In 2011 we purchased a laser cutting machine, for hobby use mainly. About six months later we decided to laser cut some items to see if there was a market for them. On placing them on an auction website they seemed to be quite popular, so week by week we added more products. Sales went from strength to strength, to the extent that by September 2012 it was clear that producing these items was a viable business opportunity. Michaela was given the option of taking voluntary redundancy from her role at the Local Authority, and in the current climate it was on the cards that redundancy was going to happen no matter what, so in December 2012 Michaela finished her part time role. Jon had previously been made redundant from his position in the July, so we decided that it was time to take the plunge into starting our own business. Plans were for the business to run from our home, but it expanded that fast that we have moved premises twice in the past 3 years. Our eldest son Liam played a key role in helping us get the business off the ground, running the machine /'s and even doing a good portion of the designs.
Alongside the product range we have for sale, we also offer services in casting, moulding, vacuum forming and prop building. In our workshop as well as the standard array of metal and woodworking machines and hand tools we have a lathe, milling machine, plotters, engravers and a small 3D printer. Our main raw materials at the moment are mdf, plywood and acrylic but we do produce products in any material requested, if we haven’t got the facilities in house we work closely with small local companies that work to our exacting standards who can.
We also provide a bespoke service, where customers can bring their ideas to us, and we can help them through the design process to a finished end product.
Our aim is to supply our customers with affordable products of high quality. Our products are created, designed and crafted in house where ever possible.
Moving into the gaming market was purely a coincidence. As at the time neither of us played any sort of game other than the odd game of Star Wars Trivial Pursuit. (We consider ourselves as geeks as we were members of the 501st UK Garrison for a number of years and help raise money for their nominated charities.) A friend of ours through The Steampunk Community (The Rodent Mastermind or Ratty) asked if we'd do him a custom set of templates for X-Wing and said we could have the designs afterwards and it's been a whirlwind ever since. Ratty has been a rock for us and has helped us out a lot with his knowledge of games and the gaming community and we can't thank him enough.
We've been overwhelmed at the support from the community in general but especially from the X-Wing community. Not wanting to sound cheesy but it really does make you feel good when you can put names to faces and complete strangers come up to you with some amazing ideas.
A couple of customers have even designed things and given them to us without the want of any reward and that restores your faith in humanity especially in this day and age. Dave over at https://splayedpaintbrush.com/ has designed the small movement widget and for the player and kick templates for our "Guild Ball" compatible range. Another customer Rick has done some amazing artwork for us for templates and trays with images of Rey, Boba Fett, R2 and BB8 and a few more as well.
Our ranges are expanding slowly. We get so many requests for so many different things it's difficult to decide what to do next but we try to listen to the majority when deciding.
All our products on the website are supplied with an option of being unpainted or painted with a protective covering front and back. The front covering acts like a mask whilst they're being painted, which is really easy to do. We use Vallejo or Citadel acrylic paints and a small brush to apply the paint to make sure it gets into all the fine detail. When it's dry peel off the covering and a quick wipe over with a baby wipe and job done.