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40K: The Reasons We Buy Models

6 Minute Read
Sep 23 2017

Somewhere along the line we had to buy our first models – so what made us do it and why?

We may have gotten into this hobby for different reasons but somewhere along the line we had to put some of our hard-earned cash down and buy models. Then we had to build them and probably put our first layers of paint on them ourselves. If doesn’t matter if you just started playing or are an “ye olde-tyme” veteran, something about this hobby attracted you to the tabletop. Today, I want to take a look at some of the reasons we buy models. Now, these might not be all of them, but I feel like there are 3 big buckets that model purchases fall into: I Liked It, I Wanted It, I Needed It.


I Liked It

This first category is the most innocent category. You saw a model in the store, on the tabletop, in a box, online…wherever – and you thought, “Oh wow, that’s pretty cool looking! I think I’ll pick one up.” There was no pressure to this purchase – it was probably an impulse purchase or something you did on a whim. It wasn’t meant to be a serious addition to an army. Maybe you didn’t even own any other models from that army! But you liked the model so you just bought it.

For me, I didn’t experience this feeling much later in my gaming career. I already had a few armies under my belt (more on that below) and I was at a strange point in my hobby-life. My other armies were “done” and I was simply just looking for something that would stretch my hobby skills.

It was right around the end of 4th/beginning of 5th and along came The Tyranid Mawloc/Trygon kit. I remember when our store got the coveted “GW Black Box” and I saw the sprues for the first time. This model had previously been a Forge World only resin model but now it was a fancy new plastic kit. I didn’t know it at the time, but that kit would launch me into a never ending swarm of yellow Tyranids that I’m still working on to this day. It started a new army for me and I’ve stuck with them ever since – all because I saw one kit and thought, “Hey, I like that model. I think I’ll give it a shot.”

I Want It

The “I Want It” category is the second “bucket” on this list, but it’s probably the first one we all experienced. For many of us this was our first major purchase, the big leap if you will, into the Grim-Dark. Maybe it was a new edition’s starter box. Maybe it was one of the Start Collecting bundles. Maybe it was your first squad of Marines. Whatever it was, this was the kit that you picked up because you wanted IN.


For me, this was the 3rd edition starter box. I had a friend that introduced me to the Grim-Dark in 2nd edition. I had some models already but I was getting “serious” about playing. I knew that I wanted to dive in head first into 3rd edition. Being a kid at the time, I was too young to have a real job and had no disposable income. But that wasn’t going to stop me. I WANTED this kit. So I did what any enterprising young man did “back in my day” – I mowed some lawns.

Just to paint this picture a bit more, I live in Texas and this was summer time. It’s hot. Like, “I hope you have a water bottle and sunscreen” hot. Now, I grew up here so I knew what to expect. I was also just a kid and pushing a lawn mower wasn’t exactly “easy” for my age at the time. But I had to give up my free time and work pretty hard to get something I wanted.

Now, for you, it might not have been this dramatic and I’m not saying I had to “walk uphill both ways in the snow.” But the concept of wanting a particular kit or model and being willing to work or sacrifice something to purchase it is the point I’m trying to drive home. This was more important than a simple “I like it, so I bought it” situation.

I Need It

This last category is something I think we’ve all said at some point about our armies. Let me set this one up: You’ve just lost a game – badly. Maybe you were playing against the latest meta-shaking list, maybe it was just a new codex that you had no idea how to handle, maybe it was just some awful dice rolling – but whatever it was, it left a terrible taste in your mouth. You’re not a sore loser…but something just didn’t sit right after that defeat. What was it? Oh that’s right – it was cause you didn’t have “XXXX” unit! Well, it’s time to remedy that situation. I’ve got to buy that kit because I NEED it.

Let’s be perfectly clear – you don’t ever NEED a model kit. It’s small-ish plastic model – it’s not something you can eat. It’s not something you can wear. It’s not something you can use as shelter. It’s a luxury/hobby item. You never NEED those items. But, something in you snapped and you believe the only way to fix it is to get that new hawtness.

For some folks maybe it was a case of “if you can’t beat’em, join’em” syndrome. Maybe you are guilt of starting the latest Meta-Breaking army. If you rushed out and recently bought 4 Stormravens only to have that dream pulled out from under your feet…well…then this applies to you. I’m pretty sure we’ve all been there at some point. I know I have. We try to justify the purchase. We say things like, “I need to buy that Eldar Cloudstrike Apoc bundle because it’s a really good deal! I should get two!” (It had nothing to do with me wanting to have a competitive list at the time.)


There was a lot of that going around in 4th/5th Edition…

When your Likes/Wants become needs, I think that maybe it’s time to take a step back and ask yourself the real reason you want to buy this “thing.” I promise you that even if it makes you feel better in that moment, it’s not going to “fix” whatever might have broken in your head after that last game. Just take some deep breaths  as you whip out your wallet and buy that kit… and try not to make any rash decisions. Just sleep on it.

Again – I don’t think that this is an all inclusive list. I’m sure there are other reasons we buy models (gifts for other, as an example). But for the vast majority of my personal purchases for the Hobby, I can safely say that they fit into one of these 3 buckets.


Why do YOU buy models? What was the last model you purchased and why? Let us know in the comments below!

Author: Adam Harrison
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