Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pricing, modeling, drinking, smoking


With the release of the new Vampire Counts book on Saturday, John and I drove to the local store and picked up some stuff. I spend 100 dollars on:
1. Army book
2. Magic Cards
3. Black Knights/Hex Wraiths
4. Krell, lord of the Undead
5. Necrarch (free)

John was lamenting about how army books were 22 dollars and even hardback codexes were cheaper when they came out; indeed we found the Orcs and Goblins Army hardback in the same store 5 dollars cheaper....that was 37 and we were shocked then.

But now I will tell you what I really think.
First of all I will start by saying that Santa Cruz Warhammer started out as a blog that gave modelers cheap alternatives (like kitbashes or other model companies) to the expensive models of GW. But over time we have changed into a more balanced approach. Where we could model something better using different stuff, we would but we also would give praise to GW for bringing out a splendid model. Now, after 5 years of blogging, we have reached a point where GW is bringing out some of the best models since I started this hobby. And so onto my thoughts about Pricing, Modeling, Drinking and Smoking.

Modeling and playing Warhammer is incredibly cheap, compared to everything else that is out there.
I will put the stuff above into context.
1. The army book...

...looks extraordinary. The binding is supreme, the finish great, the artwork and pages very, very nice and the color rendition is just amazing. Remember when your 22 dollar codex fell apart? Remember how artwork was all in BW? The two products are just not comparable. The new color codexes are books you keep rereading, looking at and use for inspiration. I also feel spending 40 dollars on supporting a company that tries to be so creative and pays their workers to create the stunning artwork...remember those paintings are not done on the computer, it starts out with a white piece of paper.
And...the book will get you through the next 3-5 years of play.
Other 40 dollar expenses:
-video game: 20-40 hours of playtime
-going out to dinner with the family to a cheap place: 1 hour of joy
-seeing a 3D movie with your two kids: 2 hours
-getting coffee every morning at Starbucks for 2 weeks
and so on

2. Magic Cards are useless, but they were there and I figure I support my local store. I cannot make an argument for those; they are handy during the game but really not needed.

3. Black Knights/Hex Wraiths...

...are wonderful models. I was excited to see that the Perry brothers did some sculpting again for Fantasy and no one does horses plus riders better. Also, by adding two options, you end up with some excellent conversion bitz. This set is really meant for the advanced modelers. It requires a subtle paintjob and will give me hours and hours of painting joy. Also, having all the conversion bitz sparks my inspiration to add them to other Skellie units. After all is said and done, I get to play with them for years to come. And all that for less then 30 dollars.

4. Krell. ..

...Finally Juan Diaz, the master Space Marine sculptor, got to do a Fantasy Space marine. Krell looks like he stepped out of 40K and is one bad-ass character. The fluff is great and he will make an excellent Counts leader. 20 dollars for a resin model is OK with me. My fine cast had absolutely no flaws and this model will become one of my centerpieces. Weeks of painting, years of playing and a model that will give me lots of memories in years to come.

5. Necrarch...

...The oldschool Necrarch that I found in the sale bin I got for free. It was missing tons of stuff, like both hands, the staff and horse  but did have some interesting modeling options...I love the OOP stuff...and it was free which was nice.

Quality of models OK, now I haven't even talked about the Conven Throne...

No one can complain about a model costing 60 dollars when it looks like that. This thing is just amazing looking and will be a joy paint for countless, relaxing hours. I didn't get it, don't have room frankly, but GW is really giving us great quality for a firm price. If you look around the internet at all the different model companies, very, very few put out such a consistently high quality product. I am not talking about the actual sprues, I am talking about the intellectual quality of output. The creative process to get to certain models and the technical ability to get the stuff into a mold are higher at GW then anywhere else. Of course there are other model companies that produce amazing things, but none has it all so well together in a creative way. I also truly admire GW for sticking with the artists that render this amazing artwork-they could easily just show the models like most companies do.

All in all: everyone should make up their own mind about how to spend their money. But one thing I ask of you: be honest with yourselves. Don't jump on the bandwagon of complaints before you have done some self reflecting. Lots of people spend lots on beer, smokes, videogames (at 60 dollars a pop), getting a haircut, having their car washed etc etc. If you feel ordering 3 dollar coffees every day is more important, don't blame model makers for their prices. It's just a different set of priorities...i make my own coffee every morning. And then I do a little painting to start the day. And for all that, I get to keep the models I have painted and enjoy looking at them for many, many years. They kind of become friends of a certain time period. My buddy Christian always says selling an army is like selling one of your kids.

I am certainly not an apologist for GW. I just try to see things for how they are in comparison to other my life. You should do the same.



  1. Fantastic. Well written sir! I am sick of reading all the negativity surrounding Games workshop from players out there. If you want a cheaper hobby try knitting (and that is bloody expensive as well btw). I enjoy hugely the hobby and all the creativity and skill that goes into it.

  2. Well said Mike, and I agree with you. I love my Praetorians, and I can't wait to paint more of them and play the games with them. Am I upset that GW stoped producing them? At the time yes because my ability in converting and repair work was not that good. But because GW stopped producing them it has made me a better painter and converter of model's, and for that I say thank you GW.

  3. Mike- my feelings are mixed,

    yes the books are nice, but 42 bucks is a lot of money for a book this thin, and how long will it be before it is obsolete? If we can get a few good years out of it then fine.

    I disagree on the magic cards, I think if you play you should have them, as you don't need to fumble with books as much and its easy to hand it over to your opponent so he can have a look. And for 5 bucks why not.

    as far as the other models, I was hoping when the plastics came out in force the prices would drop a bit, but it seams not the case, it has produced some nice models, but I just have to think really hard if its worth the up to 60 bucks a kit for some of the larger stuff. In the past you could buy a cool model for 10 or even 20 bucks just to build and paint it and see if it was good for your army , but now if I am going to shell out 60 bucks for a model, it better be the most awesome game winner for my army to justify its price, or at least be super awesome looking sitting on the shelf, which most of these are.

    I am loving all the new stuff, but the prices do still sting a little and I find myself waiting to save a few bucks on ebay when the new model hype wears off.

    Santa Cruz Warhammer

  4. A joy to read, thank you very much for posting this up. I second Nathaniel with the unnecessarily vast amount of negativity that surrounds GW. The hobby is hugely rewarding, far more than the hollow sense of satisfaction from gaming, a completely virtual experience.
    Thanks again

  5. It looks like the Lichmaster model is the old one. Sad face. But Krell? Damn, the old one was bad. I mean, like armored skeleton maybe bad. This one does indeed look fantastic. I notice you avoided mentioning some of the other price points though. I hear the armored vampire knights on horse going for $99 or something? Here's another question about the codex. Does it have any painting tips? I used to love those in the older books.

  6. JoeGKushner: good point on the blood knights. I didn't talk about them since I didn't buy them (i have a metal set). 99 dollars is only a good price for modelers who will spend 4 months painting them. For me that price is not in line with the quality of the sculpt. I expect either plastic knights or people can kitbash those easily.
    I have an ancient Kemmler mini and just painted it up. It's a great model, although i was not very succesful in painting it. Update this week.

  7. I completely agree with you on this. I hate all of the negativity and complaining there seems to be on the internet regarding GW. Their models are simply the best out there and, as you point out, provide many hours of modelling and painting. I'm also glad you pointed out the amount of work that goes into producing a model or book as I think this aspect is entirely overlooked by most people who winge on forums.

  8. I agree with you also Mike. Once you are drawn to something and it becomes your hobby you can spend a lot of money on it. But I think a lot of people forget that the miniature hobby is a one purchase hobby. What I mean by that is that once you have bought a mini, you have that mini for life. I am only ever going to buy one Krell for example. Ok I might buy 4 regiments of skelleton's but those four boxes could do me for twenty years. This is a hobby that gives you long term enjoyment for it's inital investment and you've described that beautifully in this blog.

  9. That's a fine post, Mike. I always enjoy reading your thoughts. It's human nature, I guess, to complain about prices. A little kvetching never did anyone any really harm. But it's sad if it gets to the point when you know the price of everything, but the value of nothing. The value in GW products is not just in the products by themselves, but in what you invest into them. If you're happy with the price, can balance that with other expenditure, and everyting feels "right" and they get painted and not stuffed in a cupboard for years - then I lit my hat off to you! You've got the balance right, mate, I've no doubt.

  10. I agree, really. I don't play the games anymore, but I'm working towards - hopefully - painting miniatures at a professional standard. The better the sculpt, the more it stimulates your imagination as a painter.

    Budgeting is an issue - I'm unemployed, so £40 (UK) is steep; but people can always save up if they're collecting armies. I think the old White Dwarf tale of four gamers is a great place to take inspiration from there. Spend £20 per month, and paint minis one batch at a time.

    Also - agree that GW aims for the best in writing about, creating artwork for, and sculpting miniatures. Keep a sense of perspective, and it's all good.

  11. Great Article!! This hobby is expensive, but at the same time, it is still a business and still needs to make money. If you don't like it, think of cheaper alternatives, and get creative with modeling.

    I recently bought a $10 Hell Pit Abomination body off the eBays, and combined it with some left over Daemon Prince arms, and added 300 points to my Daemon list as Kugath. Another $10 purchase got me two Rat Ogres, which combined with left over gun bits to make Nurgle Obliterators, 150 points for $10. Look at the most expensive units in your army and try to find a cheaper way of creating them. To me, it challenges my modeling skills and forces me to think outside the box.

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  14. One of the things I think does piss people off about GW though might be the vast inconsistency of pricing. Last time I checked a demon prince, that comes with hella lot bits and options, is like $33 but an Ogre Kingdoms champion named character with no extras is like $38.

  15. I complain about GWs pricing alot and GW alot ... but for me I complain because I love them. GW was the company that brought me back to gaming as an adult. Their games have brought me some of the best friends of my life and some of the best fun I've ever had with any game. There is a tremendous amount of value in that isn't there? So I agree with the sentiment of your post and what other folks are saying here in the comments section.

    I don't disagree that by comparison to other things GW is not a bad value for certain people who are fortunate enough to have friends to play with and a good GW community to play in. For me as I've moved to a new town where I haven't found a decent GW community within a reasonable distance I've pretty much had to sadly abadon GW games other than just as an occasional collector and I might get 2 games in a year when visiting an old friend or whatnot.

    I think GWs pricing compared to other mini companies is higher than many but not all and it is variable depending upon what your talking about. They still have some great values in their range and if one is willing to ebay surf, etc. GW can still be pretty cheap.

    In general though GW is big, they have a big overhead, they have alot of staff, marketing costs, and they are a publicly traded company that is bound to maximize ROI for investors. This means they have pricing structure similar to any other corporation ... they are in the business to make money and to expect them to do otherwise is unrealistic.

    My only beef with this release is the cost of some of the finecast models like the bat swarms and the coach. My endless complaint about them is when the roll out a new codex why the hell can't they have all the new models sculpted? I still am chafing about the nids codex on that point ...grrrr!!
    I think they should have done the bat swarms on sprues of skellies or zombies (like rippers for nids). I think the new models ... compared to some of the other recent roll-outs are very pretty and seem like a decent value for what you get. For me though $50.00+ bucks for a single model is getting up there and it just seems like so much in the GW range is now north of that price point with many going far higher still.

    I see GW as the gateway to mini gaming for youngsters and it dismays me a bit to see how overall expensive it would be to get a kid into this hobby. As a parent I would far and away see my child doing mini gaming over video gaming ... that said ... what is probably going to actually get used more? I think that is what it comes down to for most parents. Unless the kid comes from a tabletop gaming family with a family member who can help them out, and they have a store that helps young players and keeps the stinky trolls away from them ... more and more its a losing battle. I have seen GW diminishing at least in the US out West where I live in terms of attracting new people to the hobby and that saddens me.

    I think GW does try harder though than any other mini game company at being friendly to new wargamers and kids and that is good for the future of the hobby ... so maybe they aren't as good as they were about that stuff ten years ago but they are still better than anyone else I guess so I give them credit for that.

    For working professional adults I think your spot on really, no one can really complain how much it costs compared to other adult pursuits.

  16. My wife and I own a brick and mortar hobby store. GW products are overpriced compared to their competition.

    That being said I'm happy for the people who buy GW product and believe their money is well spent. I think creative companies like GW deserve business. I just wish they weren't pricing themselves out of my customer's reach.