Warhammer miniatures are a specialty item made specifically for Warhammer gamers in Nottingham in the United Kingdom.
They are handcrafted and of very high quality.
The workmanship that is put into them is special.
Those who have them value them as collector’s items.
However, is that the only reason they’re marked up so much?
Let’s run through the logical and the tricky sides of Warhammer.
Why Is Warhammer So Expensive?
1. They Are Handcrafted
This is a good point, though kind of weak when we start to get into the chaos that is the pricing and markups of the Warhammer gaming and accessories.
The figurines and terrain are detailed and sport brilliant colors.
Your war table is set to be the best-looking thing at the gaming convention, right?
At least this is what most people that are into this gaming hobby want.
They’re a hard-core group, and it’s a competitive hobby.
People want the next best look because the people they play with are doing it bigger and better.
The company creates these beautifully detailed pieces, terrain, and figurines and develops their own paint and colors that match the sets.
You wouldn’t want to be the gamer who shows up with the fortress you had in 1992, would you?
Of course not.
That’s the trend that follows some of these points.
Being handcrafted is only one point and the most obvious, but the Games Workshop knows how to work the oracle behind the scenes.
At first blush, there doesn’t seem to be a logical reason they’re priced the way they are, especially from the perspective of the craftwork.
However, when you look closely and really research and compare, there’s more going on here.
Inflation is a factor in the price increase.
We aren’t defending the pricing with the excuses of handcrafting and inflation, but we’d be lying if we didn’t at least address them as legitimate factors in the pricing.
The equivalent of the money from 1997 to 2021 is quite different.
One Pound Sterling in England where the game is produced is now $1.87 US.
The starter box that could run $50 back then is easily just under $100. That’s for two armies and the terrain to start.
The second edition starter box two-tier set was also $50 and is now $105.
It has fewer miniatures in it, and you are paying more for more detail.
This was priced up for aesthetics and not the strength of the army.
That seems a bit of a waste.
There is an intro box that you can get for $30 with cheaper figures that would have sold for $15 and dropped to $10.
These are just examples, and they change all the time.
We won’t mention specifics here because it’s best to go to the Games Workshop website and find out what’s on offer now.
This kind of starts the trend of seeing how confusing it is to see why some pieces that seem like they’d be higher or lower and vice versa.
Below is a list of the top five that have gotten cheaper over time and the five that have gotten more expensive over time.
Top Five Figurines And Sets That Got Cheaper:
- Chaos Space Marine Bikes
- Warp Spiders
- Wraith Army
Top Five Figurines And Sets That Got More Expensive:
- Necromunda Dark Box Set
- Space Marine Veteran Captain
- Imperial Assassins
- Plague Marines 40K
- Ork Painboy
Most of these, between 1997 and now, with Warhammer 40k, are sold at a 175% to 200% markup.
Some pieces that once sold for $3.00 are now $17.
This is a significant jump.
Part of the issue here is that they know that most people aren’t going to still be playing with the piece they bought in 1997 for $3.
They’re on a shelf to be shown off.
What do most people do with a competitive hobby that progresses?
They want to have the joy of the show of progression.
It’s part of the competition.
3. More Is More In This Case
Most people have heard, less is more, but not in the Warhammer conundrum.
The plot thickens in the pricing research.
When you compare apples to apples, it doesn’t make sense.
Let’s look at two characters: Magnus and Mortarion.
Magnus, however, is priced at $15 and Mortarion is $20.
It seems as if it should be the opposite.
We see this in other models, too, and then we begin to understand that if it’s new, it’s going to be priced up more.
It’s important to note that the company never stated this as a reason, yet it is a bit obvious.
If you’re just starting out, you don’t have to start with the most expensive pieces.
There is a way to beat the system if you aren’t too concerned about having the newest pieces.
If you are, unfortunately, especially with Warhammer 40k, you could pay up to $1,000 to play it at close to full throttle with all the bells and whistles.
The best way to get around that is to play with people who are not so competitive and are not so worried about the collection.
You should feel it out and see how much you enjoy it before you make an investment in this type of hobby.
4. How to Play Cheaply
One of the cleverest ways that you can start playing cheaply is to start out with a team that won’t cost you the bank, and organize them well.
It’s suggested by the pros that you begin with a 1,000-point game, and buy the pieces you need for that.
Start with smaller groupings of figurines and be strategic in your game.
Don’t forget to factor in terrain.
You must have decent terrain and the pieces for a 1,000-point army.
You can factor in more as you go along with a budget created for the hobby.
5. Popularity And Price
Companies have a way of encouraging constant spending by way of knowing what’s popular and what you can do without.
There are books that are not essential codex books like the New General’s Handbook, for instance, which runs $5.
If they see there is an interest, they’ll try and push it in a bundle.
If there are figurines that are small and not as detailed as others, but they are popular, the price goes up, sometimes substantially.
Today, there are more sophisticated details on the internet for a company to see the return they could get via the popularity of a piece.
They can also do deep research as to how much other comparable companies and hobby games are getting.
They also change the material they make the pieces from at will, due to that research.
That brings us to the next point.
6. Metal Versus Plastic
Some of the game figurines, including some of the larger and more detailed ones, were made of metal.
Therefore, it’s only logical that you would pay more for a metal figure for several reasons.
One, it’s a more expensive material to fabricate.
Two, it may be harder to glue and to paint.
It takes more expensive paints to prime and paint metal.
However, the plastic figures of today are plastic and not any cheaper than the metal, and many are even more expensive.
Now you’re paying for the company to create figurines that cost less to fabricate.
The paint is cheaper as well, or at least it can be if you use paint that isn’t theirs, but we’ll talk about that later.
This is another illogical move on the part of Games Workshop; or is it?
It’s a basic business move to get a better return by using cheaper products and raising the markup regardless of the pricing on the more quality pieces of yesteryear.
Is that fair to the players and collector hobbyists?
That’s a relative question.
If you take on a hobby, there are obvious expenses attached to it.
However, is it fair to be so untransparent?
After all, people understand that you have to invest, and today, being transparent about where your product is sourced and what people are paying for is a number one concern.
7. Bundle And Bust The Bank
Some of the fortresses are amazing to look at, especially in comparison to the ones of yesteryear that were so basic with the gray castle walls and the square in the middle kind of thing.
The details on the ones they’ve created today are nothing like their gray, kids’ toy-looking cousins.
Those would run you a good $50.
The pricing jump is the highest on the new ones, and for a game and some painted plastic, it seems utterly astonishing.
Be prepared to pay upwards of $700 for one fortress.
Yes, we agree that it makes for a spectacular and intimidating war table, but $700?
That’s not counting the entire army and the terrain, the tank pieces, and other warring equipment.
Who is playing these games?
Are these new pieces for professionals or hobbyists?
They may be hiding the markup in a bundle, but we’ve not encountered any bundles with the fortress that was that spectacular.
This makes things a bit more discouraging for the player on a budget.
You get the issue here.
It’s an emotional one and we’ll talk about that in point 10 of why these things are so expensive.
8. Model Cycle And Rotation
Model cycle and rotation is business brilliance.
This type of gaming can be a goldmine for a company.
To understand the way this works, you have to understand the way that these types of hobbies are set up.
The concept is this: You start out as a beginner, maybe with a cheap set or a starter set.
There’s a reason for those, too, which we’ll explain.
Once you get into it, you start seeing others collect their pieces.
You start to want the newer versions and you start to go into hobby debt to collect them so you can compete.
It doesn’t get easier from there.
Once you do buy your big army, it’s not static.
They make sure of that.
The game rules and concepts will be made so that your army will be virtually obsolete in six to eight months.
You replace them and/or you cycle in more pieces.
Cycling can cost you an easy $500 per month, and it’s not uncommon to spend more than that.
Yes, you can trade with friends and other players.
You can go on eBay and social media groups that are geared to this type of thing.
You may be able to drop the price a bit, but remember that your army will have specific competitive needs, and you may be waiting in the wings for someone to give up what you need at a lower price.
As far as starter sets are concerned, they’ll never come with the newest and most powerful pieces, maybe one in a starter set to get you twitching for more.
In other words, the starter set will always be inadequate.
9. You Pay For Power
Remember the point about the two pieces that were priced in a way that didn’t make sense because one is more money yet smaller than the other?
Well, the pros have figured out that power is also a factor.
It doesn’t matter the size of the figurine, but in some cases, they are priced by how powerful the character is.
This is why, when you research these figurines, there is no obvious trend in price.
If you try to figure it out based on logic, you won’t make it work.
In the future, it’s best to go by the illogical and more business and profit-oriented reasons listed here.
Carefully look at each piece and put yourself in a profit margin state of mind.
You’ll see the patterns then, and you’ll be able to budget better from here.
10. Paint Is Pain
Let’s look at the next expense for Warhammer: the paint.
When you purchase your terrain and your figurines and get ready to make them look spectacular and intimidating, you may have to spend more.
This comes back to the concept of how they have these games set up.
Games Warehouse has their own paints that they aggressively push you to use.
The paints are actually made to match how the scenes and figurines should look.
In other words, when you show up to a game, you’ll see the same figurines on various war tables that will have a certain uniformity.
No one wants to be the one to present a war table that looks subpar to the rest of the players.
Doing so would undermine the competitive nature of the game.
You are there to present and show off, to develop a tribe of sorts through gaming.
We can see where using GW paints would work.
You may want to organize your paint purchases to what pieces you have and what the dominant colors are.
That way, you aren’t overspending.
If stored properly, gamers have reported that they’ve kept the same jars of paint for more than ten years.
Keep in mind that those are people in the UK.
If you live in a hotter climate, do learn how to store it all properly.
You do have the option to use craft paint and other acrylic types of cheaper paints.
However, the color is probably not going to be as spot-on as the GW paint.
Therefore, the initial investment plus the premium paint will already put you in the several-hundred-dollar range.
The brushes and other hobby tools you need will raise your costs even higher.
Make sure you take care of the paints and clean the brushes so that you don’t lose your supply through drying out and rendering them unusable.
Warhammer is a fun gaming hobby.
You can make great friends playing it and spend many happy hours painting your figurines and building your terrain.
However, do remember that they are in business.
As with any hobby, the supplier will meet the demand.
What they charge for the pieces is up to the gamers to some degree.
You create the demand.
With that said, there are ways around the big expense with proper planning and playing with those at your budget level first.
The idea is to have fun first!