Last week the wargaming world was rocked, by the imminent closing of MiniWargaming do to Games Workshop policy change towards North American retailers online sales. As well the policy changes to stifle the bits market, has raised other eyebrows. A mysterious picture is starting to develop, and what it means for the miniature industry is anyone guess.
What we do know now is a few more things.
A new secret investor (hidden behind a hedge fund) is now the third largest shareholder at GW– behind only Kirby, and the employee pension funds. The Chapterhouse Lawsuit is either going to be settled or head to trial by the end of April 2013. GW is on an epic release schedule, likes of which has never been seen before. Shortages in core units boxes have been occurring for many retailers. GW continues to shift more and more products (like Finecast) to direct only. Then, the annual price increase is coming with the target squarely on certain kits like; Flyers, Terminators, Wraiths, and Bloodcrushers being the most notable.
This all points to something big going on at Games Workshop the most shocking would be a merger/buy out, but my bet is on something a bit smaller.
There is many reasons to believe that GW is soon to reënter the bits game. The most public showing is the change in policy to retailers attempting to sell bits. Under the radar is a few others things that some have noticed. Before we get to that, let us remind everyone that had GW sold bits directly to customers for a long time. At the time it was seen as a cost saving move, especially with the massive amount of multi component kits becoming the norm in the early 2000s.
Quickly though the online bits industry was born. In the meantime Games Workshop reorganized the way they made and produced models, and now they seem poised to jump back in.
The two biggest clues, bits being back on board is the hiring of “procurement specialists” and “component managers” at both the Lenton and Memphis manufacturing/distribution centers. Another tell is the change in policy for damaged and replacement models. Since the bits department was killed off GW had an odd policy of sending full kits to customers even if they were only missing one small bit. The logic was it was cheaper to just send the box than have someone go down and cut it off the production line. Now that is no longer the case, if you call in a damaged product GW will only send the missing piece. More intriguing is before you could expect a replacement kit within a few weeks, now bits are processed and arrive to customers usually with in a week. This all points to faster distribution or a new dedicated staff.
The million dollar question though is when? If the bits policy change is any indication, we can expect GW jumping back into bits sometime after July of this year.
With that, let the speculation robots activate!
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Rumor Has It is rated: mongering for spreading pseudo truthieness through leaks and rumors about Warhammer 40k