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New site, new ways to pay!

The eagle-eyed regular visitors to our site may have noticed the site’s had a slight face-lift lately. We’ve moved the site away from Magento 2, our long-time software of choice to a new platform. This will enable us to grow the site more, give us more control over the site’s layout and content and more importantly offers some new features and a better shopping experience to you, our loyal customers.

You will now be able to pay securely by credit or debit card directly on our site, without having to log in to PayPal. We are still offering PayPal as a payment option though and both methods are now more secure than before (not that they weren’t secure before, they’re just more secure now). The site software is also regularly updated, unlike the previous software, so we’re on top of any cyber threats that might emerge and your data is safer from prying eyes.

The site also offers us the chance to add blog posts easier than before so we can keep you up to date with new developments better, show off our new products such as the 3D prints we have in the works and we hope to highlight the great work some of you customisers do too.

We’re also looking to add some useful guides to the site, repair guides and how-to guides, collecting guides and more.

The site is still under construction a little bit as we tweak the layout and shopping experience so do please bear with us if you spot any technical glitches and please do let us know.

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How Does The Pre-Order Process Work?

How Does The Pre-Order Process Work?

Step 1: Our Supplier(s) offer the products to us

Once the toy manufacturers release the product information to their distributors (or direct to us in some cases) we can list the products for pre-order. Sometimes the product has an embargo on it meaning we can’t offer the products to you yet but we can place our order with the manufacturer / supplier. We are told what month the product is expected to arrived but this is subject to change without notice.

Step 2: We put the products up for pre-order on the website

Once we know our supplier(s) will be offering us the products we put them on the site for you to pre-order. Previously we used a deposit scheme (which we will now refer to as “legacy pre-orders”) whereas we now take full payment up front.

Step 3: Based on these initial pre-orders we place our order with our supplier(s)

Generally speaking the quicker we can place the order with our supplier(s) means we are more likely to be amongst the first to recieve the products. However in some circumstances the toy manufacturer may not have produced enough units to meet the initial demand. In these cases it can mean an additional wait of several months whilst the toy manufacturers produce more of the items and ship them on a slow boat from the Far East (usually China, Vietnam or Taiwan) to UK or US ports. Unfortunately we only know if we have missed out on the first delivery once it has arrived at the suppliers and they have filled their orders.

Step 4: The product arrives at the supplier(s)

We get a notification from the supplier(s) that the items are in stock and we are invoiced for the goods, usually within 24 hours. The goods are shipped to us usually within 48 hours once payment has been made.

In some situations we may get partial shipments of items. This usually happens when the product is popular and/or the supplier(s) have under ordered.

In some instances we can see a product is in stock before we are invoiced but we cannot see the quantity available. To speed up the dispatch of our legacy pre-orders we send out an email saying “Your product has arrived at our suppliers and should be with us in 7 -10 days. Please log in to your account and pay the balance on your order.” Very rarely it then transpires that our supplier(s) do not have enough stock to fill the whole order and we get a partial delivery. Unfortunately this can sometimes mean an extended wait for some customers.

At this point we send out emails asking for the balance payment on any items that are due to arrive. This is for legacy pre-orders only.

Step 5: We ship the items to you!

Once the products arrive we box them up and send them out to you.

You said the item would be in stock on X month but I haven’t recieved my item yet. What gives?

We are given an estimated month of arrival. That date is subject to change as the arrival date can be affected by factory problems, transportation problems (weather, dock strikes, ship crew not turning up, national holidays in any of the several countries your product will visit on it’s journey). We aim to update the ETA when we can but sometimes we don’t know an item isn’t arriving in a particular month until the very end of the month.

The second scenario is detailed in Step 3 above, we missed the order cut-off window and your item will arrive in the next batch. This is usually the case when an item is due to arrive in the same month that you placed your order. For example if you ordered something with an ETA of August the chances are we placed our initial order 3 or 4 months earlier and we may not have ordered enough product to fill all the orders that have come in since the pre-order went up on the site.

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New & Improved 3D Printed Parts

Our latest batch of 3D printed parts have arrived from the printers. This time around we’ve got the GI Joe / Action Force Rapid Fire Motorcycle / RAM Cycle kickstand, more Battle Tank guns and some test runs of some new or improved models and some fifferent materials.

First up is the Shadowtrak missile, this time in black acrylic (left) rather than the standard sintered plastic (right). As you an see the acrylic plastic has a kind of waxy coating that needs to be cleaned off.

Repro Shadowtrak Missile in Acrylic Plastic

Next up is an improved version of the mines for Tripwire or the Z Force Minesweeper. The first attempt at modelling them wasn’t quite right, there was not enough detail in the finished print. After a few tweaks we sent this to be printed again. I’m much happier with these and will see what they look like painted up and varnished.

Repro Action Force GI Joe Mines

Next up is the SAS Panther steering wheel. Last time we printed it waaaaaaaay too big so this is a test version at (hopefully) the correct scale.

Repro SAS Panther steering wheel

The wheel turned out correct, maybe a millimeter too small. It looks good in place though:

Repro Action Force SAS Panther steering wheel

The next models are probably the very first 3D models I ever built and I’ve been tweaking and finessing the model for months trying to get it to print correctly and fit together nicely. This is the missile rack for the Z Force APC! The original features a split pin to hold the rack in place securely whereas I decided to build our version with a solid pin for ease and strength. It also makes removing the rack much easier with less chance of breaking the pin. The rack tilts and swivels like the original and has 4 holes for the missiles to slot in to.

Repro Z Force APC missile rack

Next up is another Action Force part and this one is a brand new model. Here’s the test print for the Q Force Swordfish missile arm, a piece that’s often missing or broken (like the original piece in the photo below). I’ll be painting and sealing this to get an accurate Q Force grey finish. Look out for this one to be added to the shop soon. Why not join our mailing list and be the first to know when new stock is added?

Here’s how the part looks painted up to (almost, grey paint was a little bit too dark) match the original part:

Repro Action Force Swordfish Part

Our final test print is for a part that’s almost impossible to get hold of at a decent price: chin guns for a vintage Star Wars AT-AT! This model was printed in solid white plastic to check the model’s printability and the fit on the AT-AT before we go in to production in transparent plastic.

Repro Star Wars AT-AT gun
Repro Star Wars AT-AT gun

For those of you wondering about our largest ever print mentioned in the last blog post… it didn’t turn out quite as we hoped. It wasn’t a disaster but it wasn’t a complete success and fixing the model is taking longer than anticipated. Hopefully we’ll be able to reveal it in a future 3D printing post soon.

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Reproduction Action Force Parts

Some time ago I began investigating the possibility of releasing a range of reproduction Action Force parts. Whilst there were some repro parts available they were mainly for the figures and not easily available. I have a small armada of AF5 vehicles without windscreens, Shadowtraks without aerials, windscreens and missiles, ATCs without missile racks and many more vehicles missing almost impossible to find parts.

I looked in to the usual route of casting existing parts but the whole process seemed expensive, long-winded and difficult. I then decided to find out if 3D printing was a viable alternative. At first glance it seemed like this was also going to be a non-starter as a quality 3D printer and the neccessary filaments would set me back a few thousand pounds. Then I remembered a website my brother told me about that would 3D print your designs for you. Now all I needed were some 3D models of the parts I wanted to print…

My attempts at 3D modelling up to that point had been abysmal. I tried to hire freelance 3D CAD specialists but no one wanted the job. So I decided to try my hand at 3D modelling again. With a bit of perserverance and some different software I was able to mock up some reasonable models in a few days. I uploaded the models, waited a few days and got my prints back from the site. These included the SAS Force Silent Attack Aerial / Z Force ATC aerial. Unfortunately I didn’t have an original to work from but it’s a reasonable facsimile. Other models quickly showed that some of the materials weren’t up to the standard I was looking for and some parts were just wrong by some margin as my original measurements were wrong. So I invested in a digital caliper and adjusted the models.

The second attempt included the first print of our reproduction Roboskull chin gun which turned out ok but the details were a bit shallow and needed improving. We also found out that the tolerances on the 3D printing process were a bit variable so some of our models arrived thicker than expected. More adjustments needed…

The next attempt was more successful and our repro Z Force Battle Tank gun came out great first time around. However the Shadowtrak missiles were too long and the holes were too short. The fourth printing followed soon after and the Shadowtrak missile was spot on, the new ATC seatbelt part came out perfect first time, the aerials were right but the new Escape Armour arm joint was too tight.

Repro Action Fore Shadowtrak Missiles

As you can see from the photo the reproductions are darker than the original as we can’t print in grey just yet. The surface is also rougher as the parts are created by fine plastic dust being glued in layers rather than injection moulding. The 3D prints can be filled and painted though for a smoother surface and a more accurate colour. We purposely make each reproduction slightly different from the originals so they are easily distinguishable. We don’t want anyone passing these parts off as the real deal. These parts are for display only.

Our fifth print run included our first try for the Rapid Fire Motorcycle stand which broke within 2 minutes as it was too thin. The SAS Hawk rollbar was a disaster but I was working from an existing roll bar that was in 3 parts. The GI Joe A.W.E. Striker steering linkage bar turned out fine though, as did the updated Roboskull gun.

Our latest delivery included my biggest howler to date; a SAS Panther steering wheel that was 10 times to big. I’d created the model “10 up” so it was easier to work on and forgotten to scale the dimensions down for the printer.

Repro SAS Panther steering wheel

Fortunately the Rapid Fire Motorcycle stand turned out great this time around and will soon be available in the store.

Repro Rapid Fire Motorcycle Stand
Repro Rapid Fire Motorcycle Stand

The Escape Armour arm joint was also ok but the GI Joe mines were not as sharp as I hoped for as the detailing is a bit shallow.

3D Printed GI Joe mines

With a minor adjustment these should be available in the store soon as well. They will probably be supplied in white plastic so you can paint them to match whatever version of Tripwire you need them for. A smaller version will also be available for the Z Force Minesweeper.

I still haven’t found a suitable, reasonably priced transparent printing method for windscreens but 3D printing technology is advancing rapidly and great strides are being made every month.

Next up is the largest 3D print we’ve attempted so far and another iteration of the Z Force ATC missile rack. We’re also looking to invest in a 3D printer of our own or even an injection moulding machine… We’re even looking at creating our own, brand new parts so you can customize your vehicles!

We have over 30 different parts in the pipeline and we’ve already had requests for some specific parts. If you have any requests for parts for Action Force, GI Joe, Star Wars or any line please let us know in the comments section below.