Fanatics and hobbyists! Lend me your ears! Once again I strike with the might of my pen (keyboard), rather than smiting all heretics with the sword. All over the community there is an outcry of pricing being too damn high. But what are we really bitching about? Is it too expensive or are some of us just whiney cheap bastards?
Are prices truly going through the roof and do we get less bang for our buck? As I surf on to Games Workshop website, I direct myself towards the bestsellers’ section to check the pricing for probably the most sold box from GW ever, namely the honorable Tactical Squad for Space Marines. The pricing for this 181-piece kit is listed at $40 and 300SEK equivalent. My next step in my research is to go to a currency conversion site to check how these two prices correlate on today’s market. Converting $40 into SEK lands me on a sum of 360 SEK. So at current rates I would pay 60 SEK, which is approximately 5 dollars more, if I was to buy the product over in the US. For 60 SEK I get a nice cup of coffee and a cake at one of the coffee house franchises, or a burger meal at any given fast food restaurant. So there is a difference and there is an explanation to the difference, but we will address that further down the line. Just to add a third reference I am adding the UK pricing of the same product as well, with a conversion into dollars and SEK. The tactical squad goes for £25, it converts into 298 SEK, which is $33 and change.
You don’t have to be a wiz at math to understand that across the atlantic pond, you guys are paying an approximate of 20-25% more for your hobby than we do over here in Europe. This is annoying, I understand, but let’s look at some more facts.
Location, location, location!
Games Workshop is based and does their production in Nottingham, GB. For all intents and purposes, citadel miniatures are a local product of Great Britain. Export within Europe, is dirt cheap, it literally costs nothing, because we have the EU and Schengen treaties. Now the US are part of NAFTA, North American Free Trade Agreement. This is basically the same thing as the EU, but just for you guys. So, along the line people have to make money. The government needs tax money from tolls and VAT. The company needs to make money after shipping costs and distribution is all payed and done for. Since the product is done locally and not in some sweatshop, workers also have to get payed, while the company is still making profit. This is why you guys unfortunately have to pay 20-25% more.
Now this just explains the price difference and pricing today. But it doesn’t necessarily tell us if it is expensive or not. We have to compare countries when it comes to minimum wage, I do this because it is a reasonable indication of the general wealth among people in a certain country.
So how much is too much?
Minimum wage in the US, according to Goolge, is $7,25 per hour, in the UK according to their .gov, minimum wage varies depending on age and level of mastery, so someone that is over 25, which the majority of hobbyists are, the minimum wage lands on £7.20 per hour, which calculates into 85SEK per hour and $9,55 per hour. In Sweden there is no legislated minimum wage, everything is regulated through agreements between the unions and the employers. Wages are measured in an average wage, where the average wage in Sweden is 165SEK ($18,30) per hour.
Now what do these numbers tell us? They give indication what kind of living standard the general public can afford. Is a hobby, such as plastic toy soldiers a part of what we should be entitled to within a minimum wage? Most likely not; rent, bills, food and clothing are higher in the priority order. They also tell us that are certain wage gaps between countries. Just to bring another country into the mix; with my education and what I do for a living, I make 3 times the money someone in my position would do in Poland. But they do play Warhammer in Poland.
Can a company moderate their prices to fit with every country’s domestic economy? Well, of course not, unless they actually set up shop in every single country their product exists, and set up local production so materials and workforce correlate with the domestic economy.
Doing my research for prices I stumbled across this little gem . In 1991, namely 25 years ago a plastic tactical squad was £20 for a ten man unit. The box back then contained approximately 100 different pieces. Today, 25 years later a box of ten marines, contains 181 different bits, and goes for a whopping £5 more than it did 25 years ago. Yes some kits are hiked way more than this, and yes in percent it is a 25% price increase….. over 25 years.
Yeah, but Battesai isn’t it getting a little bit too expensive now?
Quite frankly, no, I don’t think it is. Our hobby is a rather luxurious one, and has always required time and money. We are, however getting cheaper, we want things faster and we want them at top quality. The prices are what they are, production cost, quality increase and inflation accounted for, I still believe we are getting our bang for our buck. I see it like this; I started this hobby when I was seventeen and had a piss in the wind to my name. I had my allowance and whatever small cash I could muster by working extra after school. As I grew older my income increased exponentially (minus the years at college, yey Ramen!). Today I am married, joint economy with two above average paychecks coming in monthly. Yes Warhammer and minis in general ARE expensive. But i can afford them. I drink less, way less (minor setback a couple of weekends back when a buddy and I figured it would be a good idea to go to an October fest event….), Generally cook all food at home, no children yet, and a planned economy with specific budgets for our personal wants. I can afford a kit every single month, no problem. Why? Because I worked for it. The only time this hobby becomes too expensive is when you A) Don’t make enough to afford your necessities and your hobby fantasies at the same time, B) you want stuff all at one time C) you are cheap and/or the hobby isn’t that important to you.
I know what you American fanatics are thinking, smug European bastard with 25% lower prices. Well, that’s economy for you. Even if it cost American prices I would still pay.
Final words – moral of the story
Yes we have an expensive hobby, but bitching about it won’t make a difference. The only thing it will do is make your experience of the hobby less enjoyable and you will lose why you are doing it in the first place. If you really love your hobby, you will save up, you will work more and you will plan time, economy, relationship and everything in between to make it work. Because we all do it because we love it. I love it.
And if you flip it another way, if GW doesn’t make money off of us, how the hell do you expect them to spoil us with weekly releases, grade A products and a growing community on social media?