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Army Collecting - how to buy GW products for less than the RRP

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Okay, young padawans,

Today's lesson is on the art of getting Gamesworkshop models on the cheap.

Now, there are four main resources you should use:

1) Online discount sales companies

2) The above, but in the form of private individuals or games groups, who only sell to the general public so that they can continue to buy models from GW at wholesale prices.

3) Ebay

4) The trading sub-forums of sites such as Warseer and Dakkadakka

Generally, Ebay is not as cheap as you might expect. The way it is organised as an online auction, coupled with the fact that that the retail price is generally known, means that you can expect to obtain New In Box (NIB) items for around 10% off their RRP. Things to look out for on ebay are badly painted metal miniatures. These often are sold cheaply and in bulk. A can of paint stripper costs around seven pounds and goes a very long way indeed. On the subject of Ebay, play close attention to user feedback. Before potentially making a large purchase, even if the user has a mostly positive rating (in the 98 per cents), look at recent feedback. I was stung to the tune of a whole Chaos army for 80 pounds, several years ago by a user with such a rating. Had I checked her recent history I would have noticed that several users had reported non-delivery of purchased items.

Now there are two main strategies to winning ebay auctions. The first is to pay less attention to each auction, each time placing what you feel you'd be willing to pay for it. However, this leaves more time for other people to bid and counter-bid, possibly inflating the price. The alternative is to "snipe" when you try to delay your bid to the last possible second (typically around 45 seconds prior to its end, depending on the speed of your connection). This is more time consuming and doesn't guarantee you'll win or get the product at a cheaper price. It is more exciting and this is a bit dangerous, particularly if someone manages to outbid you with time to spare. There is often a temptation to win the item, even if it means buying it for more than you had wanted to settle for.

Trading forums are an extremely good place to look. Quite often people find themselves in a position where they need to liquidate their collections quickly due to a move or sudden financial blow and this is a good place to find them. In addition, people want to see their collections go to a good home. I've only had experience with Warseer's trading forums and have had no problem with any transaction to date (including the purchase of my Warhound titan).

In the case of Ebay and trading forums, already assembled and partially painted minatures are often sold at a high discount. There is therefore an obvious trade-off between price and the flexibility/quality of what you buy. If you're buying little timmy some Ultramarines, this is less of a problem then if you're trying to buy components for your second true-scale Space Marine army....

The difference between options 1) and 2) is a trade off between speed of delivery and the size of the discount you can get. Maelstrom Games and Wayland games typically offer 15 per cent off while smaller sites such as gaming figures and minatures by post offer 20-25 per cent off, but due to the fact that they order the stock from GW once you've placed an order with them, it can take a little longer to get it from them.

In general. then I recommend first checking out trading forums, then ebay. Once you've either snapped up any bargins or found nothing of use, go for option 2. It is important to avoid buying the cool models in the range that you only need a few of, such as daemon princes, Obliterators, Sternguard, etc as doing so makes it harder to take advantage of bulk deals later on.

As for bits services, there are fortunately several good ones still up and running. In particular, Bitsandkits and Bitzbox are useful, while those of you in the US are better off using battlewagonbits. It's worth noting that certain items are always scarce and difficult to obtain, primarily plasma guns, melta guns and any other bit with which demand drastically exceeds the potential supply.

Addenum:

This guide has mostly been focused on buying models to paint. If you are looking for models that have already been painted to a good standard, the trading forums of sites such as Warseer and DakkaDakka are your best bet. Such armies do occasionally go for sale on Ebay, but are often very expensive.

This tends to be because armies sold on Ebay are painted by professionals, while beautifully painted and converted armies such as Rev's Iron Hands (5 posts on Warseer needed for viewing) on trading forums are often sold by those painters seeking to finance their hobby, with a view to improving their skill with every project.