Monday, 24 February 2014

A Mini Called Wanda

I love this set of miniatures and I have most of them. If anyone has Johann spare I'd love to take it off your hands as he is the last of the main characters that I need now! 

I have written about the large prices that some miniatures can sell for online. I am not talking about the silly 'Buy It Now' prices that confuse so many collectors and help create the 'myth' that old miniatures are always worth a fortune. I am sure you have seen plenty of ridiculous prices bandied about in your time, perhaps you have even fallen to temptation in the past (I know I have) and have paid a little more than you should have done for a particular miniature. Perhaps you are even guilty of listing minis with very high prices. I have always been a believer in the 99p starting bid, and that a miniature (or a lot of miniatures) will reach the price they are truly worth. Its a live and let live attitude that I shall always stick too. I am pleased to note, that there are a number of very experienced sellers out there who share a familiar philosophy, most notably bridgendsteve (are very own Steve Casey) who seems to have no end of rare and unreleased models to sell on eBay. 

For many years I had a strict £4 rule for buying single cast miniatures, and that price had to include postage. It was very simple to keep to this budget in the pre-Oldhammer days, when I was buying up RoC miniatures in droves for a couple of quid each. I once bought two Palanquins of Nurgle for £10 for the pair (and what a prat I was for selling them on, when one will set you back about £50 in 2014) and won 16 chaos beastmen for £20. I am sure many of us collectors can sit back in our chairs and swap success stories about bidding victories but that isn't really what I want to talk about today.

I have said before that I feel that eBay, and sites like it, are just the 21st century equivalent to the blister racks of yesteryear. You must remember them? You'd walk into Wonderworld (my store in the '80s) and the first thing that would hit you (apart from the smell of damp and cigarettes) was the wall groaning under the weight of blistered lead. Rows and rows and rows of the stuff. The card backings were all in different designs, often with paintings by John Blanche on them, and within the plastic bubbles lay a thousand possibilities. Your imagination would race. The pulse would pound. And you'd dived right in. 

The trouble is, back then the prices were set. You'd look at the price label or browse the funny code wall that some shops used. You 'knew' what something was worth and occasionally you'd be lucky enough to hit a sale and get that Landraider boxset even cheaper than the RRP suggested. These days, there are no price lists for the OOP models that all of us collect. We have our own vague price ranges in out head, one that seems to fit in with my £4 rule of years back. Average models are about £2-3, pop a quid on the top for postage and off you go. 

But what about the more 'collectible' models where the £4 rule isn't going to apply? 

So I come on to Wanda, illustrated above at the height of her fame in the Shadows Over Bogenhafen ad for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. There is no doubting that she is a lovely model. Even my wife likes her and expressed her opinion that she is one of the best miniatures she has ever seen. 'You should paint more like her!' she states without understanding that female figures in the world of Citadel (Old and New) are a rare breed indeed, especially ones that are realistically proportioned and clothed. It seems that many other people agree, and it took me many months to actually win an auction for her.

However, the auction process lulled me into a false sense of what she was 'worth'. You see, the first time I tried to get hold of her I just put a tenner down and walked away. If I won, great, if I didn't I'd have a pretty good idea how much collectors would have to pay. That auction ended with Wanda selling for £38.

Wow! I thought, that is quite a bit of money for one, small metal miniature that wasn't even that limited! Still, I wanted her and was happy to flog off the lead I didn't want to fund getting hold of her. A few weeks later, she arrived once again on the eBay scene. It was a simple 99p start so I was pleased to find a seller who followed a similar set of rules as I do. Learning from my previous experience, this time I put £30 down as my starting bid. In my mind, this would be enough to be in a strong position throughout and I like to win things for less than other people - who doesn't. This strategy paid off until the final minutes of the auction, when someone sniped me for £40. My wife, who was watching the auction said, try £50 and with spousal permission I typed in the amount with about a minute to go.

I was outbid by a pound.

I left it at that. Rather disappointed that I had lost out on her. Still, I had saved myself some money but I kept an eye on eBay for similar figures. A few weeks later, a Wanda model popped up as a 'Buy It Now' for £29.99. Oh, I thought, that is a good price! The trouble was, I was at work when I noticed the auction and had to wait until I got home to buy her. All day, I imagined other collectors noticing the lot and snapping her up for a bargain price. After work, I got home and raced up stairs to grab the KindleHD Fire and loaded up the eBay app. Wanda was still there! Phew, I gasped and I was just about to click the buy button when I noticed ANOTHER Wanda.

This one had a starting bid of £9.99.

Not wanting to drop £30 when I could spend a tenner, I put a healthy bid down on her. £20 to be precise. I hoped that having another example of the mini up would reduce the price for the listed auction version. Incredibly, and following on the rule about buses, another Wanda arrived on the site a few days later. This one was listed as starting at 99p. I was overwhelmed with Wandas!

Anyway, nothing really changed in the coming days. A few bids were made for the 99p Wanda, pushing her up to a couple of pounds while 'my' Wanda remained at £9.99 and a single bid. In fact, this remained this way until about 45 seconds until the end of the auction, when someone dropped in a sneaky 'sniper' bid taking her up to £17.00. It was too late though, my initial £20 sailed through to victory and ensured, finally, that I had a copy of the sculpt in my collection. What struck me was the variation in price, especially when the the other Wanda sold too. Have a look what I mean...

Wanda #1: Sold for £38.
Wanda #2: Sold for £51.
Wanda #3: Sold for £17.
Wanda #4: Sold for £21.

Calculating an average of these four amounts gives us a average price for the Wanda miniature, namely £31.75. Now that is a lot of money for a single cast model that was neither particularly limited or unreleased isn't it? Yet, looking at the bidding history over the last couple of weeks you can see how the price of the same item varies enormously.

Strange isn't it?

To conclude, I have learnt an important lesson during this little journey. Namely, Citadel Miniatures are not always worth as much as we think they are, and often, price can be determined by availability. You just watch the price of the Ass Cannon come down when five people list them all in the same week!

Before I go, I am am interested in asking you lot if you have had any similar collecting instances where you see a model you have been after for a while soar in price, only to be snapped up by your good self later at a opportune moment for much, much less. On the reverse of that particular coin, have you ever forked out big money on a model and then regretted it later?

I await your experiences with interest!


My beautiful Wanda! 


  1. The most I spent on any of my set of TEWC adventurers was £20 for Kirsten but she was in a blister with 3 other adventurers. I considered them free extras. I think I may have a spare Malmir if you re collecting the whole set.

  2. Sometimes this discrepancy can be accounted for by the time of month (how close to pay-day) and when the auction ends. I always go for a seven-day listing starting (and ending) on a Sunday evening, a time that a lot of people are online. Bargains are often to be had when auctions end at peculiar times (say 10:00 on a weekday morning) and there are few punters online to contest. It is intersting, though, and I'm quite sure there are many more variables to add to the equation!

  3. I once paid £37 for an Undead Samurai figure (Ho in the 3rd Citadel Compendium). I decided to put a late late bid in pretty much cementing my chances of winning it and flustered I bid £38 while it was on about £10. I felt a bit deflated afterwards. To make matters worse, Ho has completely disappeared from my collection and I am assume he was lost in transit during one of my last moves.

  4. Just after getting back into the hobby/collecting I bought the Mounted Gimli model for £40 and then within the space of 2 weeks bought another 3 all for less than £5. I learned my lesson after that.

    I've found the 'Buy it Now' craze has got really bad over the last year and I'm finding it harder and harder to get models I want for a decent price.

  5. Not a model, but I tried for a long time to get hold of a copy of the second edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. There were many copies out there but each time the auction would go up to £50 or £60 and I wouldn't spend that much on one book, even one book I loved. Then one day about six different copies appeared on one day and they all started to go for silly prices but there was one that wasn't moving at all for some reason and I ended up getting it for £15, less than the original cover price.

    At the moment I'm lurking and watching a number of copies of an old Rogue Trader era model. There are lots of them going for between £7 and £15 -- and it's not a big model! -- but I've got my eye on one that should -- if I am lucky! -- go for the fabled £4, as long as no one else spots it!

  6. I think you're part of the problem here Orlygg, since you've been stirring the nostalgia in veteran gamers for a couple of years now. Given that there is no supply in this market if demand goes up then so do prices. Consider yourself a victim of your own success!

    I paid $13 apiece for three Nurgle Champions, that's about as far as I'd go.

  7. I'm pleased to announce the two most expensive minis I've ever paid out for were both snotlings! Yes, those tiny buggers. Tin Pot and the Barrel Big Snot set me back about £20 each, but there's a delicious irony about how little lead is in them, how useless they are in a fight and just how much I love them! :) That's Oldhammer to me.

  8. Fifteen quid plus postage for THAT chaos ogre. Never bought it back in the day and got really frustrated that I kept getting outbid. I ended up putting twenty down and getting lucky (relatively). It has to be a special, really really got-to-have mini that makes me put down a decent amount (I paid £7 fnc postage for the Sven Hasslefresian figure), and have set a ceiling of £4 inc postage for an Imperial Dwarf 'Bob'. I'm aware that these aren't princely sums for some bidders but I don't want to risk the wrath of Other Half too much...

    Now that folks are charging what seems like a minimum of £3 postage for a halfling I've stopped trawling Ebay like I used to. Like I mentioned on the blog, I don't want to go plastic for my fresh figure fixes so am looking increasingly to new metal such as the Ral Partha and Otherworld stuff.

  9. I can't find any ebay users called 'bridgendsteve'. Can you confirm spelling?

    Occasionally tonymans (Tony Mansfield - New Zealand) has very rare stuff on offer

    1. It's bridgend_steve - that's me! :-)

    2. Thanks Steve I'll add you to my favourites and keep an eye on your stuff :)

  10. Did you realise there are two different versions of Wanda?

    1. Yes, there is the Death on the Reik version, isn't there? Though I have never seen a good photograph of that miniature. Got a decent link to one?

  11. I've bought a few nurgle chaos renegades for something like 15£ each... And still missing some Nurgle chaos champions, price are way to high.

  12. Most expensive model (per size, as it were) was the Tyranid Grabber-slasher "big squig"; thirty quid, that sucker cost, and then another turned up for half the price five minutes after I bought it!

    I also remember getting into a bidding war over a Zoat - then my "opponent" upped the bid to a quid more than the other one available on Buy It Now. I suppose in a way we were both happy.

    Currently, I'm buying up 1st edition Adeptus Titanicus weapons, and the prices there can vary wildly.

  13. I have noticed that there can be a very marked difference between the end price of different auctions for the same miniatures
    Some can be put down to to the time of day, the time of week, poor listings (I bought a Slann once listed as unknown Goblin!), crazy collectors who see a target and won't let go, but not all. I think it is sometimes down to pure randomness and luck of the draw. I have been on e-bay since 2002 and seen the prices of old miniatures go from not more than they were in the 1980's/90's up to in some cases the realm of the totally breathtaking. I have no problem that if people have something rare, and people really want to buy it, then the price goes up to what people want to buy.
    The main concern I have is that there are about 5 or 6 e-bay sellers that just list 'Buy it Now' at very high prices and then push up other sellers expectations, and dishearten those who don't get the price they think they should. More often than not they rarely sell and are just re-listed and clog up the e-bay listings, some of which have actually been listed for years. Those that do sell only encourage the behaviour, or the depserate weakness of someones desire (ok, I confess, I bought a Squat once for £14 :/ ).

    BTW bridgend_steve is awesome seller, not just because I know he's reading this, but because I have dealt with him on what must be dozens of occasions and I can always recommend him. :)

    How much do I go up for miniatures?
    It all depends. I am not someone who tends to go to get all the miniatures for a range (no offence to those who do, I admire your dedication). As may be expected, I like my Goblins, and am currently filling gaps in my Iron Claw collection, but will not go over £10 inc P&P for one model. The most I spent on one model was £28 for a Space Slann, the penultimate one I needed for the only range for which I really really (really!) wanted to catch 'em all. :)

    The only thing I can recommend is to practice both patience and wait for those bargins which do appear over time; and if you really do want something at a high price (and can afford it) and you don't see them often, then choose your target wisely, and then get it and have the enjoyment of having a miniature you really wanted.

  14. I always just bid (or BIN) the most I'm willing to spend on a model. This means I've picked up a few things I didn't think I'd get (or get back) and missed out on many more. Still, this has meant I've picked up the Original Dragon Ogre and mounted Dark Elf King in the past few months, as well as Scarloc's full set (that I noticed was bought and flipped by the guy who outbid me the first time). eBay is best looked at as swings and roundabouts!

  15. Interesting article. Yes this hapens to me too. Quite regular I must admit. I love the old Marauder Minis especially the chaos Dwarves but these tend to sell around 15 quid each sometimes more and this is definitv too much for a single casting. But o be true I always try to snap one when it appears on ebay. Also with the Realms of chaos books I am searching for the green one but these are muuch to costly most of the time.
    The most expensive model well was a game. Space Hulk 1st ed together with the book and both supplements for around 250 Euros even though not in their original boxes.

  16. it really is that old adage that it's worth what you are willing to pay for it, I almost always try to advoid BiN's on ebay, especially if they are an auction listing with one of those as well, as you know there's a reserve.

    I spent the saturday morning looking through about 30 pages set top cheapest first, and set what I could afford on that figure, now I didn't win them all, but I won enough to make that time spent worth it, especially since some of them was for just 99 pence :D