I thought it was time to bring you all up to date on changes we’ve made, and continue to make, to our resin casting facilities.
This will hopefully answer some of your questions over our release rate for new and old products.
Midway through last year we developed a new way of casting our resin.
This required a refit of the workshop and all of our resin-casting equipment.
However, that was completed last week (after 6 months of development, significant expenditure and construction).
What does that mean?
Simply put: we can now produce more stuff than previously.
New Moulds MkI:
As we approached the middle-end period of the Forward Base Kickstarter (late summer 2016) we started looking at our resin products that would be released once Forward Base was completed.
This led us into the replacement and re-mastering of some items within Forward Base.
This process would then go on to cover all products. It was done as the quality of some products, and their moulds, were not up the standards that they should have been.
As such every “old” product, and those from Forward Base, was being put through a process of checks and re-working, pending release once Forward Base was finished.
That process was ongoing until January this year, when it was stopped.
New Moulds MkII.
Whilst the above re-moulding was ongoing we ran into reliability issues with some of the parts of the Azure Dragon dropship.
However, whilst developing a fix for those ‘issues’ we “accidentally” developed a brand new way of producing our moulds and then casting in them… which was much better than anything we’d done previously.
You remember those “New Moulds MkI”… that we’d been making for months…?
… They’re no use anymore.
Ooops….. but maybe “OK?”
What is the difference?
This new moulding/casting process/method provides us with significant improvements over the “old” moulds and the ‘improved’ MkI moulds/methods: it means fewer production errors for us and better quality products for you.
The *problem* is that we now need to shift every one of our existing moulds into this new type of mould, and that means making a lot of new moulds.
We could just continue to use “old” moulds and not update “old” products, however we don’t want to.
Instead we are removing them from the shop until they are re-done.
Why? – Quality Control:
During the Forward Base Kickstarter we lost all of our old staff and had to rapidly find replacements.
…and that didn’t always go according to plan….. Yeah….
It transpired that moulding and casting at this level is a highly skilled and very demanding job.
Not everybody can do it.
Finding out that somebody can’t do it can take a lot of time x 3.
Which, ateotd, is probably the single most significant reason why Forward Base was delayed.
During that period we experienced a drop in the overall quality of our moulds and casts as various trainee’s were inducted rapidly… or not.
Products were still good quality, better than the majority of our competitors, but they were not as good as they could be.
And for us that is an issue.
We want all of products to be the best they can be.
Not “good enough”, not “better than the rest”, simply “as good as they can be”.
That means that we need all of our resin ranges to be produced using the new processes and using the new moulds.
For that reason we have stopped the release of many new products, and most of the Forward Base products, so that they can be transferred into the new system.
Some items will not now be produced; as they cannot economically be made to the new standards.
At the same time; as our “old” products get into the state where they require new production moulds, we are taking them off the website, temporarily, whilst they get transferred into the new system.
This is going to take some time, and is the reason that the release of these new & old products is “taking so long” as some have put it.
It is, to some, “painfully slow” and to others simply “frustrating” but for us it is essential.
So what happens now?
What happens now is that we slowly but steadily change every product we have into using the new methods.
Those that cannot be moved to the new system will be dropped.
If a product is dropped, we will let you know.
An item, currently in production, that goes off the website will be going into the new system (unless it is in the “discontinued” list)
We will produce some sort of chart or list so that you can see what is being re-worked and what is being discontinued.
We wont be giving you a time schedule because we don’t know how long this will take, how many items it will involve (some things just dont need changing as they as good as they can be already) and so on and so forth.
Each product is dealt with individually and the time it requires varies enormously.
The best that we can do will be the “chart” that will show you in what area of work that product currently resides e.g. re-mastering, prototyping, moulding etc.
That will give you a rough of idea of when it is likely to be released, but we cannot give you any firm dates for any products.
What about Kickstarters currently running?
This doesn’t really affect currently running Kickstarters because we’ve already moved those items into this new method/system.
However, it is affecting the items from the finished Forward Base kickstarter; the City Hopper, Superhawk, Fork-Lifts and many of the scenery items are all being re-worked.
This is why these items were not released in January. They had been re-done to MK I standards, but were then stopped, and now need re-doing (again) but with MK II moulds.
All of these changes will have an affect on prices… right?
As it happens… not really.
In some cases it is making production cheaper by a few pennies, on others a few pennies more.
Almost all of this work is going on “in the background” and the changeover cost is not being factored into product costings.
We think that that is significant as whilst it will incur a delay in release, it wont make things more expensive for you.
It will in the short term actually reduce our catalogue of products, indeed some of you have already noticed this, but in the long term the change benefits everybody.
So, there you have it: Why things are “delayed”…
It’s all really rather mundane and just an awful lot of work going on “In the background”.
However we will make some form of chart so that you can see what is going on with what product and, where possible, try to provide some time estimates.