Saturday, November 24, 2012

Games Workshop Hobbit figures - they cost WHAT?

Hunter Orcs

Here I am in rather hazy Dubai unable to paint at the weekend again so time, instead, to look at the new Games Workshop figures for The Hobbit.

I had been looking forward to the announcement about these since I found out at the Perry stand at Salute this year that the twins were busy working on them..  I found GW's rather pointless teaser trailers a bit annoying and five days ago for them to say that they may or may not be releasing figures at all was frankly ludicrous.  TMP readers seemed generally down on the quality of them, pictures having been leaked on a Spanish wargames site, saying that they were either too Warhammer-like, Finecast or too expensive.

Hunter Orcs on fell wargs

Well, I have looked at the pictures of them and so far I think they look good.  I can't imagine that New Line films would authorise miniatures that don't look exactly like the originals in the film, which is why the original Lord of the Rings figures are so much more anatomically correct than other GW ranges.

As to Finecast, I did buy a set (haven't painted them yet) and I thought they were excellent so I am not an automatic hater.

What did shock me was the price, however.  Now we have got used to seeing fantasy character figures going for around £4-£6 each, not a problem as you only need one, but £45 for four foot figures?  This is what GW are charging for the White Council set.  The figures are truly lovely and Gandalf looks exactly like Ian McKellen but £11.25 for one figure? For £45 I could get two bottles of Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc, or a ticket to see the Crazy Horse girls on the South Bank, or five Osprey's or eighty Perry plastic Prussians...

Here we have Finbul the Hunter on foot and mounted on a warg.  £25 for this set!  Now the ordinary troops are less than this but still expensive for plastics - £20 for 12 Hunter Orcs, for example.  Now, I am sure that I will end up getting most of these figures, despite the price, but will ration my purchasing so that I will paint as I go.  I enjoy painting GW's Tolkein figures but they are so detailed they take ages, so slowing my purchases will not be a problem.  If I was a fourteen year old with limited pocket money, however...

There is, as ever, an introductory boxed set, Escape from Goblin Town which includes a shortened version of the rule book (for Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring you got the complete rule book with the introductory set), and 56 figures plus a scenic item for £75.  This seems better value and to ensure up-front sales they are making it a limited edition and offering a one-off Radagast the Brown figure with it.  I can't help thinking that, like the plastic Fellowship in the Mines of Moria set, the plastic character figures (Gandalf, Bilbo and the dwarves) will not be as good as the eventual Finecast figures they release.  At least £100 for the Finecast set I suspect.

The standard rule book is, the now typical £50, for a 288 page book, which seems like a positive bargain compred with the White Council set.  I really wonder whether GW might have actually priced themselves out of big sales (and I'm sure these releases loom large in their corporate business plan for 2012/2013) with these prices.  Certainly I can't see the casual, non-wargaming, buyer picking these up as they did with the Fellowship of the Ring set (helped by their availability in a UK high street bookshop).

I don't mind paying for a quality product.  I just picked up the massive Taschen book The James Bond Archives for £70 (now £99, heh, heh) from Amazon.  It's so big you literally could attach four legs to it and turn it into a coffee table.  But it's a wonderful book and I am happy to pay that price for it.  But £45 for four 28 mm figures?  It's like the £5 they want for a small tube of Pringles in the Grand Hyatt Dubai where I am typing this.  "You're having a laugh!", as my son would say.

Now I really want these figures but what worries me is that if they don't sell (and launching figures costing this much in the middle of a recession is a big risk for GW) then they won't produce more for the other two films and where would my 28mm Battle of Five Armies be then?


  1. I do like the look of those hunter Orc's but only because it's a tater of what I can look forward to in the film.. £45??! I thought sailing was expensive...!

  2. Those prices are bonkers!

    I'm very reluctant to pay more than £1 per miniature. OTOH I will buy a lot of minis at that price!

    Cheers, Simon

  3. Must admit, mixed feelings here... I wasnt madly keen on the figures to start with, but must assume they taken from the movie imagery... so I guess they will grow on me.

    What horrifies me are the prices, they are just absurd...

    I went into the store yesterday and got the WD mag and picked up a finecast groblog. Cant say I like the look of it but will try it out to see this new material is actually like...

  4. Presumably GW are wary of the bubble created by the films (which they hadn't factored into their business plan last time around with the LotR trilogy) and so are seeking to maximising revenue/ fleece their customers as much as possible over the next 3 years.

    These are mind-blowingly expensive, but then their target market isn't really the likes of us by teenagers who get their parents to buy things for them!

    (The last time I was in a GW shop, the one in London's Oxford Street, there was a boy with his dad from some Emirate who was pretty much buying up the entire shop - this was just before Christmas a couple of years ago.)

  5. From the Emirates eh?...
    I was beginning to wonder if GW's new target audience is the elite of society... I can't see who else can afford to slap don this much money for the figures...

  6. I couldn't believe the prices they were asking for either! Unbelievible! (Guess i'll have to wait to them to come through on eBay.) Incredibly disappointed and another reminder of why I and the rest of my gaming group stopped buying GW's other ranges - the price.

  7. Figures do look nice although a bit beyond my budget I suspect.

    What puzzles me is what they're going to do with the rule book[s].

    I'm guessing that the rules are going to largely be the same as the LotR rules from a few years ago and I can't see too many changes that would be needed so there must be a lot of fluff in there for 50 quid!! And are they going to have a new set for each film???

  8. Bar injury, death or global meltdown I'm almost certain to go and see the films... I haven't looked forward to going to the cinema so much since the last Harry Potter (in fact that may have been the last time I went)... but is anyone else ever so slightly worried by the fact that he did the three books of LOTR in 3 films, and he's now doing a single smaller book in 3 films?? It's the only slight niggle I have.........

  9. Of course you still have the 10mm BOFA set I got you from a GW when it came out... :-)

    And no, I haven't painted my set either!


  10. Completely forgotten about that!

    I think I may have painted one stand!