Why are miniatures so expensive? | Price Research


Miniatures are a lot of fun, especially with the satisfaction it gives when you slam down a foot-tall ancient dragon mini on the table. 

Then again, for many people, the pricing for most miniatures can be a turn-off. What most mini enthusiasts don’t consider is that many factors go into determining the price of miniatures. 

After our research, we’ve found out why miniatures from brands like Games Workshop and Privateer Press are quite expensive. 

What are the average prices of miniatures?

The average price for miniature kits differs with the brand and figure. Some brands cost as high as $60 to $100 per miniature, while some offer miniatures as low as $5. 

For instance, Dungeons and Dragon minis like the Games Workshop metal miniature of Elrond cost $8, while a mounted Ringwraith is priced at $9. 

On the other hand, the price for Warhammer models varies. Warhammer models like the Space marines Primaris Intercessors Warhammer 40K costs between $42.99 to $51.00. This price range also affects metal kits like the spiders of Middle Earth, which cost up to $47.5. 

Besides this, Privateer press miniatures like the Warmachine Wrath and Privateer Press Hordes Gargantuans cost between $8.50 to $10.75, Malifaux Wyrd Games are priced at $43.38, and Star-wars figures with an average of $22.99. 

GW miniatures are expensive for a reason

Games Workshop minis are often high priced, but brands like Privateer Press and Forge World also sell expensive miniatures.  

The only difference between GW minis and those from other brands is that their kits, especially the Warhammer miniatures are quite detailed and top-notch. Warhammer miniatures, especially the newer ones, are considerably more detailed than most wargaming miniatures. 

They also frequently have a dynamic sculpt, or packed in the box is a sprue full of alternate head and weapons options.

Simply put, GW is a premium brand offering the most detailed and innovative wargaming miniatures to hobbyists. 

Are expensive miniatures more quality than cheap ones?

Technically, it depends on the brand. 

However, for a brand like Games Workshop, their expensive miniatures are more high quality than cheaper ones because they employ sculptors that do high-quality sculpting and use high-quality plastics during production. 

Is the production of those miniatures expensive?

When it involves designing, marketing, tooling, and getting materials and molds for miniatures, production costs are quite on the high side. 

Technically, production costs won’t be an expensive problem, but with continuous inflation, prices for materials, marketing, and tooling are bound to increase. 

While Games Workshop uses injection-molded High-Impact Polystyrene to make their minis, demand for their products is always on the high side. Hence, they tend to create hundreds to thousands of molds to cast their spruce, especially if they come in different designs. 

When they make steel injection molds for their metal models, they have a higher production cost because, unlike plastic, raw steel is usually high-priced. When the mold starts to deteriorate, it needs to be replaced again. 

So, they need to create new designs, begin another phase of marketing their designs and build new molds. 

The process is repetitive the longer the company grows in the industry. Consequently, the production cost is also expensive. 

Where are miniatures manufactured?

Games Workshop miniatures are manufactured in the UK, unlike most companies that produce their minis in China. 

The fact that Warhammer models are designed and manufactured entirely in the UK. So, GW will have to pay UK laborers, UK wages, and UK taxes, unlike manufacturing companies that produce in China and pay much lower rates. 

Every time GW creates a new miniature, it must design a new mold for the kit. Understand that in the UK, tooling costs for creating molds for miniature figures, whether plastic or metal, can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

As a result, Games Workshop designed a pricing policy so they can recoup the development and tooling costs without requiring every kit to sell like Tac Marines or making losses. 

And like every UK employer market, they operate a paid workspace and workforce where workers are paid labor wages. 

Unpopular Opinion: Considering Value for money, Miniatures Are Not expensive

When miniature hobbyists purchase minis, whether as small as Goblins or Orcs, they spend hours assembling and painting them. The simple reason is the presence of small details that makes the whole process interesting. 

Buying a high-quality and detailed kit means hobbyists get the full experience of their money’s worth. 

Hobbies are meant to enrich your time, making you invest time rather than spend time. Every hobby has its values and costs, let it be money or time.

The benefits you get out while investing time and money into this hobby are new skills, cognitive well-being, fine motor skills and much more. these benefits make it worth your time and money.

Considering that it takes at least a dozen hours to build and paint a miniature, the value per money you get for each miniature is high.

So, while miniatures may be expensive per item, they are worth the value in the long run. 

Miniature brands have a monopoly in this game

Miniatures are not expensive because hobbyists love to spend excessively. 

Of course, how much you are willing to spend on your minis depends on how much you make. 

Due to the fact that miniatures are designed items as part of the whole lore sometimes including books, tabletop games, etc, and that they are intellectual property, miniature brands have a monopoly, or control, over the product they produce. 

Games Workshop designs its game systems under the copyrights act. Hence, you won’t find any second-party manufacturer of 40k minis, only GW, so if you want to play 40k. 

Consider Games Workshop and Privateer Press. Games Workshop has effective monopolies over Warhammer models.

So, if you want to build and paint a heroic sci-fi figure in 28mm in the Warhammer Universe, you have to buy from Games Workshop since no other brand produces Warhammer models.

 Then again, if you want to play steampunk with jacks and infantry, only Privateer Press offers this gaming range. Miniatures become expensive when one brand dominates the market.

Besides this, Games Workshop ranks top on the popularity list of miniature producers. 

Hence, they are a giant in the miniature gaming market and produce better quality minis than most (not all) brands. 

So, their models are often on the high side because they know they have the monopoly over most figures hobbyists crave, and fans have nowhere else to turn to. 

In short, the miniatures are so expensive because there is no competition in the market, unlike the historical market where if you want to play Napoleonics, you can look to a large number of manufacturers of Napoleonic miniatures of varying quality and price.

What are some cheap miniatures options?

If you are interested in getting into miniatures but can’t afford some of the expensive models from Games Workshop or Privateer Press, some of the cheap miniature options to go for include: 

  • Reaper bones
  • 3D printed miniatures
  • Pathfinder Pawns
  • Dungeons & Dragons Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures
  • Metal unpainted minis.
  • Preowned miniatures
  • A board game like D&D wrath of Asharladon

Are miniatures expensive for a legitimate reason?

If you’ve read this whole article, you should understand by now that miniatures are expensive for a reason. 

Miniature kits from brands like Games Workshop cost what they do because they have development costs (design, marketing, materials, molds, QC, and production costs). Whether hobbyists want to admit it or not, these costs need to be covered. 

Furthermore, Games Workshop’s models are among the best in the market when it comes to quality and details. They are constantly producing new and innovative models. 

More than this, Games Workshop provides ancillary support making it easy to access their products. When most hobbyists buy miniatures from other brands without spares, they spend more money trying to get replacement parts for damaged spruce. Imagine not finding the replacements. It means the model will sit in storage for years until you find one. 

With Games Workshop, the case is reversed. You may spend money on a model and mistakenly damage a part. But, hobbyists can easily get a huge slab of support from local and hardware stores. 

Finally, hobbyists should understand that Games Workshop is a publicly traded company. And as a publicly traded company, its main objective is to make a profit for its shareholders. But that does not mean they offer low-quality products. They know that when they make premium products, their minis will be coveted. 

Conclusion – are miniatures really expensive?

there is no denying that $60 for a miniature, especially if you consider its size, may seem expensive, but you need to consider the costs that go into making the miniature and also you must remember the value it gives you.

So, I won’t really say that miniatures are expensive but that certain miniatures are more expensive than others.


Guide to the Games Workshop pricing model