Games Workshop: Doing something right?

Games Workshop - Facepalm Hello all,

As you may remember from my rant about Games Workshop’s late coming Thunderwolf Cavalry, I find myself needing to re-base my counts as TWC on 60mm bases.  I could probably get by with the bases I have since most of the people at the FLGS are very understanding when it comes to issues of base size, WYSIWYG, proxies, etc.  But that’s beside the point, my neurosis requires me to re-base them.  I have a friend who for similar reasons has decided to re-base his Tervigon conversion on large oval bases.  So we decided to go in together on a bits order from Games Workshop Direct as they carry these bases for less than they can be purchased on eBay.  I’d also been eyeing the Space Wolf Accessories Sprue so I threw that into the order to bump us into free shipping. 

When the order arrives I eagerly open everything up to make sure it’s all there and separate the stuff my friend ordered.  I pull out the Space Wolf sprue and find that one of the pieces is missing!  I’m immediately annoyed at Games Workshop’s lack of quality control because this is not the first time it’s happened to me.  A lot of my stuff comes from eBay so I don’t actually receive that many directly from GW or kits that are sealed.  In the past six such items this is the second time I’ve been missing a part.  Those are not particularly good odds!

On the opposite end of the spectrum is GW customer support.  I call them up and after a three minute conversation with what seems like a very pleasant person I have a replacement sprue on the way free of charge.  The last time this happened to me was a box of Ork Bikers that was missing the torso that allows you to upgrade one to a nob.  I call Games Workshop’s customer support to tell them of my issue and after I provide my information the guy tells me they’ll send a new box.  I ask if I should send in the defective one as evidence or something and he says “no, you can keep that one to use as conversions.”  I say “cool, thanks” but I’m thinking “Conversions my ass!  I’ve still got the three bikes with regular riders!”  So I put that kit together and when the replacement kit came I had six bikers (including a nob) for the price of three.  All said, a broken kit from GW is actually a win because they’re so willing to replace it free of charge with very little hassle on my part.

I’ve read enough rants about Finecast to know that it’s often tricky to get a kit that’s in good shape but GW always seems to send people free replacements.  One guy complained that he had to combine parts from three or four kits to get a finished model, but from the sounds of it he only paid for one of them.  This attitude of replacement vs. quality first, the seeming inability to offer a full model range that doesn’t exclude at least one fan favorite option (in 40k anyway) until years after a codex release, and various other issues you read about in this or that rant makes it easy to wonder how the hell they run their business.  Then I read this article about 40k turning 25:

Part way through you can find a mention that GW is reporting a 40% rise in their latest half-year pre-tax profits!  Obviously they’re doing something right.  Yes, charging a premium for their models helps.  But are they really overcharging?  Maybe.  I don’t know how high their markup is.  I know you can get cheaper plastic models elsewhere, but I also know Tamiya charges $50-$70 for their better tank kits.  GW is also offering a unique product.  You’re not paying for scale replicas, you’re paying for a piece of a unique universe and while you can find proxies elsewhere they’re rarely as good and never quite the same.  And as far a hobbies go it’s really not that bad.  You’re in $200-$500 to build a decent army then you’re playing for free.  Try dropping $200-$3000 on a set of golf clubs then paying $25-$100 per round in greens fees.  Or $100-$2000 on paintball gear then a $10 field fee and $24-$100 in paint every time you play.  I’ve got a $75 bolt in my paintball gun that eliminates chopping paintballs in the breach.  It’s a great addition but doesn’t impact my playing experience as much as a $50 box of terminators.  It also doesn’t give me hours of hobby enjoyment in addition to the gaming experience.

The bottom line is, 40k isn’t cheap but it’s not all that expensive for a luxury pastime.  We love the game, we love the models, we love the ridiculous background story.  The quality control may be less than ideal, but the quality is excellent.  The game support is confusing, but the customer support is fantastic.  As baffling as GW is they’ve got us hooked and we love them as much as we hate them.  Of course, that doesn’t mean we’ll take it silently. Ranting is a much a part of the game we love as the dice and little men.



  • therhino

    I’ve never understood folks’ GW-hate. I’ve never had a bad experience with them. My wife bought me a Whirlwind for my birthday one year, and it was missing the radar dish that sits in the WW turret. I called GW and they sent me a whole new WW, instead of just the turret sprue. I was happy, my wife was impressed, and I had an extra Rhino chassis.
    I can understand the frustration with Finecast for folks who don’t live near a GW shop, and are waiting days and days for replacement models. I just avoid the stuff, but once I start playing something other than Space marines, I’ll probably have to suck it up and buy some (Dark Eldar have a lot of Finecast!). My pot of Liquid Greenstuff is waiting patiently.

    As for cost versus other hobbies…40K has to be one of my cheaper ones. My hockey equipment cost me $2000 to start, plus 200-300 every time I replace something (gloves and blockers do wear out!). $60-90 every time I break a goal stick (I try to remember the hit to my wallet every time I want to snap one off the crossbar).
    Turkey hunting is racking up the bills right now with shotshells, chokes, camo, and other gear.
    When I target shoot, I remember that my .22LR rifle cost me $200+, plus a set of $75 sights. Only the ammo is cheap!
    Hell, even my cable bill is $145 a month.
    I think the only hobby I have that is cheaper all told than 40K is my XBox, and that’s because I play the hell out of my games. I’ve only bought like six games in five years.

    • People are always more inclined to bitch than praise. One bad experience and someone will not hesitate to complain but they never mention all the good experiences, which will always far outweight the negative ones. Human nature.

    • I agree completely.  When I started playing I wasn’t anywhere near a game store so I had to order everything through the mail (this was before I had a credit card or the internet, so by mail I mean checks and phones and stamps!)  GW service has always been quick and very customer oriented.  And as we’ve both said already, even a minor fault with a product means a free replacement without return.

      My Xbox was $300 plus another $100 for a second controller and a game.  That’s enough for a decent 40k army and in both cases you could technically call that enough forever.  Personally I get about a game per year for another $50+ and my annual subscription to Live is $50, plus the monthly high-speed internet bill.  If I actually spent as much time on my Xbox as I spend on 40k I’d need to buy games more often and would probably spend about as much on it as I do on 40k.  In both cases the cost per hour of enjoyment is far cheaper than any of my other hobbies.

  • hippie

    I totally agree and have always had great response from GW and Forge world.  Forget the fact that you actually talk to a person when you call, Holy Shit huh?  I got an old Battleforce from XRG(Orks) and the Warbuggy was missing pieces, they sent me out a new warbuggy kit no questions asked.  Space Wolves icons from FW, some miscast bits, sent out a complete new set.
    Regarding Finecast, I’ve had great luck and the resin seems less brittle than some FW stuff I got.  I know there was a lot of miscast stuff originally but it seems like they’ve increased quality control quite a bit now.

    • I’ve had some of the old metal models (I’m talking lead-based pewter times) that were in pretty bad shape.  Missing foot, halves not lined up, etc but I haven’t see the same issues with the more recent metals so they’ve definitely improved their quality since the 90’s. 

      I haven’t had any personal experience with Finecast but the ‘news’ on the net gives it a pretty bad rap.  I’m glad to hear they’re working the kinks out of the process. 

    • khorneinquisitor

      I have purchased several things from Finecast and I have yet to have any issues. I love the stuff!

  • khorneinquisitor

    I agree with this and all the comments above. People will wonder why I spend so much money on little plastic men, but then I point out that it’s a lot of bang for my buck. like stated above, 100 $ of paints and models can literally be a week to a month of painting but will be a night at the club, snacks and gas for a road trip, ammo (unless you use a .22) for target practice, cable tv, or any number of things that offer significantly less time enjoyed. My own wife has her photography which costs vastly more money and when it’s time for more models i point this fact out. Her camera costs more than my collections of models. combined.

    • If my wife were into photography I could get much better pictures of my stuff for the blog!  Maybe I can talk her into picking it up…

  • It’s the Apple customer service theory… instead of spending more on better quality parts or quality control, it’s cheaper to send replacement parts out “when someone complains” (Because most people won’t even complain in the first place)

    • I think that’s part of it.  Injection molds are very expensive so unless it’s a major issue it is cheaper to throw away a lot of defective casts than replace the mold, and when you handle enough units it’s inevitable that some will make it to the consumer.

      Based on some of the comments above it sounds like the Finecast issues were more of a new process that took a little time to work the bugs out of.

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