Hive World Terra

Games Workshop on a Budget

Some people might be too young to remember the days when a full starter game of Warhammer or Warhammer 40,000 was £30, or when regiment boxes first came out at £12 (and they had metal command bits!), or when armies books and codexs ran into the hundreds of pages. Those that do remember will always wish that prices were more like the old days, those that don't may still find things a little expensive.

For those who can't afford to spend a lot (students, the young, those with jobs and not much spare cash - most people really!) read on for Games Workshop on a budget - all the best tips for discount Games Workshop and cheaper alternatives.

This article is split into the following sections:

Models on the cheap

There are several ways to get models for cheaper prices than in Games Workshop stores, some more effective than others.

Model Shop Discounts

Ever notice how White Dwarf now states at the bottom of the news pages that independant stockists are responsible for their own prices? It's not to warn you if a shop charges more for Games Workshop models. It's actually because some independant model shops sell Games Workshop products at a discount.

In about 2007 there were two stores in Altrincham, near Manchester, UK, that sold Games Workshop models and both offered a 10% discount on everything. They won't be the only ones - check near you and find your closest discount store. Not only do you get your models slightly cheaper, but you get to help an independant with their cut of the profits.

Online Stores

Most of the online shops that I've seen offer discount Warhamer and Warhammer 40,000, some more than others. A lot of places offer a 5% discount or a 10% discount, but some offer a 25% discount or higher on their products!

Some people run stores through eBay (although more on eBay later).

The following are the stores that I know of who offer a discount:

Please note: none of the above listed sites have been approved, checked or vetted in any way. We are not responsible for any damages if you use one of these sites. Their inclusion in the list is purely for information and they are listed on the basis that they offer cheaper or discount Warhammer, Warhammer 40,000 or other Games Workshop products.

Please feel free to email me with any other websites you know of. If store owners themselves would like to be listed in the side panel of all pages, please contact me for a discussion about button-sized advertising.

Sharing purchases

In hind-sight this is an obvious inclusion, but it wasn't until November 2009 that it was included in this article after a suggestion from a visitor called Mark: Share your purchase with a friend!

Now, we're not suggesting that you both have the same army and can only play with it when the other person isn't using it. The idea is that, especially with the boxed games, you both put your money toward the purchase and take the sections that you want. This works because the big boxed sets might have models you don't want, but the total price of the models is less than buying them individually. With the current Warhammer 40,000 boxed set at current prices you could each pay £25 and one person can take all of the Orks while the other takes the Space Marines, and the scenery is shared by the gaming group.

Sharing needn't stop with the boxed games, though. Want a large collection of paints but not all of them? Maybe you could buy and split the mega paint set. Only occasionally use modelling tools like razor saws and vices? Share the purchase and swap it between you as necessary (this will require some organisation!). Or at its simplest, if you want to buy online then why not just share the postage costs and get it all in one order?

Buying cleverly

Although the prices of boxed sets are going up, Games Workshop are including more and more swappable components in the boxes. Quite often these are exclusive alternatives - your unit can have one weapon or the other, but not both. However, Paper Lilybean has suggested that you might be able to get more than you bargained for if you pick your boxes carefully and really examine the components.

The one example we have of buying cleverly is the new Imperial Guard Heavy Weapon teams. The box is supposed to build three heavy weapons squads, but with a bit of ingenuity you can apparently make twice that number! A well-stocked bits box would probably be a boon when trying this out.

Second-hand models

They're not always the best option, but they're usually the cheapest!

I started Warhammer 40,000 when my Grandma picked up the Second Edition for a few pounds at a local auction. She has since found small collections of models (and some not so small collections!) in various charity shops, car boot sales and local auctions. Places like these definately get my recommendation, although it can be difficult to find things for sale.

The other alternative is the well know (or local versions, such as I've picked up a few of my recent purchases there, and my brother uses it for just about all of his purchases now.

Just make sure that you're getting what you expect before you bid, and don't forget to factor in postage.

Alternative models

If you're looking for a model then why just stick to the official range? Why not look at alternatives from other ranges and even toys, if they match. Games Workshop use a lot of common themes and simple inspiration, most obviously in the Lizardmen monsters. As a simple example, something like a toy Triceratops could make a cheaper base for a scratch-built howdah that is crewed by spare skinks - something that would be unique on the battlefield.

This option can save you a lot of money and get a very personalised army. Unfortunately, you're almost certainly going to have to use it within your own gaming group as the tight rules that almost all Games Workshop stores and tournaments have won't allow them.

Thanks to Paper Lilybean for this suggestion.

Other Sources

The best source I've heard for discount Games Workshop models is Games Workshop itself - but only if you're a staff member!

One of the staff told me, in around 2005, that they can pay about 30p for a metal Sister of Battle from Mail Order; one former employee told me that metal Space Marine bodies used to be around 20p each from Mail Order; and a friend who worked at Games Workshop bought a huge pack of Dire Wolves for very little money because he bought the heads cheap through Mail Order and got the plastic bodies free.

The moral of the story? Games Workshop staff might not be the best paid people, they may have to put up with all of little kids, and they're probably not allowed to buy for friends, but if you're really desparate for discount models, then get a job as one!

Games Workshop 'Store Opening Sales' used to be another good place to buy cheap (they gave away a few '10% off models' and '25% off boxed games' vouchers in White Dwarf the month before) but they've stopped doing that for several years now. The closest thing that you're likely to find these days is stock clearance sales and closing down sales for model shops that are either ending their Games Workshop supply or shutting down completely and so may be selling models, scenery and more at a discount.


Since Games Workshop changed to the new paints, I've had nothing but problems, and so have other people. Paints dry up faster, the old screw tops get clogged up and very difficult to open, and the newer flip-tops collect a rim of paint. Apparently it's all to do with the paint mix that now covers better.

If you'd rather have a paint that lasts and takes two coats for the Sunburst Yellow to cover properly, instead of a paint that dries up before you've used half of it, try checking out some of the alternative suppliers.

Gladiator Games make a range of paints called Coat d'Arms paints, the Fantasy Range of which are the original Citadel Paints, but bottled and branded by their own maker.

The paints come in 18ml pots, instead of the 12ml pots that Games Workshop has now reduced its paints to, and they even have had a conversion chart to the old Games Workshop names (now available on Hive World Terra). Each paint now lists individually its original name under the Games Workshop colour naming. The paints normally retail at £1.40, although one store I recently went to was selling them at £1 each before he dropped them to a clearance price of 50p each and 12 for £5. That'll be 24 pots of old-style paint, thank you!

There are also lots of alternatives from other gaming systems, some of which people like Paul Sawyer of 'Fat Bloke' fame have been seen using other brands. I haven't tried any yet, but Tamiya, Vallejo, Mini Dervian and others, although I've had no experience with them.

Modelling equipment

Games Workshop sell various bits of modelling equipment, including drills, saws and clippers. While it is convenient to get the Games Workshop equipment, it isn't always cheap.

Instead of buying the Games Workshop tools you can look to conventional model shops to buy cheaper or more complete sets to get more from your modelling budget. As an example, I got a sleeve containing ten different shaped needle files, a pin vice and a box of six drill bits all in fractions of a millimetre for about the same cost as a couple of the Games Workshop versions - saving me money and giving me more variety.

Interestingly, the couple of model shop owners I've talked to about the matter have specifically said that they stock the Games Workshop models because people want them, but won't stock the tools because they think the general modelling brands are better value than the over-priced Games Workshop versions.


Hopefully you've picked up some ideas on how to make the hobby a little more affordable. If you have any more ideas that you use, please contact me and share them with the community.