Buyer's GuideIf you're anything like me, starting (and expanding on) a Warhammer: 40k army is a daunting task. The initial cost for the most basic and minimal of armies can cost upwards of $300, and that's assuming you're already equipped with the essentials (rulebook, dice, etc). Not exactly a sum to scoff at. It's high time I contributed something to the amazing community here, and since my painting, modeling and magnetizing skills are intermediate at best, I've decided to write about two things that I've gotten quite good at:
to Warhammer: 40
to Warhammer: 40
Stretching your dollar when expanding your tabletop force, and avoiding what should be the easily-missed pitfalls associated with buying the goods anywhere but straight from the box.
As always, critique, additional information, comments and thoughts are always welcome.
eBay, like any online shopping site, has its own set of risks associated with its use. Some of the worst and best purchases I've ever made have been through eBay, and while it's plenty full of scammers, it's also the best place to go to get a deal. I've blown $60 on a set of cheap, recast Zoanthropes, $20 on a squad of Tactical Marines with major physical flaws. But I've also won a bid on a squad of 15 OOP Dark Eldar Wyches for $12, and a 3,000 point Necron army for just over $200.
-The most important thing to keep in mind when shopping in eBay is who you're buying from. A seller might be a buck cheaper than the next best guy, but have next to no feedback. It might be a bit more expensive, but more often than not it's worth the extra couple dollars to go with the guy who has a well established reputation on eBay. Quality tends to be higher, and shipping times tend to be lower. On the same note, a person with a small amount of positive feedback, but no negative feedback has more to lose if he gets a bad review, and may be willing to do more to make a bad shopping experience better.
-When buying used, ALWAYS look carefully at the pictures, and check your seller's *negative* feedback. I could've avoided my Zoanthrope mishap if I had done this - if a seller has a habit of listing recasts or other cheap products, odds are good at least a couple of past buyers have left negative feedback explaining this.
-On that note, you should keep a careful eye out for recasts. Some of the recast sites across the web aren't bad quality, but the lowest quality models I've ever seen have come from eBay. Custom bases, primed models, bad pictures...all of these might indicate a low quality recast. If the auction has enough time left: ASK IF THE MODEL IS AN OFFICIAL GW RELEASE. If the seller doesn't get back to you in 48 hours, you have your answer.
-Whenever possible, try to get your items through auction rather than Buy it Now. Granted, plenty of eBay sellers will have BiN items up for as much as 20% off retail price, but even for brand new items, you can get another 10% on top of that with patient bidding.
-If you're in a hurry to get your item, eBay might not be the place to go...even if an item has 'fast 'n' free' shipping, or is estimated to be delivered within 4 days, the seller doesn't always ship that fast. In my experience, 1 in every 4 orders will come at least 24 hours after the latest estimated delivery time. I've had sellers that didn't even ship until after the expected delivery date had passed.
-Bidding on a FW model of some sort? A good rule of thumb to go by - if it doesn't come with the FW bag, it isn't an official FW model. It is a recast. While not always a bad thing, you're risking a good amount of money here - bids go pretty high on these regardless.
-Magnetized models are almost never worth the price they're posted for on eBay. Most BiN magnetized models are listed for roughly double the model's retail value, and even the auctions get that high sometimes. At the time of writing this, there's a tyranid Hive Tyrant/Tyrannofex-Tervigon magnetized bundle for auction on eBay. You can buy both of these models brand new for a total of just over $100. The auction has 2 days left, and has 3 bids. The current high bid is at $250.
-Be prepared to have to glue models back together when you receive them. Items that are held together by small points of contact (Zoanthropes, DE/Eldar/IG/Necron infantry, etc) are almost definitely going to be broken.
Second opinion from Sneggy:
With regards to eBay, best way to bag bargains is to pick up badly painted models and be prepared to strip them. Both plastic and metal strip very easily. Finecast on the otherhand should be avoided as its a bugger to strip and a dodgy paintjob might be hiding miscasting issues.
When looking for really cheap bargains try to look for auctions which end at unusual times. You're much less likely to be stung by someone outbidding you last second at 3am on a tuesday than you are mid-afternoon on saturday. For this reason experienced sellers try to end there auctions in the early evening/weekends.
Look for short auction listing times. If something is only listed for 24hrs or a couple of days its much less likely to have been seen by many people and can therefore be expected to have less bidding activity.
Always have an upper limit for your price in mind and remember to factor shipping costs into that. I have sold a lot of items used on eBaywhich have been more expensive than a new box would be from a good discount retailer.
Which brings me onto discount retailers. eBay has the reputation as being the place to go for cheap models. But keep a close watch on the online stores. Often they will be cheaper (and normally with better delivery options) than eBay for newly released stuff and most of them hold sales on occasion which can bring the price even lower. Why buy used if new is as cheap?
There are also websites like Bartertown. Where you can trade in your old models for new ones. As its a straight swap though you need to be a bit smart and make sure its a fair deal and be sure to thoroughly vet your trading partner first and try to have them send first if your unsure. Since these places have little to no moderation of the actual deals and if you are conned you'll be left high and dry.
I prefer working through Craigslist whenever possible. While there isn't nearly as much listed for sale, there are people who aren't comfortable selling on eBay (or who don't have the rep/account to do it) that post great deals here. Keep in mind that a lot of these people will have experience dealing with in-person buying and selling. Don't let them rip you off, because they will. Practice makes perfect here.
When you're buying from someone in person, and you want a good deal, the best advice I can give is have a rule to go by. Don't buy models for over X% of MSRP, and don't sell for under Y%. Inspect the models you're considering, and note any flaws or imperfections. Explain to the person you're buying from that you would want to take a few bucks off for whatever reason. Pre-assembled, painted and not magnetized? Well that means I have to go to the trouble of stripping it. Knock off 5%. Part of a metal model melted or broken? Take off another 10. Explain it as you go so that it sounds more reasonable.
Remember, odds are you've both driven out somewhere to sell. Nobody likes the idea that they came out for nothing, so you can probably low-ball them a bit. Just don't be too unreasonable; they don't want to get ripped off either.