Wargamers can be a flighty bunch, flitting from one project to another accumulating a pile of lead (or plastic) in the process. I certainly was until a few years ago when I made a conscious effort to clear my backlog of unfinished projects and not buy anything new unless I had a firm plan for it. Of course like most plans mine didn't survive first contact with the enemy. Despite my best efforts I have bought several items that I later regretted. Some were mistakes, others were pure impulse overriding common sense. Here's my top ten in reverse order.
A Wargamers Top Ten Impulse Buying Disasters
10 - Charity shop gaming mat
I've bought plenty of gaming mats over the years but one was a classic mistake. I picked up mat from a charity shop but didn't open the box in the store before buying it. When I got home I found that the mat had been very badly painted to represent hills and a river. Fortunately the mat only cost me a quid and it quickly migrated to the bin when I discovered its clumsy customisation.
9 - The inadequate tube
I bought a large 'map tube' to store a 6x4' gaming mat in. When I got home I found the tube was actually only 3'9" long. A friend of mine ended up with the tube which he used for the innovative purpose of storing maps in!
8 - Scale creep
Scale creep is something we are all familiar with but still managed to catch me out. I bought some figures from a bargain bin at a show only to find they were completely out of proportion to my existing collection. Most remained in my lead mountain for a long time only to be given away years later.
7 - The wrong tanks
Another rookie mistake I made occurred when I started collecting historical forces for the first time. I merrily bought loads of 15mm WWII vehicles based on what I liked, rather than building a particular army list. This was a case of shinybloodyitus
pure and simple and several of the models I bought never made it into any of my armies.
6 - The 'special offer'
I'm not normally one to get swept away by marketing or 'sales' and try to keep a level head when buying stuff. But at Salute a few years ago I was about to leave the show after a long successful day shopping and saw a special offer on a KR model bag. The fact that I didn't need the bag didn't stop me from picking up this bargain. The bag was eventually sold several years later at the SELWG Bring a Buy for a third of the price I had originally paid for it.
5 - The unused army
I'm guessing I'm not alone in investing in painted figures only to never use them. But I have gone one further, an entire army that never saw action. Way back when I first started wargaming I played Warhammer Fantasy Battle and bought my friends Dwarven Army when he decided to change forces. They were very nice models and remained very nice for several years because they never came out of the boxes I bought them in.
4 - A shattering experience
Another impulse buy made at Salute was a rather nice looking WWII building. The 15mm resin model of a row of bombed out houses came pre painted and really looked the part. However I should have realised the structure was far too fragile for resin and within hours of getting it home I dropped it, breaking it into twenty or thirty bits.
3 - Bargain basement varnish
I had run out of my favourite varnish and rather than wait for my on-line order to arrive I bought a cheap can of spray varnish from a high street discount store. I've no idea how old the can was, or if it had been stored badly by the retailer but the varnish came out completely opaque. Fortunately I tested it first, narrowly avoiding ruining a newly finished infantry platoon.
2 - Twice as good
I have a big collection of books and not surprisingly most are about military history. I came across a nice collection of second hand books on a stall at a living history event and after a bit of haggling on the price walked away with two great books on German armour in WWII. When I got home I found that I had both
books already. Worse still they had the prices I paid for them written on the inside cover in pencil and it was less than I had just paid at the show!
1 - There's Sable and then there's Kolinsky Sable
The worst purchase I ever made has to be a whole set of Games Workshop brushes I bought several years ago. For the last decade or more my brush of choice has been the Winsor and Newton Series 7. They are expensive but the quality is outstanding with some of my current brushes still going strong after 10 years service. Why I bought the set from GW is beyond me and after just one use I threw the lot in the bin. Maybe I bought a duff bunch but I have never encountered brushes as poor as those and I really should have known better and stuck with my tried and trusted series 7's.
So having now made a public spectacle of myself the question is, what were your worst hobby purchases? You don't have to list ten, but what about your top five worst impulse buying disasters? I can't be the only Wargamer out there with a tenuous grasp on his money!