Review: My take on the May 2011 announcements by GW

So most people not currently living in a cave without Internet access should by now know about the 3 items affecting most GW game system hobbyists, especially those not in the UK, namely:

  1. June 2011 GW Price Increases (in the order of 16-22%)
  2. GW changes to trade terms for UK companies selling GW stock to locations other than the EU. The link also contains the response from CEO Mark Wells to letters of concern sent to GW. (read: They’ve stopped companies like maelstrom.co.uk and waylandgames.co.uk from selling to places such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South America and the USA)
  3. Citadel Finecast range has been created to replace the metal models. These resin models will be sold at a higher cost that the current metal range… even though the production costs are lower :/ (this is however part of item 1.)

I could continue the discussion about these, but many have discussed this quite adequately, but the summary of the items I find closest to the issue are:

Price Increases Part 1:

Price increases happen all the time, most notably after the previous GFC (Global Financial Crisis) and losses many companies have posted during the past few years. Public companies have a financial responsibility and obligation to shareholders to achieve the greatest profit and thus higher dividends and share value. However, there is always a balance between achieving this and squeezing the customer for more cash, seemingly, this has reached tipping point, although we might have to wait until the end of the financial year to see the impacts on sales over the June 11 period. The price increases are particularly telling in Australia and New Zealand where prices are near 200% of those in comparable economies. CEO Mark Wells addresses this by asking the customer to note that the hobby centres are a cost burden on the company and thus GW wants to retain these and still make a decent profit. Ultimately, if you aren’t on the Board of Directors or a Senior Executive at GW, it’s hard to tell what the end goal is here.

There are a few scenarios being talked about:

Price Increases Part 2:

Price parity has been a hot topic on Australian/New Zealand hobby sites in particular (see: An Open Letter to Games Workshop). Price parity is basically where those in Australia pay the same price when purchasing models/hobby materials which is on par with the converted cost from British Pounds to Australian Dollars. There is no argument that additional costs for shipping, higher costs of living in developed countries, import taxes and a 2-5% difference in the current exchange rate will increase the price beyond 100% parity, but does it all amount to nearly 200% of the UK price? I’d suggest it doesn’t. Lastly, there have been many calls for the price increase to at the least exclude Australia and New Zealand to address this imbalance. When you take into account that the new Finecast models are lighter and therefore the shipping cost based on weight is greatly reduced, this makes more sense (I may be the first to mention this, but please forgive me if I haven’t read the post that said it first J)

Trade terms restrictions

This one is a tough one, as I recognise that most of the hobbyists that are online have cottoned on to purchasing GW products from the UK suppliers and thus getting a significant cost reduction. This is linked to the arguments above, so I won’t go much further, but I will say that at least here in Australia, most of us don’t mind paying a little more for convenience, e.g. walking into a GW shopfront, looking at a product and purchasing it in-store. But… when you get to the point where you can buy another army online for the same cost as buying 1 in-store, the wallet tends to make the decisions for us. Lastly, I’d like to say that the Maelstrom and Waylandgames guys have always been a pleasure to deal with, provided insurance and often $0 shipping costs and not forgetting the great customer service! I for one will miss dealing with them regularly.

Citadel Finecast: The argument for and against lowered material/production costs

Here’s a tip for young players when using an argument for moving to new technology/materials eg from metal to resin; make sure you understand the flip side of the coin before stating reasons for moving to resin as part of the Citadel Finecast range!

This one gets my goat the most of all… the reason being that most people would realise that it makes good business sense to cover the costs of new technology/development through by the profit made on existing products (otherwise you are borrowing money to develop new products which may fail) and when you state that the reason why you are moving to resin is to reduce the material costs (because metal is becoming expensive), you back that up by leaving the prices as they are, or perhaps even dropping the prices of the new products to prove the point.

Let’s review the pro items first:

  1. The models are lighter, meaning less need for more difficult modelling such as pinning parts
  2. The material is easier to cut/modify – there’s no doubt that metal is more difficult to work with as well as more dangerous to younger hobbyists
  3. Re-development of casting has probably increased the detail/sharpness of the models
  4. Shipping weight is significantly reduced (this is a significant cost decrease as well)
  5. Shiny new packaging with a colour photo of the painted model is better than the old blister pack (also a con as it costs more to produce these)

And now for the the con’s:

  1. Resin is more brittle, thinner parts are less resilient to damage
  2. The cost of the new packaging would cost more than the older style blister pack
  3. There is an argument that if a model can be cast in resin, why can’t it be cast in plastic? This should drop the price significantly
  4. Why do some blister packs only have only 1 or 2 models in them? Surely people don’t take 2 Kroot hounds, or only 2 CSM Raptors???
  5. Resin can’t be glued by plastic glue, so you need super glue

So what are the real benefits of the above to we, the customers?

Realistically, we hope they will be higher quality models that require less modelling work to put them together (reducing the time it takes to put them together). For this benefit, we are given the privilege of paying more for new packaging, a photo of the model which we could find on the GW website or White Dwarf and a model that is more prone to bits breaking off… BONUS! L

Ok, so thus ends my appraisal of this situation, I’ll go into my dilemma about purchasing a new army while the prices are still low and I can buy them from the UK at half the price…OR NOT!

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