’ve done business with the past year. Just to be clear, there is no Amazon.com in this hobby. Even the largest manufacturer/sellers are all small businesses with small staffs, often trying to juggle a real job with doing this business with shaky fiscal underpinnings and a limited market in the middle of a pandemic. Anyone who chooses to go into the business of making or selling to the miniature wargame/hobbyist market is taking a major risk against questionable reward and they have my thanks.

That said I’d like to give a shout out to those purveyors of goods who seemed to me did an outstanding job getting the toys, tools and supplies I needed this year.

Miniature Men

I mostly have great experiences ordering figures, but a few really stood out this year.

Gringo 40’s sucked me in with their excellent Vietnam range. If you believe this is a period you’re interested in gaming, it’s hard to overlook them. I’ve made at least six orders to Gringo 40’s in the last year. With each order I’ve been promptly greeted by Ged. He lets me know the status of my order, and quickly follows up with my shipping costs. They are located in Kent in the U.K., so shipping costs can be costly, usually about 25%. I never complain about these things. It is a free market and I know what I’m getting into, even if it makes things a bit spendy. But they are fast, never more than two weeks from my phone to my home, the service is excellent and the figures are lovely. I recently made a large order from their Maximilian range, so I’m anxious to see how that goes.

I made three orders this fall for 1st Corps figures. Two of them were directly from the manufacturer, and one was from Scale Creep Miniatures, their American distributor. These were figures for my Mexican War project and they are really great figures. Again, 1st Corps is a British company, which makes their very complete range of figures a little more costly to get, and then there is that problem with shipping. But order placed, confirmed and arrived quite quickly. I really like the offers they make for figure packages, unit packs, and brigade packs. Scale Creep proprietor Mark Severin did a super job of answering questions and getting my order turned around within a week. Working with someone new is always a little scary, but 1st Corps and Scale Creep made it very easy.

I’ve ordered from and crabbed loudly about ordering from Wargames Foundry Miniatures. My orders were filled, but lost on the slow boat to Alpha Centauri. It wasn’t pretty. I ordered again from Foundry,twice before the holidays, carefully looking at my scars from prior experiences and found it is time to give credit for a great job. Any time a seller in the UK can have figures to me in a couple of weeks, that’s something to celebrate. It seems to me they have also improved their customer communication, and I really appreciate that. They have some very nice holiday discounts, and offering free shipping at 100 pounds makes working with them very inviting. So all, the past hassles are forgotten and all the nasty sentiments taken back. Thanks guys

Rules Guys

There is something special about Wargame Vault. There is a feeling of gaming democracy about it. The access to rules and supporting paper ephemera that is useful, affordable and feels somehow home-grown is refreshing. I find my Wargame Vault Deal-Of-The Day in my e-mail box every morning, but never feel like I’m being spammed. I also have a couple of very good printers, which is a must when downloading docs to print. But Wargame Vault is a great source of print to play rules and games for little out-of-pocket. I’ve downloaded literally dozens of games and never had an issue. It’s a great resource.

Bits

During the pandemic I’ve become this painting and modeling dude. Two things I have to have to carry this off is paint and brass wire. Both are in remarkably short supply locally, so I’ve had to find folks I can count on on the web. I am a Vallejo paint user. Unquestionably my favorite paint due to its pigment-rich formula. Unfortunately Vallejo is also from Spain and getting stuff into shops from the EU has been a challenge. I’ve ordered from Amazon and eBay sellers with very mixed success. Either it’s super costly, or is packaged poorly, often arriving God knows when, and leaking. I managed to access Midwest Model Railroad when I was going through a Vallejo Light Blue Grey crisis. I had three bottles inside of a week at a reasonable price and affordable shipping. They were in a box and safely packaged. No leaks. No muss. I will be looking to MMR when I need future Vallejo colors.

As I’ve become more involved in building ships for miniature games, I’ve used brass wire and brass rod in a variety of different thicknesses. I use everything from .006″ to .032″. Yep that’s pretty small, and it’s even harder to find, especially as supply chains are stretched and local hobby stores have empty shelves. Walthers, the railroading folks, filled in nicely, getting me what I needed when I needed it. Three times I’ve ordered my Detail Associates wire and K and S brass rods, and they’ve never failed to deliver. Their website lets me know what’s in stock, confirms my order, and my goodies always show up within ten days. It keeps the Smyth Shipyards open for business.

The Guys

The pandemic has done a great job of driving gaming underground and out of sight. This is a hobby that perches on the edge. It is socially demanding. You need other guys to play with, or you might just as well be playing computer games on Steam (not that there’s anything wrong with that.) If anything the virus has brought a group of us together, and I so appreciate every one of them. So I’d like to say thanks to Dave Schueler and David Sullivan, who are long-time partners in crime and whom I love like my brothers. While I wish things were easier for him to meet and play with his Canadian neighbors, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know John Gee and including him in all my gaming dastardly ideas. I’ve known Bill Stewart and Eric Donaldson for many years, and though we managed to drift apart over time, the pandemic has brought us back together again, and I am so much better for it. Michael Koznarsky is such a great guy, a nice person, an expert modeler and loves projects at least equally as weird as my own-maybe even a touch weirder. I’m so glad he’s gaming with us. It is a privilege to be included with this group and I thank them for it.

2 comments on “The 2021 Smoother Mover Awards

  1. Daveb says:

    Nice shout outs! I found foundry was pretty solid despite horror stories I had heard. I suspect it was the change (back?) in management/ownership that has improved things. I’m eyeing some 1st corp stuff, so nice to have a recommendation there. And my local supply of vallejo (non game colour) stuff has been pretty iffy…..a perfect time to get a recommendation.
    And chance your Canadian gamer lives on Vancouver Island?

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