Price has hardly ever been a major factor in my figure buying over the years. And I say that as someone who throughout my working life in both the UK and here in Australia has never earned anything close to the average wage! Expensive figures might get ordered in smaller quantities sometimes – but generally if they are what I want, I save up and pay up with a smile. This has always been the case, even back to my teenage pocket money days. I’ve never viewed the hobby as particularly expensive
(beyond the GW universe, but more on them in a moment), and having worked inside the industry for a few years I have seen both sides of the coin - and that has only reinforced my view.
I no longer work for Eureka, (aside from a little occasional commissioned research work), so what follows are my personal observations and nothing to do with Eureka, nor are they related to my comments on the other thread, but as an ex-insider there are a few general points I’d like to get off my chest about the pricing of historical wargames miniatures and customer perceptions of them.
Not many people will ever get rich running a wargames miniatures company – not even remotely ‘well off’
. There’s probably only one Byran Ansell. The margins are very small, and the majority of historical miniatures companies only survive financially on the prices they charge because their owners operate them as one man shows – often out of their own homes; and/or they sculpt their own stuff; and/or they have another source of income.
Factor in things like separate business premises and extra staff (essential if you are anything beyond a medium sized small business), commissioning sculptors (if you don’t sculpt yourself) – or god forbid you DO
rely on selling miniatures for your sole income, and things can quickly start to look very lean indeed.
Some of this influences the pricing policies of even the higher profile, professional miniatures companies. I strongly suspect, for example, that if the Perry’s didn’t draw down a regular income from GW they might well be forced to charge considerably more than they do for their own excellent product. (For what you get, I think Perry metal figures are under-priced...). Even a big company like Old Glory is – as I understand it – ‘cushioned’ to some extent by the other business interests of its proprietor.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The historical miniatures hobby has a long honourable tradition based on ‘hobby businesses’, but the industry’s part amateur origins and continuing ‘cottage industry’ culture (not being subject to what might be described as full ‘professional’ overheads), has tended to keep figure prices down. Since the 1970’s historical gamers have got rather used to this. It therefore comes as a shock to most historical gamers to be confronted by GW’s prices! Everyone moans about GW – even their fans (I’m not one of them). Yes, it’s expensive and yes, their marketing practices are ‘morally’ questionable, but are they really doing that much wrong? This is a company with shareholders, staff to pay, and major ‘bricks and mortar’ costs to cover (have you seen the rents shopping centres / malls screw out of their tenants these days?) GW charge what they do because they have to make a healthy profit
I would respectfully suggest that historical gamers should count themselves fortunate that most of our end of the retail hobby still functions on something closer to the ‘cottage industry’ level, and that we are not asked to pay prices nearer the business norm of GW’s world. Some of the serial price moaners that inhabit TMP and other forums should consider for a moment that it is perhaps not so much GW who is obscenely expensive, but it is more a case that companies like Front Rank or the Perrys represent bloody good value for money!
Right - I'll put my tin hat on...