Wednesday 17 September 2014

Space Marine Army (1991 Vintage)...What's It Worth Now?

As I was idly flicking through WD142 (October 1991) last night, I spent a bit of time admiring the GW Leeds store Ultramarines Space Marine army ("modelled and painted by the staff), pictured on the rear cover:

'Cor,' I thought, 'that's a nice bit of old lead...I wonder what it's worth now?'

About 15 minutes later, I'd checked up some some market prices, and come up with these rough and ready figures (ignoring value of paint jobs):

  • Ultramarines Space Marine Captain = £3
  • Command Squad (containing 2 x Chaplains, 1 x Librarian, 1 x Medic, 1 x Standard Bearer & 1 x Lieutenant), £3 each = £18
  • 2 x Lieutenants (accompanying the squads), £3 each = £6
  • 2 x Techmarines (£3 each) = £6
  • Ordo Malleus Inquisitor in Terminator Armour = £6
  • 6 x Grey Knight Terminators (£6 each) = £36
  • 10-man Assault squad (£2 each) = £20
  • 10-man Tactical squad (£2 each) = £20
  • 10-man plastic Tactical squad (£0.75 each) = £7.50
  • 2 x Medics on bikes (£10 each) = £20
  • 2 x Jetbikes (£10 each) = £20
  • 8 robots (£20 each) = £160
  • Dreadnought = £15
  • 2 x Land Raiders (£40 each) = £80
Grand Total = £417.50

Phew...that's a nice amount for the army, don't you think? Hang on though, how much would it cost to buy the equivalent modern army from GW?

  • Space Marine Captain = £18
  • Command Squad (2 x Chaplains at £9.50 each, 1 x Librarian at £9.50, 1 x plastic Command squad to get Apothecary, Standard Bearer & Company Champion at £20.50) = £56.50
  • 2 x Commanders (£14 each) = £28
  • 2 x Techmarines (£8.20 each) = £16.40
  • FW Inquisitor Hector Rex (the only Inquisitor in Terminator armour) = £31 (note, also includes 3-man retinue)
  • 5-man Grey Knight Terminator Squad (£28) plus Grey Knight Terminator Captain (£11) = £39
  • 10-man Assault squad (2 x 5-man boxes at £20 each) = £40 (come with 10 jump packs not used)
  • 10-man Tactical Squad = £25
  • 10-man Tactical Squad = £25
  • 2 x bikes (note GW don't make Apothecaries on bikes unless you buy Ravenwing command squads which include them as one of the 3 models for £30) (£8 each) = £16
  • 2 x Forgeworld Scimitar Pattern Jetbikes (£25 each) = £50
  • 8 x Forgeworld Mechanicum Thallax (closest things to robots currently) = £75 (actually buys you 9 so you get a spare!)
  • Dreadnought = £28
  • 2 x Land Raiders (£45 each) = £90
Grand Total = £537.90

I know which army I'd rather have!

So what about you guys - any favourite armies from the pages of White Dwarf? How much would they cost to buy on the second-hand market, and how much would it set you back to buy the same thing in modern plastics?

It's a nice little reality check for me to know that when I buy nice pieces of old lead, it's often cheaper than buying the modern equivalent.


  1. Always loved that army and I'm actually surprised the prize with modern stuff is not that expensive.
    Main difference is that wih modern products you get a lot of side products which is a very good thing for conversions, flexibility, customisatin and all but which also means you pay for things you don't really use or need in the first place. After that it's just a matter of taste. I'm firghtened to see people building FW pre-heresy armies and the costs involved ! I don't really fancy the models so I find that insane but even for models I wold like I 'd find it hard.

    You've build your estimate on reasonable prizes but collectionning old lead comes with its fair amount of silly binge buys and we sometimes let ourselves get carried away bidding more than we should just to ge "THAT" model... on the other hand, you can get free stuff from nice people and you can also score killer bargains on job lots or mislabelled so maybe it balances...

    One army I still really like is Warwik Kinrade's dark angel's army (can't remember the WD number), that would be quite an expensive one too...

    1. I agree, the modern stuff does give you a lot of flexibility, but at the cost of a particular aesthetic or character.

      Collecting old stuff had its own issues - and the time factor has got to be included too...just how long would it take to assemble this army ;)

      I'm not sure I remember the DA army you refer'll have to dig out the WD and point out pictures ;)

    2. I think it's WD213, it has Dark Angels on the cover and was the issue where the metal scouts were released.

      That is my all time favourite Space Marine Army, and when I get to repainting my 2nd edition SMs I will be going for exactly that look (though Raptor Legion not Dark Angels....).

  2. I have long had a soft spot for that army, its very nice. The robots are the big draw for me. My first GW purchase consisted of Dreadnoughts and Robots and I still love the robot designs in particular.

    Like you mention Axiom, its the time element that isnt factored in to that financial equation above. How many hours in front of Ebay plus the time involved in trading (comms, digging through old boxes, trips to the post office etc) would assembling that force take? How much of that time would be better spent painting the miniatures that I already own? Aspects of trading are very enjoyable, but its quite time consuming.

    Whatever way that you look at it, its still a strange phenomenon that the vintage, cast-by-hand in metal, OOP version of that army can be bought for cheaper than the injection moulded plastic.

    1. One element of answer could be that the ranges ahd a longer lifespan then and the "design" pretty much only consisted of the sculpting of the green and maybe the drawing of a few concept sketches. The only techical consideration was to make castable models (by going to the guy in the room below I suppose)
      With plastics and resin thee are technical problems about injections and how to best optimise bits on the sprue to avoid pressure loss and to use the least material. You must also consider that on every sprue you only get to reall use half the material even though you buy it all (like I said above it's a good and bad thing at the same time).
      If you see things this way it's probably more easu ti understand why it's cheaper to make 10 metal one-block marines that will last 5 years than to make 10 multipart plastic marines (with loads of spare bits) that will get replaced in 2 years...

    2. What is pretty much certain (in my mind) is that metal casts will last a lot longer in better condition and be more collectible as time goes on. Take a look at second hand plastics - often they're in awful condition, with broken elements or fused together with polystyrene cement (sorry, "plastic glue") by ham-fisted kids. You can salvage a metal model by stripping, and in many cases a 25 year old model will look as good as new. Not the case for plastics.

  3. Wouldn't it be more relevant to compare with 2nd hand prices on new stuff?

    1. Probably...that's another calculation to enjoy ;)

  4. I've been working on that army for years. No way as easy as you might think to get hold of that much old lead.