Home Forums General General Wargames As An Investment?

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    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    Following a recent set of exchanges on another thread about the sad responsibility of valuing a collection of wargames figures and books etc for probate, it made me wonder if anyone ever invests in the hobby? You know, not the time, money and effort as you would invest in getting your golf handicap into single figures, or your single rep max deadlift into competition range (nearly, many years ago). No. Rather as a cold eyed hedge fund manager might invest?

    People were lamenting how many decent enough wargames figures on bring and buy stalls don’t sell and how average Ebay prices are low(ish). (A good thing for probate valuation as you aren’t selling them, just transferring ownership at a notional value which will be added to the estate value for tax – so yay for low market values!).

    Or possibly not if you are buying, or have bought, as a hedge against inflation or with a view to the resale value of your Alf Spigworth painted Lammings outperforming Games Workshop shares.

    So does anyone? Has anyone bought wargames figures and or peripherals with an eye to capital growth?

    I don’t see it myself, but as a result of hopping around Ebay in the light of that other thread I was amazed to find a few, ‘renowned painter’ painted 28mm figs selling for over £100 each!

    I’m sorry all you pro painters out there, but I wouldn’t pay you a tenner for a 28mm figure.

    Am I missing something? Is there really a George Soros of the wargames investment world out there cackling over cornering the market in Skaven?

    I was thinking historical miniatures (and not toy soldier collecting as that is a horse of a very different colour). I assume Boardgames have collectors? And Fantasy and SF no doubt have their own markets of which I know nothing Hence the Skaven comment.

    Feel free to enlighten me about gaps in my portfolio.

    Avatar photoAlex

    The very thought makes me feel rather sad!


    Alex (Does Hobby Stuff)
    practising hobby eclecticism

    Avatar photonigel Tullett

    I can speak from personal experience in that I have sold large matching historical collections amounting to over £15K to NON  Wargaming collectors. Very strange that the two gentleman concerned have been willing to pay what I would call realistic prices non achievable on eBay. Both have however made decisions NOT to purchase collections where the figures have been plastic as they consider this will impact on future resale.

    Look at the price movement in metal figures – those collections I had from Foundy when I purchased figures at 70 pence a figure would now cost £1.50 to replace the collections – yes over time the collections could be viewed as an investment but can I afford to replace at today’s prices?

    The prices achieved for some figures on ebay are unbelievable, but the average price say £5 for a nice painted and based is well below the average hourly rate if pay in the UK – figure – £1.5o plus basing, plus grass tuffs, plus cleaning up time, plus spray undercoat etc etc- flags, metal spears.

    Avatar photowillz

    I do not think Guy that if someone invested £10 million pounds in wargaming related items you would double their investment in 10 years.  Wargaming as you may be aware moves in fads and are unpredictable, collections especially wargame items are not worth as much as we would wish them to be.  This a hobby which is fun, vibrant and everchanging, to enter it as an investment I think the investor would be disappointed.  I would like to see a “Dragons Den” programme with someone pitching wargaming as an investment opportunity.

    Have a look at this historical price calculator, I use it regularly.  It puts prices in context.


    A simple example in 1996 I bought £10 worth of Perry’s now in £10 spent in 1996 = £19.20 in 2020.

    Avatar photoFred B

    I’m with Alex on this one – the idea alone makes me sad.

    I’ve seen what “going into a hobby to get rich” did to retro gaming. As a quick example – there was a recent scam/publicity stunt selling Super Mario 64 $1.5M to push more people to “grade” their collections. This is on top of crazy elevated prices that were climbing over past decade or so. I just hope it won’t happen in our crook of the woods.

    If anything, I can see this happening with GW products. There’s already a bit of old school movement with GW games, making people interested in older models (and ebay sellers happily capitalizing on that interest), but even contemporary GW makes their starter packs in such limited quantities to basically encourage scalpers. But as I don’t play GW games or plan to support their business it doesn’t really hurt me.

    Personally I get stuff because I want to use it in my games. If someone buys things only to later sell it for profit that’s their right, but personally I think those people are doing a disservice to the hobby.

    Avatar photoOB

    I dare say when a range is out of production and someone really wants the figures a few quid might be made.

    Otherwise sellers are lucky to break even.  Willz makes a good point above.

    I can’t see investment buying of wargames figures showing a good return.


    Avatar photoMr. Average

    Seems to me it would be driven in large measure by tastes and personal likes and dislikes, like collecting cars, but with even less certainty because wargames can’t be registered, restored, etc. in the same way as classic cars, and are even more susceptible to inherent vice.  Rarity only makes profit when it is paired with outscale demand.  There are plenty of things from the past that are rare now, but valueless because nobody wants them.  Games would, I think, be subject to that several times over.

    Predicting the collectibility of something like a game would be little better than chance and would have you continually scanning for sales, and would also leave you with a lot of games you didn’t dare enjoy for fear of harming their potential profitability.  Seems like a crapshoot to me.

    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage

    Some boardgames are worth a few bob, see boardgamegeek

    Figure gamers are a different kettle of tightfisted fish though. My grateful relatives will have rather more money in expensive watches and long deleted LPs than in my pile of lead, and I hope my wife doesn’t flog my guitars for what I told her they cost 🙂

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    Avatar photoAndrew Beasley

    You see it a lot in GW games on eBay. Some call it short term investing and others call it scalping…

    No way would I invest in hobbies beyond what I do for pleasure.  If I had the money to risk the GW stock over five years would have given a fair return but I’ll stick with my pension.


    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    Pretty much seems to fit with my feelings!

    A woman who worked for me back in the 80s had a boyfriend who collected model cars –  Corgi, Dinky, Matchbox etc. Prices were high for mint condition models, but significantly higher if they were in the original boxes, indeed some boxes fetched more than the cars. Far Eastern copies were putting some worrying crimps in the market even then however.

    I suppose we don’t bother about packaging much in wargaming – you have to take the things out of the boxes/blisters/ plastic bags to paint them in any case and I doubt anyone has the desire to put them straight back in the packaging to preserve the condition, though I’ve seen some Ebay sellers claiming the figures have been in display cases, untouched since painting.

    Can’t see much wargames packaging becoming collectors items – though I have several 1970s Hinchliffe little blue boxes knocking around in the attic I could let go for oh….£50 a pop if anyone is interested?

    Willz, I use that inflation calculator fairly regularly – for example it shows the 4.5p I paid for my first Hinchliffe figure in 1972 would now be worth c67p. I don’t think you can buy new Hinchliffe figures for 67p a figure anywhere – (£1 on Lancashire Games and that is cheap for a 25/28mm figure these days) so I reckon my bare metal Hinchliffe figs are outperforming inflation!

    Avatar photonigel Tullett

    Just another comment from me as a regular painter and seller on eBay – there clearly are large differences in the prices obtained from different manufacturers.  I regularly paint collections ( I enjoy the painting and basing as much as gaming) and when choosing a period I aim to use figures from manufacturers which are more desirable and hence I can recovery (hopefully) the investment both cost wise and painting time wise.
    Example -Perry, Frontrank, Forged in Battle. With the same standard of painting and basing they will always achieve higher prices compared with say Minfigs, oldGlory, Essex minatures.

    Avatar photoNorm S

    As already mentioned, some boardgames can make money, because they are generally produced on a low production run and these days, that run will likely sell out in around 18 months. I know with the Advanced Squad Leader series, which has modules going out of production, that some gamers buy multiple copies when the game is in production, due to the short term good profit that can be made.

    I don’t think any of this would make you rich, but it might help supplement your regular wargame spend.

    Figure rule books that go out of print may get a 15% – 25% uplift, but it is hardly an investment at the scale that the average wargamer operates at.

    Accepting that you can buy a box of Perry Plastic for £20, if you paint the box of 40 and sell on e-bay, what would be a typical return, I am guessing £70 –  £80 if well painted and you are lucky, that £60 is probably a poor reflection of the hours spent painting to a high standard. As an investment, the reward is likely significantly below UK minimum wage.

    I suppose in some ways, our figures ‘retaining’ their value is enough when compared to other expendable outgoings such as socialising, going to concerts or sport venues, as that money once spent is gone!

    Avatar photojeffers

    I think you’d have a better return buying those painted plates advertised in colour supplements.

    More nonsense on my blog: http://battle77.blogspot.com/

    Avatar photoMartinR

    It has never occurred to me Tbh. I think the high prices for (some) wargaming stuff is more akin the the collectibles market than anything to do with the inherent worth of particular figures or vehicles. I just feel sorry for my family having to sort through my mountains of junk when I’m gone.

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    Avatar photowillz

    ?<noscript></noscript> Willz, I use that inflation calculator fairly regularly – for example it shows the 4.5p I paid for my first Hinchliffe figure in 1972 would now be worth c67p. I don’t think you can buy new Hinchliffe figures for 67p a figure anywhere – (£1 on Lancashire Games and that is cheap for a 25/28mm figure these days) so I reckon my bare metal Hinchliffe figs are outperforming inflation!

    Them were the days 5p for a 25mm lead figure , though when I started work in 1975 I was getting a whole £1 a day wages and a spoon full of hot gravel, “luxury”.

    Those Hinchcliffe blue boxes keep them for the Antiques Roadshow Guy .

    Avatar photoThuseld

    Nah I just buy stuff that I want to play with or build and paint. My lead mountain is more of a pile of pebbles, but I still feel sorry for my kids having to go through it when I die.

    My dad was huge into model railways – O gauge. Searching through the garage we have found probably tens of thousands of pounds worth of gear, but none of us know if any of it is really worth much. Some of it is probably really, really valuable and sought after. Some is probably junk.

    Avatar photoSane Max

    Squidmar recently auctioned a painted Thunderhawk Gunship. That was an investment.


    The model is one of the original Thunderhawk Gunships released in 1997. Only 500 models were released in this first production run, which were sold by Games Workshop through mail-in order for $649.99 / £400 (about $1,105.60 / £800 in today’s money). Listed at a starting price of £1, Squidmar’s auction received over 100 bids, before eventually settling at $35,360 / £25,600.

    Avatar photoPhil Dutré

    It is true that some things become “collectible” over time, and that you can make a profit on such an item. However, trying to predict what items will become collectible before they actually are collectible is almost impossible in the gaming market. E.g. I once traded away a Beta Black Lotus when MtG was first published. It was a single card, of a not-yet-so-popular game.  And one could always buy more boosters and get the card back, right? OTOH, I still have some boardgames and rpgs lying around from the 80s that are worth a few 100 euros each, *if* you can find the right collector who needs that particular item for his collection at the same time you want to sell it.

    But anyway, I consider my hobby expenses as a ‘loss’. You buy stuff because you want to play with them, and I have no hopes of ever recovering the amount of money I’ve spend on wargaming. If I can recover 10% of whatever I paid I would be happy 😉

    I’ve said it in the other thread as well, but most wargaming collections aren’t worth that much. The main reason is that wargaming is a DIY hobby. Figures are not kept as bought, but are painted, based, conversed, combined with others from different manufacturers in an “army” (which often is a personal project and not always transferable to other rules or playing styles). Throw in some model houses, some scratch-built styrofoam hills, a big jar full of dice, and well-worn rulebooks, and you have a pile of junk rather than a collection that is worth something. The real value lies in the emotional meaning for the owner – so many battles, so much joy, the memories – but that doesn’t translate into money.

    Avatar photoPhil Dutré

    On a related note:

    A good friend of mine has a 1st edition, 1st print, hardback, translation in Dutch of The Lord of the Rings, from the 50s (he got it from a elderly family member who passed away). Dutch was the first language in which LOTR was translated. So such a rare item must be worth a huge amount of money, right? He asked with a dealer in rare books. Something in the range of 400-500 euros was the answer, 600 if lucky. But alas, the dustjackets were missing! So the price was downgraded.

    So, what if he sold the book for that amount of money? You have a few hundred euros (ok, I guess, but non-essential money for most people with a decent job), but then you don’t have that unique object anymore. So would you sell it? 😉

    And another story:

    I know a guy who buys expensive limited Lego sets when they are released, stores them in his attic (he buys 10 boxes of every set or so), and tries to sell them still in the shrinkwrap 5 years later when they have become “collectible”. I told him that this borders on running a business and that according to the laws (in Belgium) he should pay taxes on the amount he earned this way. “But I’m only selling 2nd hand items!” Not so sure the tax service looks at it the same way (but this is a country-dependent matter, of course). In practice, you’re flying below the radar, but still, it might be an issue if you advertise too much and someone starts noticing.

    Avatar photowillz

    The real value lies in the emotional meaning for the owner – so many battles, so much joy, the memories – but that doesn’t translate into money.

    Well said that man, the value is in the heart of the beholder.

    Avatar photoSteven Francis

    I think the main factor would be nostalgia and volume. I have friend who will buy a lot of old toys, and got very excited by getting a copy of the original Blood Bowl. Not sure how much he paid but no little plastic models to paint so not really my bag.
    I sold quite a few first and second edition copies of games this year as they had been camping out in the loft for years, and were going back up there otherwise. I probably made more then I paid but no idea on extent. I did far better with G1 transformers that I picked up at a car boot….think I made a few hundred pounds from about a £5 bag…but again… nostalgia rather than real value.

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