Question about models (or, is Games Workshop F-ing insane?)

Okay, so I can get this; 1/100 Master Grade Sazabi, which is fully posable, molded in the correct colors (with a beautiful metallic finish), with dry-transfer decals, all snap-assembly and about 10 inches tall for $122.78 dollars.

Or, I could get this; Showcase Imperial Space Marine (scroll down to the last item on the first link), which is in a fixed pose, must be assembled using cement and painted, is about 6 inches tall, and costs roughly $194.88!

How exactly does that work? They’re both limited edition models, btw. I’d love to pick up a decently sized Space Marine, but I can’t fathom paying anywhere near their asking price for a fixed-pose model that must be fully assembled. Obviously someone’s buying it, but I can’t imagine the justification. Hell, you could get the better part of an army’s worth of WH40K actual game pieces (as overpriced as they are) for that price!

Is it just the difference between resin-cast production and injection molding? Is Bandai just such a streamlined manufacturer, or am I right in my growing suspicion that the entire Games Workshop “business” is just a scam so a bunch of nerds can spend all day making models and playing wargames for a living? :wink:

My WAG is that it all comes down to volume. Games Workshop caters to a small niche in the gamer market, which is itself very niche-y. Bandai is entirely mainstream, at least in Japan. I suspect Bandai’s fanbase is larger than GW by an order of magnitude, and the economies of scale mean that they can offer their goods for a much lower price than their smaller competitors, even when it comes to products with a similarly sized production run.

As for it being a scam, I know a lot of folks who are into the Warhammer 40K thing, and the painting and customization is the entire point of the hobby, for them. The idea of a pre-painted, snap-together model is heresy for these guys. They’d probably see the Bandai model as a rip-off at half the price.

Plus, Space Marines are just cooler than that dorky Gundam crap, so you’ve got to factor that into the price, as well.

Good point.

You misunderstand me sir! I am very much interested in Warhammer 40K, I just find the pricing to be able to play the game to be ridiculous. I love the fiction, and devour any computer or videogame adaptation that’s even half-way decent. I just like to joke around that there’s a bunch of guys sitting in an office in England laughing at all the rest of us for footing the bill for them to play games and make models all day, and write articles about it.

I’d like to get a display piece if I could get one at a decent price, but c’est la vie.

And, don’t you dare talk smack about Gundam! :smiley:
…Well, about UC-era Gundam, that SEED crap is another story entirely (and I’m not too sure about this Gundam 00 series, either)

Heh. I hear you about the capital needed to get into WH40K. For me, it’s not even the money so much as the space. I’d love to get into the game, but where the hell am I going to keep all those miniatures? I’ve barely got enough room for my Magic cards, and those are just stacks of little pieces of paper!

Not only the space, but for me, the question of transporting all these figures in a secure manner so that I can go and play it against others. They had a guide on how to make magnetic bases for the models so you could mount them in a case with a sheet of metal, but even that seems kind of dodgy. Not to mention it doesn’t solve the problem of the vehicles, or the various giant- or monster-size units.

Ok, once again: those are FORGE WORLD models, not normal models. Those are special, expensive models for crazy people. The average people who just play the game would never buy a forge world model, they are for people who wan’t something else than the normal range. That is why those models are so expensive: their entire market is a miniscule slice of an already limited customer base.

A plain vanilla GW space marine is £18.00 for a box of ten models.

Ay, they’re Forge World. A subsidiary of GW. I know they aren’t the regular gameplay pieces; if you read my posts you’d get that.

But I would think that a fairly large portion of the people who collect and own WH40K armies would love a neat little display piece like the SM statuette I linked above, where it more reasonably priced. I was drawing the comparison to another kind of model that’s also basically shelf-decoration, and trying to highlight just why I felt the price was so out-of-scale (hee hee). Then Miller and I got sidetracked talking about the actual game. No need to get snippy with me, I’m just goofing around. If I didn’t like GW’s products I wouldn’t care about the prices, after all.

Fair enough. Then allow me to make a better point; a pre-painted, snap together GW display piece would be utterly ridiculous. The entire point of having a GW model to display would be to show-off your own painting skills on a nice model, not the model itself. Therefore, a nicer, more expensive model makes sense for someone wanting something special to paint and display, as opposed to the regular ten-a-box models.

I did “read your post”. I just don’t think the forge world stuff is the actual bread and butter of the GW staff, some of those models are probably a financial drain.

If you want a display piece, might I suggest a character or monster model in the normal range? Some of them are lovely, and a lot more reasonable than the forgeworld forspecials. Or, dare I say it, a large-scale model from the Inquistor game? I think some of them are quite beautiful .

(I’m drooling over the new High Elf dragon, even thinking of buying one just for the pleasure of painting it. Then again, I want the old dragon too.)

I think he gets that. His point is that he expected the model that’s pre-painted and posable to be more expensive than the smaller, unpainted, unposable one, on account of the extra work the manufacturer has to do to make the articulation and apply the paint. He’s not saying the GW model should come prepainted.

Looking at those pictures again, I think another big factor is that the Space Marine seems a lot more detailed. The mech is mostly flat armored surfaces, but the Space Marine has a lot of filigree, and crests, and even a human face in the extras. That’ll drive up costs. They might have to have used a higher grade of plastic to get those small features, too.

Somewhere, PT Barnum is smiling, I’m sure. Miller, I suggest you pick up a copy (or actually subscribe, since it’s free) to Injection Molding Magazine, since you’ll be able to appreciate the industrial sized screwing that’s going on with these models.

In short, they’re charging this much because they know [del]saps[/del] people will pay that much for them. Injection molding is cheap to do and easily automated. Odds are the machines that are turning these models out are being ran by Chinese serfs, forced to gnaw on lead based phenols, while working, so it’s not like there’s a high labor cost involved.

If I had the spare $10K needed for the gear and knew how to use the right CAD software, I could be cranking those things out by the bajillions in my spare bedroom. The mold is the only sophisticated part about them, and if you know what you’re doing, it can be made quickly and cheaply on a 3-axis CNC machine. Even the design time isn’t really that long. You take a CAD drawing, load it into the appropriate software program and it does all the work as far as designing the mold.

The differing complexity between the models is only meaningful if they’re lovingly hand carved by wizened elves using lumber harvested from the rare plastic oak tree. Otherwise, it’s a one-time issue when you’re designing the thing, after that, it could be anything as far as the machine’s concerned.

Interesting info, Tuckerfan.

Basically, Miller got my point; I was just surprised at the pricing for the model because you could either get a.) much more sophisticated models for less or b.) get a ton of product (that you’ll get more use out of) for about the same amount. I was just looking for what the logic behind it is.

Tuckerfan’s info about the molding process is interesting, but it actually kind of dovetails well with Miller’s original point: I’m pretty sure that GW does all their manufacturing in England. I’m also pretty sure Bandai’s models are manufactured in Japan or South Korea. Since setting up a production line is so simple an affair, I’m betting that the price difference simply comes down to economy of scale like Miller said. Well, that and the fact that there are enough GW enthusiasts willing to pay it, of course.

I agree with Tuckerfan injection molding is cheap, cheap, cheap.

As someone who is married to an Avid Games Workshop supporter, (he has several complete armies, with extras.) I’d guess they charge that much because in order to play the game, you have to play with their pieces. I’m not just counting proxy models, most players won’t even let you use them. Thats why I don’t really play. I love to paint them, but I’m not willing to part with that much of my money when he’s already doing so. If I want to play, I’ll use one of his armies. But think about it, you can’t get models close to that for much less, and in order to play down at the shop, you need to have the real deal to play with, lest they laugh you right out of the store. And honestly, I think Wargames attract a certain type of person, one willing enough to part with that much money. :slight_smile:

Even if GW does all their manufacturing in England, the labor costs shouldn’t be all that high. I know of guys with similar set ups in their garages cranking out plastic silverware who make a comfortable living. Admittedly, there’s a high demand for such things (of course they retail for next to nothing), but I’d be willing to bet that GW could double their production, cut their prices, and still make a healthy profit because they’re making it up in volume. Let’s face it, if these models were cheap then they wouldn’t be for “grown ups,” but for kids and this would diminish their coolness factor in the eyes of some.

There are tons of kids playing these games, and it doesn’t diminish the game one bit. I actually think it’s great watching the kids paint, they get so serious!

I didn’t mean to be snippy; tone of voice when writing and all that.

I hear you that warhammer isn’t the cheapest hobby around, but I don’t think the cost is over the top unless you are (multiple large armies? Forge World models? Over the top). Look at photography, RPG playing, computer obsession or even regular (oil on canvas) painting; you need money for that too, and sometimes more than for warhammer.

If you just wan’t to play the game, you can do that with two regiment boxes and a general (~500 pts. for most armies), or a battalion box. There is no need to spend insane amounts of money at once.

There is if you want to seperate yourself from “the kiddies” as it were. The mindset which grows up around far too many hobbies is that you’re a “nobody” unless you’re willing (or able) to plunk down huge amounts of cash.

This is the same mentality which “inspires” audiophiles to buy $14K stereo cables.

Mind you, I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with shelling out the money if you’ve got it, but too often the things are simply designed to seperate you from your money and don’t add any real enjoyment to the hobby. That’s one of the reasons why I quit playing AD&D back in the early 80s, as it became apparent that the additions to the game weren’t really adding anything meaningful to the game, IMHO.

But would the market be there if they doubled their production runs? Warhammer is a popular game, relatively speaking, but like I said in my first post, it’s still extremely nichey. And GW comes out with a staggering array of products every year. I wonder how much margin they build into their prices to cover unsold stock, so they can keep offering such a wide variety of models?

Sure, but in my experience (which may, of course, be totally different from everybody elses) is that warhammer isn’t so bad in this regard. Most of the older crowd have pretty much acceptet that we’re a hopelessly childish bunch. And shelling out for tons of “cool stuff” isn’t really all that useful when it comes to GW models; the stuff isn’t really cool untill you, personally, have assembled and painted it. And all the money in the world won’t help you there :smiley:

There are elitist bastards in any hobby, and wargaming is no exception; but mostly these are painting elitists, not rich bastard elitists.

But if the stuff’s cheap enough, you’ll have people buying it who just think it looks cool. Some of the tanks, etc. in H3Knuckles links are pretty cool looking and if they were $10-$20 a pop, I’d consider getting some, but at $100+, they can suck my ballsack.

As I understand it, the molds for the plastic pieces are VERY expensive to manufacture and are only justified for pieces that will sell in high volume. Like say a box of Space Marines.

But they aren’t going to sell nearly as many [insert chapter master here], so, while the metal piece is expensive, the mold is much cheaper to manufacture.

And then you have the Forge World pieces, which sell at a much, much lower volume and tend to be large and have awesome detail. These are often handmade out of resin. They tend to be brittle and arrive warped, but can be straightened in warm water. Wear your mask if you sand or file them, folks.

Feel free to correct me if I’ve got any of this wrong.

This, quite frankly, is a load of crap. $10K for a mold, tops, and I speak from experience. Right now, there’s shops so desperate for work that you can get them to make the mold for you for below cost, and the technology to make the molds is getting cheaper by the day. You can build your own CNC machine for about $600. And while they only show it cutting foam, aluminum would be no problem.