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Is Asia good or Bad for Reenactment

Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 3:43 am
by Neibelungen
An interesting question I want to post to people.. Just how good is the supply of cheap, reasonable quality (?) goods from asia effecting re-enactment. ?

Personally I think it will eventually destroy the manufacturing side and turn it into merely a better grade of Fancy Dress. But that's just my opinion.

It will be interesting to see what the quality is like at the markets this weeked. Judge for yourself

Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 9:00 am
by John Waller
Like all things - it depends. Some traders will import off-the-shelf items with little regard for the quality or authenticity. Others will actively engage with manufacturers and end users, research and design prototypes, have good quality control and customer relationships. I can think of two in the latter category but sadly more in the former. Caveat emptor.

If the affordability of imported kit makes reenactment more accessible to newbies this has to be good. People will eventually upgrade to more bespoke kit eg. my imported sallet cost me £81 my mates made-to-measure £350.

Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 9:16 am
by Uncle Bulgaria
I am afraid that agree with Neibelungen in as much as I feel that unfortunately asian trade will kill the crafts people who, have spent much time and effort researching and creating replicas.

As a trader, I have noticed that there has been a slight backwards trend in authenticity due to the asian market, and it is effecting friends of mine already.

The great thing about crafts people creating their own goods is that you can talk to them, and have some come back if things are wrong.

Traders take out public liability and product liability insurance, do you have such comeback on an import?

Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 9:25 am
by WhiteWolf
John Waller wrote:If the affordability of imported kit makes reenactment more accessible to newbies this has to be good. People will eventually upgrade to more bespoke kit eg. my imported sallet cost me £81 my mates made-to-measure £350.
As a noobie, I have two things to say.....

1] yes affordable kit would make it easier to get everything we needed, but surely some of the pleasure in doing this re-enactment thingy wots it, is trying to as authentic as possible.

2] with regards to the sallet, would you trust the £81 one to protect your skull in the same way the more expensive one would?

just my 2 groats worth....

WW 8)

Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 10:03 am
by WorkMonkey
With the asian market they only have a select catalogue that you can choose from, if you want something to a personal spec. then you get it done over here. There'll always be a market for stuff over here because frankly it looks better, it feels better and it is better. The asian market just allows people to access re-enactment more easily.

Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 10:05 am
by John Waller
Uncle B. Like I said caveat emptor. Many domestic traders sell complete tat that is far inferior to asian imports. The bottom line should be - do your own reseach, take advice and don't believe everything traders tell you before parting with your hard-earned. There is always the danger of well researched and accurate replicas being pirated. But this happens in the UK now. Difficult to stop if the original item is in the public domain. Out of interest what do you trade in?

WW. Agree, but affordable does not mean unauthentic. Many spend lots on kit that is inappropriate for their portrayal. Ref the sallet - well I'm an archer and avoid hand-to-hand. Both helmets have an (incorrect) welded skull and are made of the same gauge metal and I needed to line mine with a padded spider. I guess the only way to find out is to take a hit. I have to say my mates sallet is a super bit of kit and mine is munition quality. But both do the same job.

Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 11:19 am
by Neibelungen
It's interesting to see some of the arguments raised. Although generally people percieve asian items as being of a lower quality. There's some truth to that, as they tend to use the abosutely cheapest materials, but I would not question their quality of workmanship. It's as good as some of the products here in many cases.

If you look at the american civil war market, 95% is asian made. It reflects once you start examining the quality of items though. There's no way any trader could compete with them for prices, and hence they make as cheap as possible. The materials are low to terrible. Theres so much synthetic, and more plastic in an officer than on an action man figure.

I fear eventually that will be the end result for the medieval and ECW period over here, and Napoleonics not much later.

Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 11:46 am
by WhiteWolf
Neibelungen wrote:I fear eventually that will be the end result for the medieval and ECW period over here, and Napoleonics not much later.
Not if groups/organisations/societies clamp down now. Yes it may mean that as noobies we have to pay more, or (shock horror) make our own kit. But surely that’s part of the whole scene?

Yes I know there are not that many peeps out there that can beat the living daylights out of a piece of steel and turn it into a sword of sallet, but we do have some fantastic peeps who can and if we start buying the cheaper stuff we are going to loose them.

Ok a shiny sallet from asia may look the dogs danglies, but would you trust your life to it in a full tournee?


Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 11:58 am
by Nigel
I think its all down to both ecenomics and appreciation and market split.

If something from Asia does the job and looks ok and is safe then I will recommend it to our newbies. If it doesnt I will not.

Example being a spangen I was offered which was so thin i honestly thought it was made from plastic. As my group is somewhat frisky in the cobat business I declined and it set me against all things Indian for some time.

Then enter Mr Brown and his mega lids blew my arguement out of the water and I now own 2.

At the top end of the market there will always be those who will pay a a premium for their kit. Including those in the ECW % ACW fields I knwo because we supply it.

So lets look upon Asia as a source of good quality from some suppliers and use it to make the hobby more accessiable.As folks move on and ahve more money ertc they will want to grade up their kit and then they can buy home grown.

That said I agree with Mr Waller and it is almost funny to see the rip off that appear sometimes on the domestic front. That is why we have taken the step of registering a new design in the almost hope that somebody does. Before somebody bangs on that we cannot we have been through the process and we have.



Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 12:42 pm
by John Waller
One trader friend of mine was given a contact in India. He was sceptical but thought he would give them a try. Sent off an item for a quote. Short time later the item was mailed back with the quote. Phone call conversation followed about the quote and the comment that he had not expected them to return the original. Guy in India informs him that he didn't, that was the copy. My friend could not tell it was not the one he made!

Watch out for the Chinese. They are also starting to make historic replicas.


Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 8:44 pm
by Scraggles
Interesting comment, if the copy is as good as the original that the supplier cant even tell the difference, there is hope yet.

For me if 2 helmets that look pretty much the same, maybe a slightly different style, with a good thickness of metal, rigid construction and one is 1/4 the price......

The intial stuff looked and felt too thin, the shiny galavanised mail also, but then none of the english traders ever used galvanised as it was cheaper :?: :twisted:

Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 11:01 am
by Cat
Was wary, took delivery of an Indian archers sallet from a New but Expanding Company. Fantastic. Thicker gauge than my old handmade tailed sallet, has taken a few unplanned blows on the field with barely a dent.. there is some good stuff out there. Can I just plug the company? Will people shout at me? Hope not. GDFB in my opinion,is an example of an armour company who do their homework and listen to their customers. I have no financial or any other interest in 'em.

On the other foot, The rest of my armour is handmade in this country, and is also fantastic. (Mr Lunn, White Rose). But as he is my vingtner I can't really mention him.

Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 1:00 pm
by WhiteWolf
Cheers Cat

I was going to ask anyway if you hadn't plugged the company :D

WW 8)

Posted: Sun Oct 30, 2005 5:30 pm
by guthrie
I reckon that the biggest effect might be to stifle the East European manufacturers, by removing their major advantage over UK based people, i.e. lower cost. There will still be good quality UK people producing kit, and they will feel some pressure, but probably not dissappear altogether. Or at least I hope not, I intend to purchase most of my kit from UK manufacturers anyway.

Posted: Sun Oct 30, 2005 11:25 pm
by Ayliffe's Steve
I would have thought that a potential long term effect that this situation would have would be to get more people into re-enactment combat with the cheaper imports, once they get hooked and want more specific things they will turn to domestic armourers who are within driving distance for their custom jobs or even just general kit upgrades.

The more people that the cheaper imports can get into the hobby the more potential customers British armoures have.

With respect to the £81 taking a hit - yes it can. I found this out by telling the armourer that I did not trust his helmet because it was too cheap. He responded by putting the helmet on and giving me a sword with the instruction hit him as hard as I could. I hit him with all the force I could easliy muster, we then swapped. It barely had a scratch. I did not buy it but that was for other reason, it most certainly can take a whack.

Posted: Sun Oct 30, 2005 11:31 pm
by craig1459
I like the way there is an advert for Lancaster Armouries at the top as I write this!

I'll have my basics for my first full season via the cheap route. That gets me in - then I'll start supplanting it with better UK kit when I can afford it.

Posted: Mon Oct 31, 2005 8:21 am
by Scraggles
Nice kit, esp the mail. Was after some boots, they looked average quality wise, but wrong style...

Got complaints from other traders who said words to the effect that they could not compete with slave/child labour....

Difficult choice for mail when the only other guy doing it is a yank charging several hundred quid more than gdfb :)

Posted: Mon Oct 31, 2005 11:14 pm
by El Campesino
Hello all,
I've just registered and noticed this thread and thought I'd post. There's a lot of sound advice on here in many earlier posts. However, going on my own experiences as a mid-C20th re-enactor. My group has recently taken delivery of uniforms made in India. The quality is first rate as was the level of service we received; this included an apology for a monsoon delay (couldn't get the dyed cloth dry)!

We recently took part in an event in Spain and wore the clothing from India. The Spaniards taking part in the event thought our kit was original as opposed to repro. Praise indeed! :D

All the best

Posted: Mon Oct 31, 2005 11:26 pm
by Neibelungen
Well, both of the markets are over, and the usual mix of very good and very bad quality, both UK and Asian. And to be honest, unless you know how things are made or know the materials you probably couldn't tell the difference apart from price..

The question is, how many of the UK traders are going to remain in business as the market gets saturated. Their sales will decrease, which means their prices are going to have to go up to make up for it. That creates a vicious circle and they either buy overseas or go back to the old 9 to 5.

But that's a fact of life. You can't stop it happening. You can't make people buy UK only. Nor can you stop people importing. They are simply suplying to a demand and making a living like everybody else.

Does that mean more people will get into re-enacting because it's cheaper?
I suspect it will. The more affordable the hobby, the more people will take part.

Will they more on to buying from Uk traders?
A few will, but more of them won't because they didn't have the budget to begin with, and there's going to be less Uk makers and their going to be more expensive because of that.
The end result.... ? Hmmm 2000 fully comparisoned knights on the battlefield, all wearing pretty much the same armour, helmets and swords because it's cheaper than trying to do something unique, individual and more expensive.

Turns history on it's head when you think that the relative historical cost of a full suit of armour was astronomical and limited to only the elite. And now everybody can afford to have it.

Posted: Mon Oct 31, 2005 11:56 pm
by guthrie
Actually, the more I think about it, the more I think that the idea that noticeably more people will get into re-enacting because its cheaper is wrong. How many of you out there nearly gave up simply because of the costs involved?
Whilst it could be argued that cost of equipment during this period when authenticity is improving will be an important factor, since it is no longer aceptable to bang some clothes together out of old curtains and a helmet from a bucket, I submit that most of us are sad obsessives with far broader interests and depth of character, such that a little thing like cost is not going to put off future recruits to said groups of mad obsessive history and bashing oriented people.

So to sum it up, I dont think the good quality UK people will go out of business completely, but will feel the squeeze. However, the cheap UK people and Eastern Europeans will be in deep trouble. People will always pay for hand made to measure quality, and its hard to get it unless you shop local.

Posted: Tue Nov 01, 2005 8:46 am
by Scraggles
have been in the white company many years ago when a bunch of knights were not keen to do any work or even buy any decent soft kit to gowiththeir armour as knights dont cook, wash pans, chop wood or any excuse to get out of work that everyone else did.

having everyone in armour makes it look naff, maybe 10% inarmour is a good mix, but then it's only re-enactment and does not need to be accurate as long as people look good :twisted:

Posted: Tue Nov 01, 2005 9:37 pm
by guthrie
Hhmmm, you looking for a figh... sorry, argument, scraggles? Naw, I cant be bothered.

Posted: Fri Nov 11, 2005 9:13 am
by gregory23b
Aside from the economics Scraggles has got a point, while he may be talking ancient history (ten or so years ;-)), people did use the full harness as a buy out from not bothering with other things, I know because I know who he was talking about as I was there and shared the same concerns. Even now people complain about clankies with spiff harness and rubbish clothing which is not on a par with their harness.

Having said that that problem is down to how a society runs itself so is not directly related to the issue of imported harness, especially as the 90% of the harness in question was Emrys.

But the one part that might is the cheapness, it may well mean many more harnessed folks out there than looks right, it is in some cases like that already, loads of metal clad, few archers etc. I dread to see the reaction from someone who is told, "sorry we have enough men at arms, can you be an archer?" But if you were doing another more rigorous period that may well be exactly the kind of comment one might get in similar circumstances.

The good side is similar to the above, it might mean larger numbers to fight with though, it will probably mean more cross dressing, ie more people dabbling in other periods so you might well maintain the safety standards with those numbers rising. I know if I could get some decent and cheapish say 18th century clothing I would have a wander about.

As for ripping off UK armourers' work, yes that does happen, however here is a question for any legal beagles.

If an armourer produces an item which is not a direct copy but an interpretation is that item therefore not his own design and protected by copyright? Many refs for a lot of armour come from MSS so by default they are interpretations, likewise any interpretation of missing parts of harness that can only be conjectured albeit sensibly?

Posted: Fri Nov 11, 2005 11:04 am
by Martin Cowley
i think that the rivited maille GDFB is bringing over is some of the best quality stuff ive seen,in 2 years ive had no holes,no repair work needed and its comfy,when i started a full rivitted maille shiet was easily 4 figures to but and is now about £200,it looks far better than the fencing wire of the 8os and industrial washers of the 90 and tons more people can afford it,the off the peg armour i would trust in a full contact tournee with out a doub and saw many wearing it during the tournees this year ,and for hand made quality items that arent mass produced you have the likes of Hodgkiss and Langford who make made to measure items anf fantastic weapons,there is room for everyone EXCEPT JERKY countifiters (?)

Posted: Fri Nov 11, 2005 11:19 am
by tonw
Might I add martin that your jerky is the best out there all this other gooey stuff just doesn't compare.

I also think the asian production houses are no different from the eastern european production houses

they are all contributing to our hobby and bringing the prices of our kit down while still maintaining our standards

If the asian/eastern european stuff was tacky tatt then it would be causing a problem but as the stuff is high quality and affordable its all good,

It means more people can afford to fight safely and those who want and can afford the white rose/st georges armour (he he me :D ) can have that and those who can't can still get armour and fight.

Posted: Fri Nov 11, 2005 11:30 am
by Scraggles
Having looked at the GDFB mail, if i was ever going to get back into medieval re-enactment, would happily pay £200 for a rivtted mail shirt, still got the one gregory sold me years back. But I guess I dont miss the politics from the mSS and the like, so who knows :?:

Having all the soldiers in armour looks naff, unless you are the kings guard or something, if trying to portray a historical event when 10-30% or so were in harness and yet everyone on the field is wearing armour. What is the point of recreating the battle of whatever when you know that say 50% at least were in padded jacks and other less expensive armor of the time and not the elite armored guys. Getting to the stage where a decent padded jack is costing more than harness, not talking about the arming jacks from GDFB, but something that stops an arrow or sword hit. Think they go for about £500 each or so

Nothing wrong with lots of well made and cheap armour, but if everyone is in harness on the field, please lose the historical tag and replace it with theatrical :)

Recall one guy who still wears black jogging bottoms under his armour as no-one really notices it and as he cant afford the right clothes as he spent all his cash on the harness....

Posted: Sun Nov 13, 2005 9:54 am
by Annie the Pedlar
How's this for a scenario?
Eastern European and Asian workers start to get jealous of our standard of welfare provision and pensions etc and their prices creep up. Their wages creep up. They fancy becoming reenactors in their countries. They start buying historical reproduction stuff for themselves. The market grows......

Look on the bright side. Be optimistic.
But remember to duck and dive.
Go with the flow.
Think out of the box... or should that be basket...oh, no, That's where I put all my eggs!

Posted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 1:17 pm
by the quiet one
Cat wrote: Can I just plug the company? Will people shout at me? Hope not. GDFB in my opinion,is an example of an armour company who do their homework and listen to their customers. I have no financial or any other interest in 'em.
I agree with Cat, I can honestly state that the GDFB helmets can definately take a good wack, as we have b arbutes and my nice shiny new Klap Visored Bascinet, which Mrs Skev, upon instruction from me took, her sword and wacked it several times to see if I fely anything and it barely scratched it.

I plan on making my own stuff, in fact I am working on setting up everything at the moment, and plan on going to the A Plaisance traing course. We as team already get hand made stuff from Tony White, who makes servicable and fight quality armour that we use in abttles, and tourneys. At a reasonable price, Paul Binns makes good swords again at reasonable prices I will keep you informed how my new one handles and how long it lasts, as he is tryting to make swords that are more affordable. I think the big thing is that everyone in all trades accepts that the asian market can currently beat the UK one on price. Re-enactment is like the motorcycle scene, you buy the best you can afford to get you going and then as you get into it more you save and buy the better stuff, beacuse you want it. Lets face it, you gets what you pay for in everything


Posted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 1:56 pm
by Cream-T
Hm, given the low price of the riveted mail etc, I wonder if this isn't perhaps a little too authentic for my taste - i.e. can we be sure all this stuff isn't made in sweat shops by kids in slavery-like conditions?

Posted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 4:40 pm
by Stephen brown
Cream T and other concerned parties.

You can be assured that GDFB does not use ‘Slave labour’.
Labour rates reflect the cost of living in India which is between 7 and 10 times less than here in the UK but we at GDFB pay our worker 20% over the standard rate and overtime is freely available though not compulsory. We also have a provident fund which the workers have available to them for the purchase of a house if and when that becomes necessary. Health care is provided for all workers along with an ongoing health and safety training programme. Martin Bavin from Á Plaisance visits our factory 5 times a year and monitors the work environment and recommends and implements improvements. I personally visit twice a year and do the same.
Before we appoint a new distributor they are invited to inspect the production to be sure that it meets with their company policy on overseas working conditions, to date we have not had a problem.
On a general note, since GDFB invested in India there are 450 people in work who were not earning a living 2 years ago, that must be a good thing when you consider the above average conditions we provide our workers. India has so much work at the moment that if we do not provide good condition they will go elsewhere.
I also deal with another Indian manufacturer outside of my re-enactment business and they too must provide good working conditions and benefits as many of the workers are highly technical and are not easily replaced.
I have had 10 years experience of dealing with India and a further 4 years spent in the Middle East. In that time I have seen the conditions that people are concerned about but they a less common now that they were 14 years ago, and as we become a global trading world again these conditions will, with the direct involvement of serious companies, improve further.
As one of my friends in India said to me on my last visit, ‘You are giving the greatest gift to humanity. Work’. These guys want trade, and with trade they can build an economy and become a driving force in the world economy, and believe me the Asian continent is streets ahead of us in many aspects of their approach to business.
If we had begun to trade with Africa 20 years ago it would be less likely that we would have the need to help them out again, give a country work and it will grow and develop.
I am sure many people will disagree with some or all of the above but it is fact based on experience not opinion based on emotion.
I do not always have time to read replies on this forum and was directed to this thread by a third party so if you would like any points to be clarified you can email me direct on or give me a call on either of the numbers on the web site.