Thursday, December 12, 2013

Games Workshop prices and The Hobbit

Scott had an excellent rant yesterday about the prices of Games Workshop's new figures from The Hobbit.  The premium they are paying in New Zealand (I reckon £48 a box instead of £25 in the UK) is frightening.  Middle Earth citizens should get a discount it seems to me!

I was in Games Workshop's Oxford Street store yesterday buying some Erebor Dwarves, which is going to be my new Hobbit force (having already painted some Grim Hammers).  I usually try to get in and out without engaging with the staff, if possible, but it was a slow afternoon (not surprisingly given the prices) and I was pounced upon before I had got six feet inside.  "What's your name?" asks the troll.  "Why do you need to know?" I reply, in the increasing manner of British people who do not like any unnecessary information about themselves being known by Evil Organisations such as the government, Yahoo or Games Workshop.   "I like to know the name of our regular custormers," says the Troll.   Now why does this annoy me?  After all when I go into the Tapas Bar in Leadenhall market or Latium restaurant (coincidentally, just  up the road from GW's Oxford Street store) I like being greeted by name as a regular customer.  The answer, I think, is because the interest is entirely fake and you know the staff have been trained to be as ingratiating as possible.  What they may believe to be a welcoming environment actually creates a creepy and, frankly, un-British feel in the shops.

Anyway, while they disappeared downstairs to get the dwarves, as they weren't on the shelves, I had time to rant on about the lack of Hobbit articles in White Dwarf (again).  "But we do this month," says troll proffering the new White Dwarf.  No, you have twenty pages of advertisements for new products.  There is no gaming content.  Still I bought it for the painting guides (I really am going to have to get those Mirkwood Rangers).  Then I got the Desolation of Smaug supplement and a new razor saw and left having spent £59 when I had intended to spend £20 and still only had ten miniatures!  

One interesting development that I hadn't really taken in. with the new releases. is that several of the new individual figures, such as Legolas Greenleaf, are plastic kits.  Not Finecast, just plastic.  Does this mean that they have realised Finecast has its limitations? The price, of course, at £15, was at Finecast level.

Now, nothing is going to happen as regards GW prices as it is a publicly listed company.  The Legatus was in the senior management team of a large plc a few years ago and it was a complete eyeopener to attend board meetings.  It became clear that most of the board members had no idea what the company was really about.  All they were interested in was driving up share value.  Everything was about "keeping the City happy".  Announcing that year on year prices are going up will make the City very happy.  Cutting prices will not.  But would cutting prices mean more sales?  That's a risk and British plcs do not take risks, as I know from my current job.  French, German, Spanish, American and Dutch firms take risks,  British ones don't.  It's become an issue within government and is a cause of great frustration to ministers trying to promote UK companies abroad.  The usual comment is something like: Senior director "Yes, I can see the opportunities for our firm here but the board won't go for it.  Too risky."  So don't expect lower prices, ever!

As long as the product is good I'll keep buying GW's Tolkein figures.  I'm not interested in substitutes because I want my figures to look like those in the films.  I am concerned, though, that The Hobbit figures have been poor sellers and that we may not get figures for the Battle of Five Armies which is all I really wanted from the range all along.


  1. Very interesting... liked reference to the 'troll' yeah they're the same the world over...

    I too like the look of the new figures, but I just cannot justify spending he money on them, as I doubt I'll be getting many games with them...

    Oh, the plastic Legolas is $NZ50 here...

    I think the worst thing that ever happened to the company was its public listing... to think what could have been - a vibrant hobby world with quality figures at realistic prices - with steady sales and a growing market... instead it seems endless people are saying I'm not buying from GW again... and are turning away in droves... sad, just sad...

  2. Sad to hear the NZ prices. What little I know about GW prices, I heard that certain retailers offer modest discounts on some of their product. Still very high compared to say, Perry Miniatures. Best, Dean

  3. Yes, Dark Sphere, a shop in London is offering 20% off The Hobbit figures which is a good saving.

  4. I mentioned this on Scott's blog and I'll mention it again here. GW has to post its annual earnings now that its on the exchange you can see this information right on the GW web site just look under stockholder. We you look through a couple of years worth of reports you learn 3 things;
    1) Sales are dropping steadily year after year.
    2)Gross income is down, but not anywhere close to what the sagging sales numbers would suggest due to annual price hikes.
    3) The stock price is up.

    This tells you everything you need to know.