The latest Soviet Tankovy army for Flames of War that I put together has cost me very little. It consists of Zvezda, Command Decision and some Battlefront models. The Battlefront stuff is mostly infantry, which Chris gave me in exchange for a Warhammer Chaos Warriors army for his son. The rest was purchased for considerably less than if I had bought the entire army from Battlefront. True, the quality may not be as good, but it is good enough.
Tankovy force Budzhetskii ready for action
Now the reason for this post is not to skite about how cheaply I can build an army, but to give a clue as to where I go and what I do to make sure that my hobby dollar is maximised. I sometimes meet people who say ‘HOW much did you pay for that?’ or ‘Where did you get them from’? It surprises me a little in this age of internet and web business that people still don’t always shop around for the best deals. So here is some advice:
1) I regularly scan TMP and Tabletop Gaming News to see what is being released or who is having a sale. I also look through the postings on ‘Blogs of War’ regularly to see what people have been up to in the hobby. This keeps me up to date with what is going on in the miniatures world. I also buy magazines – Miniature Wargames and Wargames Illustrated as occasional hard copies (but see below), and Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy as a PDF. I often find that in terms of keeping up with news these are a little behind what I get from the web, but they do have advertisers of figures that I may not know much about or which have slipped off my radar.
2. I don’t buy locally when I can help it. This might sound a bit of a mercenary attitude, but I find that although the exchange rate on the NZ dollar has been high for quite a few years now (with the odd fluctuation) vs the pound and US dollar, local prices do not reflect this. Hence I can order from the UK through a store offering 10% discount and no postage and receive it within a week, paying only two thirds of what I would pay in a shop here. Every now and then I think that it would be nice to be loyal to the local store and then I do the maths.
My go-to guys are:
- Caliver Books for historical miniatures. Spend over 10 pounds and they are post-free world-wide. I’ve been dealing with them for almost eight years and always get great service. In a sense I am pretty loyal to these guys even though they are literally on the other side of the world.
- Maelstrom Games for magazines, scenics and a few other bits and bobs. Wargames Illustrated is $12 NZD in our shops, but I pay $8 for it delivered from the UK. There is no point taking out a sub as I don’t buy every issue. And because they also require 10 pounds to be spent before free postage, I usually throw in Miniature Wargames and some static grass or some paints – occasionally a miniature if I don’t need anything else.
- Book Depository. If you have not found this site yet, then shame on you! A huge selection of books at regular huge discounts. Like Amazon but worldwide shipping is FREE! Most of my Flames of War books have come from these guys, along with most of my hobby reading, and in fact, reading in general. I cannot remember the last time I bought a book from a bricks and mortar bookshop. I’m one of the people killing bookstores. Do I care? Not a lot.
- Old Glory 25s. The boys at the Irregulars all chipped in and paid for the Old Glory Army membership (40% discount on orders) and share postage on orders that we make. This has added greatly to the construction of Flames of War armies using Command Decision figures.
So those are my big four. I don’t buy from them exclusively. I surf the web, always check shipping costs and keep an eye out for sales. I do have some loyalties. For instance, I started dealing with Lancashire Games because their battlepacks were a real deal. But like so many retailers, Allan has had to put his prices up. His figures are still cheap, but postage to NZ often negates that and they end up the same price as other manufacturers. Despite this I try to buy from Allan if he makes figures for what I want – for instance to complete the French Napoleonic Army for the Peninsula that I am putting together with figures I’ve swapped with John. His recent 15% sale was a good excuse to do this.
3. Don’t hold onto a project for more than two years if it has been continually shifted to the back of the queue. I do impulse buy and regularly bite off more than I can chew. My OCD nature makes me rationalise my projects on a regular basis, and this leads to selling – which is then reinvested into the hobby in something that I am actually going to play. My latest sell-off has seen various bits transformed into the Soviet Tankovy force and two 15mm Peninsular War armies. It has also enabled me to increase my Star Wars armies (expect a battle report on this early this year). All of these are projects that I will paint and game with this year. And I won’t miss the Ancients that kept going to the bottom of the painting list. I have never regretted selling anything, painted or not. Not even the Marlburians and WWI figures. I had my fun out of them.
4. Selling is one way to complete armies, but we also do a bit of swapping around in the club, especially when we have extras. Hence, I have inherited a whole British army for the Peninsular War from John and he has gained a pile of unpainted American Civil War figures.
So those are my tips for being budget. I have pretty limited cash to sink into the hobby so every cent is carefully counted and allocated. The result is being able to pursue the projects and play the games that I like.