40K e-bay Style by Mark Perry

19 Oct

Whether or not you’re just looking to save money, are making a political stance against GW’s recent pricing policies or looking for bits rather than whole models, E-Bay should be the shop of choice for all discerning 40k players. This blog is a short summary of some of the dos and don’ts I have stumbled through over the last few years of e-shopping. If I miss anything then please feel free to comment.

1 Choosing your models

Firstly, “pro-painted” is quite often anything but what you might imagine. Rather than professionally painted it often more likely refers to a prostitute with a large tin of household emulsion. Take any such description with a pinch of salt and rely more on the picture posted. No picture = don’t buy. As always, if in any doubt about condition ask a question. If no reply = don’t buy. Interestingly, I did see some models recently described as “hand-painted”. Not sure what other type of model there is!

Often the preferred buy is for under-coated but not painted models. This allows you to paint your own colour scheme on to a generally black or grey primer. However, even here you need to take care as there are a lot of sellers who have just sprayed primer over the original paint scheme. Too many coats of paint means loss of detail.

Sometimes you can strike lucky and find not even undercoated (and sometimes still on sprue) models. When looking for conversion or spare parts with metal models this is generally not a problem, but with plastic you often want to know if stuck together with superglue or plastic cement. If the former then a few hours in the freezer and you can often snap parts cleanly off. The latter, stuck for life … So if you want to use “as is” then less of an issue but if you do want to convert then maybe ask the question.

Certainly with models that have weapon options this can be an issue and as a Tyranid player I have to consider this more than some. Carnifexes armed with 4 scything talons, hive tyrant with a HVC. I need to know if I can convert this easily/magnetize loadouts in future. If not and the model is in a loadout I won’t use then I often won’t bid.

If un-built/on sprues etc then unless in a sealed box always check that the bases are included. Not a problem for 25 mm base models, but when you get into 40mm bases, bike bases etc then having to go out and pay full price for the bases can eat up any savings you made on the item (for instance £2.55 for 5 40mm bases).

2 How much to pay?

Normal supply and demand rules apply on e-bay as anywhere else. Want a basic SM tac squad where there are plenty of examples to choose from, then you should be able to get good examples for nearer 1/3 of RRP. Looking for rarer and popular models such as Hive Guard and I’m afraid there’s not much saving from buying them new from an online seller. With some research you can find out typically how much models sell for and then set yourself a limit. Don’t be disheartened though if you lose out I typically win 10-15% of the models I bid on.

As always, remember to add bid price and postage price together. You may have thought you have found a bargain Rhino at £10, but if they are charging £8 postage you’d have been just as well buying a new one.

E-bay is the best place though for out of production models and then price is just down to how much you want the item as there are not many other places to go. For example I use old style zoanthropes as I use the new one with fins as a Doom of Malantai. I was able to pick an old one up still in its blister for about £7 but there’s plenty I didn’t go for as the price was a bit rich for me.

Overseas sellers? I have to admit I don’t tend to bother, either due to high postage or length of time for expected delivery. Some people I know have had good experiences here, but with non UK sellers then recourse on non-receipted items etc can be limited. Buyer beware and all that.

3 Parts shopping and multiple items

There are many bitz sellers on e-bay but the postage costs often make the items prohibitive. If you are looking to buy parts (pair of lightning claws, rending claws etc) then it is best to plan ahead and order stuff you need for projects over the year. Postage will often be combined for multiple orders and so bring the costs per item down.

Also, if you see a seller description advising that they are selling their entire army then have a look at all their items and see if there’s 2-3 you can bid on. If silent on the issue, then drop them a message asking about postage discounts for multiple items.

4 Oh dear, I’ve bought a dog …

You thought the lighting was a bit dim in the picture but blimey that’s one awful paint job and looks like they had 4-5 goes at it as well. Well, what to do:

  • relist the item, be honest on the description and at least recoup a few quid
  • chuck it in the bin and put it down to experience
  • donate to 40KUK for additional prize support for the GT
  • look at paint stripping (that’s a whole other article especially for plastic models)

To be honest, I have taken all of routes 1,2 and 4 at some point. Some items are just too bad to re-sell or strip. With experience though the number of bad buys has certainly dropped over time. I have a backlog of models to paint anyway and so while I may need a certain model at some point, sometimes it is better to pass on a potentially poor version to await a better version. However, with some rarer OOP ones you may just have to bite the bullet.

5 What else to buy?

Apart from models, ebay can often turn up good examples of scenery. GW boxed sets often go for less than half price and there are plenty of other examples from other manufacturers as well as DIY items as well. The Hirst Arts mould authorised resellers often produce nice products for reasonable prices.

If you want a codex for a rarely played army or so you can read up on an opponent then these can often be picked up at half price. Make sure you buy the most recent one though – check the cover picture against the one on GWs website. Assault on Black Reach rulebook, counters, models etc are generally always available and reasonably priced.

I bought all the models I use for mycetic spores on ebay very reasonably and have looked at toy octopus (unsure of the plural here – Octopii?), dragons, plastic soldiers for accessories in the past.

Final point, please don’t outbid me on any items with less than 2 minutes to go. I can hold a grudge you know … Oh and remember to tip your postie at Christmas, always money well spent in my book.



4 Responses to “40K e-bay Style by Mark Perry”

  1. Chris Smith (@BadgerRustler) October 19, 2011 at 10:10 #

    Excellent article! I’ve dabbled in buying from eBay in the past and have noticed a few things:

    1) eBay can be really good for bits buying – there are several sellers that have hundreds if not thousands of auctions on the go at a time purely for 40k related bits. I’ve found eBay to be much better than the dedicated bits selling websites in terms of stock.

    2) If you are prepared to buy with an open mind as to what you need then eBay is grand. For example, don’t turn up needing a Stormtrooper sergeant and nothing else – keep an eye out for other bargains at the time as that dirt cheap Falcon Grav Tank might be hellishly expensive when you actually need it.

    Of course, this does sometimes lead to having unnecessary models sitting about that you might not use!

  2. Digital Unicorn October 19, 2011 at 10:14 #

    Extremely true on all counts. All I have in my collection bought from a GW store is AOBR, everything else came from ebay and friends. For people strapped for cash there really is no better option.
    If u really like to build ur own stuff tho, a good tip iv found, is to club together with a few buddies and place an order on a discount site. The savings really start to rack up when ur buying more than one item. Plus postage neutralising ur savings stops being a problem.

  3. Andy Ovel October 19, 2011 at 12:45 #

    eBay is ALWAYS my first stop for new models, paints and well everything.

    It’s just so much cheaper, for what is an expensive hobby, you just need to be carful not to get carried away, and pay more than you meant to; I have watched bids so high that they actually paid more than just buying it new from GW, and that is insane!

    And yes I too have a cupboared with some badly assembled eBay models freshly dipped in enamel, BUT I figure if I calculate the losses against the savings I still end up wining. 🙂

    Good Article, I enjoyed it, look forward to the next one.

  4. DavidW October 19, 2011 at 16:03 #

    I’ve found ebay to be great for fleshing out the leftover bitz in my Grey knight boxes. Keeping an eye out for a bargain on say 5xlegs and a few other bits and bobs and you’ve got a whole new set of guys for half the price.

    also the iphone app is pretty handy for keeping an eye on multiple auctions. and the “saved searches” section can let you know when new items are put up for sale.

    great article-I was going to do a bit on it sometime in the future-but you’ve done a better job than me!

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