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The Angry Young Man tackles Games Workshop…

May 23rd, 2012 by Marc 7 Comments

Anyone who plays Warhammer, or Warhammer 40k, or any other Games Workshop game will know that Games Workshop, over the years has become less about ‘the hobby’ and more about ‘the dough ray me’. I could go on about many a thing, one need only compare and contrast the vintage White Dwarf magazine with the current to see the glaring facts of the matter. However, in essence I will simply inform the reader (poor you) of the experience I recently had attempting to buy stuff from them from my Golden Daemon entry. And then moan.

Last month, I wanted to buy a squad of space marines. But not the normal squad that is priced at £23.00, I wanted the squad that came with the Iron Hands chapter upgrades (small metal add ons that gave the wee soldiers cooler guns etc.). It cost £25.50. As you’ll note, that is £2.50 more expensive than the normal box.

Then, as is the way, the squad with the upgrades disappeared from the website. I, as any other overgrown child, was rather disappointed. So I emailed Games Workshop Customer Support to see if they had any lying around. Below is the rather boring email trail… Minus a few things, obviously.

Dear Games Workshop Customer Service,
I was recently looking on the website and saw the iron hands squad of space marines at £25.50, I wanted to buy a squad in conjunction with some forgeworld stuff, but alas it looks as if Games Workshop have discontinued the squad. I was just wondering if there were any left and if so would you sell me a box.

Thanks for the email, the Iron hands squad is currently out of production, we unfortunately have no stock left for this product.
We apologies for any inconvenience.
Games Workshop Customer Service

Dear Games Workshop Customer Service,

Cheers for the quick response. That’s a shame about the squad.
However, I’ll not be accused of not trying my luck. I checked the GW US web site and they still have them on it, I’m just not paying thirty dollar postage for them. Is there any chance GW US would ship them to GW UK, and then have them posted to me from there? Like in a box with other stuff that is being sent across to you lot from our yankee cousins some time in the near future?If not, I fully understand, if so I’d be rather pleased.

Thanks for the email, unfortunately this is not something we are able to offer you, however you can feel free to order it from the US website and have it posted to you from them.
Hope this helps
Games Workshop Customer Service

See, told you, boring and rather innocuous, except for the part where I specifically state I’m not paying the postage for something from America, only to be told that I ought to pay it if I want the product.
Boring and innocuous, except, that on Friday I looked on their website (which now downloads cookies on to your computer so it can monitor your online actions, by the way.) and I saw that Games Workshop have re-released the Iron Hands squad in what they call ‘fine’ cast resin, but not as a squad, as an upgrade pack, that costs £11.00.
That’s right, something that a few weeks ago cost an extra £2.50 now costs an extra £11.00, a 340% price increase. Games Workshop would probably say it is only a 33% increase, given the price has increased from £25.50 to £34.00 for the total of the mow oop box set, but they’ve re-released it as an upgrade so I’m going to say the original ‘upgrade’ cost £2.50, and the new upgrade costs £11, which is 340% for the upgrade itself. But I’m sure their marketing department is going with the 33% stat. It was probably a quick discussion.
You make of it what you will.
So, not only a price hike, but the guy from Games Workshop actually told me to buy the product from the U.S if I wanted it, instead of basically saying: “Here mate, give it a few weeks and we’ll have some pretty cool fine cast releases that might take your fancy.”
Would a car dealer tell a customer: “I’m really sorry but the new Fordius Maximus is only available from our American Dealerships at the minute so you’ll just have to talk to them about buying one.” When they knew full well that he/she was receiving a shipment of Fordius Maximus in the near future? (Fordius Maximus that were priced at £25,000 (or £25,500) recently, but that he’she now knows are going to be sold at £110,000 (or £34,000).) I think not, it just doesn’t seem like good business sense.
But, basically, what the guy helpfully meant was something to the affect of: “You’re better off getting them from America because the postage is probably less than the price we’re going to charge you for the new fine cast minis. Muwahahaha. (Not an actual quote.)”
If one applies logic, a company would be stupid to spend more money producing something in resin when it already produced it in metal for a much lower price (If there has been a production cost increase at all.) unless your core demographic is nine to 15 year olds whose parents are buying the product and have no idea there was a 340%/33% increase in the price of the product over a period of weeks simply because the medium in which the product is produced has changed. All very dry and very boring. But they’re the ones getting away with it.
It does however prove another point in an internet debate that has been raging for years: Are Games Workshop simply a money making machine who care little for the customers/fellow hobbyists who have stuck by them for years?
Simply put, in this instance, yes.
But what of it? Does it really matter in an economic climate where everything is getting more expensive and wages are falling or remaining static? Well to stick with the Fordius Maximus analogy, first you buy the car, then you have to buy petrol. Petrol has been increasing in price rather sharply for years (Much like products made by Games Workshop.) But people keep paying for it. My advice would be this, buy a bicycle, or use red diesel, metaphorically speaking.
Applied to Games Workshop that means: buy miniatures from other suppliers and use them as proxies, or use online auction sites to buy things more cheaply. Because it seems to me that Games Workshop is moving to solely plastic and resin miniatures to slowly stymie the sale of metal miniatures on online auction sites, something that stops them maximising their profits.Oh, and happy 25th Anniversary to Warhammer 40k, may 6th edition reclaim the glory that once was the grim darkness of the future… On a kitchen table – contrary to what rumours abound.

Angry Young Man.

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Marc is a self-confessed nerd. Ever since seeing Star Wars for the first time around 1979 he’s been an unapologetic fan of the Wars and still believes, with Clone Wars and now Underworld, we are yet to see the best Star Wars. He’s a dad of two who now doesn’t have the time (or money) to collect the amount of toys, comics, movies and books he once did, much to the relief of his long-suffering wife. In the real world he’s a graphic designer. He started Following the Nerd because he was tired of searching a million sites every day for all the best news that he loves and decided to create one place where you can go to get the whole lot. Secretly he longs to be sitting in the cockpit of his YT-1300 Corellian Transport ship with his co-pilot Chewie, roaming the universe, waiting for his next big adventure, but feels just at home watching cartoons with his kids….

  • Chris Averiss

    Amen…..and beautifully put.

  • Anonymous

    Last year I bought the new Grey Knights codex, as I’ve always had a soft spot for the warriors from Titan and their Inquisitorial brethren. I had the idea of buying a few models and maybe getting back in to it as I’ve continued to buy Black Library books for years. But then I saw the price. I earn a well above average wage and getting back into Games Workshop games would have been at the detriment of all my other hobbies. I’m not sure how I was able to pay for it all seventeen years ago when I didn’t earn anything and yet had a sizeable force across three of their games. It amazes me that I still see children inside their stores when they seem intent of pricing most people out of the hobby.

  • Welshman

    Unfortunately, the guy you were talking to you was probably none the wiser about the re-release of the Iron hands upgrade pack. This is due to GW’s very tight restrictions on Rumors/releases which came in after signing a the deal with New Line for The Hobbit. Further, If he did know (which is unlikely) he could not tell you as he would lose his job, plain and simple.

    The price increase is ridiculous but I’m nearly 100% sure GW made a loss on the old Iron Hands Kits and they were ridiculous value for money. So I’d cut them some slack (not a lot)

  • Gävin Bell

    I went into GW in Castle Court a while ago, the first time in years and I was shocked by the cost of individual miniatures (£9 I think) but also how the basic game with two armies was only £60. This isn’t really that bad when you look at the cost of Lego sets and other toys/hobbies for kids, so I imagine kids get the starter game and bigger sets as presents and add extras from their pocket money.

    added to which what else will kids spend their money on? I know that with mortgage, child, wife and all the rest I have a lot less disposable income than I did when I was younger, when it was essentially ALL disposable!

  • Angry Young Man

    I would have to agree with you Gavin. The boxed game sets do provide gamers with many miniatures (that are simple to put together and offer little variation of figures), dice, rule books et al. for a somewhat reasonable price, however if you want an army that is not provided in the box set with the rules (there are 14 odd different armies), you would be pay £60+ for their ‘battleforce’ for far fewer models, no rule book, and no codex – an army specific rule book.

    Say I want Tyranids – the GW version of Aliens.

    A battleforce costs £70. The Tyranids Codex costs £20, and the rule book costs £35. Not to mention I’d need paints, brushes, measuring tape, dice, and as any GW staff member in the shop would point out – the battleforce doesn’t come with an HQ choice per say so I’d want one of those too – £33. So to start an aliens (I mean Tyranids) army in modern times costs between £115 and £145 for approximately a 1,000/1,500 point unpainted force – in Warhammer 40k terms that is a small army.

    In my hand I have a circa 1989 White Dwarf.

    For contrast, and to help prove the point of my piece I checked prices on the Historical Inflation Calculator. Because I’m like that.

    A rogue trader space marine Rhino APC cost £4.99 in ’89 (seeing that made me weep a little). That value now is £10.50. A modern day Rhino costs £20.50.

    In ’89 the box set of HeroQuest cost £19.99 – approximately £42.18 now. The new Space Hulk cost £60 and the 40k box set is £61.50 (They WANT that £1.50!).

    The issue I have in front of me had an army deal for a Genestealer Cult – a now defunct awesome army of alien insurrectionists that precluded tyranid invasions – for £35.00. That deal included 52 metal, not plastic (except for arms and weapons and bases) models of great variation. £35.00 then is £73.85 now. Compared to the tyranid battleforce that’s pretty much the same except the old one had 54 minis and the tyranids battleforce has 43 models that are all plastic. The rules for the genestealer cult army are all included in the White Dwarf I’m holding – it cost £1.50 in ’89 (£3.17 now) compared to the £20.00 codex. Or the £4.50 monthly brochure (I mean White Dwarf) of today.

    The miniatures now are all far superior in quality compared to the ones sold then of course. And one could argue that this is the reason for the price hikes, however, that disregards the principle of ‘returns to scale’ (pun intended) which are obvious when mass producing little plastic soldiers, (I never though studying Economics A-Level would come in so useful).

    Anyhow, cheers for reading, and I’m surprised and alarmed that no pedants have pulled me for all my spelling mistakes. I know I would.

    • Supersk8r

      You have spelling mistakes!

  • Daniel Hartman

    What is the spesific email to Games Workshop? is it just Customer Service?

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