Welcome to Budgethammer! The aim of me writing this blog is to chronicle my attempt to become an avid warhammer 40k player, with a decent, well-painted(ish) army. In it, I will tell you all about what I’ve already done, and what I plan to do. I’ll take you through the process of finding a cheap model(s), how much I pay for them, and what sort of state they arrive in. Then I’ll show you how I repair them, strip the paint from them, and finally paint them.
In my opinion, most of the time a second hand model can look just as good as a brand new one. Not always, but most of the time. I’ll show you some photos in a second, but firstly. I play Space Marines. I play them for a few reasons. Firstly, I play Deathwatch, the Fantasy Flight Games space marine RPG, so I have a decent idea of the fluff. Secondly, they are without doubt the easiest models to find cheaply and second hand. Everyone and their mum has played space marines at some point, and the majority of them/us have also given up at some point. A good amount of these players played space marines, and a chunk of them want to squeeze a couple of quid from them instead of throwing them away.
I unsuccessfully played Vampire Counts for a while when I was younger. I played them back when they were badass (Necrachs for the win!), and collected a bit of Dark Elves, too. I don’t come from a particularly wealthy family, so I was eventually squeezed out of the hobby by gradual price increases, much to my dismay. The tipping point for me was when a box of 16 dudes moved from about £15 to £18. Before the bump, it was <£1 per person, which to me seemed manageable. After the shift, it was >£1 per model. This was just too much for me. So I left, and didn’t touch Warhammer for a good 10 years.
Fast forward to now. After playing Deathwatch, the hobby started to niggle its way back into my brain, and I eventually caved. In February 2013, I went to my local Games Workshop and bought myself a Tactical Squad and a hobby starter set totalling at £58. This was a fairly hefty injection of cash at the time, but it was (and still remains) that largest I’ve ever spent in one go on the hobby.
Most people will probably tell you that the starter set is a waste of dosh, but I would actually disagree. I’m still using mine, a year on. Inside, you get a decent pair of clippers, some thick plastic glue, some PVA glue, a brush, a pot each of sand and of static grass, and 9 paints. Let’s quickly go over each of these.
- Clippers: As far as clippers go, they’re about as good as you need. You can get nice and close to the sprue, and they are alright for chopping bits off of people for conversions.
- Thick Plastic Glue: For affixing plastic minis, this stuff is good stuff. The bottle you get with this set is a little hefty for the more delicate or fiddly work, such as gluing purity seals or grenades on your guys.
- PVA Glue: This is a nice freebie, but it’s not worth much at all. My tube lasted a while, but it wasn’t long until I had to replace it. Instead of forking over £5 (choke) for a 120ml(!) bottle, I skipped on down to Poundland and bought a litre of the stuff for a quid. Don’t buy PVA or superglue from GW.
- The Brush: This is a decent little brush. I’m crap at keeping my brushes in good quality, but it was nice while it lasted. What I’m using at the moment is this beauty:
… £2.99 for 12 (fairly decent) brushes and a little wrap to keep em in. Perfect for me, as I don’t have a dedicated hobby-table/room. But either way, the GW brushes are not too bad, but really costly. It’s a good brush to start with, but I’d recommend getting a couple. You’ll need more for drybrushing, painting tanks etc.
- Static Grass/Sand: I bloody love this stuff. Bases can make or break a model, and these are a quick and easy way of making impressive bases. Just slap some PVA on the base and dip it in sand or grass, and you’re done! If you’re feeling clever, you can play around a bit more. I liked to base them in sand, and when that had dried, apply some more PVA and put patches of grass on them. I still have well over 2/3 of each of these pots, and I must have based nearly 100 models, including Dreadnoughts and a Stormtalon.
- Paints: Now, this can either be great or naff. I was lucky, and I chatted to the fella in the shop for a while. I told him of my plan to paint my models with my own colour scheme (see below), and he said that I could swap the paints in the box for some of my own choosing. This was great! I was able to swap some colours I would never use for the basics to paint my guys in the way I wanted. GW paints, in my opinion, are great. People sing the praises of Vallejo Paints and all sorts, and to be honest, I have no idea what they’re like. GW’s ones are good and don’t cost the earth. I’ve had to replace 3 paints in 12 months. The thing to remember is that you can mix paints, too… So, perhaps instead of buying a red and an orange, consider buying a red and a white, or a yellow. Mix them to do highlights. It’s surprising the diversity you can get out of less than 10 colours.
Anyway, so that’s what I did. I had great fun building my guys and painting them (I did prime them with Imperial Primer by hand.. I wouldn’t recommend this. More on that later). After a week or so, I’d run out of guys. Huh. My choices, of course, was to either buy some more or quit now. I’d made a wishlist on games-workshop.com, but it was coming in at £200+, which wasn’t something I could feasibly afford. I needed an alternative…
A but of digging around let me to eBay. What a godsend. So far, from eBay, I have bought (roughly):
- 12 Tactical Marines – £3.20 + £1.5 p&p
- 10 Tactical Marines – £5 + £2.5 p&p
- 12 firewarriors + ethereal + 8 gun drones – £1.41 + £3.7 p&p
- Dreadnought w/assault cannon + missle launcher – £6.69 + £3 p&p
- 2 x Rhino – £9.98 + £3.99 p&p
- Chaplain in Terminator Armour – £2.20 + 0.90 p&p
- Chaplain – £0.99
- ‘Miscellaneous veterans’ – £2.10
- Terminator Squad – £3 + £3 p&p
- ‘qty of 46 warhammer as pictured’ – £15 + £3 p&p
… This was from the beginning of 2013 to the end. That’s.. hold on… £49.57 without p&p, or £71.16 with p&p. Over the course on one year, that’s not too bad, I reckon. Oh, I should probably explain about the last purchase. Lemme show you:
It’s easy to skim past that. £15? For some random Tactical Marines? No thanks.
I messaged the seller about the picture. There were some shapes in the back I wanted to identify…
Sure enough, there they are! I don’t know if you can see, but there is a land speeder in the right hand corner, and 6 bikes on the back row. Sure, one is an ork biker and one is a chaos biker, but still. Brand new, a land speeder alone will cost you £20. There are also a lot of guys here that are hard to see. But there’s a librarian, an apothecary, a scout squad, several assault marines and a bunch of people with power fists/heavy weapons (including a lascannon). What a steal!
In the year, it’s worth saying I also went to a bring and buy sale, and bought some models from a friend. I bought another rhino, Marneus Calgar and Honour Guard, 5 more scouts, some thunder hammer/storm shields, 3 heavy bolter marines and some jump packs. Damn good deal for me!
So, £86ish with p&p. How much would that have costed brand new, I wonder?
That’s nearly a £350 saving. All I had to do was strip the paint, paint them myself, and sorted. But damn, that’s a lot.
So yeah. I have around 3000 points of Space Marines now, by any accounts a fairly sizeable army, for a quarter of the price it would have cost brand new. The only other cost is the Dettol I stripped the models in, but that’s relatively low. £3 a bottle, I think I’ve used 4 in total so far.
I’ll go into more detail as time goes on, but I hope that amount can show you how easy it is to enjoy this great hobby for a fraction of the price.