Used Models, Part 2

I was waiting for a friend to give him some free stuff, and musing on why I’m ok giving away some stuff but not ok with the deep discounts that folks are forced into to sell their barely used models. I’ve given away a ton of stuff – I once gave away an entire 1500pt Ork army! I haven’t done anything that big recently, but whenever I’m looking at something I don’t want in my house anymore, I have an internal debate about selling vs gifting. So what’s the difference between giving it away and selling it for cheap? I’m thinking about a few things.

I’m thinking about the value of things. How it the item valuable to me? Is it worth money to me?

Here’s a summary of a few items I’ve gotten rid of recently:

  • Tyranid army. It still has value to me, although not as much as it once may have. I could play it again, but I’d rather have the free space in my apartment. I wanted money for it.
  • Dark Eldar Warriors. 10 models, they don’t take up a lot of space. I spent a lot of time painting them and was really happy with them, and wanted to get a reasonable amount of money for them.
  • Confrontation Orcs. I basecoated them years ago, played with them once and they’ve been in a case since then. As well, even if I felt I wanted money for them, they would never sell. I can either throw them away, or gift them to someone.
  • A couple books and magazines. These would be worth money to me, except that I got them for free! After I’m done with them, I can either recycle them (and recycling isn’t as great for the environment as re-use is) or give them away. The next person has the same options, but now they’ve been used by at least 2 people, increasing their value/cost-to-make ratio.
  • Ancient models from when I was 15. These have nothing but sentimental value to me. I took a few photos to remind myself of them and prayed someone would want them. No monetary value at all. I’m surprised I managed to give them away.
  • Princess Acadia from Drake. This model had value – it’s brand new, it’s gorgeous…but it only cost me $7. Sure I could try to cost recover the $7, but that’s the kind of money that isn’t worth my time and effort.
  • A model that I had just received free from another friend or tournament prize. Again, brand new, gorgeous models. I gave away an ork plane, a Seamus crew, a resin ork model. These things have no cost to me because they were free, but they take up space and I can’t see myself using them. At least not anytime soon. Whereas in each case, the eventual recipient assembled and painted the model immediately.

There is a decent amount of joy that comes from giving hobby stuff away. If you give it away, and it has value, then you are making someone else’s hobby life better. And that feels good. This is an expensive hobby, and people love getting free things.


You all definitely have a ton of models in your closet. Go open that closet, find some models that you’ll never use again and find someone to give them to! Your closet will thank you, your hobby guilt over having to many models will thank you and best of all your friend will think you’re the coolest person on the planet! (at least until you crush him while he’s using the models you gave him…:P)

“Seems pretty expensive for used models…”

I apologize if the person I’m quoting is reading this! This isn’t about you, at all. It’s about our community, and you just had a particularly pithy quote! This is a totally unfair opinion post, and I’m as guilty as anyone reading.

I’m a member of the local Facebook game trading group, and another one that is near identical but allows auctions. There’s a regular stream of people selling models. Lots of models, entire armies worth of models. How we all ended up with multiple thousands of dollars worth of things that we just don’t want anymore is a topic for another day, but I wanted to write about something I noticed on these public forums. This is a pretty regular post:

WargameX army for sale! Total of $1000 worth of models, but I just want it gone, so it can be yours for only $250!

I want to talk about “pricing ourselves to the bottom”.

This is an expensive hobby. I walked into a store and spent $60 on plastic and card and paint without blinking an eye. When I added up my Tyranid army, it came to about $800. I bought a box of Dark Eldar Warriors at around $45 some years ago. We avoid counting because it’s a really big number when you’re done.

Why do we have such a problem with paying an actual reasonable amount for models? This fellow hobbyist spent $1000 on those models, he lovingly clipped and glued them, he spent hours of his life painting them to a standard that he’s pretty happy with…and we repay him by giving him 25% of what it’s all worth, because they are “used”. Somehow these objects have lost value, even as we put time and work into them!

When you put an army up for sale, you can’t actually put up a number that is anywhere near what the original value is. Even if you saved your buyer 3 hours of work in clipping and gluing. Even if you’ve put a ton of work the paint job and conversions, and if they had been a commission you’d have made money on them, you only get 25% of your original purchase price. Does it make sense?

I originally put my Tyranid army up for $300, knowing that this was an outlandish number. The DE Warriors started at $35, because they were painted damn well. The Tyranid’s ended up selling for $230 after parceling them out, and the Warriors went for $20. I “just wanted them gone”.


Sellers! Take some pride in your work! Raise the value of what you’re selling – your models are worth money! You put time and blood into them, and you deserve more than 25%!

Buyers! You spent $100 at GW on a single model, you should be ok paying $50 for a $100 model! We’re all in this together, and that guy you priced down just wants to use your money to buy more models! Help a brother out!


(Of note: Like motor vehicles, models seem to lose value the instant they leave the store. I’m not saying try to get 100% back. Maybe 35%. And maybe give me a discount because I’m on your side! :P)


I missed my Friday post last week, and don’t you believe for a second that I wasn’t thinking about it all weekend long. It haunted me that I couldn’t keep a simple schedule for more than a few weeks…

I had a good reason in the end, but no good excuses.


Last weekend at Kipper’s Melee I won two different Best Sportsmanship/Favourite Opponent awards. I played in the Saturday night Malifaux event, which is literally the most fun a man can have with a deck of cards, and somehow managed to convince 3 people that I was an amazing guy. The next day, I was stunned to hear that I won Sports for Fantasy.

I wasn’t stunned because of false modesty, but because I feel like in Warhammer that I haven’t provided the same kind of game that I used to.

When I was young…no, that’s not a good story. But I still remember my first tournament – I remember it very well, because I have a Best Sportsman trophy from that tournament! I was playing Night Goblins (no Orcs), and I laughed my ass off every time something random happened to the little guys. I deserved that trophy, I think, because my opponents had the time of their life. They had so much fun, that 8 years later I randomly ran into a guy at Science World and he remembered me and my army and we laughed at it again.

Now I have a couple Best Sportsman wins years later, but I feel like I don’t give that game anymore. I’m trying to hard, and I’m caring to much about the game and winning and doing my best, to give that balls-to-the-wall kind of game where it just doesn’t matter. I’ve been influenced by tactics and strategies, and a certain disappointment when they all fall through. I can’t be giving The Face, otherwise I wouldn’t win these things. But I feel disappointed, and I find it odd that my opponents can’t feel that coming from me. Stunned, because I thought it was obvious.

I guess it isn’t obvious, and I guess my opponents are having the best god damn game of Warhammer of their lives whenever I play. 🙂

Jamie has the right of it. It doesn’t matter.



Last adhesive post, I promise.

I hope this will be my last post in my surprising three part series on sticking two things together.

I wrote last time about how to fill joints, mainly because that’s what I was trying to do at the time. The next day I sat down to put together the rest of my Malifaux crew and thought about another point that could be useful.

You can get away with the prayer method in some situations – I’m thinking terrain, or bases, or if you have the chance to build something around the joint.

In my situation, I had some railroad tracks that would only touch the base at certain points, and not enough to actually stick if the model was dropped. I could have puttied around underneath, but I was lazy. The lazy (efficient!) solution was to add another adhesive on top of and around the weak joint. I’m using the Vallejo Oxid Paste as a basing material, so I made sure to have that come up the railroad tracks at many points (really, I just enveloped the tracks in it) so that it would add more strength and stability. I’ve also seen a few people sculpt around the joint, creating more fur or feathers or a cloak, etc.

I don’t know if I would recommend this for an arm, leg or tail, but for things that are being glued to bases, it feels ok. Arms will get pulled this way and that in your case, whereas basing materials tend to just lay flat.


This man is brilliant.

Minimalist Howard Langston

He had some architectural models that he wanted to play wargames on. Putting a Space Marine onto a board with a hotel (or in his case, a school) looked a little silly. So he made new models to fit!

Minimalism as an artistic style is said to have started in the 1920s in the Netherlands. It progressed to becoming popular in the 1950s and 60s in the US and inspired a lot of artwork. It’s pretty old! And yet, it continues to be relevant because it is more of a design principle than an artistic style. You may be familiar with it from the discussion as to why the iPhone became popular, since that is one of the most mass market uses of the principle. The design of the iPhone brought minimalism to the front of peoples minds, and everyone wanted to know how to do that to make more money. If you compare the squalor was that web design in the 90s to that which we’ve come up with today, you can clearly see that minimalism has influenced computer design a lot in the last decade. But the idea is less is more has pushed, and continues to push, design in many industries.

As model builders, we cut and glue and scrape and assemble all of sorts of complicated things because we want our army to be the coolest damn thing in the room. I think what I love most about these photos, is that they make me philosophical about conversions. Why do we add more, thinking it better? These models are art and they show us that you don’t need the wet palette and mega paint sets and $120 models and $120 conversions to make something that looks amazing. You can start with a few pieces of metal, or fewer colours or just black and white or…


(IANAArtHistoryMajor. I tried to do enough research to not embarrass myself here, but I’m a web/UI/UX designer and programmer, so I only really know about the modern parts of minimalism :))



Super glue – not a gap filler

I’m liking these Friday posts which I’m thinking more as commentary, or a research opportunity. I like writing, so these give me a chance to write even if I have nothing in particular to report about my hobby.

I thought I’d follow-up on my post from last week about the use of cyanoacrylate as a gap filling solution.

Companies have certainly made huge strides in making sure things fit together well. I remember assembling my Ork Battlewagon, with it’s amazing fitting panels, and believing it to be the work of the divine. The Jaws of the Deep models I assembled last month were pretty good as far as fit goes, having a solid post and hole to give the glue more flat surfaces to adhere to. This can be tricky though – if the post and hole end up different sizes, you have a problem again.

But as hobbyists, you and I both know that sometimes the pieces just don’t fit together well. What solutions do we have? A lot!


Damn the research, glue it anyway.

This works well, if you never need to transport or drop your models on the floor. You’ve probably spent most of your life putting glue on a model, putting the other piece on the glue and holding it for a bit. Sometimes it doesn’t work out great, but if you have patience it will always hold eventually. Sometimes you have a point you have to glue, sometimes you have irregular pieces. More glue will work! …for a time. I’ve done this a lot. Let’s call this the “prayer” method, with all of the connotations that go along with that name.


Grab your hobby knife and file.

Certainly an option, you can cut your model up until the two sides fit. If you have steady hands and a good eye for 3 dimensions, you can create your own flat surfaces to ensure that the pieces all fit together. I’m really bad at this, and tend to make the problem much worse.



An idea which I’ve heard about recently is to use something in the middle to allow the glue to adhere to. From the last post, we know that the problem with globs of CA (aside from the fact that the word “globs” just sounds awful), is that it can take longer to cure, sometimes will never fully cure, and when it does cure, it creates a weak crystalline structure in the joint.

So instead, you roll up a batch of putty, put a small amount of glue on one side of the joint, a small amount on the other side of the joint, drop the putty ball in the middle and squish. The glue will adhere to both sides of the putty, the putty is malleable and will change shape to fill the available space and after it dries you have a solid object in between two thin layers of glue. That sounds alright!

Liquid vs Solid Putty

I would use the solid stuff. The liquid feels more like it’s good for filling tiny gaps after you’ve glued. It doesn’t “squish” in the same way, and the squish is important to making sure that you get a filled joint. As well, the liquid is meant to be applied with a paint brush, and you’ve got CA in that mixture and if you do this you’ll never be able to use that paintbrush again!


After the squish, you’ll almost certainly have some putty sticking out of the edges of your joint. You can try to remove it immediately with a putty tool, but that CA will get in your way and all over your tool. It’s still an option, as you can clean that tool easier than the paintbrush! Also, while the putty is still uncured, you risk taking some of your structural putty and moving it out of a useful position or putting holes into it.

You can also leave the putty/CA combo to dry and clean it up afterwards. Most two-part putties can be cut and sanded after curing. Be gentle though – when cured the putty is a flexible substance (so when transported it may flex and bend, rather than snap. This is a good thing!) and if you put to much pressure on it, it can still come apart. If this happens, clean it all up – the putty, the CA, all of it – and try again.

After you’ve cleaned the edges of the joint up, depending on your skill, you may not have left the best looking area. My last attempt was a little ragged. I watered down some of the liquid green stuff and painted it onto the now dry area, which smoothed the whole thing out.


I’m using this method on my plaguebearer conversions, so I’ll see how it turns out. I suggest it in the first place because my hobby hero, Mr. Wappel, recommends it, saying:

Now for the wings.  Once again, glue /gs/ glue.  First wing in position.
The idea behind this technique is twofold.  First, it fills in some of the gaps that can happen in these kids of joints where pins are not always the best idea.  It also means that I don’t have to sit there holding it in place as the glue sets!  You can see the bead of glue in this image, with the green stuff on the inner wing surface.

Public service announcement – super glue

I’m fixing and converting some second hand models tonight and wanted to toss this out there, since it’s on my mind.

When you use super glue, use as little as you possibly can.

I tried to do some research to grab a second source on why this is, but it seems that modellers aren’t the target market for most cyanoacrylate (CA) glues. There are lots of other applications, but they don’t seem to care how much you use!

My first guess at why you use as little as possible was that because it has a very poor shearing strength and because it’s very brittle, the more you use, the more weak link you’re adding to your model. (in a perfect world, your model would just be entirely plastic/metal/resin, with no glue, which would be much stronger of a join!) The problem with this idea is that it really shouldn’t matter how much you add, since adding any is weakening.

I came across an article that finally gave me a decent answer.

The cyanoacrylate glue hardens very quickly when trapped between two surfaces. The reaction is caused by the condensed water vapour on the surfaces (namely the hydroxyl ions in water). The water comes from the surrounding air, so obviously the air humidity is a factor that may affect bonding capabilities, or cause them to differ from application to application.

The curing reaction starts at the surface of the bonded material and develops towards the centre of the bond. Because of this, thick seams or large blobs of glue may harden less satisfactorily than surface-to-surface bonds with good fit. In a thick blob of glue, a polymerisation reaction may stop before it reaches the centre of the blob. A rule of thumb is that seams thicker than 0,25 mm should be avoided. Thick seams will also take longer time to cure.

The other thing I’m thinking about (not a chemist), is that CA joins two things because of a chemical reaction between molecules, in particular the moisture on another object. But the stuff in the middle crystallizes, and rather than creating a strong bond between molecules creates a lattice of CA molecules that just isn’t as strong as if you have moisture:CA:moisture molecules all touching.

Regardless of the science behind it, we all know that thick applications are just more brittle and break easier. Don’t do it, you’ll thank yourself when your model stays in one piece in your case when you’re traveling by plane! (baggage handlers…*shudder*)

Model-less Rules

(This is a Friday afternoon post, examining feelings. It may not be your cup-of-tea. I get a little new-agey in the middle, and then a little religious at the end.)


I’m sitting on a couple different rulesets of games that I want to play, but all of which have no models to be found. Deadzone Beta, Dreadball Season 3 teams, Malifaux 2E Beta, Drake: The Dragon.

I count myself as a prolific gamer. I’ll read the rules for a board game just because I have them. I’ve bought countless RP books for systems that I’ll never convince anyone to play. I love rules, I love figuring out how they mesh together to create a system. I love stuffing them into my brain.

There are a ton of people around the world playing Deadzone and giving feedback to the designer. That sounds great…but for some reason, I won’t do it. I’ve already purchased a Teraton Dreadball team, surely I should want to play them? No, I don’t have the models. People whom I know are playing M2E, I’ve picked a crew that I want to learn, let’s do this! No, I won’t play until I’ve got my little Mei Fang and Friends assembled.

It occurred to me to ask a question – why do I I find it so hard to play games for which I have perfectly good rules, but no models?

At first, I thought I was just waiting for the game to be released – the correct models are part of the game, and I can’t play the game until I have the models. Then I started to build a Daemons of Chaos army, with a couple models from a different manufacturer. If the models from that company are part of the game, why is this ok?

The daemons I think can be explained away with intention – my intention is to use those models as Beasts of Nurgle (you’ll see), so that makes it ok. Whereas using Orks as Gen1 Plague models for DZ is “cheating”. The former is a plan with a lot of hobby behind it, the latter is one step removed from cutting up cereal boxes and writing “Ork unit” on one side.

But the rest of it, I’m thinking has to do with talismans.

Our world is increasingly technologized (I made that word up). Smartphones, tablets, computer games, Facebook, this blog post. So when we play with cards and dice and models, we’re breaking free of the screens that we use all day, every day. We’re choosing to interact with a person, and objects, instead of a display and text. If a game is a miniature abstract reflection of reality, with a system of rules trying to mirror our world, then the tools we use to manipulate that system are important. These objects have power, they are talismans.

Have you ever opened up a brand new game and held the pieces of it? Run your thumb over the smooth plastic of the tokens? Savored popping the little card tokens out of the cardboard? It’s a bit like popping bubble-wrap! Board games are rated by the quality of their components, wargames by the design of their sculpts and the technique the painter used to apply pigment to the models – why does any of this matter?

Another side of that idea – why do gamers buy specially inscribed dice? Templates with designs on them? Dice towers? None of these things have anything to do with the game. I believe that it is a similar reason, that we fetishize the physical objects that go into the game.

Taking that to the idea of model-less rules – playing these games without their appropriate models would be sacrilege! Enough to warrant excommunication from the Holy Ordo of the Emperor, or which ever gaming God you pray to.

Thanks for reading. Amen.