Dadhammering Through The Mortal Realms: Part 3 – $32,000 Spiders

Some of the dead-eyed readers may note that we’ve skipped Part 2 entirely – suffice to say I had a great time at LVO with the exception of two games and a great time at Cherokee using a squig list. Assume I did better than all of my haters. However in coming down with Covid-19, planning a family trip, and requirements from my health-insurance providing job have prevented me from writing up those events in a timely manner.

So accept my apologies as I go on a grand tour in Ireland and Wales looking at miniatures and providing my thoughts on the lengths an American will go to purchase a Scuttleboss on Giant Spider or any other gitz model. It’s normal to get passports for a family, plan a trip to Ireland, have 50% of Irish people ask “Why would you come to such a small place like Ireland?”, only to have the only part of the trip I recount for y’all the four game stores I went to with my son. As we planned the trip I had toyed around with finding a one-day event to play and borrowing an army but the logistics and call to adventure defeated me. During my three week tour of the emerald-isle, with a three day trip to Wales, I was able to visit several hobby stores almost by accident and have some thoughts on the subject.

Priceless Spiders

For the past 18-24 months I’ve been trying to find a Scuttleboss on Giant Spider in stock in a retailer. Despite a list price of $50 I had found it impossible to exchange money for a finecast spider in the primary market. Single finecast models are not that hard to find and pop up at Georgia retailers all the time. In 2022 I was able to pick up a Wardokk (Mr. Nipple Rings) and maniac on boar. However, even with a willingness to order from the GW online store the scuttleboss hasn’t been available or seen in the wild for many years. “Not Available Online” from Games Workshop, never once up on Miniature Market. In the U.S. we’re taunted with models that never make it on a boat and can’t be ordered. From what I understand the issues are much worse in Australia and New Zealand, where Games Workshop can only provide models when the sun sets in the east and the rain falls upwards. My general sense of urgency to purchase a weird-looking $50 model was only increased with the release of the gitz book.

Both of these stores had models that I had ordered from the GW website in the past few months. In both cases I never received a notification that they were in stock. Does the above store have a megaboss from a warhammer+ subscription? Damned if I know.

Anyone who has attempted to order items in the U.S. from a GW knows they have a communication and ordering system comparable to using a mail order catalog in 1996. And forget trying to get your model as part of the Warhammer+ subscription community. In the U.S. I’ve heard tales of a robot revolt in Memphis that has caused great delays in goods. Having a model shipped to a store doesn’t necessarily mean that you, a consumer, will be informed that the model is in stock. Throughout my trip I was checking on the status of my order and not receiving an update from Games Workshop. The uncertainty and doubt that I suffered not knowing the status of my order is a thoughtful touch that Games Workshop intends as a way of bonding gamers together. My order was created. Beyond that, Games Workshop and the shipping company are silent to any other possible status. As a point of fact and clarity, while I poke fun at GW the company every employee that I’ve interacted with in a Warhammer store or at a pop up in an event has been consistently great and passionate about the hobby. In my opinion the employees at GW and independent retailers have to go above and beyond to content with poor tools caused by GWs historic prioritization of paying dividends over investing in tools any systems.

A plan came together when my wife asked if we could stay in Cardiff for three nights. As much as I wish that I had picked our hotel based on its proximity to the local games workshop store I was more concerned with being near the largest number of souvenir stores that had dry goods with the word “cwtch” so we could be easily identified as locals during our three days in Wales. Three days is a lifetime on a vacation and more than enough time to order, at a significantly favorable exchange rate, two scuttlebosses and three giant spiders to comfort the twenty spider riders I slapped contrast paint on two years ago. Using my advanced hacking skills I was able to identify a weakness in the GW website. Without the need to use a VPN I was able to change the flag from the U.S. flag to another flag while still located in America. I even set my base store to Cardiff adding some additional subterfuge so they would never know I wasn’t from the U.K. until I had the goods in hand.

The true tourist traps of Cardiff – a super sweet castle, the Royal Infirmary, Warhammer, and like 20 Greggs.

Unlike the U.S., where not having the item just means another excuse to the go the store later, I needed to get those spiders in a bag before putting the bag in a hotel. That bag needed to go into a car, the car on a boat, then the car needed to be driven from Rosslare Harbor to Waterford, to Cork, up to Galway, and then to Dublin. After that the bag need to be flown to Philadelphia before being driven back to Atlanta. This is the only way that an authentic, genuine, and bonafide Scuttleboss on Giant Spider could be taken the U.S.

After acting like a normal tourist for an evening in Cardiff, eating a breakfast gravy meat pie at Greggs, and pretending to care about a freakin’ awesome castle in Cardiff it was time for the true purpose of my trip. Taking my son with me we walked a few blocks to the Warhammer store where my order, still waiting to be shipped per shipping update, was supposed to be located. My hope was, if the order hadn’t been received at the store, I could confess my deceit and dire situation and get it sent from somewhere else.

I Would Like to See the Spiders

A man (Totally handsome) stands in front of a warhammer store in Cardiff
I have no idea if the store has spiders – so close yet so far.

It’s a hard thing to explain that you’re an international traveller looking to pick up some spiders that might not be at the store location. Fortunately I have a script that has always served me well when picking up items in Warhammer stores.

First use the phrase:

“I ordered something a bit ago to this store and I forgot to check the shipping status but wanted to see if it came in.”

Second, pull up the confirmation email on your phone. Yes, you’ve told a little white lie because of course you looked BEFORE you came to the store but this isn’t a seamless ordering process, is it?

Third, you wait for a reaction from the stockist. For me, this was particularly easy because the gentleman working there said ‘Oh yeah the spider order that’s been in for a couple of days.”

Minutes away from securing the goods there was nothing to do but wait. My son, oblivious to the many pieces of miniature art, started looking at the Space Marines and Tau pretty closely while an older gentleman showed me pictures of his models on his phone. I showed him some of what I was working on and we were able to connect through the magic of painting minis.

I looked at some of the painted figures and poked around looking for some models that I’m sure would sit on my shelf for years. During this time the stockist helped my son assemble a single push-fit Vindictor. For whatever reason putting that Vindictor together in the store imbued it with a sense of power and ownership so that he kept telling stories throughout the trip to strangers about the lighting spear. There is something about the GW polo, or maybe the small cardboard box with his name on it, that provided the authority to say “this is your model” to a five-year-old that’s different from when we’ve glued and painted models together.

The Prize

It’s fun to make up rumors and talk about people who aren’t us. One rumor that I’ve heard, from time to time, is that forgeworld models in the U.S. are all bad because they ship over the seconds. I don’t believe that in the slightest. Having actually worked on a manufacturing line I know that the amount of sustained malice, spite, and hatred required to execute such a grand scheme is far beyond anything that line workers care about. As much as I’d like to say that I have the finest finecast straight from the Nottingham it still really, really sucks as a material to work with.

The finecast scuttleboss is one of the worst models I’ve put together and the square base

That’s a no from me dog. It can be hard to tell where the webbing stops and the frame begins.

does not make up for the lack of instructions. My completed but not painted model gives off the same vibes you get from one of those popular dog breeds that was inbred too many times and can’t breath without help. As a real insult to my sensibilities, it includes a tactical log on the base.

The giant arachnarok spider are great kits and really hit that sweet spot for a multiwarscroll kit that can be assembled and magnetized. There is the ability to pose some of the legs on the spider slightly differently and the model assembles logically. It does have a tactical base.

Game Stores In Wales and Ireland vs. The U.S.

I’m sure that my sample is of an exceedingly small number of stores that dot Ireland and Wales. With my mission to get spiders in Cardiff completed I didn’t have any plans on visiting any other Warhammer or game stores with my family. A major difference is where stores are located. In the U.S. stores are most often located in strip malls or shopping centers anchored by a grocery store. The very definition of class B or C real estate representing limited common areas, being aged 20+ years, and not recently updated. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t GREAT places with active communities and space to game. They’re typically a place you have to try to find, not something located on a main street. You’re very much driving to a location with a specific purpose in mind. Most stores have a pretty easy time having an event with 20-40 people. At least in Atlanta we’re able to handle the consistent growth in our community and have more events, connect with people that are 200-300 miles away, and visit each others stores when there are events. During conversations when I mentioned that I was driving from Cork to Galway people would act like it was a very long distance. The drive between Atlanta and Charlotte is longer.

An unknown man of taste and culture admires art in Dublin
It was not uncommon to see people peering into windows at the models displayed in Ireland. In the U.S. it’s difficult to windowshop at most gamestores.

In comparison, I never had to hunt for a GW store in Ireland. We would drive into a city, look for our hotel, and often pass a store while looking for parking. It was pretty easy to walk from where we staying and pass the store on the way to get coffee or a drink. In grabbing images from google street view I didn’t have to do any additional work to get pedestrians walking around and observed a handful of people walking by, looking at the models painted in the windows, and moving on. In Dublin and Cork there were multiple stockists on hand each time I went to the store compared to the single person who is typically staffing a U.S. Warhammer store. It sounded like smaller skirmish games were more popular in the stores compared to large 2000 pt games. I’ve personally never felt like playing a GW game in a Warhammer store is particularly appealing but I’m spoiled by having multiple great stores in the Atlanta area for games.

Warhammer store just outside the perimeter in Atlanta vs. Cork. I would have really thought that “Paddy Wagon” didn’t sit right with people but you learn something new every day.

In Cork, pictured above, I visited the store Friday evening with my son and saw some high-school kids playing what appeared to be a 1,000 point game of Age of Sigmar. Like Cardiff the store was active with more than a few people walking in and out before it closed.

Two years in and the Kruleboyz are still hampered by 5 inch move.

One area that I was disappointed in was the lack of inventory in the Warhammer stores.  Consistent with my experience in the U.S. all the stores were stocked with the latest releases, some starter boxes, and a few troops for some armies. I’m not saying that I want an Alarielle the Everqueen to sit on my shelf unbuilt and unpainted but I likely would have purchased one after two pints and some Greggs in Cardiff. Gamers World in Dublin also suffered from not having a lot of Age of Sigmar inventory relative to the 40K stock. The exchange rate also worked against non-GW games as the prices for Star Wars Legion and ASOIAF were higher after the exchange rate. With Englands decision to drag Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales out of Europe the relative pricing of GW minis compared to other games only looks to get better for people in the UK. Conversely, as one of the few manufacturing export industries GW is set to rake in a lot of additional profit as the value of the pound continues to fall.

Looking over the models in the Warhammer store I had a great conversation about these Megas, A great touch is basalt hexagonal columns that are meant to evoke the Giant’s Causeway.

The Next Generation

Over the past few years in Age of Sigmar my kids have been encouraged to participate in the modelling and painting and have put on little plays with my minis. These are toys that are meant to be played with and everyone knows the dice will roll better if you go “pew pew PEW” while shaking a model towards another one. If we were allowed to pick our models off the table and make magic sounds we would never miscast. My daughter is my original commission painter for my loonshrine but has shown little interest in updated the graffiti in the past 18-24 months. My son, on the other hand, has shown a growing interest in “Epic Battles” with Space Marines. What five-year-old can resist the tactically sound strategy of a bike with thick wheels, a bolt pistol, and a chainsword? Prior to him showing an interest in my marines I hadn’t put together any of the 9th edition starter set and would have looked to sell it if there was any demand.  Now I have a large number of random space marine models lying around that I’ll be letting him paint up for his army. Since I was already smuggling plastic back to the U.S. I was ok with him picking out

I’ve brought my son to a few pick-up games and he’s always enjoyed looking at the models and making them pew-pew. My tastes, that run into the destruction army route don’t really jive with his desire to divide his head cannon into good guys vs. bad guy stories. A gun or laser is something that fires the imagination with all sorts of science and magic and results that he doesn’t get to experience in his day-to-day life while a spear on an orc isn’t all that different from a fork.

In Cardiff he picked out a Stormhawk Interceptor. It’s a great pick as it looks really cool and will perform well in our imaginary battles of space marines vs. goblins vs. greyjoys vs. orcs vs. legos. Ultimately any force is going to need some vehicles to support the masses of infantry that come in starter sets. It’s neat to share the beginning stages of the hobby in a very low pressure way. I’m also confident that any single aircraft will be strictly narrative in 10th edition so he will be able to paint it for a good long time.

Cork, however, led to DISASTER. Every parent wants children to make decision on their own and we have to let them make mistakes. However, I can’t think of a worse mistake in 40K than purchasing faction terrain like the Hammerfall bunker. While I’m not a 40K player I can’t imagine going 10th edition is going to be the “fortifications that you pay points for are really really good edition”. However, he is extremely excited to paint it green, blue, and have gold missiles that are “Ultra-rare” compared to the peasant missiles in a more mobile and tactically sound unit.

Despite my lack of interest in 40K, or maybe out of a sense of duty, I really want to see how close to Age of Sigmar the new edition is and he desire to have his own set of little plastic men is going to tip me to likely getting the 10th edition box so we can build, paint, and play the game together.

All A Big Misunderstanding

It goes without saying that there are better ways of getting a tournament legal model in Age of Sigmar than travelling to another continent. The great irony is that when I left for Ireland I could have picked up a few big spiders before the trip but decided that I’d add them to my order and take advantage of the exchange rate. Everything, including the checked bag fee, was already a sunk cost so taking advantage of the pricing differential basically paid for 0.00002% of the my trip. If I had paid more attention to the GW webstore I would have likely been able to order it online. In drafting this article there was a brief moment, that I didn’t screencap, of availability of the Scuttleboss online in the U.S.

I look forward to hearing that you’ve been accurately informed when it arrives at a store.

Next Steps:

Between my trip and work I really got off track. I’m sure my invoice for my entire $32,000 trip is going to be approved by Goonhammer right after the Twitter Blue payable in front is paid so if the website goes down for a few days you can blame me.

Spray Painted Models
I’m surprised the Scuttleboss didn’t turn into dust from the force of the rattlecan.

I’ve started putting together the big spiders and the Scuttleboss on giant spider and tested them out earlier this week. I feel like even without a strong spider focus a few of the pieces will ultimately find a home in a gloomspite gitz list. For 130 points the Scuttleboss is fast, has mutiple attacks with huge upside, and a really sneaky once per game ability.

My next update will include some of the other hobby I’ve done and some thoughts on the most recent Georgia Warband event. I’ve got an RT next weekend that should have a bunch of heavy hitters in attendance. Finally, my next GT will be at the end of May so I’ll have time to finish up my spiders and test them out in a few weird lists and against new threats like Khorne, Seraphon, Slaanesh, and OBR.

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