Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Making Money Off of those Miniatures:Ebay

Last week, I wrote an article about how to have zero impact on your wallet by using multiple avenues to accrue new models for that new army or gaming system you want to get into.  Chief among my methods for generating hobby income was getting rid of your old models.  Since that article seemed to be well received, I wanted to explain in a more in-depth manner how to get the most for your models.

There are basically a few "rules" to getting the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to dealing with others.  I will break this article up into two section, ebay rules and everything else.

The cardinal rule of selling used models is to Never Overvalue Your Models. Only in rare circumstances will you be able to match retail value or get more.  This usually happens when the model is an easily recognizable piece modelled and/or painted by someone of note in the world-wide gaming community.  If Dave Taylor or Blue Table Painting put something up on ebay, the price is justified.  If Joe-Bob Smith does, no matter how well it's painted, it probably won't merit even retail value unless there are some amazing (and genuine) pictures to back up the claim.

Now that we have a slightly more realistic perspective on the worth of our models, let's get dealing. 

ebay the blackfleamarket of miniatures
For today's article, I am going to deal with ebay. Ebay has lost a lot of its good reputation of late because the good deals seem to have found other places to hang out.  Most things now come NiB (new in box) and for only slightly less than retail so that when shipping is added, you are right back at retail.  You might as well go to your local store and purchase the models new in this case. 

Wait!  Don't leave yet. That doesn't mean that we don't see a handful of good deals still on ebay. I have actually found quite a few good deals as both a buyer and a seller.  Here are my few tips for getting your models to sell for a passably decent amount of money.

1) SPELL CORRECTLY!  I'm not perfect, but come on.  It doesn't take much to spell things correctly.  I expect it of my students at school, not someone who actually wants to make money.  Some of the best deals I get on ebay come from people who don't spell their listings correctly.  Common misspellings of Warhammer are Wahammer or Warhamer.  I don't know how many "Blood Angles" (input bad geometry jokes here) I have purchased for cheap.  Seriously, spell things correctly.

2) Give a good description.  This includes Gaming System, Faction/Army, Models being sold and quantity.  An example would be "20 Warhammer Fantasy Dwarf Warriors" or "6 Warmachine Menoth Exemplar Errants". Many people search by only one of the terms listed, so having all three in the description insures that you will get a hit from a more narrow search.

3) Take pictures.  It doesn't take much to get semi-decent pictures, even with a crappy camera.  Check out my tutorial on taking quality shots with terrible or minimal equipment. Good pictures are worth money in your pocket.  A blurry picture won't sell anything.  Take a good picture and show off what you have.  There are many people who will pay for a painted army, despite its quality of paintjob, simply because it is painted and ready for the tabletop.  Take good pictures.

4) Know your bottom line.  What are you willing to accept as the lowest amount for your models.  Be realistic. No one is going to pay for 10 bare plastic tactical marines at retail.  Generally speaking, most models go for around 55-60% of retail.  Take that into account.  If you can't handle that much of a discount, you better get painting or don't bother selling it.  Set your minimum near your lowest desired price.  I generally go a little under that mark as bids usually bring it up some.

5) Set reasonable shipping prices.  The average squad of plastic models for any game costs between $2.50-$5.00 for shipping/handling and delivery confirmation depending on size.  There is no reason to charge $12.00 to ship your Rhino transport.  It will cost you buyers.  If you are selling multiple items to the same person, discount the shipping.  They will appreciate it and advertising this perk will get you more bids.

6) Timing is essential for maximum revenue.  Kind of like the stockmarket, miniatures sell according to what's popular and what's perceived as a good investment usually according to rules and competitiveness.  Here are two names to illustrate my point: Tyranids and Wood Elves, both GW products.  These two armies (one 40k and one fantasy) suck.  No one really plays them.  As such, they sell for very little, if at all, on ebay.  The best time to sell minis is right before the new codex/army rules hit the shelves as this is when overall excitement for the models is at its highest. 

7) Be patient.  Remember the goal is to get as much as possible, but recycling models will always be a scenario of diminishing returns.  Be realistic about this up front. 

If you play your cards right, ebay can be your friend.  Make sure to be intentional about how you advertise and realistic about what you want to get out of the deal and you will do well.

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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Throatpunch said...

I have just read last week's article and this week's, and I think that what you have prepared is great. You bring up a lot of good points for saving money in the hobby. I have followed your site on google, and have added your site to my blogroll. If interested, my site can be found at

Sandbox said...

Unless you are a great painter, you are better of selling the models as bare plastic than painted. Bare plastic can fetch you up to 70% sometimes. Also if you are selling a lot of items, list them on a unit by unit basis. This will being in more money than just one big listing. Hope that helps.

Dave said...

Thanks for the comments guys. Sorry for the late response.

@Sandbox, I totally agree. If you have sprues or unpainted models laying around, they sell for more than painted stuff, unless really well painted. Unfortunately, most people don't have a ton of unpainted models laying around, so that %50-60 is where it's at.

@Throatpunch. Cool site man. Thanks for the link.

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