Friday, September 7, 2012

Auctions and the Hobby

Be it in person, or online, no one can deny that there is a fair amount of plastic, resin and metal recycling that goes on in our hobby world. Does your local store have a quarterly used gaming auction? Maybe you enjoy looking through the painted and unpainted masses alike on eBay.

Either way, you can't ignore the fact that auctions and our hobby don't just exist together, they live together. What we should be talking about is whether or not auctions are a detriment to our hobby.

*Note: After some amazing comments made, please consider the full article to INCLUDE the comments.  OST, Mordian7th, KrautScientist, Humie Stompa and Frontline Gamer all have made excellent points and well written views, and I encourage you to take it all into consideration for this topic.

If you take a look above, you can see the results of my hobby reorganization efforts. This was work that was well worth the effort as now I know exactly where everything is, what it is, and how much of it I have. If you look below...'ll see the results of my hobby reorganization efforts. These are the bags and boxes that are off to a local game store for their fall, used gaming auction. The results of which will generate some store credit for myself to then further my hobby addiction with new models and kits. But are auctions of hobby figures and armies a good thing?

"C'mon Tim, how can this not be a good thing? Auctions enable us to get models at a cheaper rate, as well as models that just might not be available any more!"

Well, I won't argue the fact that auctions give us the ability to get a figure that was either limited in its casting run, or out of print, or anything similar. Heck, I've been looking for the Limited Edition Space Marine Veteran figure from the 2004 army box for a while...under a hundred bucks. However, I don't think these are the auctions that some hobbyists have issue with.

I've heard an opinion, however, that auctions that concentrate on more models for your money actually hurt our hobby. How, you ask? Well, follow me here...miniature company X makes a figure, then you buy said figure. You've now given miniature company X a profit, which enables them to stay in business and continue to make more figures and the hobby continues, huzzah! Now enter the dastardly villain, the auction, and let's continue that scenario. Let's say you put that figure on eBay, or into a local auction and another person buys it at a lower cost, since that typically is the norm. You may have given miniature company X a profit that they can continue to operate on, but the guy that bought it as an auction piece only gives their money to you. While money in your pocket may sound great at first, where's the money that allows the miniature company to continue making miniatures that you want to buy?

I know that this little microcosm of an example isn't exactly how economics work on a large scale, but it does illustrate my point well enough. This isn't a black and white issue though. Our hobby is expensive, and I myself have a wife, son, house and all the financial responsibilities that go along with them. While I spend my fair share of cash on new product from different companies, I also take part in auctions. So where do I draw the line? eBay. No, I don't have anything against eBay as a whole, and have used it for other things, I won't use it for the hobby. Why not? Because it does nothing for my local gaming culture. If I'm going to put some of my stuff in auction, I'd rather it be at a local store where I might see it gracing a gaming table in the future, and if nothing else, it contribute to my local scene rather than somewhere else across the country, or world. Does this mean I have something against folks who use eBay? No, of course not. It's just not my choice.

So chime in here. What's your position on auctions and our hobby holding hands? Have you partaken as a buyer or seller? If you have, would you again? If you haven't, why not?

- Tim


  1. I sell stuff that I am not using on eBay all the time, but I know that isn't the issue here, but I see what you are talking about all the time ... but I see it differently. The auctions out there that are basically a massive seller selling discounted whole boxes may seem at first like a bad deal, but you have to understand that GW Direct is not where the money is made for them, it is in retail, which means that somebody bought the models as a store owner for 40% off and then sells them and lives off of THAT profit. That being said, the massive sellers usually have a brick and mortar store (miniature Market for example is in St. Louis) and buying from them at 20% off retail isn't hurting GW ... if you don't live in St. Louis, you are actually hurting your local store.

    I am a big believer in pay where you play ... otherwise have fun playing with you miniatures on those nice, flocked tables on the internet, ouch. If you need discounts to play, you may want to re-evaluate your hobby-to-income ratio. I don't mean to sound like a 1%er, but that's the truth. I don't deep sea fish because I can't afford it, but I like the idea of it.

    Anyway. There are also merits to the online auctions. I have yet to play at a store that would chop up starter sets and sell the units in store for an inflated price. Online guys do this and it makes tons of money. If I bought one of those auctions or an out-of-date model, I wouldn't feel too bad because I am simply getting something I can't get locally.

    Wow, wall o' text, sorry for the long comment, but that's my 2.5 cents.

  2. I agree with some of the things you've said Tim - I sell stuff on eBay from time to time, though 90% of the time it's painted models that I'm offloading to help fund the next project. The models that I buy off eBay are invariably oddball resin kits or the like - anything that I could by from my FLGS though, I go to them. I would much rather give the local game shop my cash to help them stay in business, even though I don't really *game* there myself.

    Really liking how the organization of bits turned out for you, inspiring stuff! I spent some time last week going through the "Vehicle Bits" boxes and clipping bits from sprues while re-watching Rome. Managed to render it all down from 3 large boxes into one large box, with everything organized into various-sized ziplock bags. It actually freed up a whole shelf's worth of space in the Closet of Doom! It was also quite interesting to go through the frames and figure out that there were enough bits to make two Rhinos, a Leman Russ and another pair of Chimeras lurking in the boxes. And about three pounds of wheels and treads left over from the scores of old-school Chimeras and Leman Russes I've built over the years. Crazy!

    ...Only another two dozen boxes to go. Hah!

  3. Interesting post, Tim!

    I use ebay on a regular basis, but it fills a particular slot in my purchasing habits: I only use it to buy certain bitz, single models from huge kits that I wouldn't be buying otherwise (the Rat Ogres from the WFB starter box are a good example) or huge conglomerates of bitz and bobs that look promising (and are a hell of a lot of fun to sift through).

    I practically never buy whole kits off ebay, because even if they are slightly cheaper than elsewhere, all the additional hassle and cost for postage usually balance things out. Plus I like to buy pretty much all of my new kits at the FLGS for the reason OST outlined above: Because the guy running the store is actually providing a hobby space for people to game, paint or simply hang out.

    I also realise that I never seem to sell anything, although that's because I tend to cannibalise stuff I still have lying around from old projects in newer conversions. I imagine I am actually pretty good at making something out of pretty much everything ;-)

  4. Good post, I don't have a FLGS the nearest one is over an hours drive and one way. I have only been playing for just over a year and Ebay is my main source of figures. I can see your point but i will only buy what is significantly cheaper than retail but i have no problems buying whole kits.

    I supposed it also comes down to cost when i can afford to buy new I usually go with the online sites with the most discount and have never bought directly from GW, but when im looking to buy 2nd hand (anytime other than xmas and birthdays LOL)Ebay is where i trawl, it could just be me being tight with the money but i do feel sometimes i just cannot justify the GW price.

  5. On the flip side the person who brought the miniatures that they auctioned Tim actually brought something they'd never use. A redundant product if you will. so in a way that person has falsely supported a company otherwise wouldn't have sold that product in the first place. Thus they've actually financed an inefficient company to continue its inefficient ways.

    Besides the recycled funds still normally find their way into hobby stores. The truth is the person that actually loses out is the dope that brought to much stuff in the first place and actually ended up selling their plastic crack at a loss.

    Where it might damage a company is that in effect people can get some of their stuff at a cheaper price, and in some ways this actually damages how the mass market perceives their product and how much they charge for it. So the only think it can possibly do is damage a companies image slightly at worst. Reality is on a grand scale its a null and void and keeps the hobby going.

    My Sunday Sermon is touching on this topic sort of tomorrow matey. I'll be posting a link back here.

  6. Wow... okay, so typically I try and respond individually, but wow, so much to respond to!

    I think we've all hit on good points collectively, and will be editing the post to reflect that my article is not the entirety of the read here. anyone who comes to this article will be asked to read the comments section as a part of it to consider the full article read :)