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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Price Hike

03/12/2012

We’re only a couple of weeks out from the worldwide release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and Games Workshop have finally broken their license-enforced silence to announce a range of models based on the first film.

As expected, these models are heavily inspired by how their respective characters appear in the film, and they are some of the best looking (and realistically scaled) models GW has produced for some time. It’s not all second breakfasts and half pints of ale, however. These models come with amazingly high price tags – especially for those of us living outside the UK.

Here is an example: the plastic kit for The Trolls retails for 50GPB in the UK, while here in NZ it is a whopping $165. That’s $165 for three large, fairly plain models on 60mm bases and a small campfire, all in plastic. That is stupidly expensive.

There are a couple of factors that might account for this price. Firstly, GW probably paid a whopping amount to get, and keep, the license to produce the model range. It’s possible they’re passing on the extra cost of the license to the consumers through higher prices. Secondly, gamers are unlikely to ever purchase more than one copy of The Trolls. They are all considered ‘special characters’ and are likely to have limited use outside of the particular scenario designed for them. Because of this, their price goes up to offset their expected lower sales totals.

That’s all fine and good (to a degree), but that still doesn’t explain why gamers in NZ are having to pay an extra premium on these models. As I’ve mentioned before, GW still use exchange rates from over a decade ago when calculating their foreign pricing. To highlight how skewed the pricing has become I took the pricing for The Hobbit range (except for the rulebook) from the USA, Australia, and New Zealand and converted it, using the current exchange rates, to British Pounds. The results are a little shocking:

GW-RRP-Worldwide

And because a box full of numbers can be a little hard for some to read, here it is as a graph:

GW-RRP-Worldwide-Graph

As you can see, American prices are pretty much on a par with those in the UK, with some models being slightly more expensive and others slightly cheaper. Meanwhile, prices in Australia and New Zealand are considerably higher, almost double those in the UK and US. This is plainly ridiculous. We’ve known for some time that we are getting taken for a ride, and this data clearly shows that.

I tried contacting Games Workshop to see if they had any comment on this disparity, but unsurprisingly I have had no response. The only option left is to either call up their HQ in Australia or walk into a store here and ask them in person. Neither of which I’ll do as I have gotten to the point where I simply don’t care any more. I was hopeful that The Hobbit range would be excellent, and it is. The models look great, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for the two remaining movies, but I won’t be buying a single miniature from them. I’m happy to pay a small premium, but this too much.

In fact, I encourage you to do the same thing. Don’t buy these models. Take your kids (if you have any) to see the movie (again). Buy a copy of the book. Buy the Lego toys. Just don’t buy anything from Games Workshop. That may be the only way to send them a message that this sort of pricing has to stop.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. 03/12/2012 05:28

    I still maintain that Kirby must have been sexually abused by a gang of angry koala’s while on a visit to Australia. It’s the only plausible reason the stuff costs so much over there. Still doesn’t explain the treatment of Kiwi’s though does it?

    Joking aside the prices in the Southern hemisphere aren’t just bordering on the ridiculous, they have passed long beyond that many moons ago and are now ludicrous. I’d love to see the sales figures for this line of miniatures in Australia I really would.

    • 03/12/2012 18:54

      My local retailer says it’s still turns over enough that one box of each troop type doesn’t lose him money.

  2. 03/12/2012 19:01

    In the end it doesn’t really matter what the price is if you think it’s worth it. I have been mulling it over and lately there’s a lot in NZ that you have to weigh up is it worth it (think preorder PS3 games typically an extra $100.00 bucks for an ‘art’ book and usually a card with a bit of code for an unlocked piece of equipment yet people buy these and they do trade them in after a significantly short period of time.

    Okay it’s not oranges and oranges but it’s pretty close.

    I am not happy with the price but I guess if you think it will get $250.00 worth of entertainment (which is pretty close to my family going to the movies three times so 9hours) then it is.

    In the long run a boycott might have impact but probably not they’ll increase to cover the margins and then stop selling here altogether. I am not saying that’s a good or bad thing just that that’s what would happen.

    Then again maybe I have Stockholms Syndrome…

    • 03/12/2012 22:16

      I see where you’re coming from and I agree on the $250 worth of fun, but there are a couple of things to consider:

      It isn’t oranges to oranges, as it were. Most computer/console games are a one-off purchase (with possible DLC down the track). People tend to be happier to pay a little more if they know that is all they’ll be spending. That isn’t the case with any of the products above. Sure, you could get away with only playing Escape from Goblin Town over and over again, but for anything else you’re going to end up purchasing multiple kits and end up getting stung for each one.

      The other thing is, yes it’s $250 worth of entertainment, but why can’t it be $155 worth instead? That’s much closer to the current exchange rate. Yes, if someone wants to play the game they’ll pay the price, but the fact remains that they shouldn’t have to be paying as much as they are in the first place.

      That’s the heart of my displeasure with GW. They’re padding their profits with a surcharge on antipodean sales, a surcharge that is becoming more and more ridulous as they raise their prices. Sadly, there is very little that any of us can do that will ever make them change this behaviour, but you never know.

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