Saturday, October 14, 2017

Shout Out for Fast Delivery

I thought I should give a shout out to NorthStar Figures based on a recent order that I placed with them.  This was the second order I've placed with NorthStar since the end of August and both arrived PDQ, the most recent one week after order.

For someone in the wilds of Saskatchewan that's extremely fast turnaround.  Postal delivery on war-games materials is always an issue for Canadians, as we are almost always ordering from overseas and typically from Britain.  Perry Miniatures have always been excellent on trans-Atlantic orders but it looks like North Star are equally strong.

Many of my blog readers are from the UK, so are used to fast and easy delivery, and I suspect that the American readers will also expect this.  Canadian manufacturers are few and far between and don't really offer what I want which means the perils of ordering from abroad.  There are a few basic rules of thumb in this regard.

  • It is not worth considering ordering figures from the US.  Americans just don't get the rest of the world in posting or in anything else.  Shipping charges are astronomical, delivery is so slow that is must be routed via camel train through the Silk Road.  Moreover, they typical pack things in a box that this about 12 sizes larger than what's required (must be overcompensating for something, like their President) meaning the box won't fit my letter box but also that it invariably attracts the revenue man meaning that I get his with duty and sales tax.
  • Among British Manufacturers there are two types - those that deduct VAT for overseas orders and those that don't.  Perry, NorthStar and Front Rank fall into the first category, most others the second.  There is a middle ground of companies that keep the VAT but don't charge shipping over a reasonable level (like Dixon at the 25 quid level).  Basically deducting the VAT  nets out most of the shipping charges. 
  • Regardless of how good the company is on quick turnaround, the shipping time is essentially a crap shoot - or a multi-layered stochastic probability exercise to use the technical term.  It's very much a matter of when it hits the dock vs when the ship leaves the dock vs when and where the ship docks in Canada.
  • Brits have figured out that small is good - I typically get a small box or bubble envelope that fits easily in my mail box.  Getting hit with duty and sales tax is rare, almost unheard of.
  • Ordering books from overseas is just not worth it.  The cost and time involved are huge - much better to get the PDF or E-book.


  1. "Ordering books from overseas is just not worth it. The cost and time involved are huge - much better to get the PDF or E-book."

    Hmm. Just checked my stats - although Canada comes third in my overseas sales, they equal less than half of those going to the US and only two-thirds of those going to Australia(!).

    1. I stand corrected, a frequent pose fir me! I happen to be both cheap and impatient so the personal appeal of e books is strong. I have ordered books from the UK and will likely do do again. Now I should check Diplomatist Books lists again, to see what tempts me.
      Cheers, Peter

  2. We've got a lot at the moment to overcompensate for.

    Best Regards,


    1. True, but it's nice to realize that some of you recognize that!

  3. North Star's postage is always good, in the UK. Never bought Perry's online?

  4. Peter, are you certain the failure of delivery and cost lies solely upon Americans and the USPS? Within the USA, delivery is fast when using Priority Mail; often two days from one coast to the other.

    Shipping across borders seems to have become VERY expensive and it is not only one-way from USA to parts unknown. Having a used boardgame shipped from Canada to the USA often is more than the game itself. I frequently see $25 shipping for one game. UK vendors typically charge 30-40% or order value for shipping. That gets expensive too.

    Let me tell you a story about one of my experiences from the Canadian Post. I sent a fellow blogger a single 54mm figure from the USA to Canada (he lives near Toronto). The package could be tracked its entire journey which makes the story that much more interesting. It departed Spokane, WA and landed in Vancouver, B.C. in a day. From there, it took the long way to Toronto with a side trip to Tokyo, Japan before returning to Vancouver. Yes, Tokyo, Japan! It did finally arrive at its intended destination but what a long journey it was.

    "Multi-layered stochastic probability?" Now, that sounds like an interesting topic and one ripe for exploration and incorporation into game theory. Reminds me of a story about designing a volley mechanism based on a poisson process. My mathy friends loved it.

    1. Jonathon
      I only see this end of the delivery, but Canada Post is expensive for domestic delivery too. I don't blame the USPS, I blame the retailers who ship the goods. The premium for crossing the border on gaming goods is enough that some people rent a box on the US side to take advantage of your fast fines tic delivery. Even big box gaming outlets gouge on postage and bend over backwards to attract the tax mans attention. They just don't seem to get the message that it would be in their best interests to have cheap and efficient postage Northwards.

      Now L L Bean, can ship me stuff lighting fast at reasonable cost and with any duty and taxes paid up front. When the loonie is strong, it's often cheaper to order from Bean than from in Canada.

      We've all had horror stories on Canada Post tracking routes!

  5. I haven't ordered from North Star in a long time, but totally agree with the Perry's. I've gotten my order in a week sometimes - all the way to WA State.

    1. Perry faster, cheaper and nicer figures. Too bad that they don't do SYW!