A Valuation of My Hobby Addiction

We’ve all had some of those: “OH GOD WHAT AM I DOING?!?!” moments, as you swipe the Visa for your latest plastic crack purchase, when you realize you could have had 12 footlong sandwiches for the same price.  Groceries, for a week.  Maybe as much as half the rent cheque…?

Perhaps my mother trained me too well, I’m built to scrutinize every single penny that leaves my account honestly.  Factored into said scrutiny however, is often the inevitability of the purchase, and AGONY factor of having to delay from such a purchase.  Ultimately, if I’ve pretty much decided I’m going to spend the money, I may as well stop fretting about it and pull the goddamn trigger.

I’d probably only waste those extra funds anyways.

Often I don’t think about the potential value of something until I squint at my VISA bill at the end of the month.  It’s a tough and honest exercise but it can be worthwhile to go through sometimes…

A trip to the movies, for example can run about $50 for the Mrs. and I, to squint at a massive screen and loud noises in relative silence and the privilege of having actually left the house on Friday night (includes obligatory popcorn and associated fluid intake).  This $50 lasts maybe 3 hours if you’re watching EPIC, but more often than not tops out at around 2 hours.  Thus we can kind of assign a value of about $12.50 per hour of entertainment per person.

Very rarely, a movie might transcend that value, where it changes your life, or you can talk about it with someone else for years to come.  “I remember grandkids, when the Force Awakens was released that fateful day in 2015…”  If that’s the case, the value would begin to approach pennies per hour, as the hours begin to accumulate.

The topic has kind of come up recently in video games, as gamers squint at $60 new releases and try to justify their cost.  Looking at my own PS3 videogame shelf I found a couple where I played through once, and never touched again.

Like this guy.  I played through once, about 10h or so, and never touched it again.  Bam. $6/h for the privilege of having wiggled my fingers for a bit, blown up some digital cars, and collected some digital trophies.

Orrr maybe the DURNK purchase of this guy from STEAM:

Crapstations Midway.jpg
This became the biggest reason why I forced myself to hide the VISA when I considered drinking heavily. $15/h, and I didn’t even enjoy those 4 hours I spent on it.

Then there are those games that you play for hours and hours and hours before you realize this game is FREE. (WHAAAT)

I still fire this one up occasionally.  She’s a beauty, but can get old a bit fast.  So it comes in waves.  I might have paid for a be of premium to get past some particularly DREADFUL German Cruisers.  Regardless.  <$0.05/hour of entertainment.

Fact remains, you’re sitting in front of a computer, gaining digital achievements for digital boats and digital monies and so on and so forth.  Despite being a multiplayer game, you don’t spend much time with people, and some of those randos turn out to be complete ass-hats who launch torpedoes while situated at the back of your own formations.

There’s a certain appeal to being lodged in the physical realm, standing across the table, and saying: “I’ll give you that 5+ cover save, even though it’s just your toe in cover.”

You can kind of see where I’m going with this…

2015-11-24 08.50.16
So what’s the value of these dudes?

It’s a tougher question to ask than you might think.  I almost DON’T want to know the answer.  Over the (almost) 3 years I’ve amassed quite the collection, painted and built quite a few mans, and played quite a few games.  Without keeping a daily timesheet of my post-work activities it’s kind of tough to quantify.

THE MONIES, on the other hand are very easy to quantify.

Jesus Murphy.  Pass the Scotch.

Now before my wife goes out and spends 3 times that much on a divorce lawyer, there should be a few qualifications:

  1. This amount is if I purchased everything at GW prices (I didn’t)
  2. This amount includes the gifts purchased for me by friends and family
  3. This amount includes ALL plastics over a period of (approximately) 3 years.

If I were to take into account the second hand purchases, gifts, etc off that tab, the amount would be approximately $2,000.  On a monthly basis, about $91/month at full MSRP and $55/month at my discounted (and gifted) value.

On a monthly basis, I’ve kind of calculated my average time spent on hobby as follows:

  • 10h / month actually playing games
  • 6h/week modelling & painting (24h per month)
  • 4h/week blogging & twittering (16h per month)

Total, about 50 hours per month on hobby related activities.  This can obviously fluctuate month to month, and if there’s a local tourney or apocalypse game it can obviously throw things off pretty quickly.  I’ve been blogging and twittering more lately than I’ve actually spent painting as well.  Ho Hum.

This brings my average value to $1.82 per hour at full GW prices, and $1.10 per hour by my own valuation and generosity of others which isn’t the worst considering that I’m being constructive with my time.


Huh.  I’m still trying to figure out what this all means, but I guess the point here is that despite the up-front charge of miniatures and painting and such, I get enough use out of it that the value is still there.

Anyone else out there run this kind of analysis?  I wonder if there’s a spread of valuations out there, and how painting studios fit into the equation (IE – if I didn’t spend the time painting, how that affects both the price of the miniatures and the time spent painting…)

Anyways.  That’s it for me guys.  Cheers!

17 Replies to “A Valuation of My Hobby Addiction”

    1. I was a little bit shocked to see some of those numbers, and the shopping spree I went on at the GW webstore was humbling. I can’t imagine spending that much all at once, but when spread over 36 months it actually isn’t too bad.

      I’ve torn the veil of ignorance. I’ve eaten from the tree of prudent budgeting.

      Something I’ve just considered here, video games that were a particularly poor investment as I noted above have a value in the $5/h range… In order for me to get that high with my hobby I would need to spend 3 hours a week hobbying instead of my current level. Which frankly is unthinkable.

  1. I was shocked by how much my armies made on evilbay. It funded my move from gaming to display painting. now when i wants more money for the toys paint up some GW boxed sets and sell ’em. hooray for a self sustaining hobby! Also the lady inquisitor is happy that my hobby skills come in handy for projects around the house. Staining walnut tables and ageing pine bar stools are just a few projects i have been voluntold for lately:)

      1. Well if you are unsure you could always play the market. bidding gets fierce before a new codex comes out so just keep your ear out for rumours and sell what you have from the upcoming codex to max out profit. I would have thought new minis would drive ebay sales down but no, especially if you have any oop metal minis in the collection. those go for way more than they should!

        1. I feel like I want to try to sell something now just to see what kind of value my painting has on the open market… Is 2x MSRP a reasonable starting point? (I never look for painted stuff)

  2. Very interesting article and calculations. If one considers historicals and alternative game systems the final amount of money one spends can be significantly lower. I don’t really keep track, but I don’t think I spent that much on hobby stuff (and even if, it was spread out over 5 years). I also sell the odd terrain piece, so the hobby is almost self sustained.

    1. Anything that raises the time spent with the capital (which is more or less a sunken cost) will inevitably get you more value. So if you can play multiple games with the same models you’re laughing.

      I feel like I’m not that interested in trying to sell things to keep me in the black – although this might motivate me to paint a bit better… “Gotta get this on eBay….”

      Maybe I need that gateway: see what kind of value people see in my paint quality and go from there…

  3. Interesting read, I am an ex-smoker in the UK so I know about burning large amounts of money literally. I don’t know how much i have spent on the hobby but I know it’s much better for me!

  4. While I enjoy the cold hard analytical nature of this view point, it doesn’t take any steps towards factoring in the creative itch that miniature wargaming scratches. It’s an itch that video games will never be able to adequately address due to the fact that they are 1.) digital and completely lacking any tactile medium 2.) designed by another author and allow for zero (usually) user based narrative.

    Thusly I dub your $1.10 valuation to be for [b]SPECIAL GOLDEN[/b] entertainment hours, not just regular hours… which is really a way better value!

    1. Oh, these are all good points — I did think about the quality of entertainment in the post when I started deriding video game purchases – but didn’t go any further than that.

      Hadn’t considered the narrative aspect of it though… That might spur another post.

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