Friday, October 4, 2013

Placing a Value on a Finished Army

Now we've talked about placing a value on your services as a commission modeler and painter in the hobby. How to price yourself, and the level of commitment it takes to actually be successful with your commissions.

At the same time, I don't think any of us have an issue with placing a monetary value on a box of bits, individual bits, or even just a half-finished model. Heck, there are entire bits trading nights at some hobby stores and national events like Adepticon.

But how do you place a value on a finished, personal army?

Yes, I will admit that as with all of my articles, something has prompted me to write this. I'm going to sell my Grey Knights army.

I've actually sold an army in the past, so this is nothing new to me, though I do regret that earlier sale. My Black Templars were an army I poured myself into, and won me a Players Choice award at the last GT that Games Workshop ran in Chicago. Why won't I regret selling my Grey Knights? Because I have my Centurions, have over 1000 points of resin Salamanders soaking in a soap-bath, and have more fish-men Tau than I know what to do with. Couple that with a Warhammer Fantasy Ogre army I really need to get off the ground, and I have plenty of GW stuff to keep me busy for a very long time. The Grey Knights will just end up sitting on a shelf, and that won't do anyone any good.

As always, I've got a few ideas to lay out on the table. This time though, it's more of a formula rather than a few bulleted ideas. Think ( X + Y ) x Z = Value

X = Starting Monetary Cost

This is the first thing you have to figure out. Just how much did this army cost to buy in components? This includes off-the-shelf boxes, as well as bits you purchased from third-party sites and manufacturers. If you really want to get technical, it can even include the paint, glue and basing materials, as well as any transport foam you may have for it.

Y = Labor

Yup, it's that simple. How much do you value the labor you put into the army? Some may equate this to an hourly value, and others to a somewhat standardized per-figure, or per-box cost. Either way, you need to figure in something for the time it took you to actually put together, paint and base the army.

Z = Sentimental Attachment

Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about here. With as much work that goes into a project of this scale, you can't tell me there is no sentimental attachment to an personal army once it's finished. The reason it's a multiplier in the equation though, is to give the opportunity to actually raise, lower or keep the cost the same. If you're simply disgusted with the way GW has changed your beloved codex in the most recent edition, and want to sell your army, the sentimental value may not raise the price at all. If you're forced to sell for financial reasons, it may actually decrease the price slightly to be able to move the army faster. Finally, if it's a labor of love, it may increase the value to you. No matter what, ignore this final part of the equation at your own risk. If I hadn't ignored this, I wouldn't have sold my Black Templars.

With all that said, do I have a cost in mind for my Grey Knights? Sure I do. If you're interested, shoot me an email and we'll talk. I'm open to some negotiation on it.

But what about you? Have you ever sold an army before? How did you come up with the value you placed on it?

- Tim



  1. I traded an Eldar Saim-Hann army away and I feel nothing but regret. It was way back in the era of 3rd ed and the army was so frustrating to play it wasn't fun. What did I trade it for? An unpainted Wood Elf army I never started and is now gone. It's not the only painted army I've gotten rid of, and I very much doubt I will ever send a painted army packing again.

  2. I am thinking of getting rid of my dark eldar and necron armies. I would take the retail value of the kits, subtract 55% and there is my price. Also you get the GW carrying case they come in free. Seems fine to me, but my armies are high end table top and not bare plastic or Three color min. Bare plastic would be worth more from a painters perspective but less from a gamers perspective. TCM would drive the price down further i think.

  3. Great article Tim, and it's something that I think about every time I sell off an army (something I'm infamous for, actually).

    Generally I only ever eBay my stuff off, and I keep it super simple. The starting price is always what I paid for them in retail, rounded up to the closest whole dollar plus a little extra to cover any battlefoam trays/shipping/ebay and paypal fees. Any bids that come in over that I consider paying me for my painting time, and if it sells for the base price I look at it as not being out any money, and still having had all the fun of building and painting the models!

    I do find that I'm able to get better response by selling armies off unit-by-unit rather than in one big lump (especially since the armies I build tend to be 3-4000 points). It's much easier to get ten people to spend a hundred dollars than one person to spend a thousand after all! That means a bit more effort and hassle getting everything packaged and sent out to multiple buyers, but overall it also means I end up making a bit more money overall too.

    It all comes down to the fact that the "building and painting an army" is much more enjoyable to me than the "having a completed army", and with the exception of my Guard army any project that gets completed is usually up on the auction block not long after the last painted model has dried...

    1. Yep, Agreed. I like the process best because then they sit in a case alone waiting for some one to love them. Everyone but my Dark Angels must go so that they will be used and enjoyed by others. I could never part with the Fist Legion.

  4. It's an interesting article. I used to actually fund my own hobby when at uni by painting other peoples armies for them, and would often sell my own finished armies after I'd 'got my use' out of them. I think I used similar formula to you Tim. The only army I still regret selling were my award willing Autumn (Fall for you North American) Wood Elf army.

    Like you with your Black Templars I poured so much of myself into that army that every miniature was treated like a character miniature. All bases came with brass etched leaves and other things. It was a real labor of love for me at the time. However, after finishing it I only ever played with them a handful of times before selling them. I got an exceptional price for them at the time and it helped clear pretty much all of that years student debt in one fell swoop...

    but I always felt like I sold them too early. Good read Tim.

  5. The one army I traded off was a Dark Eldar Wych army. It was still a work in progress and I traded it for an Armorcast Phantom Titan. I don't regret that trade. I would sell off an army if the money was good enough. The one thing stopping me is the cost to replace an army if I wanted to play it again in the future.