Finding a new owner for my AB Napoleonic army has proved far more complicated and disappointing that I ever imagined it would be.
I have not attempted to sell any figures for more than 20 years, and even then it had proved to be a complicated and time consuming operation. At that time I was upgrading my 25mm and 15mm armies to 28mm and 18mm. The aim was to replace a large collection of mostly Miniature Figurines with Front Rank and AB.
The intention was to sell the older figures in national lots and then replace them with the new figures with the cash received from the sale. There was no rush to sell or replace, as my main interest then was painting the new figures. And this would obviously take weeks and months.
I remember that there was a lot of research to discover the best way to sell the old figures. In the end I opted for EBay, which involved higher fees but which also offered the widest choice of buyers. I lived in the UK at the time, and using EBay and PayPal was simple and straight forward.
It took me years to complete the sale and replacement of the two scales, but it also provided a cost free period of painting up all the new and shiny figures. It was a very satisfying and enjoyable exercise.
So when I decided last year that the time had arrived to find a new home for my much loved, but unused, AB army I was well aware of the problems. I had put the whole thing off for years, because I was sure it would not be an easy task. But the option is to leave them on the shelves in the wargames room gathering dust.
The first task was to find out how much I should ask for them. Having completed the sale of my Minifigs I lost interest in the whole buying and selling of second hand figures. I had not used EBay since then, and had not the slightest idea what my collection might be worth. I got quite a bit of feedback, and the general advice was double the cost of a new figure would be reasonable. The current price of AB foot is £0.80 and mounted £1.55. Much more expensive than I had realised, and asking £1.50 and £3.00 for painted figures seemed to me to be asking quite a lot.
The whole collection consists of 210 mounted and 1320 foot figures, plus a collection of vehicles. Not to mention an extensive collection of European and Spanish buildings, mostly scratch built. It soon became apparent that I was not going to be able to sell them as one lot. The obvious answer was to break them down to national groups. For example see the photo of the Anglo-Portguese army above. However even this would cost £320 or 530 euro.
Next came the price of postage. I now live in Spain and am well aware of the stories of post going missing. So I wanted to be able to offer full insurance on any post sent. I was surprised, and not a little disappointed, to discover than it is not possible to insure packages sent through the national postal service. There is a tracing system, but it is not possible to insure against loss. My grasp of the Spanish language leaves a lot to be desired, and I did not relish the prospect of trying to trace a lost package with the local post office who do not speak any English at all. Fortunately there are private courier services, and one has an office about half an hour drive from where I now live. However the cost is not cheap. Normal post to UK or EU would be £22. Courier to EU would be £36 or to UK £60. USA or Australia would be out of the question.
It took many weeks of research to come to the above conclusions. But now came the most difficult part. Where to offer them for sale.
During my research a lot of very helpful people suggested online options. All suggested not using EBay, largely due to expensive fees. Most recommended Facebook sites which offered a free option to sell. Towards the end of last year I put the the first post, complete with a good selection of photographs. I got a lot of “likes”, but no buyers or even offers.
I now decided that I would have to try the dreaded EBay. This would allow me to quickly adjust the asking price until I got to the level that folk were actually willing to pay. I would not have to accept low offers, and I would quickly be able to get a feel for the actual market.
I went online and selected EBay. I was confronted with EBay ES, which is the Spanish EBay. Not really surprising, as I live in Spain. But the immediate problem was it was in Spanish and I immediately realised that any prospective buyers would also be Spanish speaking. This was not going to work.
I suspect that the main market for second hand model soldiers is UK, USA or Australia. Postage excluded USA and Australia. But EBay UK would put me in touch with UK buyers, and also possibly Amercian and Australian. Perhaps the cost of postage was acceptable to them? But most important all prospective buyers would be English speaking. As I have a UK address and bank account it was possible to open an account with EBay UK. Not easy, but at least possible.
Next came method of payment. Previously I had used PayPal, and always found it efficient and safe. It was obvious that this was also the main method of payment on EBay. I already have a PayPal link to my Spanish bank account. I contacted PayPal and was assured that it was possible to transfer to my UK bank account. The mechanics of changing the bank account was simple, and I soon received an email confirming that two payment had been made to my UK bank, and I only had to confirm that they had appeared in my account to complete the transfer. However when I tried to confirm the payments on the PayPal site £0.05 turned to 0.05 euro, and showed as an error. When I contacted PayPal they confirmed that as I lived in Spain I could not change my bank account to UK!
So after about four months I appear to be back to square one.
I am sorely tempted to abandon the whole project.
But if I do, each time I pass the AB figures on the shelf in the wargames room I will feel guilty.