Friday, November 12, 2010

The Low Price of High Armor

Is converting a model actually any more expensive than "stock" modeling?  Often times, people that are viewing my work comment on the price of having so many varied bits in my conversions.  Let's find out how much that Leman Russ really costs!

If you couldn't already tell, I enjoy converting models.  While I often praise Games Workshop products, I cannot help but be drawn to the individuality offered by modifying and re-building their already interesting designs.  The Leman Russ Battle Tank conversion I used in the picture above will be a suitable candidate for dissection.  It incorporates a variety of bits, and achieves a unique look.  Is it truly an expensive build?

By checking eBay, I have found a "buy it now" auction for a Leman Russ Battle Tank hull, for $5.99.  I was also able to find a "buy it now" auction for Leman Russ Battle Tank sides, for $10.99.  Lastly, the hull mounted weapons can be found here for $5.22.  

Let's take a look at the turret.  Here is a defiler turret for $3.80.  The last piece needed, the defiler battle cannon, can be purchased from The War Store's "battlewagon bits" store, for $4.99.

For a total parts cost of $30.99, you can see that we have GW beat.  Now of course, my multiple orders all involve shipping.  Let's add that to the mix... for a shipping total of $14.  That shipping total, is assuming the ebay sellers did not combine shipping, which many of the ebay shops do.  Now, it is also worth mentioning that these "buy it now" options are truly only for the impatient.  The items listed above can be found for standard auction, at around $2 or $3 each, provided you can snipe the auction, so with a bit of luck and perseverance, this conversion could cost you a substantially smaller amount of money.  Regardless, we are going to base this build on the worst case scenario of "buy it now" and "non-combined shipping" settings.

This brings our grand total of the converted Leman Russ up to $44.99, compared to the GW new boxed price of $49.95, and that does not include GW's nefariously calculated shipping and tax rates.

Now granted, our ramshackle conversion does not come with all the bells and whistles:  No transfer sheet, no sponson kits, no alternate weapons, no driver and also no instructions.  However, I am sure most of us can live without the transfers and instructions.  On top of that, in our case described here we already know exactly what model we are building, so the extra bits and optional weapons are not needed.

Now, correct me if I am wrong, but did I just make a fancy-pants conversion for less than the MSRP of the Games Workshop "official" product?

Yes, I hear you yelling already...  "But I can get the GW official product from a discount online retailer like The War Store for ~ $45 with shipping!"  Yes, you are correct.  However, which one of these models has the "wow" factor, and what was the total price cost?

Not saying you guys all need to build this model.  All I ask is that you keep this idea in mind the next time you want to work outside the box, or just want to make something that doesn't look like a joke.  I am also not saying these retail options are the best possible solutions, either.  I am just trying to show that creative freedom, really is free.

Which reminds me:  Happy belated Veteran's Day, and to all who serve and have served in the past, thank you.


  1. Oh, snap! Way to just smack Games Workshop on the back of the head. I'm sure the Hellcannon mounted (medusa?)tanks were expensive though. Thats what I want to see.

  2. Good post. Regular kits can be good too if you have plans for the other parts.

    Another ebay tip for converters is second hand, especially incomplete/damaged models. Often go for a song, but if the parts you want are mostly OK, doesn't much matter that the LR hull doesn't come with a turret...

  3. Yeah, I've been pretty much been building up my 'nids this way for a while now. Pick up a head here, and some scything arms there, and sooner or later, I've got a Tervigon!

  4. My personal preference on it is to buy base kit & bits needed, sure I end up paying $8-12 more; but the sponsons, extra weapons, detail bits etc are worth well more than that for future conversions.

  5. Good post. I've been doing things like this for a while now too, especially the "damaged model" way that sonsoftaurus mentioned. It's a great way to save a few bucks for otherwise decent parts.

  6. Great post, I haven't been able to do much of this with my Red Scorpions (Being that they are clean vanilla marines). I did manage to do the same with the Terminator Librarian though and bought parts from a bunch of bits stores, created my own unique model and managed to come in at the same price as the GW model.

    This is also how I justify Forgeworld costs to myself. As long as I can get the FW conversion kit and the GW kit online, for the same price I can get them at in Australia at retail, I feel I have had a win.

    Great site, great conversions and really nice writing, I look forward to each new post!

  7. Thanks, guys.

    Used models from ebay are a great source. I have no experience stripping paint from plastic, so I usually wind up priming right over whatever the original paint job was, and that means loss of detail. I often use these "re-purposed" chassis for rarely used vehicles, like my 5th and 6th veteran squad Chimeras. I figure in an Apoc game where I am running that much armor, the muddied lines will be lost in the tide of armor.