After my recent post including the bit about over priced dice and rules I thought I should tackle the problem about those rotter's who seem to be hell bent on making money out of my hobby, heel out of me!
One reason GW is so hated in the hobby is that they are rather good at making money out of it, not as good as they used to be for some reason cough FoW cough. Indeed it's been the height of fashion to rip in to them on behalf of the pimpled ranks. Lets ignore the fact that grown ups also play GW and some of them even seem half sane. Sure GW is the over priced champions of the world but when is all said and done most people who play their games don't get the money prised out of their pockets, it is choice when all is said and done.
Not sure which is supposed to be worse the fleecing the GW customer with prices that would make a loan shark blush or your small wargames hobby supplier done well. OK I do, it's GW but that's just to easy a target so lets move onto the ones we like.
Perry Twins hold an almost God like place in the eyes of a large part of the 28mm hobby, I have heard that once they were seen crossing the middle of a pond with not a bridge in sight but like many others questioned I did not see it myself. Indeed it's almost certain that all of us have one or more favoured supplier who may not quite fit the can't do no wrong certainly come close. For me I guess it's Leven Miniatures and Baccus as I have got to know the owners well enough to like them a great deal. Loki it's Warbases (I like these too) and indeed it's fine for Brigantes Studio to do very well for them selves too as Kev and Loki are great guys but again it's personal. But what about the bloody rest?
Given this is my hobby I am precious about it, passionate in fact. So what? so is just about every last one of us but too many forget or don't consider the fact that for all the companies big and small it has to be more than that for them, or indeed could be seen as LESS than that. It should be first and foremost their business. For some it's part time add on to their day job, in many a case in hope of it becoming a full time occupation. Some it's what literally pays the mortgage.
Let me run that past you again, it pays the mortgage, well it does if they do well enough. If suddenly someone new comes on the block and carves into their market then they suffer and maybe things get tough. If this happens I have no doubt a great many will feel for them, plenty will even buy extra product just to try and do their bit.
OK so what happens if we get a sniff at the fact they are doing well, I mean really well? Nice new car, a better holiday than you have had in years? I am fairly confident MORE people would be pissed off than would be happy for them. I simply am not one of those. I guess you can blame it on my retail experience from running a very successful part of a multimillion £ business, well until it went pop but lets move on.
Can you imagine what it would be like say for instance Golf was ran with that kind of view? On the bright side crazy golf would suddenly seem not so crazy. But let me take you down the road of a few scenarios, after all wargamers like scenarios right?
Warbases. Not sure when they started to make an impact on the hobby but I discovered them three years ago, the MDF bases was new to me so I was rather smitten with the product I bought at I think Triples. But it was when I bought from them via their webpage I really fell for them. Service was top notch and oh so very fast and personal. Better still it has grown faster than I would have thought possible, it's a family business and it's amazing the ideas that have come from this company. It's possibly (looking from the outside) one of the fastest growing companies in the wargames hobby, certainly in it's field. But my friends what have they done with this business? Well given that they have bought at least one casting machine for a own grown metal range to compliment their other components and paid the cost of getting figures sculptured, even some resin pieces are made by or for them. Invested is what they have done. Not content with sitting back they have generated a large range of animals, many not available anywhere else. Investment = risk, now I don't know (or want to) how much they have had to invest or what business plan they have set up to recoup their investment (short/medium/long) or indeed how much deeper they plan to invest/expand. Good on them is what I say, though I do hope they at least get that holiday!
Baccus recently expanded and replaced their French Napoleonic's, that's not really in my eyes half as risk possible than Warbases as it's a fair bet even those who have enough French old style have been reaching into their pockets. However I am confident most will actually under estimate just how much cash Baccus will have sunk into this project. I guess it's years not months before Peter see's that range break even taking into account sales that would have gone on old style castings if he had just refreshed the moulds. But if you look at the ranges he has released over the past couple of years and these he is releasing now it's a major capital investment. His WWII tanks in 3d printing plus WWI/II metal figures are both fairly risky ventures that see's him having to invest profits for hoped for future gains and especially WWII into an area that already is reasonably well covered. Takes balls that!
I could go on but the point is these people and many others take financial risk to bring us the new toys and too many of them do it under tighter financial constraints that many a company in other fields would be prepared to do.
However some companies fall into the it's a hobby to me field, never more so than the professional painter. Lets look at Brigantes Studio again. Andrew unashamedly states he paints for a living and does so at prices he can make a living. To some their price is too high, others may feel he is ripping them off due to his high prices. You see so many painting services are either earning extra, painting evenings and/or weekends or funding their hobby. They are not professional painting services, that does not mean they can't do a great job, many do, others don't. Kev and Andrew on the other hand have this as their income and yes if you go to their blog via the link above you will see they do a bloody fine job for a price that sure seems right to me given the level of work they have on the books.
It's not just the budget or part time painting services that undermine the full time hobby providers, too many figure suppliers out their do this part time, funded in part not from sales but full time wage, this gives a false impression of value for money and leads to the idea that we somehow are paying over the odds sometimes.
How about I close now with this one thought, if we were charged more for our figures, buildings and consumables (don't really count against wargameing budget anyway) maybe just maybe our lead mountains would be smaller and we ourselves a little happier with our lot?