Saka Light Cavalry

Saka Light Cavalry

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Adler V Baccus, Prussians Face Off. Round One.

I have intended to do this post ever since painting up the Baccus Prussians, well before actually painting up the Adler figures.

I guess first things first it's cards on the table. I know Peter from Baccus quite well from a customer to supplier point of view and I know he reads the blog. Mr Locke is much less a known entity. Sure I have bought items from him (three times now) and have spoken to him at cons and exchanged e-mails about product but that's all. So if any bias is shown you would be expecting it in Peters direction. I hope though that what follows is plain and simple how I see it and not at all slanted just because I know Peter is probably going to read it and to be fair I don't want to hurt his feelings nor give the wrong impression. But I also want you all to realise what follows is just my opinion. It's not facts nor is it certain I will have the same view in two years time when I possibly will have painted my last 6mm figure for some months.

I few months back I painted up twelve Battalions of Baccus Prussians, a total of 336 figures. All were painted at the same time and I did have a feeling at the time that they took way longer than the French and indeed I felt that Adler would paint up quicker. Indeed given the need for 75 battalions they need to.

Marching side by side against the common enemy.
Quite simply if you look at the finished figures and decide just on that which are the best figures I am sure 8 out of ten cats would prefer to like their own balls. Slightly less wargamers may well choose the look of Adler over Baccus. But that's not really fair, nor is it a good judge of which is the so called best. In fact neither are the best, but one will be the best for you and that's the idea behind this post. Lets look at this through the process of the gamer.

Picking the figures.
Both Adler and Baccus have websites, though it's fair to say only Baccus have a webstore. What I mean exactly is you can buy from Baccus with the minimum of fuss and the ease of buying. Don't under estimate the power of this. Adler on the other hand requires you to download a spreadsheet that seems not to work, contact via e-mail and wait to be contacted and payment made only via Paypal as Adler decided to remove payment by card due to charges. I am not personally bothered by this but for some it's one step to far. Indeed in the days of internet shopping and global shopping Adler have taken a huge step backwards though I have no idea if it has made any difference to his trade.

I am not over keen on the Baccus site in that the images often are too small and not enough of them. On the positive side you at least have images of nearly all items up for sale. 

Adler by comparison have much better images but unfortunately too often no reference to which figures they are. No images are with the list of items and all you get is a list with codes item description and price code. Defenders of Adler will be quick to point out given the rich selection of figures this would indeed be a massive undertaking and thus somehow OK not to actually do this. Many a time I have heard such as, what do you want a nice website or your figures? The simple answer is BOTH. It's poor management or a lack of understanding that most often causes the below par online presence.

Even at conventions Adler fail to make the best of their figures. The display cases are top notch, the painted figures really drive home the quality of the casts but not a code between the lot of them. The diversity of the range in itself is enough to put so many off. It seems that unless you understand Napoleonic's buying from Adler is a guessing game. Regimental and Brigade packs are suited to big units of around 36 figures whilst the more accepted 24 odd figure battalions are ignored. What's worse is not a single unpainted figure is to be seen. Some white boxes with a few details may well be lined up as well as a small pile of price lists but the Adler trading space is designed around a small footprint and I suspect the vast majority of sales are from either pre-orders or the buyer arriving with a list. I remember last year at Donnington when Lee bought all  his French Guard from the catalogue without preparation. It tied up two people and the whole frontage of the stand, good job it was late on Saturday. Then you come to pay, whip out the plastic and oops. Fortunatly I know cash is required.

Baccus on the other hand is far more clued up on what the customer wants. He must pay 5-6 times or more what Adler pay for trading space, this is also reflected in stall position. He also has nice painted figures on display but Peter wants you to pick them up, he wants you to see how they were painted. No codes on these either but as they are next to the till someone can usually tell you what they are and point you in the right direction.

Baccus have racks up filled with a selection of periods and forces from a small top up to battle packs containing both sides troops, rules, buildings, indeed everything but the dice! Behind the counter is the really small packs such as 12 bases of skirmishers etc. I have a sneaking feeling Peter would even take kidneys in payment (as long as they were working) but I do know he takes cards!

So it's fair to say Baccus have the drop on Adler at every stage in the pre purchase stage. This may well not impact on Adler sales but every nerve in my retailers body says it does.

So I would say Baccus have a commanding lead after round one, next up I will be looking at preparation. Something of a sore point after stabbing my finger the other evening whilst trying to clean up some figures  and talk to Lee on the phone at the same time.


  1. Great post Ian, very balanced and I agree that in this age of the internet that wins every time when it comes to having a webstore against downloading and waiting, I am impatient and want the shopping done and figures in the mitts so to speak.

  2. The Baccus buying experience can seperate you from your cash far more readily than at Adler (I tend to buy at conventions). With Adler it ends up as drop off a list and pick it up half an hour later. At the Baccus stall it is easy to pick your larger packs off the stand and quickly request the smaller packs whilst you are there. You can see the new shinies on the display stand, and therefore often leave with a few impulse buys. What you see on the racks also festers in the mind for future purchases.
    Already I have in mind to buy some dark age buildings at Partizan - seen them on the internet and not inspired, but seeing them in the flesh got me thinking......

  3. Gotta agree, with what you and Andrew said!

    1. We're not very patient these days I'm afraid.

  4. Nice idea for a post. Will follow the rest in the series with interest.

  5. There are many retailers I am reluctant to buy from because of lack of pictures and a lackadaisical approach to web design and management. The least one could do is update to some sort of store widget that does all the layout for you. And taking pictures and coding catalogs is what unpaid interns are for.

  6. @ Andrew, yes, I always end up writing a long email with a list of codes etc. Worse is that Lee always get a sniff and gets me to add his order to mine but now I just copy and paste saving the extra effort. Not that the Baccus website experience is perfect when it comes to buying but it works well enough to part me from my cash.

    @ Mike, well summed up there. To many figure suppliers are not retailers by trade and it shows. Some of the stands at conventions are the same display stands that I saw when I was 16, thirty years ago!

    @ Ray and Fran, it's not really just about being patient, it's about being able to interact with what you want to buy. Woolworths shot to being a major multiple by being the first store to allow you to touch their products rather than have it behind a counter. ironic that they did not embrace the internet and paid the price.

    @Prufrock, well I just posted round two and I think this will only go three rounds.

    @ Sean, Many figure suppliers do the wargame thing as a side line or even a hobby. But some of these (Leven Miniatures spring to mind) still do an excellent job of running a website. Some have an inside track, maybe they work in that industry or have a friend or relative that does. The thing is, wargamers by and large are nerds with a lead complex. I am willing to bet that every figure supplier has at least one capable web designer come fiddler on the books. The lure of free figures could get that professional look and would cost less than they would think.