Author Topic: My experience ordering Chronopia from Prince August  (Read 14436 times)

Offline Daargrim

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My experience ordering Chronopia from Prince August
« on: July 01, 2010, 11:27:02 AM »
First off I would just like to say that I am not posting this to slam Prince August.  As you will read I have generally been very happy with their communication and customer service.  However I want to share my experience so others can better judge if they want to spend their money on Chronopia from Prince August.

I have made 3 orders from Prince August over the last 3 years or so.  One order probably 3 years ago, another roughly 2 years ago, and my biggest order by far was just a couple months ago during their 30% off sale. 

I first experienced issues with my second order.  Included in that order were several blisters of Wolf Legion warriors, and also a Goblin Myrmidon boxed set.  I was disappointed to see that many of those pieces had what I can only describe as grey "crud" covering portions of the model.  I did some research online and the only thing I could find was the condition referred to as "lead rot".  I had not heard of that condition at that point.  Also, my figures didn't fit the description 100%.  Plus I didn't think these figures were made of lead anyway, so I was't sure if they could even have "lead rot".  Below are some pictures:





I contacted Prince August and had an e-mail conversation with Michael O'Brien.  He agreed to simply send replacements without me having to even sent the affected models back. I should note that I am in the US so clearly the shipping was not cheap for them to send replacements.  If I remember correctly, the new Myrmidon was also affected, but to a much lesser degree. The new Wolf warriors were of acceptable quality. At that point I was happy with the service, and I figured that between the two boxed sets I probably had one usable myrmidon, so I considered this order satisfactory.

Fast forward to this past spring.  With the 30% off sale, two friends and I decided to put in a huge order to basically round out our collections.  This order was over $500 and the shipping alone was near $100.  But it was a lot of minis at 30% off so we were pretty excited.  When the order arrived, it was a mess.  Nearly all the boxed sets had this issue that I described above, along with probably 10 of the blister packs.  Cost-wise, this was about half of our order.  While some of these blisters/boxes had severe issues, some of these boxes and models were only affected slightly.  But, I was worried that this would be a condition that spread.  I was very bummed out at this point.

What ensured was another long, but very professional, e-mail conversation with Prince August (again, it was Michael O'Brien).  Ultimately it was decided that I would return the items for a potential exchange or refund.  Once they got back to PA, Michael suggested a refund.  In his words:

Quote from: Michael O'Brien @ PA
most have no real corrosion that could not be removed with a few scrapes of a scalpel blade. Due to the nature of the age of our Warzone and Chronopia miniatures (some age and wear is expected) I have decided to refund you the value of the items you returned as I believe you are not happy with the quality of our Target Games stock overall and any we send you as replacements may fall short of those expectations

and further in the conversation:

Quote from: Michael O'Brien @ PA
I am sorry that you found the blemishes on the surface to be enough to return the items, it seems that most of these blemishes could have been salvaged with a small amount of cleaning or scraping and any parts unsalvageable (more than surface covering) could have been removed from the boxes and sent back separately for replacement, but I understand that you were worried about their shelf-life in your collection and wanted flawless miniatures.

Now I appreciated the refund (which included return shipping, plus the initial cost to ship the items in the first place!), but I think he was a little optimistic that a fix would be easy.  Even if it was easy, filing down all those figures would take forever.  My response:

Quote from: Daargrim
As far as removing the corrosion/rot/excess (or whatever it was), I have a couple of comments.  First of all, some of the blister/boxes/figures were terribly coated.  Cleaning them off with file or blade would have taken forever for that many figures (hundreds).  For example, I recall the Sons of Kronos chariot was particularly bad, to the point of being discolored.  Secondly, any area with fine detail would have been ruined by the process.  There were many figures that fell into that category.  I do know there were some figures that only had slight issues...but to me, any issue was a problem as this was not your normal "flashing" that is typically seen.

Bottom line, in the end, PA did refund me what I thought was a fair amount.  (This even included an amount that we disagreed on regarding the shipping price, and we negotiated to a middle ground that I thought was very fair).  All through the experience they were helpful and quick to respond.  (I should also mention that in the original shipment one blister was out of stock, and they had issued me a credit.  I immediately emailed them an alternate blister that I would take in its place and they shipped it to me no questions, not charging me shipping). 

But ultimately I think there is an issue with at least some of their chronopia stock.  While it certainly isn't "most" of their stock, it must be a significant percentage.  My issue wasn't isolated to just a few particular model numbers, it was across many different blisters and boxed sets, over about a 2 year timeframe..although I would have to say that it appears to impact boxed sets more than blister packs.  It's entirely possible that, prior to acquisition, the stock may have been stored in less-than-idea conditions and that the issue was not caused by anything that PA did directly.

In closing, I don't think I will order from them again.  I just don't trust that I will get acceptable quality figures.

Interestingly, one of the final tings Michael mentioned in our email exchanges:

Quote from: Michael O'Brien @ PA
There is nothing I can do about the problems we have with Chronopia, but I have asked [my boss] to consider discontinuing the range later this Summer completely and concentrate on Warzone when we build a new website, as Warzone miniatures seems mysteriously free of most of these metal problems.

I hope this info is helpful for those of you looking to add more Chronopia miniatures to your collection.

Offline joshuaslater

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Re: My experience ordering Chronopia from Prince August
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2010, 01:14:03 PM »
I've been lucky with PA, but it's mostly been Warzone.

Helpful post.  Thanks.
May the Dark Lords of Lead-Free Pewter smile kindly upon you.

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Offline Delthos

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Re: My experience ordering Chronopia from Prince August
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2010, 01:17:09 PM »
I recently made two large Chronopia orders, about $400 dollars worth in total. Definitely more than 100 miniatures. I got a mixture of many things, mostly Firstborn, Devout, and Sons of Kronos, with a smattering of Stygian and Elf items. Of those I only had two blisters of Cursed that looked like they could have a slight "lead rot" problem, and not all 8 of them had the problem. I'm not 100% certain it is lead rot, it may be from the casting process and the molds/metal not being hot enough as it is affecting them all in the same place on the miniatures. In any case I was able to file it off without problems. This was most evident on their tabbard with the devout symbol. I suspect that it may wind up getting filed off as the detail is fairly delicate and fine as it is. This was mostly blisters, but I did order a few boxed sets as well. I haven't opened the Sons of Kronos Chariot though, so I'm going to do that tonight. The other boxed sets I orderd didn't have any problems.

True lead rot will look like a grayish white rust that looks flakey and bubbly with a rough surface. It will usually expand and be larger than the original area it has corroded. It is not brown colored like a lot of the models I have are, the brown is caused by the metal being too hot when its cast. Lead rot is caused by acid in the air reacting with the lead/metal and causing corrosion. It happens when the lead item is stored in enclosed areas without good ventilation, i.e. Target games miniature boxes sealed in plastic. Once it starts it is self sustaining as the corrosion process gives off acid which causes more corrosion. This is a big problem with a lot of old TSR miniatures. In particular their Star Frontiers figures and spaceships. They came in boxes and almost everyone I hear from who has bought them from old stock, have had lead rot problems. Lead rot isn't contagious, persay, you don't have to worry about it infecting your other miniatures as long as they aren't stored together in an enclosed unventilated area. If you are really worried, and want to save what you can, I'd clean the existing corrosion off with a file and wire brush. Wash them in soapy water and let them dry. Soak them in isopropyl alchohol (the purer the better) for a couple days to expell any water and acid from them, let them dry again for a couple days, then give them a coat of primer. Paint them as soon as possible, then give a good sealer coat. Then store them in some place that is not enclosed, like on a shelf, not in a closed storage case. This should help avoid the problem.

I read a good article on it and why it happens from an article about the Navy Department's ship model collection. They had a problem with it damaging their ship models with lead parts. They store them in glass and wood display cabinets that were sealed. They found that they had to cut two fairly large holes in the cases so that natural air movement would ventilate the cases enough to reduce the problem.

http://www.dt.navy.mil/cnsm/lead_01.html

I'm pretty sure that if you get stuff which was cast up closer to the demised of Target this will be less of a problem. Also if you stick with blistered items, you will have a lower incidence of it as air can breath through the cardboard easier in the blister packs than it can in the sealed in plastic boxed sets. I wonder if they used different metal formulas in the Chronopia line? Stuff with a higher lead content would be more prone to the problem. I heard that they had more than one foundry, perhaps they used different metal formulas in the different factories and this is why its a problem. I know some of the really old stuff is lead. All of the Risen Swordsmen and lots of the Sons of Kronos figs I have are lead.

That being said I'm sad to hear that they may be dropping the Chronopia line, I may need to place my last order sooner than later. I need to get a few Sons of Kronos models I missed in my earlier orders, a couple units of Dwarves, and a Stygian arny! I have faith that another order will not have problems. Maybe they'll have one last big blow out sale before they drop it, if they do.

Offline Daargrim

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Re: My experience ordering Chronopia from Prince August
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2010, 01:55:20 PM »
Good info delthos.  I was pretty sure it wasn't lead rot, and now I'm even more sure.  Regardless, for a lot of the figures the problem was so widespread that it was just unacceptable quality.  Others may disagree..especially if they get some figures that aren't quite as bad.  Good luck to anyone ordering.

Offline MassDistortion

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Re: My experience ordering Chronopia from Prince August
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2010, 03:05:43 PM »
Thanks for the info... Some friends and I recently ordered $300 worth of Chronopia minis. I'll be sure to share our results too.

Offline Delthos

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Re: My experience ordering Chronopia from Prince August
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2010, 05:29:49 PM »
Daargrim, I couldn't look at your pictures earlier, photobucket is blocked at my work. Now that I'm home I can see them. That is definitely lead rot. I suspect that Target used a lead alloy. This really doesn't happen with the alloys used in modern miniatures. Its especially noticeable on that spear tip and spearshaft, its so bad that their is a hole in the tip there. If the others were worse than this, it was probably for the best that they were returned. This isn't a case of being overly picky. These are bad, although this one is still salvageable, although the spear is probably a little too far gone. You could go with a piece of brass rod and sculpt your own tip with some plastic card and green stuff or just some brown stuff.

I really suggest that if you plan to keep and try to use them, clean all of it off and do what I recommended earlier. If you want to repair the really bad spots with some green stuff I think it would be ok, but I'm not sure. Just do it after you clean all the corroded metal off and did the soapy water wash and alcohol soak.

I just opened my Sons of Kronos Scythed Chariot and it's got early stage lead rot. This fig is a really old lead fig though, its not the newer pewter alloy. It's not bad, although there are some finer details that may get wiped out when I clean it. I suspect the foam that they packaged them in has a high acid content. The reason I say that is because the places with the worst incidence of lead rot is right where the foam was pressed against the miniatures. It honestly looks a little bit like mold on mine as it has a slight yellowish/green color. This is nothing like what was on my Cursed figs though. The chariot is definitely salvageable, most of it is on large flat or smooth areas which will file down easily enough. Give it another year in the box though and I suspect it would be really bad.

The Stygian Sisters of Tiamat, which is also all lead except for the resin part, has absolutely no rot on it. I'm planning to take some other pictures later tonight. I'll post pictures of the rot that is on my chariot.

Offline Daargrim

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Re: My experience ordering Chronopia from Prince August
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2010, 05:45:22 PM »
Huh, interesting...I guess I wasn't off my rocker when I thought it was lead rot.  The others for the most part were not worse than these.  and some were pretty mild (a tip of a spear, the outside of the knee, etc etc).  But I sent them all back including the Iron Guard above.  So I won't be going through your repair suggestions.

Your theory about the foam is interesting.  Of all the boxed sets we ordered this spring (probably about 30), only 3 showed no sign of this.  And those were the only 3 boxes where the minis came in a plastic baggie inside the box. So they were not touching the foam.

Your description of the SOK chariot sounds similar to what mine was like, except I think my damage was more widespread.

Well, I'm sorry to hear that you found this condition on some of your minis, but I also feel good that I'm not "crying wolf" on Prince August since I'm not the only one.

Offline Delthos

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Re: My experience ordering Chronopia from Prince August
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2010, 05:57:56 PM »
Now that you mention it, I think the Sisters of Tiamat pieces were in a plastic bag. I think its about time I got those parts out of the box and assembled it and cleaned it up, before it sets in.

Offline Von Koss

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Re: My experience ordering Chronopia from Prince August
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2010, 06:29:18 AM »
Uh-Oh

*runs in panic to check unopened Chronopia boxes*
Total models painted for the year 2011: 14

<The Goal: exceed 534 painted models in one year>
*End Date: Dec. 25th 2011*
2010- 294 (fail)

Offline Delthos

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Re: My experience ordering Chronopia from Prince August
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2010, 09:07:11 PM »
So, sorry I didn't get this done sooner. This weekend being the 4th and all I was pretty busy. Anyway here are the pictures I took of my SoK Scythed Chariot.

First, the piece that has it the most, one of the Horses. You can see the slight yellowish/green color of the rot. This is the worst of it and it is very thin and will be easy to repair, if I had bought it for the horses that is. I'm actually only going to use the chariot itself and the driver in a conversion for a Warriors of Chaos Chariot, so I'm not too worried about the horses. I'll probably clean them up and use them on a terrain piece or something.



Which brings us to the wheels. This is probably the second worst piece.



Then here are a bunch of different parts. You can see it on the back edge of the seat, the javelin quiver, the tips of the scythe blades, and just ever so slightly on the side panels. All in all not bad.



I just thought I should have taken some pictures of the Cursed to show what I was talking about on them, but alas it is too late. So we'll see maybe in a future update.

Offline MassDistortion

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Re: My experience ordering Chronopia from Prince August
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2010, 07:54:21 AM »
Alright so our fairly large order just arrived and we saw almost no rot. A very minor amount appeared on 2 keepers and a few elf axemen. These look like they'll wash off with some soap and water.  That's pretty good out of the 51 units/packs we ordered. Shipment was quick! They left Ireland on july 1st and arrived (Canada) on the 6th. Overall we have no complaints other than receiving a brotherhood mortificator instead of a mishiman toshiro and missing a lotus eater with a hand written note that the credit will appear on our next order... we weren't planning on ordering again though.

Offline Delthos

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Re: My experience ordering Chronopia from Prince August
« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2010, 12:37:08 PM »
MassDistortion,

I'm trying to get an idea for which items are worse. Those items that had some lead rot, were they boxed set items or were they blistered items? I'm like you in that only one boxed item (SoK Scythed Charior) had what I'd call actual lead rot. Two blisters (8 Cursed miniatures) have something that looks more like poor casting rather than lead rot. Perhaps we could make a list of the items that have had lead rot, and this way people would know what items are more likely to have problems. They can then order at their own risk.

Offline MassDistortion

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Re: My experience ordering Chronopia from Prince August
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2010, 02:41:48 PM »
Here is what we purchased. Items in Bold had some sort of potential lead rot.

Quote
Chris
-----
2x obsidian guard // 1x adamantite golem // 1x warkiller

James
------
1x great warrior // 1x 4 starved // 1x 4 swordsmen // 2x 2 spearman
1x guardian // 1x embalmed // 1x 4 axemen

Archie
-------
1x Elven Axemen Boxset
1x Spearmen Boxset
1x Flying Dragonbane // 1x Warkiller // 1x Adamantite Golem // 1x Obsidian Guard
1x Warrior of the Golden Mask // 2x Lotus Eater // 1x Warrior of the Sun
1x Keeper of the Flame Leader // 1x 4 Swordsmen // 2x 4 Militia
1x Dragon Clan Slaves // 5x Elf Archer Leader // 1x Swordsman Leader
1x Militia Leader // 1x Black Sister Leader // 1x Greatswordsman

Mike
-----   
2x Blood Totem + Keeper
2x Vulture Mallet Warriors - only 1 figure affected
1x Soulflayer
1x Axe-horn Warriors // 1x Warshields // 1x Crossbowmen // 1x Dark-Tusk Hero       
1x Hornskull Champion // 3x Firethrower Team // 1x Horned Ones Spearmen // 1x Warzone Mishima Toshiro



I've taken some pics of the degree of "rot" we have. It isn't severe but best of all, I've found a way to remove it very easily without destroying detail. To do this, I use Dremel with a Carbon Steel Brush tip. It's quick and easy to do. Wear protective goggles though  ;)



Totem. Not sure if this some sort of rot but I noticed the discolouration on both Totems I purchased and in different areas.



Here are the 2 keepers. One of them I started cleaning at work. You can see the difference it makes on the belly. I haven't lost any detail yet and the mini looks shiny and new :P



Here is one of my Vulture Mallet Warriors. The odd thing is that the mini looks cracked right down the middle of it.






I was like a kid on christmas! It's been 10 years since I've opened a blister pack :P




Hope this helps! :)

Offline Delthos

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Re: My experience ordering Chronopia from Prince August
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2010, 05:41:40 PM »
That crack isn't from the lead rot, that's from metal cooling at different rates causing the metal to shrink at different rates and actually pulling itself apart. I wouldn't worry about the discoloration on the resin. That's likely just from something that got into the resin when it was cast. It's not uncommon for odd color variances in resin, especially with this hard resin they used. It's just part of the process. It could be part of the resin that wasn't completely mixed. It could have been some marker that was on the mold. Anything really, but its not a problem. What you've shown is about what my Chariot has.

Offline Delthos

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Re: My experience ordering Chronopia from Prince August
« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2010, 11:09:45 AM »
I was looking through some very old emails today and I came across the following potential fix for the lead rot. You could try it. I'm going to try it on one of the pieces I don't plan on using tonight and see how it works. I'll let you know for sure.

Quote
You could try the old silver cleaning trick. Fill a pan or heat proof
bowl with water, it must be non-aluminum. Put aluminum foil in the
bottom, heat, and add baking soda till no more soda dissolves.

Drop in your lead mini, and the Aluminum should reduce it back to the
metal, and pull off the oxidation. This works great on tarnished
silver too, and is INSTANEOUS.

AL is a very strong reducing agent, the problem is it protected by a
oxide coating. Slightly basic conditions counteract this, and allow
the aluminum to reduce other metals.