Games Workshop get a lot of grief from fans for their seemingly annual price increases. With all the good news coming out lately—the sixth edition rule set and the upcoming boxed sets—its been easy to forget about the disappointing news from May when GW decided to raise prices for 2012. It is not hard to get worked up about price increases, but have the increases really been that serious? In all honesty, I couldn’t recall the price of miniatures when I first started collecting them. Out of curiosity, I decided to look into previous GW pricing and compare it to today’s pricing. As we go along, keep in mind that the average inflation for the US has been roughly 16% over the last eight years.
I compiled a 21 item list consisting of a wide range of GW items to compare day’s price to the prices eight years ago (2004.) The list offers a decent sampling of the types of products most fans would be interested in such as codices, rulebooks, battleforces, starter sets (boxed editions), single troop kits, vehicles, and squads. I do not have access to dealer inventory lists and the few dealers I did reach out to did not have documents dating back far enough to be of much use. Surprisingly, it was quite difficult to obtain solid pricing numbers from first party sources. GW’s tight internet sales policy may have something to do with it.
I was able to use web.archive.com to find archived snap-shots of the Games Workshop webpage. From there I could piece together some prices directly from their web store, although a lot of the webpages were completely broken. I did find a very workable snap-shot that was taken from 2004, so that’s what we will be looking at today.
Something that caught my eye was how many miniatures were metal eight years ago. I remember buying a lot of metal kit in the past, so it was quite refreshing to go back and see how much of the line up used to be metal. What was interesting was that the main reason GW wooed fans into accepting plastic models instead of metal was the cost savings that would supposedly be passed along, however prices have increased way over pre-finecast days.
|Metal Models||2004 USD||2012 USD||Increase|
|Space Marine Captain||10||22.50||125%|
|Space Marine Dreadnought||40||46.25||15.63%|
|*Space Marine Command||45||59||31.11%|
*The Space Marine Command Squad was compared to the more appropriate Finecast squad instead of the sprue based plastic squad.
It is quite apparent that the consumer savings through going plastic instead of using metal has all but vanished throughout the numerous price increases over the last eight years. Models like the Space Marine Captain aren’t even Finecast.
Single models have always been high margin items from GW, especially from a points perspective. What about media such as codices and rulebooks? Let’s look at those next:
|Model||2004 USD||2012 USD||Increase|
|Codex: Eldar, SM, Orks||15||33||120%|
|Codex: Chaos SM||20||33||65%|
|White Dwarf (Boxed sub)||50||95.75||91.50%|
The price of media was the most surprising to me. We are looking at a 65-120% increase across the board for Codices, a large increase in magazine prices, and a rather large increase in the already high-dollar rulebook. I’m starting to wonder at what dollar value would the price increases cease? GW couldn’t have a $100 rulebook by 2020 could they? Could they? To be honest, Codex quality has increased over the years though.
Lastly, let’s look at some boxed sets:
|Model||2004 USD||2012 USD||Increase|
|*Battle for Macragge||45||99||120%|
|Warhammer Starter Set||80||99||23.75%|
*Battle for Macragge was compared to Assault on Black Reach.
Again we see a decent increase in price on some already high-dollar items. The small annual markups over eight years really adds up. What’s curious is to why Games Workshop would put such a hefty increase on the Macragge/Black Reach set, which is supposed to draw new players in.
What’s represented above is a nice cross section of the prices I found. Overall, everything I found came out to an average increase of 45% across the board over the last 8 years. When we compare the price increases to the average 16% inflation, it becomes quite apparent that GW has doubled down on pumping up the prices to near premium-luxury levels. I remember struggling to purchase a few kits back when I first started in my youth and it kind of saddens me a bit to know that some younger people these days may not ever get to experience the games GW has to offer because of the monetary barrier.
For the average fan or working man/gal, these price hikes aren’t going to keep us from gaming and enjoying the hobby. However, I hope GW doesn’t cut off new blood by sticker shocking would-be buyers. By the time a new player buys AoBR, some paints, hobby supplies, and a codex, they are in over $200 without even playing.
Overall, GW miniatures are still an extremely fun and creative hobby. They are a fantastic way to enjoy arts, crafts, and gaming with friends and family while still being cheaper than a lot of other hobbies out there. I came into this analysis thinking we, the fans, were over reacting a bit, but I came out a little shocked by the magnitude of the increases over only eight years. On the plus side, it makes me want to spend more time on each and every model, so maybe my painting skills may benefit from these increases!