Tommy's War

Discussion in 'Figure News' started by Adrian Cowdry, Jul 16, 2016.

  1. Adrian Cowdry Well-Known Member

    No doubt some of you on here have had a similar e mail from Tommy's War and their flash 50% sale over this weekend.

    I read Darren's blog about Tommy's War and the problems that he is suffering.

    I am like Darren and dabbling in the military figure market and I can empathise with him.

    Darren has filled a niche admirably - his WWI figures are sublime and his artillery piece/diorama has to be one of the highlights of the competition circuit when completed and on show.There are some competent modellers who have done such a great job in presenting Tommy's War figures. The series includes some wonderful figures which I will not list - take a look at his website - - I have had the pleasure in reviewing many of these figures and I have to say the quality is excellent - Tommy's War figures hardly ever need any clean up, the details are crisp and deep, when primed and painted the figures will present great representations of each subject when on the shelf. One thing Darren has managed is animation - or I should say his sculpt artists - it is not easy making a figure in action look like it is in action.

    Darren's chosen field is almost a monopoly in 54mm - if you want a 54mm WWI subject it will be to Tommy's war you go.

    It is a shame that Darren has had to take this route. We all know that making and producing model figures will not make us rich. I have developed three figures - I expected a rush of sales as the subjects I chose are very popular - however it is a slow arduous task to sell - production is expensive - anyone on Planet Figure will know that you have to pay a sculpt artist, a casting company then there is packaging and the time - if Darren were to cahrge for all this (indeed if I were to do so) these figures would be a lot more than the asking price - indeed many of us often say on here "Too much for me" - cost for us all is a consideration - if you are not in a position to buy X, Y or Z then you will not buy no matter what the subject matter is.

    Like many on here, I suspect, I have a stash that is as long as your arm or longer! That includes a couple of Tommy's War as well. I buy these items when I see them - if they take my fancy - too many times have I said to myself "I'll get it at a later date" - then it becomes a collectable and no longer a retail product so the price tag is higher. Get em while you can is my motto

    I digress...

    I have made one small order - sorry Darren - not enough to make a difference and I am not taking advantage of Darren's situation - I just forgot to order it earlier. I would urge you all if you have even a half fancy to make a WWI subject figure go to Darren's site and buy - the artillery diorama is an absolute steal.

    But it is sad that it has come to this for Darren - read his blog on why he is doing this and read between the lines - he has put a lot of thought and love into this little niche business. He is allowing his heart to rule his head and making some decisions that are crucial to keeping Tommy's War going. I urge you to help him and buy up some of his stock - for I fear we not see much more of Tommy's War and this prospect I find very sad - unless we support Darren and add to our stash.

    I would add that you may argue that the X, Y or Z figures are not what you want - Darren of course chooses the subject - however like most things if one person likes it usually there are at least 10 more who would like it also. It cannot be denied that Darren's choices are very good. I would say that should he sell out of his stock over this weekend then I suspect he would be open to suggestions - again if you like it and will buy it then there is bound to be 10 more who like it - but on that ratio if 200 figures are made then 20 people have to make the suggestion - so if only one of you wants Captain Blackadder and Baldrick with a cunning plan - then it ain't gonna happen but should 20 of you say "I'd like T.E. Lawrence in his army uniform" Then it certainly will be considered.

    Finally I am writing this on my own accord - Darren is in a position that I fear many small cottage industry model figure suppliers find themselves. If we don't support these manufacturers then believe me there will not be these figures available anymore.
    DEL, Tecumsea, T50 and 10 others like this.
  2. Dmitri Baev A Fixture

    Personally, I love figure Tommy's War. Artillerymens of this firm served as the perfect complement to the British artillery in dioramas, which I do.

    Attached Files:

  3. yeo_64 Active Member

    Have already put my order in, small as it may be :oops:. Hopefully it will help to alleviate his dire economic straits a little bit (y).
    By the way, I really regret not getting "Gassed" earlier, now it is all gone :cry:.
    ometz and marco55 like this.
  4. flart1943 Active Member

    Well said Adrian. I cannot agree more, and I am sure that your kind words and analysis of the problems will be of some help.
  5. MalcC A Fixture

  6. megroot A Fixture

    Always like Tommy's War figures as I'm a small collector of WW 1 figures.
    I have some from Darrens company, even the motorcycle.
    It's awesome, and I have some spare figures on the shelf. I whas saving some money to buy something at Euro from Darren. I laid my eyes on the truck.
    Sadly it isn't not on the side of Tommy's War. So I think it is OOP. So I have to agree with your statement Adrian.
    Buy it when it is there.
    So let us all help Darren, he is a very nice Bloke.

    Adrian Cowdry likes this.
  7. clrsgt A Fixture

    I tried to order the artillery diorama, but it was already sold out the day I received the email. I am sorry to hear about the company's problems.
  8. Filipe Well-Known Member

    I would like to make some constructive criticism, more of a suggestion. I do not know Darren, but I respect him, I respect his enterprise, as I respect and admire a lot of other folks around here on pF, like Gordon, Graham, Nap, to name a few of the British guys.

    I would like to make it clear that my criticism is not to destroy or to make him feel bad, or to offend him or any of his friends.

    I think that one thing that could improve in Tommy’s War is the range. What I mean? Focusing on one nationality and one conflict can result in some great choices, but, in the end, the catalogue is very similar, very homogeneous. I will give an example. Let’s see the busts available at Tommy’s War:


    The facial expressions are great, the headdresses are different but, in the end of the day, we are talking about four busts in a variation of khaki and only one different from the rest.
    Now let’s take a look at some 54mm figures.


    As Adrian said, the action poses are great; there is uniqueness to the figures. But, again, a limited pallet of colors. I am pretty sure that Darren is proud of the military heritage of the United Kingdom, and that is the reason why he does it like this. But it will not attract a lot of different people. In other words, a lot of customers.

    Does it mean that he needs to forgo the identity of his company? No way. He already started doing something different with the Victorian series. He can do some more different British figures, like one bust of Nutsplanet, released at the same time with a bust in the more military, khaki uniform.


    There are a lot of possibilities only in the British Raj. Or a series about the British enemies in the Victoria period; there are five Osprey books about that. Nationalities, skin tones, uniforms (or lack of), weapons, textures, colors, a lot of variety, to seduce any kind of modeler.

    And modelers are also compulsive buyers (oh, the stashes…). He will see a figure that he likes (for example, a new figure of a very colorful Sikh warrior) and then will look at the website for some more, maybe buy along a figure that he would not buy exclusively; at least, to save on shipping.

    Or Darren can explore other nationalities or fronts in the First World War; after all, modelers do love some German figures. In either case, he will keep the identity of the company: the soldiers of Britain and the soldiers of the First World War. And attract new customers.

    As I said, my intentions are the best and I wish success to every honest modeler in the business.
    kenshin393, yeo_64, Babelfish and 3 others like this.
  9. ellie A Fixture

    Filipe, As a manufacture my self (Ellie's Miniatures) I can see the logic in what you are saying. when We set our company up 3 years ago we stayed with the passion for the Franco Prussian War and 2nd Empire ( which both me and Ellie have a passion for) so Like Darren at Tommy's War we stuck with the first releases in the range. that was fine but soon learned that we were limiting our customer base. so we set about doing other subjects but still kept in touch with what we love.

    Since then we have covered around 10 different wars and it has made a difference as we became more of a rounded company. it's still very difficult to get the what you think is the big show stopper (it's like the holy grail but we keep trying.) I agree with Adrian it's very expensive to produce a figure for the market even if you cast your self, Which is what we started to do to be more cost effective.

    You also have to look at what your competitors have coming out and hope you don't do anything that looks the same as you can end up losing. we have seen it of late where 2 or 3 Naval officers from the Nap period have all come out more or less at the same time which I'm sure will impact all the companies involved no mater how good the master or art work is. (people have limited money and will only buy the figure/bust that is exceptional) If I had a pound for every time I read it's a must buy it's on my buy list I would be in the land of milk and honey. it just does not happen, it's good intentions and yes they mean it at the time but sales tell a different story. as manufacturers we can not live on promises and wishes no matter how honest they are meant at the time.

    You have to be diverse in this market if you are going to stand a chance of surviving, and even then it's no guarantee of success. it's a very hard business to be in and your company can only move on if you can get the buying public to part with their money. and you come up with a piece that will have that mass appeal. so the search for the Holy grail will continue and I hope Darren and Tommy's War finds the right path and pull through what is a very difficult time for every small company in this wonderful but very hard hobby / business .

    These are just my thoughts and in no way are they meant to upset anyone but some times reality has to be given a chance to come to the front.


  10. Babelfish A Fixture

    Marc, I saw a notice from Darren a week or so ago on Facebook announcing that he'd done a stock-take and discovered that he still had 3 each of two of the truck versions (I think there were 4 versions in total, so the other 2 must be sold out). They are now OOP and not shown on the TW web site, so contact him directly if interested.

    - Steve
  11. Babelfish A Fixture

    I really admire Darren's passion, and am hopeful that he'll find a way to continue with Tommy's War. But Felipe and Ian both make some good points about diversification.

    Darren's already dipped his toes into other conflicts with the Victoria's Heroes figures, so maybe more of this could be the way forward? The Boer War for example is one conflict that has been virtually ignored by figure companies over the years (you could probably count the number of releases on the fingers of one hand). And/or more Northwest Frontier, Egypt/Sudan. Or even inter-war British Empire and Cold War British - both desolate wastelands in terms of figure releases.

    - Steve
  12. IronMike Well-Known Member

    I'll support this. Who knows I may live to be 150 and might get them painted. :)

    The miniature business gets more difficult everyday. I was very fortunate when I started as I sculpted many of the kits, cast everything myself and did all the packaging and admin work. I was fortunate to have my retirement check to me up. There was also not as much competition. I wish everyone that tries this trade the best of luck. Now off to place my order.
    DaddyO and anstontyke like this.
  13. Viking Bob PlanetFigure Supporter

    I also read the blog given out by Darren from TW. I paint mainly British Napoleonic and mid Victorian but I also dabble in WWI, mainly as a great uncle of mine was killed in 1915. I have a few of TW and have ordered 3 more prior to his sale this weekend. I hope He will be around for years to come.
    I also agree what others have said.
    anstontyke and Mat Lambert like this.
  14. Adrian Cowdry Well-Known Member

    It is very heart warming to read all the good wishes to Darren at TW - Felipe - your comments are very valid - however, I am playing Devils Advocate here, Darren I think, was looking to fill a niche - Ian mentions the holy grail - I have purchased many figures and busts - one is the much talked about German Home Guard WWI bust mentioned elsewhere on here...why did I buy it? Because I liked it - I have produced a few figures - they have not set the world on fire - the figures I have produced are choices made by me - why? Because I liked the subject. My reasoning is that if I like it there are at least 10 other people who will like it (and so far thats been about right with my stocks left!).

    Theworld of figures is quite fickle - if we look at aircraft or armour - probably 90% of model sales - bring out a new version of a Tiger or a Spitfire - it will sell. There are a few mistakes (Airfix new Bolton Paul Defiant!!!) but on the whole aircraft sell. Figures on the other hand are down to choice and preference. One of my favourite manufacturers is Mitches Military Models - their range is excellent but also in many ways questionable. Two of the figures I like to think I had a hand in are the US POW (Steve McQueen in the Great Escape) and OSS Major (Lee Marvin in Dirty Dozen) - The McQueen first appeared as a bust then eventually the legs arrived and it is a whole figure. It is one of MMM's best sellers. Lee Marvin on the other hand was poor sales - both are exceleny likenesses and both are great quality. Personally I love both. But I am only one and hopefully there are 10 more following - but that is maybe 11 sales when what MMM require is 10 for each of the ten that follow on from me making it 111 sales and so on...alas not to be with the Lee Marvin figure - if you like The Dirty Dozen you should get this figure! My point though is that Felipe says about Tommys War adding different subjects to the range - it is a tough call for Darren to make - what should his next subject be?

    If we go along with Felipe's suggestion then naturally a German in the trenches - indeed a series of Germans? Or Turks? Or does Tommy's war veer from WWI to other eras? If so where is that Holy Grail that Ian mentions? The Boer War has been mentioned - how many here want Boer War subjects? And then that magic phrase "It's on my buy list" - A cotage industry supplier cannot survive on promises...If you have been reading any of my posts I want - Nay I have been gagging for - Busts or large scale figures of Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood, Where Eagles Dare, I have begged and emplored Mitches to do these...but because of their fingers being burnt on Lee Marvin - Burton/Eastwood are not on the cards. I have tried blackmail but it hasn't worked...would it sell? This is the question that the boys at MMM ask? Their releases of Napoleonic era figures sell much better than Lee Marvin so that is where their production forecast lies. Conversely Darren at TW picked a niche and filed it - it is tough to even think about investing in a subject that is is a gamble. The only way a manufacturer in Darren's league can contemplate producing a new figure/subject is to go by demand - if 10 of us say to Darren "produce the new hokey cokey 2000 and I'll buy it" - he may think about it - if 10 say to him here is a deposit then that is a help - but if 100 put their money where their mouth is then he will produce it.

    For Darren to come away from the Khaki, as you put it Felipe, is a difficult step. And by the way Darren said he would buy a Where Eagles Dare set!!!

    I know - as I think all of you reading this realise - we all have a pet subject that we want figures on - but in the end it comes down to "will it sell?" On Darren's blog he mentioned that he was on a bit of a roll in 2014 (100 year anniversary on the start of WWI) many of us can say with the help of 2020 hindsight "well of course everyone was aware of WWI then" - arent we all aware of WWI anyway? Has the interest in WWI diminished? Is that why Darren is not selling so much? There may be many reasons - I have said it before - it was the quality of Darren's figures that piqued my interest and the reviews I did on his figures. War is brutal - WWI particularly so, Darren's figures reflected the hardships of the subjects chosen. And his release program was excellent - and diverse - how many WWI vehicles other than tanks are out there? And that Artillery Diorama is exceptional.

    Would it be beneficial to cover French subjects, Canadian, Australian etc? We cannot tell - unless us figure builder actually say to the manufacterers and suppliers - "I want a figure that is...." But it takes more than 10 I wants.
    Mike - The Kiwi and anstontyke like this.
  15. brian A Fixture

    Just a suggestion for Darren.I think it would be a good idea to cover the British Empire period.It didn't do Bill Horan any harm.and you would have numerous conflicts to cover.
    I hope you find a solution Darren as i'm not really into the WW1 period ,i still think it would be a loss for the hobby,as your figures are top notch, and reasonably priced.
    anstontyke, ellie, Chrisr and 2 others like this.
  16. ellie A Fixture

    Adrian in response to your last post I'm sorry but it takes more than 10 sales to pay for a figure whether it be 54mm or 200mm the cost involved are in the hundreds if not thousands of pounds to put out to the public. I know it might be just a figure of speech but some people might think that the 10 sales mark is all that's needed. I and other companies wish it was life would be so much better for small companies if that was what was needed.

    The Holly Grail as I said is finding that figure/bust that sets the market on fire and sets your company on the road to financing the future of your company. it's the one that sells in the hundreds not tens. that's the holy grail to find that figure that has the mass appeal.

    Companies could go down the road of asking the hobby what they would like to see, and you would get a million and one different subjects. then you would get maybe 20 or so people wanting one subject. so you invest in it, then you find that you can't even sell the 20 or so that was asked for, that's just how it is.

    If a company is struggling you have to look at why and what you might have to do to survive. One way is pack it in and say at least you had a go, Two keep going down the same road and hope things change in the not too distant future, or three diversify into other ranges and hope that in doing so you can tap into the modelers that so far have not looked at your company. You will still be the same company that will not change it will be that you have other themes that my tantalize more tastes. Like it or not if you are going to survive in this small market place then you are going to have to change to keep up with what others are doing.

    MMM do different subjects and now and then they will try something that might not work out too well we have all been their, but you hope that the next one you release will help recover the money that you lost on the one that has not done so very well. As long as the figure / busts cover the out lay and you lose nothing then you've done ok it's not great but you have lost nothing it's if you have a run of releases that don't cover the cost of the master/and production that's when it's a problem. You have to make money to invest in the next product, or theirs no point in carrying on releasing stuff so you have to look at what is trending at the moment, and see if you can find something a little different in that trend and see where that takes you. I would say most of the companies do that, they have to or they will go to the wall.

    At the end of the day like it or not it's a business and being a business you have to make money or it becomes a very expensive hobby indeed. As I have said I wish Darren well and hope the flash sale has gone some way to getting him back on track as it would be sad if he could no longer trade as his company would be sadly missed.

    again this is just my thoughts on the subject and I know people my not agree but it's my opinion nothing more.


    anstontyke, Viking Bob and DEL like this.
  17. Viking Bob PlanetFigure Supporter

    When I first started painting in the early 80s, Napoleonics were strong and still are, then Mike French came along with Mid Victorian as well as Chota Sahib. I love the period from 1815 right up to the 1890s. I restarted painting in earnest over 18 months ago. I will dabble in WWI ( I have two sat on the bench right now). I know what ellie is saying , trying to find the ultimate selling figure and as painters we are a fickle lot, not only that but some are on a limited budget. I wish I could buy every figure that Liked, I would be divorced.
    I wish all you figure sellers all the best and I will do my bit to buy as much as my wife will allow.
    anstontyke, ellie and Chrisr like this.
  18. Chrisr PlanetFigure Supporter

    I think Filipe has a good point. I also seek to offer constructive comments that may assist Darren to rejig his business and continue to provide quality figures in a way that makes his business a success.

    I am not a First World Figure painter, and while Darren has filled a niche market with quality figures, which is to be commended, many are similar in style and character. For example, Private Middlesex Regiment Mons 1914; Private Lincolnshire Regiment 1914; Sergeant Suffolk Regiment Le Cateau 1914 and Sergeant Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Frezenberg 1915 are all very similar, as are his Captain Royal Fusiliers Mons 1914; Lieutenant Royal Engineers The Marne 1914; Captain 4th BnBerkshire Regiment 1915; and Captain Royal Welsh Fusiliers 1915. To me there is little difference between Private Machine Gun Corps Messiness 1917 and Sergeant Machine Gun Corps (Motors) Messiness 1917, although others may have a different view. Yes there are several of a different style (London Scottish Messiness 1914; Private 1/7th Lancashire Fusilier Cape Helles 1915; and Corporal 1st Bn London Irish Rifles) but they are all First World War British infantry with minor variations. They are excellent quality and his mounted 9th Lancer Elouges 1914 is an absolute stunner, but the range will only attract those with an interest in First World War figures, and then they will be selective as to which pieces they buy - given the choice from other manufacturers.

    Broadening his range to other periods would certainly attract more buyers, but the hobby is gifted with so many excellent figures to choose from. I like Brian's idea of looking at the British Empire and producing figures that have not been addressed before. There must be a huge number of British, South African, Indian, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand colonial militia units that have not been done before. The Ancien Regime era of the late 1600 - early 1700's and the late 1700's might be another area worth exploring, as there are very few figures of this era. With the quality of figure he has produced to date, I have no doubt Darren can do some really nice figures in these periods that would attract a broader clientele.

    Best wishes Darren. We would all hate to see you depart the scene, but I acknowledge it is a tough market with so much choice available. Brian's suggestion is worth considering.

    anstontyke, ellie and Viking Bob like this.
  19. Adrian Cowdry Well-Known Member

    Ellie - sorry - I may not have made my point - I understand what you are saying about the Holy Grail - perhaps HP is a better example - Hugo does a bit of research and talks to people and makes sure his items are limited thus very wanted.

    Any of the small manufacturers have problems with sales - and what I meant was that if 10 people like X figure you hope there is 10 more behind each one...this 10 x 10 and further on...but you know as well as I that figure modelling is fickle - The big boys make a Tiger Tank and it sells - in fact the new French AMX (I think this is right) (a subject twenty or so years ago would not have been released) is selling well - armour in 1/35 is very popular - more so than figures. It would be interesting to know exactly the production run of say a Pegaso mounted figure (I have yet to build Dracula - Vlad) - but I would say it was not in the 1000's - I'd be surprised if it were 500. And that is the audience that are buying figures.

    I make a lot of garage kits - how many people want the Frankenstein? The garage kit manufacturers will not do more than 50 or 60 at a time - in fact one kit I recently finished I'd be surprised if there had been 30 made and sold.

    Cottage industry manufacturers take a big risk in investing in a new figure - If you have 10 solid purchases before you release the figure that is not bad - if you have 100 then that is a miracle.

    The proof in all this is thte divesity of subjects - how many figure modellers have say all the run from Pegaso? I venture not many - I say this because the varied subjects are such that not one person likes all the subjects - however I would venture that many people haev a few of the range - as the figures are popular to those interested in X, Y or Z subject.

    It has been mentioned about Colonial era figures etc. Personally not for me...unless it was Roarkes Drift - but then I have a few if not enough figures from this theatre.

    But I am only one - I got into WWI because of Tommy's War and a 120mm Canadian figure from Mitches - WWI is not my main interest...

    My point - sorry if you have got bored by this - is that TW needed a little help - I also think TW are great value for money figures and I can recommend them. If you have a passing interest in WWI these are the figures for you.

    I would hope that I would do the same for any manufacturer that has subjects that I like.

    As a manufacturer finding that holy grail is an interesting point. I recently went hunting for Glen Strange as Frankenstein - the supplier had stopped casting it. I got one from a collector who had no need of it anuy more - garage kits are limited in production - take Janus Kits - some of the best ever made - OOP now and very saught after - Dracula and His Bride is rocking horse doo doo...I am also after another "Welcome to the Forest" Errol Flynn as Robin Hood - by Legend (I think) - I have one made - I want to do another...can't get one. Were these two items holy grails? Not at all - I would be interested to know a figure that was one of the holy grails - that sold out so quick that your breath was taken away - Andrea are a good benchmark - they cast in white metal and have obviously the ability to recast and put more items out for sale....but they often retire figures. As do Pegaso and other makers.

    Perhaps that is an answer in selling - make a limited amount and break the mold - once they're sold they're sold - but then you run the risk of recasters. It is truly a dichotomy.

    Ian - I am not decrying your thoughts - it is a business - but it is not a business any one will get rich on - there are not enough figure modellers in the world - you won't get rich being a plastic injection model company (unless you are Tamiya) - but you have a better chance than being a figure producing company!
    anstontyke likes this.
  20. Nap A Fixture


    Agree there lots of conflicts and some great uniforms

    anstontyke likes this.

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