Friday, December 05, 2008

I have been to.... Minifigs UK

A quite splendid day off on Wednesday - I had taken the day off as my wife was supposed to be working, and I needed to be at home to meet the spuds when they finished school. As it turned out they rang her up the day before and told she didn't need to go in, so the two of us went out to do what I'd planned for me to to do for the day. Now as a wargamer I'd be the first to admit that Steve-the-Wargamer leads a "socially challenged" existence, but I think even my missus enjoyed the day out!

First stop was the new Miniature Figurines factory at Southampton - Neil and Liz have been the "new" owners of Minifigs (or more correctly Miniature Figurines Ltd) for almost five years now (I think their anniversary is coming up soon) and have just moved premises from the old Northam Road location to a unit in the Solent Business Centre. The new place is still in Southampton, and I'd say about five or so miles away from the old factory, but a whole lot easier to get to, and park at.

(If you're coming from outside Southampton then the M27 is the easiest route - just take junction 3 and follow the signs for Southampton. The unit is in a huge building (an old warehouse I think) on the left as you head towards the centre/docks).

Minifigs share the building with a load of other company's, and although there's no shop as such (I always remember the old one as being a bit dark, but with all the soldiers on little shelves round the walls....), they're still open to pick up orders, and now you get to see the where the real business is taken care of. I've been a wargamer for 30+ years and never seen inside one of the "majors" and I have to say that I found it really interesting.

Anyway - the pictures are from the casting area - it looked to me like there were three casters, one against each bench. In the picture below you can see one of them with the lid up..

The shelves have all the moulds on them (the black circular things that look a little like old film can's), and I would say there were at least three double sided racks.. Minifigs have a very large range is all I can say.

My purpose for visiting was to take advantage of the special offer that Minifigs were advertising in "Battlegames" this month - a "big battalions" deal they had come up with in conjunction with Henry (the editor) - I don't have the details of the 25mm offer to hand, but certainly for 15mm it was buy 6 packs of horse and musket period troops, get 1 pack (a command pack) free.

Given the amount of painting going on in Steve-the-Wargamer's loft recently, my unpainted lead pile was looking dangerously light, so I ordered 3 packs each of British and French Marlburian foot, with a command pack.

The 50+ figures cost me £12.50 with the offer, and that was more than enough for two regiments - bargain.

To make the visit "worthwhile" I also added some WWII stuff to the order; every time I play Blitzkrieg Commander I get enthused to add more figures! Three Pz. IV's (long barrels - what the British called "specials" in the Desert), a Pz.Jgr I (early war tank hunter) and a couple of command vehicles....

What really surprised me was that I was the only one who'd taken advantage of the "big battalions" deal! I would encourage everyone to investigate the offer - the details are in Battlegames and you need to quote BGMFOS01 when ordering...

Brilliant visit - Liz & Neil made both us very welcome, and thanks to Neil for allowing me to post the pictures...

Second visit was to the "Flowerpots" at Cheriton * for "lunch" ie. liquid, comprising a pint (or two!) of "Goodens Gold" (click here).

As my wife was present this time, I did actually have something to eat besides the normal intake of Goodens.. On a very cold day we sat in front of a big log fire, me with a cheddar cheese ploughman's of quite gargantuan proportions, and her with a big bowl of home made soup.... sometimes life doesn't get much better....

* This was the same pub I visited after the recent battlefield walk I posted on... a super pub run by very nice people, with lovely food, but above all else, sublime beers..

...but I spoke to soon. The day did get better as the third trip of the day was on the way home and was to the Southwick Brewhouse (click here) a noted purveyor of fine ales in the bottle.. bliss... as a regular customer I filled my pannier, got a free bottle (as a returning customer), and took home a four pint container of "Palmerston's Folly" brewed locally by the owners, and named after the forts that were built to protect Portsmouth from an invasion by the French under Napoleon III...

Over a cigar and a couple of glasses of the Folly that evening, I had to come to the conclusion that I'd been right earlier, and that a day really doesn't get any better than that!!

9 comments:

  1. Hi Steve,

    I last visited Minifigs in Southampton about 30 years ago and it was nothing like their new modern premises.

    On the other hand I was at the flowerpot only two years ago and it really is a fantastic pub. Woderfully comfortable inside like someones living room nice food and the beer!!!

    I like it wher I live, but I would kill to get a local like that.

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  2. What a great day and you managed to convince your good lady to go along too.

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  3. Sounds magnificent. What's your fancy in the line of cigars?

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  4. Cheers guys..

    John - me to! There are some truly wonderful pubs round here, but none of them are what I call a "local" ie. walkable to...

    Paul - I think the funny thing was that she enjoyed the visit to Minifgs almost as much as I did! It may have been the lunch and the pint and a half of "Flowerpots Bitter" that swung it though!

    Conrad - I'm partial to the smaller cigars in life as I'm an "outside smoker" (the garage in fact, where I have a comfortable chair and a reading light in one corner!) At this time of year a Churchill or Bellicoso could result in a serious case of exposure! So, Villiger miniatures when I can, I'm particularly partial to Mehari's - the Brazilian one's especially. When I'm in Bath I buy the hand rolled miniatures from Trumpers, or for a real treat a Romeo y Julietta no. 3.. a cigar and a good real ale, are like cheese and onion, they're just meant to be.... :o))

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  5. Hi Steve,

    Sounds like the new MiniFigs premises are impressive, judging by your description and photograph. Thanks for sharing your impressions. Must admit though that I do miss the idea of them no longer being in their old location, which I visited in late December of 1988. Gosh that was a long time ago!

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

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  6. Hi Steve,
    Sounds like a good day. I hadn't spotted the Minifigs offer but have been tempted recently to pick up some figures for my AWI forces - mainly to see if those people have recommended to use for the Guards are suitable. This may give me an excuse!

    Didn't Minifigs used to have a shop in Birmimgham? Sure I can remember going there years ago. Only manufacturer I've been to was Dixons in Huddersfield a few years ago. There something quite nice about getting a handful of warm figures!

    Cheers

    Andy

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  7. Just ordered some 15mm Continental Marines to use as British Guards on the Battlegames offer. Have to have them delivered to home as off work from next week so will no doubt have questions from my wife! I'll just blame you if that's alright, Steve? :-)

    Andy

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  8. Andy - entirely satisfactory - just get her to speak to my secretary.... errr ... wife! :o))

    It's a mystery to me why more people aren't taking advantage of the offer....

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  9. Steve,

    Thanks for the report. Given where I live, I, of course, have never had the chance to visit a real figure manufacturer . . . so I appreciate your account and photos.

    The closest I can come to it is WAY WAY BACK when I visited a local newspaper that still used real lead type . . . not something you'll find today with the ubiquitousness of computers.


    -- Jeff

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