Friday, 27 September 2013

Spending Habits: Sprue Cutters Union #10

Greetings fellow wargamers and hobbyists, and welcome to the treasury. Mind the cobwebs...
This week, the most excellent Sprue Cutters Union has been set the challenge of describing our hobby spending habits. A sort of 'how does your thinking process work?' when planning and making purchases, what kind of limits you may set yourself or real world considerations that affect your decision making.

- What are your spending habits? -  

I must say, one thing I like about being a member of the Sprue Cutters Union (look here if you would like to join), is that thanks to the variety of backgrounds and modelling genres covered by the Union members, I will always get to read points of view and experiences that differ from my own, and being a tabletop wargamer and modeller, I am looking forward to finding out whether my experiences with this topic differ much from those of my scale model building comrades. 

So, what are my spending habits as a tabletop wargamer and player of Games Workshop games? Well any #warmongers reading this can probably guess, as you yourself probably have similar experiences, especially if you have been in the hobby for a while. If I tell you that I have five complete armies (remembering of course that no army is ever truly complete) for Warhammer Fantasy and six for Warhammer 40,000, plus complete armies, factions and teams for a handful of Games Workshop's Specialist games range (living and deceased), you can have a pretty good stab at the financial investment made by myself and by generous family members over the course of my hobby life.

I am assuming that collecting wargaming miniatures for the purposes of fielding them on the table top is quite different to collecting and building scale model kits for display purposes, because once you have decided which faction you are going to collect for whichever game it is you happen to be playing, you then have to (at some stage) give consideration to what and how many of each model is required to actually be able to play your chosen game.

In the old days, I would build up an army in chunks, a box here, a pack there, and in some cases these armies were supplemented by models that came in the large 'boxed games' that Games Workshop put out. I used to buy pretty much every new boxed game as it was released, and having been playing since the early nineties, that's several editions, and this included the main boxed games for 40K and Fantasy, but also the Specialist Games as they came out too, which means Space Marine, Man O' War, Gorkamorka, Battlefleet Gothic and others, so the number of models I accumulated just by buying these sets was significant, though I didn't always go on to play the armies all the models were for.

Several of my armies were built early on in my time in the hobby, typically at Christmas and Birthdays, and built up relatively quickly, but continued to grow over time. Some, like my Sisters of Battle, started off as a small contingent originally played alongside my Imperial Guard as an elite spearhead, and years later was added to in order to make it into a 'legal' army in its own right. Back in those early years, all of my models were bought from Games Workshop stores. There weren't the discounts available from some independent retailers now, and e-bay was just a dream. Suffice to say that at the end of that period of plenty and relative hobby freedom, I had accumulated most of the models I own today.

More recently, my spending habits have had to change significantly, after marriage and a mortgage, cars, a child, and a spouse that likes the finer things in life, money re-allocation was inevitable. My hobby spending was pretty much reduced to what cash and vouchers I could get from Christmas and Birthdays with pretty much zip in between. At least after I discovered a local discount independent retailer I could make the cash go further, and thanked family members for supporting me with GW vouchers over the years, but offered to save them the trip to the store and just give me cash instead. Thus ended almost all my spending in Games Workshop stores.

Three armies I own were purchsed almost complete, in incredible moments of luck, sadness, and generosity. My Ork army went from a few disparate models left over from my younger brother's abortive foray into the hobby, to a full army with the Ork Army Box which was around when the majority of the current range of models was released back when the Third Armageddon War campaign took place. I think the money came from Birthday and Christmas cash combined.

My Dark Eldar army was also purchased as complete set nearly all in one go by my wonderful wife Rebecca, with just a few bits added since to top up. Though I know you won't read this, thank you sweetheart. Finally, my Warriors of Chaos army was also bought almost complete, and the financing for this army came from money left to me by my Granddad when he passed away. He was always a supporter of my hobby, and an inspiration in my life. Thank you Granddad. My Dwarf army was inherited from my dad, after he spent more than a year buying large quantities of models both new and second hand, and then one day just handed it all over! Thanks very much Dad!

After this period of relative hobby plenty, and the changes required to how our finances were allocated, I had a good rethink about my spending habits. For one thing, I already owned more armies than any normal person perhaps should, several years worth of painting ahead of me, and wasn't getting playing time with many of my models, which when you are  wargamer first and foremost is the whole point.

This is when I discovered online trading sections on forums I frequented. I found multiple things of interest, but not being able to allocate cash to purchases, I started to consider what I had in my collection that might be tradeable. Now generally speaking, I have never been one for 'slimming down' my collection,  all of which has value in my eyes, even if just for nostalgia, but I realised that miniatures that were sitting in boxes, not being painted, not being fielded in games, were essentially worth nothing to me.

I started posting up stuff I had that was suitable for trade, and off I went. Before I knew where I was, I had traded a few small quantities of models that I was getting nothing out of for things that were expanding the armies I was using, which was fantastic. In this way, I managed to obtain Ghouls for my Vampire Counts, swapped the random metal Imperial Guard units I had (armies used to be made up of a selection of units from different worlds) for a load of Catachan models which both increased my army size and made my collection look like a unified force. I also got myself two Carnifexes for my Tyranids. All of these trades were filtering out models that were otherwise just taking up valuable space, and boosting my 'active' collections of models, with barely a penny spent.

Then came the big one. I had taken a fancy to the Ogre Kingdoms army for Warhammer Fantasy, but it would take years to build an army with the limited funds I could dedicate once or twice a year, so I had a long and hard think about a small box sitting in my garage. This box contained models for Epic, the first proper wargame I ever played, and I had an absolute boat load of models for Space Marines and Orks, as well as several Titans and a Gargant. I had been reluctant in the past to let these go, but hadn't played Epic in years, and I knew no one that played locally, and after going through what I had and getting an idea of what it might be worth, I was confident I could get myself a sizeable Ogre army by letting the Epic stuff go.

So off it went. Models, terrain, everything. I was very pleased at the quantity of models and cash I managed to aquire by trading and selling these models. In addition, I decied to trade away another little gem: fifteen metal Daemonettes for Warhammer/40K, which most sane people much prefer to the newer plastic versions, and were something of a commodity commanding a good price. I could no longer use these models in games, ever since the Warriors of Chaos and Daemons of Chaos were split into separate armies, and this still doesn't ever look likely to change, so I found a guy that wanted them, and in exchange got stuff for my Warriors of Chaos and Ogres which must have been worth four or five times what I paid for the Daemonettes.

Despite what I had decided to let go in order to fund it, by the time my traded and bought Ogre army sat before me on the table and I was adding up the value in points (over 4,000!), I was happy that it had all been worth it.

Since then, I have just added bits and pieces to my armies each Christmas and Birthday, just picking up the odd new unit that has come out. My armies are all quite sizeable now, and could stay as they are without further addition, though we all like to add the new shiny from time to time. I don't have plans for any new armies, by virtue of the fact that I simply can't play with any more armies, and there's no benefit having armies you don't get to play. I am content.

If you would like to read posts on this topic by other members of the Union, check out the links below.

Thanks for reading...