It seems that these days it is almost impossible to visit a wargaming forum and not see a thread with a vast number of posts bashing Games Workshops pricing policy. These criticisms become especially fervent when a price increase is put forward, with great swathes of people vowing never to purchase Warhammer ever again. Now I am not going to claim superiority over these people as I, in the past, have been part of the angry ranting myself. However, when I actually started to think about the prices beyond the typical knee jerk reaction I realised something. Hold on to your hats but you know what, they aren’t that bad. Now I imagine that many of you are screaming ‘Heresy!!’ and moving your cursor to the little X in the corner of your browser but wait! Let me explain myself. The first thing that we need to do is take a look at some of Games Workshops competitors, namely Privateer Press and Mantic Games.
Mantic GamesI only recently came across the work of Mantic Games and was astounded by how cheap, relatively speaking, their miniatures are. When you are seeing £14.99 for 20 Ork look-a-likes compared the Games Workshops £18 for 10 there really is no contest on who is the more economic choice. But, as with most things, when you scrimp on the price you scrimp on the quality. Now don’t get me wrong, Mantic Games have some excellent looking miniatures but they just don’t live up to the high quality kits we see from GW. If you’re looking to build a large force cheaply then Mantic is an excellent choice, I’m sure most people would have no problem in you fielding Mantic Games minis in Warhammer games. But if you’re looking for quality over quantity, then Games Workshop wins out again.
Now it may seem to be a bit of cop out to simply justify Games Workshops prices based on those of their much smaller competitors. After all we should expect a multi-national company like GW to be able to have lower prices due to the simple fact that they can produce miniatures on a much larger scale. So let’s take a look at the actual production costs of Warhammer.
Production CostsI'm not going to go into a lot of detail here, if you want to see an estimated cost by cost break of the production and manufacturing of a land raider kit take a look here:
The article makes some excellent points and you can really see why Warhammer costs what it does. One of the obvious things that I never really thought about is where the plastic comes from, oil. When the price of oil goes up so does that of plastic, of course this isn’t a 1:1 relationship due to the process of extracting plastics from oil. However there must be some knock on effect, for example between 2003 and 2005 the price of a barrel of oil increased by 90%, now in the same period the Land Raider kit increased by 10%. Which when you think about it, isn’t all that bad in the larger scheme of things.
Please don’t label me as a massive GW fanboy, I don’t whole heartedly agree with every part of Games Workshops pricing policy, there are some products which are unjustifiably expensive. Take for example the clam-packs, £12-£15 for a single plastic figure really doesn’t scale well when you compare it to a 10 man box of Dark Elves for £15.50. The problem here is that GW replaced pewter and resin characters with the much cheaper plastic but continued to charge the same prices. But on the whole, most plastics kits are fairly priced.
Before you even begin to think about criticising Games Workshops prices you have to remember that what you are paying for is a luxury product, not mass produced toy soldiers. High-end tablets and smartphones are expensive but people still pay for them because they want a product that is of a good quality and the same goes for Warhammer. I think we take it for granted just how excellently designed and easy to construct plastic kits are, especially when compared to other model companies. Yes it is expensive to field a full 1500pt force but that the problem there is the rules, not the kits themselves.
written by Madrilous