Like many young nerds, I spent too much time (and money) on Games Workshop products. While this mostly extended to Warhammer 40k, I also bought plenty of Warhammer Fantasy models as well. In total, I probably spent well over $2.5k, which is far more than I should have spent. But since moving on to college and post-college life, Games Workshop products have fell by the wayside. Like many nerds my age, I no longer have the time or the disposable income to keep up with such a demanding hobby.
Still, it was interesting to see in the years since I quit the Warhammer tabletop universe how out-of-control the prices have gotten. And now, a lawsuit against Games Workshop alleges that the company makes a 50,000% markup on its models. While the scope of this lawsuit seems a bit outlandish (and also attempts to implicate Games Workshop in anti-trust and intellectual property theft), the fact is that the price of the models is too damn high. This is especially true given the demographic that Games Workshop targets. These are mostly teenagers whose parents are mostly paying for their products. Or for other teenagers (like myself), they are using the money from summer jobs to fund buying plastic models.
That’s not to say that the plastic models are all your buying when you buy Warhammer models. What you’re really getting is an introduction to the universe. When I was a teenager, Warhammer 40k was my introduction to a lot of sci-fi elements. That isn’t to say that I hadn’t seen Star Wars or wasn’t aware of Star Trek. But Warhammer 40k offered something more brutal, more raw, and something way darker. It didn’t matter to me that many of the key parts of its lore are ripped from sci-fi novels and movies like Alien. In fact, I wasn’t aware at the time and would now consider that pastiche. It’s just a mashup of the greatest hits of dark sci-fi, much of which is not immediately accessible to the average teenage nerd.
That being said, Games Workshop and the Warhammer universe definitely has a pricing problem. I spent thousands of dollars on amassing armes of Orks, Necrons, Fantasy Orcs, and Dwarves. And I really don’t have anything tangible to show for it. And while I did have a great time playing Warhammer tabletop games, I don’t think I needed to spend quite the amount of money that I did. Really, it mostly served to drain my teenage bank account. But in times when I felt more marginalized, the Warhammer universe and Games Workshop were there. It just wasn’t there without a huge price tag that I feel is very unconscionable to young tabletop players. And for that reason, I think that Games Workshop deserves whatever comes to them from this lawsuit and beyond.