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72moonglum

Where has all the metal gone?

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They even tell me that folks can't get much by ordering straight from you. Start bringing your A game.

I just bought some stuff from the Reaper Online Store a week or so ago. New release, some old stuff as well as one Boneyard part. Might want to have words with your FLGS folks.
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Anything new hitting my FLGS would be nice. They had three or four gondolas of Reaper stock prior to the first Bones Kickstarter. These days it's a ragtag assortment over the same space. They tell me that the distrubors aren't getting anything from you guys. I know it's on your end because my FLGS can get me anything else I want but your products. They even tell me that folks can't get much by ordering straight from you. Start bringing your A game.

 

This comes up every once in a while. Distributors lie to stores to shift the blame. Stores lie to customers to shift the blame. Note that I worked in the industry for 8½ years and have seen it happen to many manufacturers.

 

Reaper makes its product (other than Bones figures and perhaps resins) on site and can make anything they manufacture to order. Frankly, I don't believe that stores can't get product, though I do believe that stores are having trouble getting product from the distributor that they would prefer to use. Similarly, I don't believe that distributors are having trouble getting Reaper product as a result of a problem on Reaper's end.

 

But feel free to make your own Sense Motive check.

 

^_^

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I have two game shops near me which carry Reaper product. Both are under separate ownership. One has an entire back wall of almost nothing but Reaper, both Bones and metal. The other has a three-foot section of Reaper product. I've been a fairly regular customer of both over the past few months.

 

Both have had new metal releases appear on their shelves in the past 6 months near the release dates. I placed a special order for Reaper metal with one store, and it arrived in about two weeks. Both stores go through a distributor. I am not sure which one.

 

I can confirm that metal releases are getting out there, so perhaps one of the other reasons from above might be the culprit.

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I have made three orders to Reaper in the last four weeks. I usually make my orders on Sunday night or Monday and its usually in my hands by Friday. Its not on Reaper's end. The spincasters and wheels of paint are obviously still working quite nicely.

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Went to my not so local FGS yesterday & while the Reaper section is not like it was when the former owner ran the store, they did have new metal releases.

 

I even seen one I placed a order for from Reaper last week ::):. Hopefully the figure works for what I need it for. First impressions were the fig was on the small side, one of the drawbacks of not having a local store.

 

Hobbytown was mostly Bones. I don't recall any metal.

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Anything new hitting my FLGS would be nice. They had three or four gondolas of Reaper stock prior to the first Bones Kickstarter. These days it's a ragtag assortment over the same space. They tell me that the distrubors aren't getting anything from you guys. I know it's on your end because my FLGS can get me anything else I want but your products. They even tell me that folks can't get much by ordering straight from you. Start bringing your A game.

If a distributor fails to order the product from us, it is not our fault that they do not have it.

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I asked about ordering the Bones Rack Deal for my store through my distributor and was basically told they would order it when they got around to it.  Neither of my major distributors have updated their Rack Deal listings.  Needless to say I ordered it direct from Reaper.

 

I've noticed *some* outages (and some apparently got NIC'ed), but the majority of Bones are available from Reaper (and metal is cast on site, so I'm assuming it's readily available, I don't sell much of that).  A store will give up a couple of points ordering direct (and it won't count towards volume with a distributor), but we can get it.  If they're saying they can't get it direct from Reaper, well, I don't want to call them liars, but...I don't know how to finish that sentence.

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Anything new hitting my FLGS would be nice. They had three or four gondolas of Reaper stock prior to the first Bones Kickstarter. These days it's a ragtag assortment over the same space. They tell me that the distrubors aren't getting anything from you guys. I know it's on your end because my FLGS can get me anything else I want but your products. They even tell me that folks can't get much by ordering straight from you. Start bringing your A game.

 

This comes up every once in a while. Distributors lie to stores to shift the blame. Stores lie to customers to shift the blame. Note that I worked in the industry for 8½ years and have seen it happen to many manufacturers.

 

Reaper makes its product (other than Bones figures and perhaps resins) on site and can make anything they manufacture to order. Frankly, I don't believe that stores can't get product, though I do believe that stores are having trouble getting product from the distributor that they would prefer to use. Similarly, I don't believe that distributors are having trouble getting Reaper product as a result of a problem on Reaper's end.

 

But feel free to make your own Sense Motive check.

 

^_^

 

 

Note that this is, sadly, not at all a new thing (having worked in the industry, on the retail side of things, and the publishing side of things, for something close to two decades, off and on, now). I have had the (dis)pleasure of informing the owner of an FLGS that not only was the book I was inquiring about not out-of-print at the manufacturer as their distributor had just told them, it was, in fact, just back from the printers, because I'd just been informed that my comp copies (copies owed to an author who worked on the project) would be in the mail early the next week, since shipments had just gone out to the distributors.*

 

When an FLGS tells you something is OOP, or NIC, or whatever - check the manufacturer's website. It's very possible - even likely - it is, in fact, OOP, especially if you're asking about something kind of old (a lot of games, and manuals, for example, get one print run, these days, unless demand was unusually high). And it might be temporarily unavailable - Reaper spins their own metal, but not everyone does, and sometimes re-orders get mis-timed, or a print run gets delayed, or stuck in customs, or whatever.  

 

It's also very possible, sadly, that a distributor is blowing smoke up their nether regions. 

 

*Unusual situation - I needed the final-print text of the book for a project I was working on, I was away from my normal FLGS, and this was before emailing a .pdf copy was really a feasible solution. I ended up buying it somewhere else. 

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Yeah, it's not just Reaper.  I had to pick up copies of Eclipse Phase from Posthuman Studios at Gen Con because my distributor still didn't have it two months after it had been back in print.  It took them over a month after that before they got it in.  So that was over 3 months to get it in stock...

 

Good thing it wasn't a special order or anything.  Oh wait, it was.

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So... for those people that use them, what do distributors do?  I mean shops can order directly from companies (generally for the same price or cheaper) so really what advantage to distributors have (especially when they aren't good at stocking stuff)?

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So... for those people that use them, what do distributors do?  I mean shops can order directly from companies (generally for the same price or cheaper) so really what advantage to distributors have (especially when they aren't good at stocking stuff)?

Consolidation. They make it a one stop shop.

 

Also, before these days of e-commerce it used to be a lot harder to connect directly to manufacturers all across the country and world.

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So... for those people that use them, what do distributors do?  I mean shops can order directly from companies (generally for the same price or cheaper) so really what advantage to distributors have (especially when they aren't good at stocking stuff)?

 

One Stop Shopping. 

Theoretically, you can call your sales rep at Alliance (or one of the other distributors - there used to be a dozen or so, now there's just a handful), and get anything they have in their warehouse shipped to you (and if they don't have it, they will get it and then ship it to you) - which means you don't have to send an order to Reaper, and one to WotC, and one to Chessex, and one to Task Force Games, and one to R. Talsorian, and one to Green Ronin, and one to Hero Games, and one to Palladium, and one to... you get the picture. This makes life easier for both the retailer (since they only need to contact a couple of distributors they normally do business with, and maybe a handful of publishers who handle their own distribution), and for the manufacturer/publisher (since they only need to manage their website sales, and a handful of distributor accounts). 

 

Special Order management

Most stores don't carry everything that is manufactured/published in the gaming industry - even Crazy Egor never carried everything, although Paul sure tried to carry everything that was actually going to turn over in semi-decent season. With a set of distributor catalogs, you can easily handle special orders for your clientele (again, theoretically) - look up the manufacturer, get the numbers, call the sales rep, Bob's yer uncle, the thing they want will be there in a week or so.

 

Payment convenience

You used to be able to order on a net+30 plan (you lost a couple of discount points for that, usually, and if you ever failed to pay on time, you were cash on order forever), but I'm not sure if any of the distributors allow that any more. This gave you some flexibility with your inventory and cash flow management - if you knew you could sell a buttload of the new Tragic:The Gothening release, but only had the cash for half-a-buttload, you could make an order on net+30, get the cards, sell them, then turn around and pay your distributor with the proceeds. 

 

There are other advantages - a retailer needs less warehousing space for new/in print product (OoP stuff, if they handle it, is another matter...), there are some tax advantages (less inventory on hand), it's easier to handle sudden influxes of demand, things like that. 

 

Note that, at least until the near-collapse and major consolidation of the distribution system, it mostly worked, most of the time - and, really, it still does today, for certain values of "mostly" and "most of the time". You might have needed to call around a bit to find a distributor who actually had what you were looking for (my experience is mostly pre-Internet, or at least pre-online ordering systems and secure payment transaction handling), but you could usually find one of them who had it, and could get it to you. You had problems with sales reps who thought they were Big Hondo Sales Dude, looking to sell pallets of Tragic:The Gothening, when what people usually needed was boxes or cases, but that could often be dealt with as well. And you had lazy reps who couldn't be bothered with minor sales, or special orders, or actually checking the inventory - but that is true with most jobs. 

Edited by izzylobo
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It's a stock and time management thing for the store owner. It's easier for the store to deal with a couple distributors rather than setting up and managing accounts with potentially dozens of companies.

 

Edit: Aaand ninjad by people with better detailed explanations.

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Ah... I guess it makes sense.  I mostly order online directly (as a customer) rather than going into shops... but the issue with shops not getting stocks due to distributors was confusing me (since if you don't have the product you can't sell it).

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Ah... I guess it makes sense.  I mostly order online directly (as a customer) rather than going into shops... but the issue with shops not getting stocks due to distributors was confusing me (since if you don't have the product you can't sell it).

 

Well, keep in mind it's rarely "can't get product" usually, it's more "can't get this particular widget" or "can't get this line from this manufacturer" or "can't get this manufacturer". 

 

Also, it's necessary to keep in mind that when the distributor system first sprang up and evolved from, it was much, much more difficult to get information about manufacturers and publishers. There was no Internet, per se (there was USENET, but most retailers didn't have access to it - later there was AOL, etc. but by that point the distribution system was already well-established - and, in fact, heading for its first major crisis (Magic:The Gathering, particularly Fallen Empires)).

 

So information traveled by magazine, trade show (conventions, mostly), and distributor and manufacturer catalogs (some of which, especially on the minis side of things, were pretty impressive pieces of work). In that kind of an environment, some kind of information consolidation was vital* - with out it, stores would have had no way of knowing what was going on outside of the lines of communication they'd already established. 

 

The distribution system absolutely provided a vital (and irreplaceable) service at one point in time, for all that we grumbled about them even then. Today? Less so, but it's still an important part of most retail shops, and manufacturer's, business plans. 

 

*as an example - in the late 80s or early 90s, a few years after Battletech came out, I stumbled across a tiny hole-in-the-wall minis place in Irondequoit - catering mostly to the wargamer market, rather than the RPG market. Which was mostly unimpressive to me (since I was only vaguely interested in modern/WWII etc. minis gaming)... except they also carried some SF stuff - some really early Dirtside stuff, and a line of minis (whose name I don't recall) that was centered around filling gaps in Battletech's minis line - generic stuff like coolant tank trunks, ammo carriers, things like that. Which I wasn't, again, super needing (I was kinda poor at the time, not much into minis anyways, and limited on space - so they were more of a "huh, that's really cool" sort of thing) - but a friend of mine, who was very-very into Battletech, was more than overjoyed to hear about. And neither of us would have known about the line if I hadn't stumbled upon that store. 

Edited by izzylobo
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