There was a fairly heated debate on the Oldhammer Trading Facebook page where someone had (I am led to believe) bought a job lot from another collector for a very reasonable price and then re-listed some of the unwanted models on the same page for a much higher price. He claims that he buys so many models that he could not remember the initial purchase price and lots of other people chimed in saying that he was wrong to increase their sale price.
Now these are vintage, lead Citadel models and the latter group of fellows were upset that he was using a Facebook page to inflate the price of the miniatures (he was called a "scalper" I believe) on a page where the proposed aim is to ensure that collectors get the old school miniatures they want for a reasonable (non-Ebay price). That's the context and I can certainly see both sides of the argument. But for me it is an interesting discussion on inherent value, demand and ownership.
For example. I have desperately wanted to own an iconic, Citadel Thrud model for many, many years. I have missed out on several Ebay auctions, trading pages notices etc, either due to being out-bid or sniped for the former or simply late in seeing the sales post for the latter. An upcoming painting competition which focuses on the sculpts of Bob Naismith made me really, really want to get his Thrud miniature even more, so I broke with my own philosophy and did a BIN on Ebay for £20. I quantify it by thinking what else I would easily spend £20 on? Well, the 5 Contrast paints I bought for a start. And the few pints I had on Friday night, or the quick stop at the Co-Op to buy some provisions for the kids packed lunches. So in context, £20 for something I really want and will spend a good amount of time on in the future, seems about a good price (even though I know I could probably get it cheaper if I persevered).
The second item is a model I've desired for almost as long, simply because of the dynamism of the sculpt; it's an old Citadel Fighter model named Cedric. Again the Naismith competition made me seek out a copy of it with greater fervour and I actually placed a request/advert for it on the afore-mentioned Oldhammer Trading page. Lots of likes and comments later (incidentally about how there is a 40k version with a bolt pistol, how someone once owned one and how someone else create a diorama with this one and the 40k version) and eventually someone came forward and said they had one spare. And here comes the question of value. It was quite clear that there was a demand for it, but the seller asked how much I would pay for it. What is it's value? Clearly I was keen to buy it, so should it be the same value as the Thrud? Well there's less lead so there must be less value! Don't be silly. Is it scarcer than Thrud? (there were a lot of Thruds on Ebay but none of Cedric), perhaps that's just a temporary scarcity, but they are both 30 years old? So I completed an advanced search on Ebay (where else to go?) of previously sold versions of the model and showed the seller the price ranges for which they had sold - which happened to be between £4 and £8. But this seemed too cheap compared to my Thrud purchase. So I completed my correspondence to the seller with the line: "but this is your model, so please price it as you see fit". He graciously offered it to me for £7.50 including postage. Thank you so much!
So I have both models, which in itself is great and actually when you think about it, some achievement. This all happened within a week of the concept of the idea ("I really want to buy Thrud and Cedric to make a diorama") to "can I find them and buy them for a price I can afford"? Now you may think that these prices are higher than your value of the miniatures but I really wanted them. And get them I did, two miniatures that are made of lead (intrinsically low value) and sculpted about 30 years ago. Amazing that they are still amongst us and that easy to get hold of - within a week! What would Bob Naismith think about the fact that his old Citadel sculpts are still of interest and hold a value that is much higher than the cost of their material. His hand as a skillful sculptor (and the association with GW) has clearly added value in this case.
But of course the value of a miniature does not just start at the desire of the buyer and end at the point of purchase. I hope to add some intrinsic value to the pieces of sculpted lead by painting them to the best of my ability and to set them both in a little diorama with some of my model-making skills. Does time+skill= extra value? I don't really care too much, but for me a painted mini on display or being gamed with is so much more valuable than an unpainted one lying bare in a collectors box. In fact going back to the original argument on Facebook, this was my written opinion:
"Surely the owner of the miniature can determine the model's value. It's monetary one, it's aesthetic one (to me being painted > not painted) and it's functional value (to me gaming/display > dormant, unused in a box)."
Jesus, that's slightly embarrassingly written, but then I always think that when I reflect upon what I write (which is quite often why I don't proofread, as sometimes, on relfection, I overthink and would actually prefer to delete the whole piece).
Anyway, I am also sympathetic that the Oldhammer Trading Page was set up to ensure people could be re-united with the models of their youth at an affordable cost, the setting of the price of a miniature has to be determined by the owner of the miniature. If there's no demand for it at the price set, then they can adjust it.
The (now deleted) thread on Facebook piqued my interest and tied in with the two models I have bought this week, hence the monologue of this blog post. Of course all of this philosophising means fuck all if my wife ever works out just how much I've actually spent on my models over the years, (although she is sympathetic to their importance to my down time, she simply cannot understand why I don't sell them off after I've painted them); I'd worry that the value of our relationship might be tested and imagine the ultimate ultimatum: "it's them or me!" Yikes.
So anyway, what's your most wanted miniature?