Monday, November 12, 2012

Maelstrom Games - Mercy Killing?

So Maelstrom Games finally bit the bullet on Friday night our time.

What was interesting was the manner of its demise. Wayland Games called the debt that they had purchased from Simple, one of Maelstrom’s suppliers, and unable to repay the debt Maelstrom went into liquidation.

Some see the move by Wayland as cynical, others buy Wayland’s line that they were protecting the UK supply chain. The truth is probably somewhere in between.

What is not in doubt is that like Ol’ Yella, Maelstrom needed to be taken behind the barn and have a bullet put in its brain.

The last few weeks appear to be nothing but a less than elaborate Ponzi scheme whereby the principals of Maelstrom Games kept the business going long enough to shift as many assets into other companies, notably Eye of the Storm and Mierce Miniatures. While the legality of those transactions are likely to be tested, the ethics don’t look good. There are scores of UK/EU games out of pocket on advance orders of Games Workshop “Dark Vengeance” box sets.

I will be surprised if Rob Lane’s phoenix companies can rise from the ashes without encountering at least some resentment. There has been a resounding silence from the high profile wargaming media on this subject which is disappointing since sunlight is the best disinfectant in these cases.

Interesting customers have been most critical of Maelstrom’s lack of communication and answers to enquiries and complaints. Their modus operandi seems to be to just ignore communications. I have seen this before in my dealings with Maelstrom.

In 2010 I contacted Maelstrom seeking their support in regards to the Fields of Blood Warhammer 40k GT. This was at the time when New Zealand and Australia wargamers purchased large quantities of Games Workshop product from MG. About three months before the event I presented a proposal to Maelstrom which they agreed to. This involved a discount voucher for all participants and store credit as prize support. Six weeks out from the event I went back to them to firm up the details and was met by a wall of silence. Over the time up to the event I sent weekly emails to Gary Moore – their Events Manager – and received no replies. Finally the week before I rang Maelstrom indicating why I was calling and was put on hold, never to be picked up.

This episode cost me (and the participants) sponsorship of the event. As I had agreed with Maelstrom to sponsor the event I could not ethically sign other sponsors. Maelstrom were under no obligation to sponsor the event but I do think they had an obligation to be straight with me. Budgets etc had been formulated based on their support, after they had agreed three months out.

So, given my experience, I’m not surprised with their subsequent “problems”. I minimised my involvement with them after this shifting 90% of my GW purchasing elsewhere in UK (pre-embargo) and really only spent money on Bane Legions models post the GW restrictions.

Over the years I spent around GBP4,500 with them. In the early years they were great – fast and responsive. Once they got larger I think they took their eyes off the ball and customer service suffered.

Personally I think it will be a long way back.


  1. A strong drive to always be "positive" and avoid confrontation and/or controversy by the mainstream wargaming media will keep it out, permanently.

    In a huge push to never offend anyone so as to not adversely impact their ratings, they ensure they provide a watered down level of reporting at all times.

    The fact is, sometimes you can be completely impartial in giving a negative review of a situation so long as you're sticking to facts and keeping opinion out of it, and that's okay.

  2. I've read on several forums and blogs about the demise of MG. The one thing that (almost) all of them fail to mention is that for Wayland to be able to call the debt, MG must have made a failure to meet the (previous) agreed terms. If Simple were being paid the 500 squid a day as per agreement with MG, it would not have come this far. The rumours are they defaulted on this early October.
    The numbers are staggering still. 100k debt with simple, up to another 400k spread among other distributors. Wayland most probably purchased the 100k debt for half of that to secure banelegions and possibly eye of the storm gaming centre. I know little of UK law, but in NZ, the (obvious) transfer of assets from a company that was trading whilst insolvent is illegal. In NZ you also have to pay a fair and marketable value for these assets, so you cant just pass them off to another company for $1.
    Interesting times...

  3. Maelstrom are a bunch of dishonest thieving crooks. I'll never have anything to do with any of them. Rob Lane should be hauled before a judge for how he's behaved. Disgraceful.

  4. A statement from simple miniatures

    Pretty much tells you everything. Malestrom Games was trading insolvently for 12 months +. Started shifting assets out of the dead duck. SM called them on it. Explored debt recovery options. Chose WG.

  5. Out of curiousity - did Wayland Games ever deliver on their promise to bring cheaper GW product to the antipodes?

    I'm a busy camper atm - haven't had time to check myself.

    1. There is rumour they are planning on opening a store/warehouse in the states, followed by one in Australia...

  6. @Philfy - no Phil, never happened. Good to hear you are still alive - any update on my Phoenix Guard and Chariot?