30 March 2015

Of Mars bars and miniatures

Over on the Oldhammer Facebook page, Rusty Gouldman posted a flyer from the (I think) early 90s showing a genestealer cult army (52 presumably metal figures, including a magus, patriarch and 40k beastmen) for a trifling $80. This got me thinking about what that would cost in today's money, and how to work it out - should I try and use inflation? Relative earnings? House prices? And all that before the USD/GBP exchange rate.

Then it struck me - I should use the most reliable economic indicator of all, the Mars bar!

Now for the maths. In 1987, a singly purchased Mars bar cost 20p, whereas in 2015 it costs 60p, a 300% increase. However, it is not just childish nostalgia that makes us think that they were bigger when we were kids; in 2013 the mass of one bar was reduced from 58g to 51g, apparently in a bid to not look like they were peddlars of obesity and definitely not a way of making more money by keeping the price the same for less product...

So, what does this chicanery do to our calculation?

  • In 1984, the cost per gram was 20/58 = 0.34p
  • In 2015, the cost per gram is 60/51 = 1.18p
This makes our MBII (Mars bar inflation index) greater than first thought at a whopping 347%, but what does this mean for our spending? Are we getting bargains, or are we being extorted by the lead barons? 

In July 1987, the Citadel flyer advertising new releases gave us this bunch of vile and troublesome critters (I deliberately chose characterful rank and file figures that would have an appeal to roleplayers stocking their dungeons as well as mass battle gamers):

Thank you SOLegends!

Five for £2.50 gives us the apparently bargainous price of 50p per model. Taking into account the MBII, this would give an equivalent price today of (3.47 * £0.50) = £1.74, which is still pretty good. Looking on the sold listings on ebay, I can see that one lucky chap or chapess picked up a bunch of these from single listings at £1.45 each, but several others paid £3.99 per goblin from a BINer. Or, in terms of the Mars bar inflation index ratio (MBIIR), those at £1.45 have an MBIIR of 0.83, while those at £3.99 have an MBIIR of a staggering 2.29! The aim of any bargain hunter browsing for old lead must surely be to get an MBIIR of less than 1.


Or, instead of trawling ebay late into the night ("I'm just finishing off some work for tomorrow, dear, I'll be up soon"), you could apply the MBIIR test to suitable figures currently in production. To stick with the goblinoid theme which is rather weighing on me at the moment after I picked up the surprisingly heavy box of my unpainted greenskins, you could consider some of the culprits for that weight, the Kev Adams sculpts available from Crooked Claw miniatures:

Just one pack from several, including wolf riders, a chariot and trebuchet. Apparently their are some "larger creatures" on the way. Trolls, I hope!

At the time of writing this post, these grinning menaces are retailing for £7.50 for 5, so £1.50 each. Not quite as good as the best prices on ebay, but with an MBIIR of 0.86 you're still ahead of those apparently golden prices of the golden age of the mid/late 80s.

There are obviously limitations to such a rule, outliers if you will. This could be due to rarity (real or perceived), fragility, lack of knowledge on behalf of the buyer and/or seller, rule of cool, or size. The really big cool stuff (dragons, war-machines and the like) seem to have gone up more - chaos dwarf juggernaut, anyone? Characters, early beastmen, certain gangs for Necromunda/Confrontation, and the plastic arms for any of the Rogue Trader miniatures that needed them (especially hybrids and IG) seem to have premium on them and you'd be lucky to get them for an MBIIR of under 2 or 3.

Happy bargain hunting, and remember that a miniature a day helps you rest and play,



  1. Thank you for that... but now I want a blood Mars Bar! heh

    1. Economic policy and high calorie confectionery in one blog post - you're welcome :)

    2. I'm with Chico, need a Mars Bar now..........................................

    3. I should have been on commission!

  2. Nice article. I laughed at the "I'm just finishing off some work for tomorrow, dear, I'll be up soon" quote, I imagine there's a fair amount of us pretending to be committed hard workers late at night, when really we're feeding our ebay/blog habits. I'm not really too sure why I have to lie about it to her!

    1. Me neither! But I still sometimes do... :/

    2. Could be doing a lot worse on the computer late at night when the misses has gone to bed so I wouldn't worry about it too much lol