An Update: Back from the Copperfox Factory in China

I’ve just returned from a whirlwind trip to China. I’m still unsure of what timezone I’m actually in, so please forgive any typos and spelling mistakes, but I wanted to give you all an update and to let you know what is happening.

The short answer is as a result of my trip, all models will be delayed and will not be available in November as originally planned. I know, this news is disappointing but we wouldn’t take this extreme decision without a good reason. This delay is due to certain runs of models having a fault in the plastic and having to be failed. Failed models are being reproduced. The new estimate for the models arriving into the UK is late January 2018.

Day One: Models ready for inspecting

I went to China to visit the Copperfox factory to inspect Cadbury, Prince Cavalier, Gibson and Jasper. All of the upcoming models had been produced, in all finishes, and I was there to check them all and pack them. I was prepared; I had all the labels for the boxes, pens for scribbling down numbers and my iPod loaded with hours worth of tunes to keep me working late into the night. By now though, we should know that things are never that simple and it was no different with this trip, in that it didn’t go quite to plan. At all.

It was a trip with multiple “unforeseen circumstances”, with a new one appearing from around the corner each day like a mischievous little gremlin. Things that you can never plan for as they are so rare and they are so far fetched. At one point, it was like I was in a spy novel!

My original intention was to post pictures and videos during my trip but that was scuppered by the Chinese Government. Social and visual networks like Whatsapp, Instagram etc have been blocked whilst there is a government reshuffle. Their aim is to censor and restrict online commentary during the transition. Facebook and Twitter is also banned in China, even the search engine Google is blocked. To read more about this censorship, the BBC have a really good article which helps to explain the situation more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-41523073. As I said, an unexpected setback and one I dared not comment on whilst I was still in the country!!

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When it came to checking models, that was a mixture of emotions. All the models were there, ready and waiting, expecting to be packed into their foam lined boxed and it was so sad not to be able to pack all of them, with many being unable to ever make the trip to the UK.

All of the Welsh models had multiple faults in the surface of the plastic, meaning that all models had been painted with the fault visible in the plastic. The faults were not seam lines, which are a natural part of model horse production, they were additional. The theory is that the faults were caused by escaping air in the mould tool. This meant I had to make the horrible decision to fail the whole runs of Gibson and Prince Cavalier models, all 600 of them. The quality of paintwork on these models was outstanding, it’s just the plastic wasn’t as it should be and for a model to pass our inspection, it needs to tick both the good plastic and good paintwork box. It’s so heartbreaking to say no to that many models, especially after the amount of hours put into them but at the end of the day, if it’s not up to our standards, then it doesn’t leave the factory.

I’ve already heard news from the factory this morning that Gibson and Prince Cavalier are starting to be reproduced. To give them credit, the factory have acknowledged that it’s something that should have been picked up and are helping to solve the issue. The fault in the plastic is rectifiable and any models showing these signs will not make it through to painting. It will take around 4 weeks to complete the 600 models from start to finish, so by the beginning of December, they will be ready for their final inspection and sign off.

In better news, the Sports Horses were wonderful, with the Cadburys looking almost edible. The colouring was just like his name- absolutely yummy! Jasper looked gorgeous too, with the run having some variations from buttery yellow buckskins, to darker mustard coloured ones. I did manage to bring a few back with me so I’ll post pictures of them all for you to see.

All of the Sports Horses passed my checks, with the matt models being packed safely; the glossies are still drying. As I requested double gloss this time on the glossy versions of Cadbury and Jasper, it has meant that the drying time has also doubled, to ensure every layer is completely dry before being boxed. Even though the top few layers of paint is dry, the multiple layers underneath need time to cure and set hard before boxing. Painting model horses is quite a complex undertaking!!

So what happens now? We’ve had to rejig our plans slightly with new timings but we’re still on track. All the models will still be available to pre-order soon, as originally planned, with a updated delivery date in January 2018. The original plan was to have them here in time for Christmas but in all honesty it would mean pushing the factory to a tight deadline which we never like to do. It’s also the most expensive time for shipping too. Air freight was an option but the quotes we’ve been getting in to ship via this method was just astronomical (£15,000/$19,000 just to ship them. Insert a jaw dropping moment here!).

This means we will be shipping the completed models via sea, in our own container, towards the end of December. This ensures that the reproduced Gibson and Prince Cavalier models are complete and all models have had a long drying time, especially those very shiny ponies, who are extremely shiny indeed!! The ETA of the models into our warehouse would be at the end of January 2018.

We have set a day and a time for the pre-order: the 2nd December 2017 at 6pm (London Time). This date and timing will hopefully give, as much as we can, everyone an equal chance in being able to add one of these limited models to their collections. Remember that each model Cadbury, Jasper, Prince Cavalier and Gibson, is limited to just 150 pieces in each finish! It also means that if you want to put one of these special models onto your Christmas wishlist then it’s possible. Your Christmas will be slightly longer than everyone else’s, in that a Christmas present will arrive in January. It’s a bit like being the Queen and having two birthdays!

I’m a half glass full person and the trip actually ended quite positive, albeit with some unexpected gremlins thrown into the mix! I caught a problem that could have turned into something quite catastrophic and devastating. Just another normal day at the office and another chapter in the unfolding story of Copperfox Model Horses!!

As soon as my head is back with me and I've caught up on some sleep, I'll update our website with the upcoming models, as well as share better pictures of the glossy versions of each model through our social channels, so please keep an eye out for details. I will also keep you updated on the progress on Gibson and Prince Cavalier and news from the factory in general.

-Becky :-)

P.S: I thought you might also like to see some other pictures I took during my visit. Food is the best way to experience a country and the food of China is no exception! Below are some snaps of some weird and wonderful treats, as well as a rather swish car parked at our hotel. Sadly, it wasn't ours..!