The Hobbit – the good, the not so good, and the WTF!?

With hype for the upcoming film adaption of the Hobbit in full swing following the world premier earlier in the week (I have booked my tickets for the HFR 3D Showing on the 15th December!) I think it is only fitting that we take a look at what Games Workshop will have to offer.

GW have the rights to produce minis for this new film, following on from their very successful Lord of the Rings range.

Their minis are currently available for pre-order on their site, and after a chat about the prices at club a couple of days ago I thought I’d go and check them out – they offer an ‘interesting’ range of options and value.

The best offer by far would appear to be the Escape from Goblin Town. This set offers 56 plastic minis, including the entirety of Thorin’s company plus Goblins and even scenery, all for the sum of £75.

This set looks to be good value for money, and certainly the ‘purchase to make’ if you were looking to make one at all. On the down side, it is listed as being strictly limited edition.

These Hunter Orcs seem to be much more the GW ‘standard’ pricing. At £20 for 12 plastic minis, some would argue that they are still decent value. However, when for the same price you are purchasing between 28 and 40+ plastic miniatures from the likes of Warlord, Victrix or Gripping Beast, I would argue that this box set doesn’t represent that good a purchase.

It’s a similar story with the Goblin Warg riders: £25 for a box set of 6 may, on the face of it, not seem too bad. Again, this does seem high when compared to the fact that many box sets of plastic mounted figures are selling for £20, and give you twice as many figures (if not more in some cases), and the sculpts are just as good, even if the subject matter is different.

This is the point where I suggest that things start going off the rails somewhat. GW’s Trolls boxset is £50, and considering that you get 3 large trolls for this figure, you may be forgiven for thinking that this is pretty good value…until you realise that this is a plastic kit.

£50 for 3 plastic figures!?

This last box set, for me, takes the proverbial biscuit. It’s the White Council box set, consisting of four 28mm miniatures in the much maligned Citadel Finecast resin.

How much use these figures are in the game? Who knows – they certainly aren’t the most dynamic poses in the world, and of course we have seen all these characters before in the Lord of the Rings range.

However, the price for this box set is somewhat staggering at £45. That’s £11.25 each for resin 28mm figure. Surely, even the most stalwart GW fan or Middle Earth geek would balk at such a price? It has been argued with me already that since these are collectors figures, then charging in excess of £10 is OK. Not sure I agree with that reasoning myself.

Knocking Games Workshop for their pricing certainly isn’t new, and many would say that they are simply an easy target. Obviously, from a commercial point of view, GW must have paid a high price for the rights to produce these figures (although it’s probably an extension from their Lord of the Rings franchise) and it would seem that they are not averse to passing this cost onto the customer.

Certainly, there is a disparity between pricing in the Fantasy & Sci-Fi side of the minis market when compared to the Historical hobby. I don’t fully understand why this price gap exists, other than to simply say that people appear to be prepared to pay more for their Sci-Fi & Fantasy figures. It has a much bigger market share in the hobby, and the laws of supply and demand are obviously at work.

So, why am I blogging about this? As someone who doesn’t normally concern myself too much with what Games Workshop is doing, I thought it would be interesting ‘looking over the fence’ at the company that is still undoubtedly the ‘public face’ of the wargaming hobby. Given how popular The Hobbit will undoubtedly be, this new range might end up being the first experience and contact that people will have with the wargaming hobby.  I would expect that many of the customers purchasing these figures this year will actually be parents, and so I do have a concern that these prices might well cause many to stop and think.

Ultimately it comes down to a simple choice – pay the prices or don’t. I don’t have a problem with that, and I made my own choices a long time ago. It does seem a shame, at least in my eyes, that some may look at these prices and decide to pass by, and thus miss out on what is one of the most deep and rewarding hobbies around.

12 Comments on The Hobbit – the good, the not so good, and the WTF!?

  1. I’m sounding like a broken record here, but here are the Australian prices converted back into GBP (exchange rate today 1GBP = $A1.47):

    Escape from Goblintown $205 = 126.90GBP
    Hunter Orcs $55 = 34.04GBP
    Trolls $140 = 86.66GBP
    White Council $125 = 77.38GBP

    I’ll let those speak for themselves.

    I’m wondering what you think of the rulebook cost (288 pages).

    • Ouch! That makes the UK prices seem cheap by comparison – pretty ridiculous, tbh.

      Good catch on the rulebook, I’d actually missed that one! Whilst £50 is sort of in keeping with their prices on rulebooks, not only is it half the size of the WFB one (and 2/3 the size of the W40K one) but they also seem to be recycling material from the earlier Lord of the Rings books (did you notice the comment about the Weathertop scenario)

      I think, once again, this betrays the cost of the licence to GW, and that’s where the extra cost is going.

      • this is another reason to add to my list of why I’ll never move to Australia

        Spiders everywhere
        every animal can apparently kill you just by looking at you
        too hot
        and Wargames figures are too expensive

        the ony reason for going is the people are nice and beer is freely available

    • @ Barks – similar things happen with Canadian GW pricing vs. American GW pricing. It’s pretty annoying to say the least!

  2. is this a good time to mention the Goblin King looks err a bit rubbish

    BTW these are my own views and do not consistent the views of the M and M podcast in anyway (although Neil might agree that the sculpting is rubbish)

  3. Long Dong Silver // November 30, 2012 at 16:44 // Reply

    I agree that GW have priced themselves to insanity on these.

    For the first time in all the LotR releases I WON’T be buying anything. Sad really. I think the goblins looked like shaped turds; the terrain can be done with stir sticks; the White Council are just plain outrageous and finally I would like to point out I spent the equivalent of the “Single Release Bundle price” on Warlord, Perry, and still had a bit left over. That’s value and I’m sure it will be more fun too.

    GW has a turd on their hands on this one.

  4. henryhyde438 // November 30, 2012 at 21:55 // Reply

    I popped into the little wargame shop near Hove station this afternoon and their consignment of these had just arrived. The proprietor told me that he didn’t really want to stock them, but had to as part of his independent stockist deal. He has no idea who might buy them.

    Having rattled the boxes, I can confirm that they are not, in fact, cast from platinum as the price might suggest, but just ordinary plastic and resin.

    GW are, of course, free to price their goods however they wish, and customers are free to spend their money however they wish. I, however, shall not become a customer of Hobbit memorabilia.

  5. I purchased the big book and the boxed set, and will say that despite the price (my local retailer had them discounted! Even HE felt bad) they are worth it. Beautiful work all the way around. STUPID PRICING. I can’t see myself getting too much more from the release, but I will enjoy what I have.

  6. I am a huge fan of LOTR, but quite simply will not be buying into the Hobbit (Yet). No metals, and a premium pricing strategy to cash in on the films. Yes, they have learnt their lesson from the first time round when they fell into the trap of offering good value for money (24 figs for £10). Quite clearly those days are gone. Trouble for them is time is on my side and I am not that enamoured of the minis anyway: I shall wait for the hype to fade away and purchase off ebay in March when due to them being plastics and finedung, they will be cheap as chips. Had they taken a different approach they could have had me in store tomorrow.

  7. Since posting it has occurred to me that Tolkien is probably turning in his grave right now. Those holding the IP to his estate should be ashamed of themselves for their unbridled commercial lust. A major theme of his books was bring to light the callousness of the industrialisation of the world as he saw it and the corrupting power that it can have on those with their hands on the reins. How ironic that with three films for one book and GWs unbridled greed that, this very thing has come to pass with his own creation. LOTR SBG, at least up to the dumbed down refresh this year, seems somewhat unsullied next to the vehicle the hobbit seems to have turned into. I saw the trailer this evening and my heart sank.

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