Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Zara methodology of leveraging technology.

Zara is a clothing company.

They're owned by Inditex Corporation, and headquartered in a poor area of Northern Spain. They are a few decades old, and are now the number one retailer of clothing in the world.

How is this pertinent to table top war games? Good question. I'll get there.

Zara got to where they are through intelligent application of technology to create an infrastructure that does what the business needs it to do in order to maintain their competitive advantage. They've built this system from the ground up, over decades. They can go from an idea to clothing in a store in less than three weeks. It takes most of their competitors between two and ten months to do the same thing. Most fashion is on the higher end of that range. Most manufacturers have to try to either guess what will be popular in half a year, or make their designs popular through fashion shows around the world. It's not very effective, and definitely not very efficient. Many fashion retailers sell most of their inventory on mark down, or end up writing it off. It eats into what is usually a healthy profit margin that can generate great livings for a lot of people.

Zara is also able to sample customer input from each store, finding out what people would like to buy, often simple changes to already designed and manufactured clothing. Imagine walking into a store and seeing a style that reminds you of something your favorite celebrity wore at an awards show two weeks before. Imagine picking it up, trying it on and thinking "Wow, if this neckline was a little different this would be perfect! As it is, I'll get it anyway, I just wish it could be so..." Imagine walking out of the changing room to pay for the article of clothing and having someone ask you "What did you like about it? What would you like to see different? Tell me about the color, the hemline, the neckline."

That would be a powerful thing.

Imagine you swing back by two weeks later and a very similar article of clothing is on a rack, with the exact neckline you were wishing for the first time.

That would be a VERY powerful thing. That would probably make you a semi regular customer for as long as you can afford the clothing there. These are the types of things that help Zara sell the vast majority of its clothing at full retail price, within days of it hitting their stores.

That's all that you as a customer needs to see. That's what makes Zara such a potent force in the off the rack fashion industry.

There's actually more though.

Do you recall the factory fire in Bangladesh that killed a bunch of people? What about the building collapse that killed a bunch more? Do you recall the news stories about awful working and living conditions that factory workers that make consumer goods deal with every day?

I'm sure you do, they're everywhere. Any line of that last paragraph could be switched to have taken place in any of a couple of dozen nations that western companies contract their manufacturing to. These contract companies cut corners any way they can, often harming the people that work for them as well as the environment around them.

Not Zara. They do most of their manufacturing themselves, in Spain. They then run a world wide transportation infrastructure that allows them to deliver twice a week to every one of their retail stores. Manufacturing in the west is often thought to be too expensive, too difficult, too regulated, too anything else that's bad that a business minded person could think of. The benefits are often looked over. It greatly reduces lead time, increases the ability to make changes in manufacturing, and gives everyone employed the chance to be well taken care of to a standard that we in the west demand for our citizens.

So, my take aways from this so far are:

Their information system is designed to generate actionable customer feedback.
They manufacture in areas and in ways that they know are aligned with their social values.
The shortened lead time allows for rapid changes to products to meet customer demands.

So, why can't this be done with war games?

The more I think about it the more I think:

It can be.

It will be.

People are already stepping in that direction, it can be taken further, especially by a group willing to design it this way from the ground up, like Zara has.

Zara's US site is here:

An article about Wyrd Miniatures, which is using a method that greatly reduces lead time for plastic miniatures is found here:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Collodi Conversion

Collodi is a creation of the original inhabitants of the world of Malifaux. He was designed, as a living doll, to travel around entertaining the children of their realm. With the fall of the world there was no one left to amuse, so he began to create other dolls, and imbue them with the ability to semi-autonomous, though ultimately slaved to his will.

It provided some respite, though was only a bandage for his loneliness, and boredom. Eventually humans arrived in Malifaux, and Collodi excitedly began to entertain them....except they thought him a monster. Driving him away whenever he approached, they turned the joy into hate, and turned him into the monster they thought him to be.

He now travels between towns with his wagon, his dolls, and his sadism. He lets his dolls take center stage, amusing, even delighting the people he comes across. Of course, on his way out of these areas he scoops up children....and the dolls that perform in these towns look much like kids that are missing from neighboring communities.

Even his name has great meaning.... I chuckled when I look it up.

A little sick? Twisted? Strange?

Yes. Welcome to Malifaux!

I LOVE the original sculpt for Collodi. I just happened to love the artwork a bit more. I decided to attempt my first major conversion.

Here he is, cut apart and beaten up!

I wanted to make it taller, in order to give it a more stretched out, angular look. I started out by cutting the original Collodi in half, just under the jacket details of his abdomen. He was then pinned, with piano wire, and the major gap created filled in with a rock hard putty.

Here he is, in his two armed glory!

I slowly bulked out the folds of his robes with rolls of putty. I was using grey stuff at this point, though I've changed brands since. Once that was complete I began to pin the lower parts of his hand, again, spaced out pretty far in order to make him more angular, almost spider like. This was then filled in with smaller rolls of grey stuff, much like the bottom of his robes.

Here he is, waiting for his new hands!

From here I moved on to finishing the last set of arms, making them a bit longer, as he's supposed to be a four armed puppeteer. I wanted his arms to not be in each others' way when he's doing his work...

Eventually he ended up here! I was happy with the way he looked at this point.

Well, I was happy until I saw what he could look like, with pewter Flayed Ones hands, from Games Workshop. A whole lot of online shopping, and an incredibly lucky break, later, I had a set on its way!

Eventually, he ends up looking much like this!

Once I had the hands I was able to get back to work! His original hands were cut off, and smoothed down a bit. His new hands were pinned on with guitar wire (I LOVE that stuff for pinning) with a tiny bit of grey stuff to smooth it down.

I love the way he looks now. At the same time I see all of the things I want to get better at, especially my sculpting.

I have a long way to go, and yet, I LOVED this conversion. Storing him was a bit trickier....

Since I consistently ended up with some extra putty I played around with it, and ended up making something to go along with his base, or terrain.

About the size of my thumbnail.

I'm not sure where the love for this character came from, perhaps it's the power of his story. I have a couple more things for him in the pipeline, I'll be showing one off next weekend!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Blogger and I!

I'm struggling a bit with Blogger. I haven't given myself the time to really learn it, and I'm starting to notice the differences. There are a lot of little things that I need to learn how to do to my blog.

In no particular order:
A new background!
A list of the blogs I follow, listed like in Google Reader is fine with me.
A way to cross index my posts.

Hmm... yeah, okay, that's about all.

I JUST figured out that I could add all of the Blogs I follow to Google Reader, therefor reading, and tracking, them wherever I go with my tablet. Before that I checked all six dozen of them by checking them in Fire Fox... It let me track which ones I'd read, so  if I hadn't fallen behind it wouldn't take long. The problem was that I could ONLY keep up at my desktop at home. It didn't work out so well when I was gone for any reason.... I actually started going through withdrawals on a longer trip I took earlier this year.

Seriously, I missed y'all enough that I was going nuts.

Please don't laugh. It was rough.

Now I know I have the ability to track everything from any workstation, including my Xoom. Functionally this means that anywhere in the world I have Wi Fi access I'm in good, geeky shape!

In the meantime... back to learning about Blogger....and reading Wikis for games.... Hopefully more of the former than the latter....

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A miniatures zombie contest

Morbious, over at Showcase Terrain is running a zombie diorama contest. I love the premise of this, as I do the other one I mentioned today. I like how the two are so different, and are both so effective at helping to create a sense of community within this great group that happens to scattered around the world.

For anyone that might be interested in jumping into a friendly competition to create a zombie miniature diorama (built onto a cd) go here: http://www.showcaseterrain.blogspot.com/p/contest-registration_6123.html

I'm looking forward to this!

Contest by Gunners Wargaming Blog

The original post can be found over on Gunners Wargaming.

I think this is BRILLIANT. I love the spirit of generosity that I SO often find within the wargaming community. This idea will net him new followers AND let him do something cool for another gamer out there.

In the age of internet trolls and jackasses causing trouble everywhere, it's the wargamers as a whole that seem to be holding the line at civil community discourse. For the most part I've found them (especially in the blogosphere) to be incredibly generous with time, support, advice, and encouragement.

This contest, and another that I'm signing up for, really make me excited about blogging, and as a newbie here, I need that!

Work Space and Work Flow

Most of my progress with miniatures this past week was in the realm of my work area. For two years in this house (living with my parents while I go to school, I'm INCREDIBLY grateful to them for the chance) I have tried running my hobby from my computer desk....and from piles all over my room. Eventually I just got swamped, and couldn't even function. After a couple of conversations with my parents (that resulted in their permission to do this!) I took over the art studio area of their basement.

So, I've spent a bit of time digging out the floor of my room (not done yet!) and getting stuff into that new (to me) space.

I have a while to go to get it completely organized... I got to the point that I realized I had a LOT of really cool stuff, and no way to do anything with it. This gives me the chance to do so much more!

The plan is for the extra space, especially in storage capacity, I'll be able to work smoothly enough to actually become productive in hobby terms! It seems to be working pretty well so far. With moving down into the basement still, there's not been as much hands on hobby time as I might like. I see that time as an investment, it's only going to help in the long run.

On the work list, in no particular order, I have:

A Collodi themed supply wagon, built on a 50mm base) for Malifaux. It's used for a specific strategy in the game, and eventually I want supply wagons that are themed for every Master/Henchman that I play.

A 40K Techpriest and Retinue for the Rogue Trader RPG campaign I'm playing in.

GW LoTR evil force. I'd like to hammer an Angmar force out of it, we'll see where this goes.

Orks and Grots. I hope to use these for Gorka Morka!

GW Fantasy Ogres. These will be used for either Mordheim (there are some great community rules for Ogre warbands) or converted into combat servitors for my Techpriest.

GW Fantasy Empire militia box. This should get converted into another warband for Mordheim.

A handful of Skaven stuff, a lot of it older metal figures. Again, this will be for Mordheim.

Mixed manufacturers horror miniatures. These will be for Gothic Horror games. As of now I plan to use them for Chaos in Carpathia.

Mixed Egyptianesque miniatures, mostly from GW. These are going to be used for Chaos in Cairo.

Lead Adventures Miniatures VSF collection, almost complete. Combined with Ramshackle Games Brass Coffin (x2), their gasmask conversion heads, and Wargames Factory British from the Anglo-Zulu Wars, this will be the core of a Steampunk British Force.

Errr.... There's more....like a lot of us in this hobby, I collect and collect....

Yeah.. As so many of us have said, I need to get better about building and painting!

I hope things are going well for you! Thanks for checking it out.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Horde pt 2

I realized, while adding some detail to the models in my zombie horde, that the Wargames Factory model detail really IS incredibly shallow. I don't think it's a bad thing at all. I think it just requires planning to deal with painting.

If dipping, with any of the commercial products or homemade recipes, be sure to thin it to ensure you don't lose detail. Again, I would suggest using rubbing alcohol to thin the mix down to allow it to flow off of raised surfaces. Losing this detail wasn't an issue for me as I expect that horde as a mass is still pretty impressive looking on the table.

If painting be sure to use thin coats! I know people say this ALL the time, it really is true. Don't glob paint all over any model, and it will look better. With these models this is possibly even more critical as you can lose detail so quickly.

You have to be careful even with drybrushing. If you rub your brush across the model the same as you would on a high relief model you could quite easily put your pigment into crevices that you don't want to have color.

If doing LOTS of models, definitely work in batches. This isn't specific to that company's product, it was just reinforced today how helpful I find this to be.