Saturday, January 28, 2012

Self Sufficieny and Model Recycling: How to "Not Pay" for New Models

Howdy folks.  With starting Warmachine, I have had to collect rules, models, tokens, and cards for a completely new game system.  I have discovered that while the vast majority of miniature wargames are fairly expensive to participate in, if you have a decent sized collection and a lack of sentimentality, you can really add model or games to your collection for little to no negative financial impact.  It's pretty amazing how this works.

I have always thought of myself as a "budget minded" person.  I love planning expenses, etc.  I love saving lots and spending little. Yeah....I'm weird, I know.  When I got into Warhammer Fantasy some 8 years ago, I spoke with my brother, who at the time was playing it.  He told me something to the effect of, "Yeah, there is this company that sells the models to you, but you can also use ebay to find good deals."  I was hooked.  It's no reason gaming minis are referred to as plastic crack.  Ebay was scanned daily.  Dark Elves were bought in droves, even on a poor college student, work study pay check (minimum wage here in Texas is lame).  Anyway, the base costs were significantly cheaper than retail.  Win.

From there though, my interests grew rapidly.  I wanted more Dark Elves.  I wanted new armies. A couple of years ago now, I wanted a new game, 40k. Now I want Warmachine.  So, how do you do this without breaking the bank?  There are definitely some simple strategies that help you to end with a sum profit/loss of roughly zero meaning you didn't spend anything. Let's take a look at them.

1) Ask for it.  Yep.  I generally ask for a thing or two at every birthday or for Christmas.  In my mind, gifts don't count as spending money, neither is "birthday money".  If you ask, provide links to webstores, etc. you can easily rack up the models you need quickly.

The next two things go hand in hand.

2) Sell old models.  This is somewhat of a contentious subject. Many players have a habit of connecting emotionally to their models.  They get sentimental.  You hear things like, "This army was my first army and I will never sell it," or "This models has never died in a game I've played and what's more he has killed (insert number) (insert wicked, scary models)!"  We project our personalities onto a model.  We connect the amount of time and energy modelling, painting, and gaming to a model's perceived value. This is a human thing to do.  No biggie.  However, if you are really jones-ing for some new models or to play a new game, you may need to re-evaluate your relationship with various models.  Here is my list of questions, in order of priority, for determining if a model should be sold or traded for new stuff.

- When was the last time this guy came out of the army case/cabinet/shelf/etc?  If he/she/it hasn't seen the light of day for over a year, he/she/it is fair game.
- How useful is this model in terms of gameplay?  If it isn't that good, is there a chance that will change anytime soon? Case in point.  Necron Monoliths look cool, but they took a huge hit in 5th ed.  Will 6th ed. make them better?  Possibly.  Will they get a new codex anytime soon? No. 
- What's the perceived value/demand for my model?  If there isn't any demand (hello Warhammer Fantasy Wood Elves), forget about getting any real cash or trade value out of it unless you find some sort of collector.
- If the perceived value is low, am I okay with parting with the model for a less than favorable price/trade? Sometimes you are, sometimes you aren't.  If question #1 has the answer "not for years", then you can probably take a hit because the model obviously has no value to you right now anyway if it's sitting on a shelf.
What do I want more, my old models or the new models/game?  Ultimately, you need to determine where your loyalties lie.  If you really, really want to try out the new game, then allegiances may be shifting way from your old game system.  You decide.

Finally, don't over think it.  Don't pull out your unused models and have a sobfest about how you really don't want to get rid of them.  Chunk them.

3) Barter.  Buy, Sell, Trade, but do it wisely.  It is amazing how much value little lumps of plastic and/or tin possess.  That said, there are multiple channels by which you can sell your stuff, trade it for new stuff, or just buy new stuff for cheap.  Never buy for full retail unless you have a reason to (like LGS loyalty).  The secondhand market for minis is so huge, you simply don't need to, so don't.

Here are a couple of places you might consider checking out for such deals.

1) Ebay- yeah I said it.  Ebay has turned into a relatively stagnant environment in the past few years in terms of buying and selling minis.  However, you occasionally find some deals.  Here are the things I look for.
    - Misspelled entries- Wahammer and Warhamer are super common.  Yay for individuals with little to no ability to spell. 
    - Mislabeled items- example.  I once purchased a 6th ed. (one edition older) Dark Elf hydra for like $12.50 on ebay because the seller put the wrong picture up on the auction page.  I did the homework, checked it out with him and verified the model and came out winning big since even that models is worth $45-$50.
    -  Batch auctions.  Occasionally, you will come across a batch of models advertised as "Warhammer Models" or "Vampire Soldiers" or something really generic like that.  When you look through the description and pictures, those generic things turn into some real finds because the seller didn't know what they were.  These things don't come up in search inquiries.
    - Items that require a bit of TLC.  Sometimes, being willing to work on a used mini a bit will save you tons of money.  Models that are painted poorly are some of the best finds.  a $4-$5 bottle of Simple Green can fix this problem and future problems for quite awhile.  I have had my bottle of Simple Green for about 2 years now.

2) Bartertown- This is my favorite place.  It is essentially a like going to a fleamarket of nothing but wargaming minis.  Super Awesome.  What's better, you rarely find anything set in stone.  You can haggle and negotiate.  You can find someone to buy almost anything even if it is a relatively old and obscure model.  Bartertown rocks.  Unlike ebay, it also allows you the ability to trade model for model.  I have never had a bad experience here, despite the more relaxed structure compared to ebay. 

3) Your local game store. Most independent game stores have consignment sections or swap shops that allow you to do the same thing as Bartertown, just in person.  This also promotes your local gaming store.  I highly recommend this if you have a thriving gaming community and feel like you can get a good deal on your stuff.

One final thing about selling and trading.  I have found that models with one of two types of condition sell/trade best, completely unpainted or very nicely painted.  People don't always like "meh" paint jobs.  Some don't care, but the two mentioned conditions usually get you the most bang for your buck. Pro painted stuff from a reputable organization or well known painter can really net the big bucks.

In the end, if you are willing to make a few "tough" decisions about your models, you can generally get a pretty good return on them and in turn keep buying new stuff.  Keep the hobby from having a negative impact on your wallet can be a daunting task, but with some thought, it actually isn't as hard to accomplish as you would think.

Other Money Saving Ideas:
Money Saving Playtesting Solutions
Taking better pictures with cra...inexpensive equipment
Budget Gaming Shout-Out: Planning AND Implementation ___________________________________________________________
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