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"Why aren't painted miniatures collectible?" Topic

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian06 May 2020 9:08 p.m. PST

Given how much time and skill we put into our armies, why don't secondhand painted armies sell for higher prices? Why doesn't the value grow, like fine art or fine wine?

USAFpilot06 May 2020 9:27 p.m. PST

Well painted figures do sell for high prices if the quality is high. Take a look on eBay at the 54mm St. Petersburg collection. Some used figures sell for over $1,000 USD each.

As far as hobbyist painted armies; well, one man's trash is another man's treasure, and vice versa.

DyeHard06 May 2020 9:48 p.m. PST

While mass produced toy soldiers painted on an assembly line do seems to increase with time, it does seem true that personal craft painted figures do not. Perhaps if the crafts-person were identified that might happen. However as so many wargamers are also figure painters, I think the idea that each one thinking that they could do that for themselves.

Another factor is the rather rapid increase in the quality of castings. Must collectors would rather have the latest castings to paint themselves than an artfully painted older casting. At some point this will level off, and this calculus will change.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine06 May 2020 10:55 p.m. PST

eBay is absolutely littered with painted miniatures that, with out trying to sound harsh, aren't painted all that well. The owners, of said miniatures, think that painting them has increased their value, especially Games Workshop miniatures. If I was to buy them they wouldn't be good enough for my gaming table and I'd have to strip and re-paint them to be happy using them. So in the end its less hassle to by new.

There are some brilliantly painted second hand miniatures as well and they fetch high prices.

45thdiv Supporting Member of TMP07 May 2020 2:53 a.m. PST

I think Dyehard hit on one factor, latest sculpts. If I see a nicely painted MiniFig unit of Napoleonic figures and see an unpainted unit of Perry's or Front Rank, unless I have other MiniFigs, I am most likely going to buy the unpainted. For me, the hobby is about the visuals.

I have sold a few painted figures, 20mm WW2. The figures are 15 years old, but they still sell those figures today. I tried to get a dollar apiece, but no takers. They were painted and looked nice on the table. I ended up selling them for less than retail of new ones.

I think it has to do more with the amount of figures being sold. I also collect the King and Country WW2 60mm figures. The market for older figures is okay. I think the price of new figures have past the price of collecting a set from 15 years ago..

I think another reason is that we are all looking for a deal. We know what new castings cost and If we can get the painted figures for a bit above that cost, we are happy.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP07 May 2020 3:51 a.m. PST

"Collectability" isn't about age: it's about scarcity. Some of the coins in my pocket are beautiful, but they're not going to be worth more than face value until the mint stops making more of them--and then, generally to the degree the existing ones are worn or melted down.

The value of used wargame armies is more like the price of used cars: you can get something for the rare alcohol heater for a Corvair--but only as long as someone still drives Corvairs. And you can get something for scarce Starship Trooper 28's--so long as someone still plays Starship Trooper. I'm selling off horse & musket figures in an era of orcs and giant robots, and the prices I get reflect that. It would be worse if I were selling off Crimson Skies.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP07 May 2020 6:41 a.m. PST

Sales are about supply and demand.

The demand side is a complex mix of many of the things mentioned above:

– how many people are playing XXX?
– how many minis do you need to play XXX?
– what is the relative playing value of different units (this includes your "rep" for fielding them as well as strat/op/tactical value)?
– what else competes with the minis part of peoples' budgets?

The supply size, likewise has a lot of factors to onsider:

– how many sources are there?
– what constitutes a different force/unit?
– what is the logistic overhead?

These things (and others) all combine to produce various pricing trade spaces (curves) like cost vs quality, or cost vs quantity, and so on.

One of the problems with understanding the minis market is we believe in the economic principles above and think we can plot the curve.

The principles are solid and we can plot the curve. But we think about it in a macroeconomics manner – a steady state process with tons of individual transactions that fall into normal (actually binomial, but we call it normal) independent identically distributed (NIID) distributions.

This market is not a McDonalds in a metropolitan area servicing 5,000+ customers in a ten hour day from a menu of only a couple dozen items (the menu seems big compared to a single customer, but is small compared to the total number of orders).

This is a much more segmented market with very small segments that have disjoint relationships over a microeconomic span. You can plot the curves, but they look like large overlapping collections of jaggy curves rather than the smooth ones we see in textbooks.

john snelling07 May 2020 8:11 a.m. PST

I noticed a change in peoples attitudes. Younger people today generally are not collectors like older people of my age (60's).

Legion 407 May 2020 8:46 a.m. PST

I know I'd rather paint my own, but I've gotten some and had to strip'm !

Giles the Zog07 May 2020 9:16 a.m. PST

Style of painting, and style of basing.
When I buy miniatures, I want to ensure they blend into the rest of my collection both paint style, and basing.
If not, in the dip.

MajorB07 May 2020 9:29 a.m. PST

I have never understood this concept of "collecting". Collecting is what stamp collectors do. We are wargamers, not wargames figure collectors! A collection is something that you are always adding to.

If I start a wargames period, I decide how big the armies will be and buy that number. That's it. No collecting at all.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP07 May 2020 9:49 a.m. PST

I buy miniatures that I want to paint, so if they're already painted, I'm stripping them, and they are therefore of less value to me than if they were unpainted.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP07 May 2020 1:04 p.m. PST

The mighty Etotheipi has it right – supply and demand

To be collectable there have to be people who want to collect them

I do have a miniature (one) that is valued at $1,000 USD but it is a hand-made large figure painted by a reasonably famous artist that appeals to a community willing to pay said price for said figure

Personal logo Tacitus Supporting Member of TMP07 May 2020 2:11 p.m. PST

Completed coloring books are not collectible either…

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP07 May 2020 8:34 p.m. PST

Yeah, this idea of "collectible" is odd to me, at least with respect to miniatures.

Isn't a collection something to be displayed, its contents restored to pristine condition (like a car collection) or preserved in the condition in which they were acquired (like a coin collection)?

I don't display my miniatures (except a few on my blog). When I'm not playing with them, they're in boxes in storage. I don't restore them, nor preserve them. I paint them as I see fit, and sometimes modify them. So they're not something I collect, although I do have rather a lot of them.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine08 May 2020 12:04 a.m. PST

Horses for courses I guess my miniatures are mostly displayed, in my wargames room, in some nice IKEA display cabinets. Having spent so much effort painting them to look nice I feel hiding them away in boxes is a real shame.

There are, at least in the terms of fantasy miniatures, collectors out there especially Oop citadel miniatures which can fetch eye watering prices, even the now naff looking ones from the early 80s, but collectors of those are clearly looking for mint or as close to mint ones as the painted versions fetch less money than ones still in their original packets or unpainted.

Lucius09 May 2020 7:25 p.m. PST

It is a small niche hobby, composed of a high percentage of cheapskates, older than the mean population, whose interests and tastes are always changing. There is an almost endless supply of new, non-perishable miniatures. And as older gamers die off, there are tens of thousands of painted figures becoming available every year.

It is an investor's nightmare scenario.

Last Hussar18 May 2020 3:16 p.m. PST

Have you *seen* my 'painting'?

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