Maturing as a Hobbyist: Does that mean buying less?

After musing on the pricing and quality issues that have been raised recently about this hobby, it got me thinking about how my hobby habits have evolved as I’ve grown up and dare I say it… matured (a bit at least).

Perhaps it’s best I begin at the beginning, in where I started with this hobby. You can see the full story in my meet the team article, but in a nutshell I started this hobby when I was about 10. I grabbed my first box of Space Marines and applied a liberal coating of enamel paint I had left over from an Airfix kit, the results as you can imagine were god-awful, I was hooked.

This is perhaps the first phase of my hobby, I spent my weekly allowance on a disparate collection of Marines with flamers, Eldar guardians and whatever else took my fancy at the time. They were all painted with little to no consideration for an army or the game. At one stage I even tried to sculpt my own miniatures from air drying clay – another god-awful result.

Jump forward a few years, and I start to hang out at the local GW on Sundays, school holiday and some week nights. This is where I start playing the games, I paint quick and dirty armies and have some success gaming. This is where I am planning armies, writing fluff, painting and converting. I spend almost all my money on the hobby and it’s all I want when it comes to birthdays and christmas.

This pretty much carries on this way up until my mid/late twenties. I am heavily involved in the hobby, spend a large chunk of my time and money planning the next army and amassing a collection to rival most local game stores – most of which is unpainted of course. I am a slave to the hobby magpie and I have almost every army (apart from Orks, because they’re dumb). I live with a fellow hobbyist and between collecting models, drinking and playing WoW we get little else done. It was a glorious time to be alive.

Now, here we are. I am in my late twenties, I have a house, a long term girlfriend and a mortgage. The hobby, and by that I mean GW in it’s entirety is still my ‘main’ hobby.

I have more money and less time than I ever have in the past but I find it harder and harder to justify the next army.

Changing Attitudes

I got to thinking about this quite a lot recently, for a number of reasons. The article recently published and I had just bought a t-shirt with a skull on it, and had started playing WoW again. My girlfriend made a joke about me regressing to my teenage years; this made me kind of sad in a nostalgic sense, not because of the scathing barb my loving lady friend had thrown my way (owww my feelings) but because stuff just wasn’t the same as it had been.  Even if I wanted to regress, I couldn’t – the hobby just wasn’t the same, or maybe I wasn’t?.

So why now did the thought of starting an army fill me with dread rather than enthusiasm and hobby-lust as it once would? I can certainly better afford to drop some cash on a new army now than ever before – but… I don’t want to.

I still love the hobby, there will never be any escaping that, but then why has my attitude changed? There are a few factors I think have lead up to this:

GW price hikes:
This has been covered to death everywhere on the geekosphere so I won’t do it again here. The hobby is more expensive than ever before (people are even recasting more and more), but then I can afford it still – I just find it hard to justify it now – the value just isn’t there. That being said, while I am fortunate enough to be in a position to afford what is quite an expensive hobby, not everyone is, which leads to some of my compatriots shifting focus from this hobby onto other cheaper miniature games or away from the hobby entirely.

Changing GW Corporate Attitude

GW as a company has changed. Forge world is here, the models are brilliant; I can’t really fault their product (some issues aside – like this article). But the attitude of the company has shifted, it’s now all buy buy buy. Where as before it used to be a community.

I used to enjoy spending time in my local GW and talking with the staff there, now I absolutely dread going in there because of the push for a sale. I perhaps am being a little harsh to my local GW here, they aren’t too bad in comparison.

In short compare the company image before:

  • White Dwarf (Often with free rules, games, models etc – Anyone remember the Bretonian jousting game?)
  • Citadel Journal
  • Inferno
  • Online campaigns
  • Games nights
  • Specialist games

It was all about getting people involved and creating a community. I commend the attempt to get White Dwarf back to the glory days, but sadly they missed the mark.

Now it’s all buy this latest big kit or lose all your games 🙁

The online communities attention and focus on I28 and living Blood Bowl/Necromunda/Specialist game rule books show that I can’t be alone in pining for this old GW.

I still love the hobby, my focus seems to be switching to smaller scale stuff like Inquisitor28, Necromunda and Blood Bowl – stuff that is more character led, and less about building a 20+ man squad to get annihilated by the next big kit release. Is it me or the hobby that changed?

So geekosphere, what about you? Are you a maturing hobbyist in the same boat? Or the opposite, do you like this hobby more than ever? If so where does the magic hide for you? Or perhaps you’re brand new to the hobby and can help rekindle the spark for a grizzled old hobby veteran – Leave your thoughts in the comment section below:


By day a mild mannered Web Designer from Swindon, by night a horder and shaper of bits in his mad kit bash laboratory.