The Ferrari Mentality

I know, I know. I’m so ridiculously behind here.  I do have some pretty good reasons, though, so I’m hoping you’ll cut me a little slack.

I jumped back here for two reasons.  First, shamelessly, is to promote the new book release.  Broadway Paperbacks just released Ex-Communication today (third book in the Ex-Heroes series).  It’s available at your local bookstore, Amazon, on the Kindle, at Audible.com... everywhere.  Check it out.

Second is to rant a bit about a phrase I see popping up again and again, usually to explain (or excuse) Games Workshop’s prices.  Because they’re really getting kind of crazy.  I originally started this page because I was a struggling writer who couldn’t afford to pay GW prices when I need to pay rent.  Well, paying the rent’s a lot easier now, but—as much as I love it—I’m still not sure I can afford how much this game costs.
Anyway, the phrase in question is “the Ferrari of miniatures games,” or some variant on it.  If you follow this hobby on the web (and you’re here, so I’m guessing you do), you’ve probably seen this idea expressed one way or another.  Simply put, Games Workshop feels like they’ve got the best products which carry a certain prestige and status to the owner, and that warrants the highest prices—much in the same way a Ferrari costs so much more than a Volkswagen or a Kia, despite having all the same basic parts made from all the same materials.

See, there’s one huge problem with this idea, though.  And it’s the one GW—and most of us—tend to overlook because it reflects on us.

Everyone knows what a Ferrari is.  Everyone knows what it’s worth.  Everyone knows it is a high point, if not the pinnacle, of automotive ownership, and almost half the people in the world own cars.

Let’s repeat that word, because it’s important.  Everyone.  Not just the girls at the club or the guys at the office.  If I drive a Ferrari through a village of huts in Africa or a six-building town in the Australian outback, people there are going to point at my car and go “Holy Crap!  A Ferrari!  Here!  Holy crap!”
A Ferrari is a status symbol because of this universal recognition.  That’s how being a status symbol works.  Something can’t be “the Ferrari of X” unless X is also something universally known and recognized.  You could have the Ferrari of shoes or refrigerators, but the Ferrari of mellonballers is just kind of silly (no matter how beautifully designed that mellonballer is).  Something just can’t be that kind of status symbol if 99% of the world doesn’t use it or holds it in a poor light.

For example... little toy soldiers.

If I try to impress the girls at the club with my pro-painted Dark Eldar models, I feel safe saying I’ll be going home alone that night.  If I bring up my phenomenal Demon Prince conversion during my performance review at the office, it probably won’t improve my chances for that promotion.  And if I show up in that African village or Australian town carrying an armload of Space Marines, odds are I’m going to learn lots of colorful local terms for “geek” and possibly also “weirdo,” “man-child,” and maybe even “loser.” 

I don’t say this to be cruel, just straight-forward.  All of us here are a lot of grown men and women who play with little toy soldiers.  The vast majority of the planet’s population does not see this as something to be incredibly proud of or as a huge plus in the personality/ life choices departments.  I can try to spin it anyway I like, but that’s the simple truth of things.  I’m okay with it (hell, I also like LEGOs and I write about superheroes fighting zombies for a living), but I’m also under no illusions about it.  We're a minority.

See, that’s why this whole Ferrari mentality (and business plan) doesn’t work.  People are willing to pay huge sums of money for a Ferrari because everyone, everywhere knows what owning a Ferrari means.  Not to sound crass, but people get sex out of owning Ferraris.  Yes, even today. 

And that’s never going to happen with little toy soldiers.  No matter how crisp the lines are on those highlights, owning a box full of Game Workshop Fire Warriors and Crisis Suits is never, ever going to be a status symbol.  Which is why this mentality—and pricing system—really can’t be applied to them.

The whole idea of “the Ferrari of little toy soldiers” is just... well, stupid.

So, in conclusion, please buy my books so that I can afford a box set or two of toy soldiers this year.

Or maybe even a Ferrari.