My usual method of ordering an army is to work it out in full, prepare an order, then place it in one bulk order (broken into 2 or 3 if it's a large project.) I always end up using a single manufacturer, rarely mix in other odds & ends, and generally keep the whole business as quick & clean as possible. The new 'Plastic Waterloo' project has broken new ground already, as I'm not doing this at all.
Instead of buying the lot from one place I'm picking up odd boxes here and there, wherever I can find them. I'm actually discovering the "collectors' side" of the hobby, which I've never bothered with before now - the challenge of hunting down the desired models and picking them up from obscure online shops, internet ebay auctions, and so on. The whole thing feels like a breath of fresh air - a mad hunt high and low to obtain that crucial last box of Zvezda French Napoleonic Line Artillery, where online listings need to be prowled every day. Strangely exciting, in an admittedly very nerdy way.
The master-plan is in place, at least. I've become best friends with the website Plasticsoldierreview.com for it's (splendid) catalogue of online photos & reviews about what each box contains. Frequently they're better than the manufacturers' own website!
The first steps have already been taken, and frankly I've already been convinced of the financial sense of the move. My first purchase was the Airfix Waterloo Diorama Box Set, which seems to contain four-hundred-odd figures of great use, plus a model farm-house - all a spectacular bag for just £20! I had spotted it in the Glasgow branch of Hamleys, but it is also available at this sale price from the Airfix website direct (oddly, other sites such as Amazon are still selling it at the full £35 price, so searching around has already paid benefits.)
Next up, I had a look on ebay and discovered that as well as individual boxes, folk also put up collections of several boxes at once. One I found a day or two ago which was coming to a halt for a pile of twelve Revell boxes, all Waterloo-relevant figures like British/Prussian/French Foot, Cavalry, Artillery, etc. I reasoned that this would be cheaper than buying individually, so plonked in a bid. While wandering around in the supermarket in my lunch-break yesterday, I got the email on my phone telling me I had won the lot! Although the exact number of figures is a little vague (do you count Artillery guns as one model? several? None?) but there's no denying the fact I seem to have gotten a real bargain. From my initial calculations, I believe I have gotten practically all my British Infantry for the price of roughly 10p per figure! Try that in lead at the closest scale (20mm to 25mm?) and you're probably talking ten times that price.
Once these packages are delivered, the next big challenge will be to track down some of the more awkward customers - things like Artillery, and some of the more obscure infantry. Once the Airfix Waterloo box arrives, I'll also be able to finalise my 'Target List' of what's required.