Monday, 2 August 2010

Chaos Black Is The New Cash Cow?

I popped into my local GW store recently to pick up some painting items for my siblings to post, such as some undercoating spraycans and a few loose paint pots.

Running my items through the till, friendly manager then casually mentioned:

You know, of all the items in the company we sell, this one outsells everything in the store.

He was referring to the pot of Chaos Black paint I had just purchased. £2.25 (UK retail price) per pot. And they supposedly sell more pots of Chaos Black than anything else in the company.

I pondered upon this. Chaos black paints, retailing at £2.25, selling more than:

- Recent reduxed must-buy codices and their accompanying miniature releases? (Orks, IG, ‘Nids, Wolves, BA)

- Revised re-releases of old systems to appeal to the nostalgia market (Space Hulk, and inevitably Blood Bowl sometime in the future!)

- Ultrasmurfs, and their derivative ilk?

- LOTR(tm) movie cash-ins at their hey day, and possibly when the Hobbit (tm) movie(s) crawl out of development hell?

No! Apparently, according to the well-meaning store manager, it is that single, solitary pot of black paint that outsells the plastic and metal miniature blister and box sets, the games, the scenery, the new releases,

All the research and development in creating the games, the wealth of ideas and innovation it takes to bring a Games Workshop product from concept to delivery, the miniature castings processes involve, the Hobby Stores serving as the retail and PR frontmen to get the games out into the wider world, the intellectual property and licenses for computer games and ancillary products to expand upon the Games Workshop brand, all that just to sell pots of Chaos Black?

The Games Workshop financial reports don’t seem to give much of a clue as it seems to omit exactly what product they sell that rakes in the profits (maybe I’m not reading it closely enough, instead of skimming). But come to think about it, all the GW games systems which rely on miniatures components have the requirement to paint them in common. And paint them black we do.

Unlike other ‘alternative’ games systems where the miniatures are prepainted at some outsourced Chinese sweatshop, GW sells us a game (ch£ng!), where we buy the required pieces (ch£ng ch£ng!), and then have to paint them too (ker-ch£ng!). For a little plastic bottle filled with some water and colouring chemicals, this little seller brings in big monies for the company. Good times for everyone.

Except our wallets!

I suppose this may be old news for many old-timers, but for me (a returnee to the game later in life) this came as a surprise. Whether or not I'm just being gullible and buying into a casual comment from a pot-stirring store manager, it seemed plausible enough for me to consider this and it's overall effect on the GW business model in more than just a passing thought.

Now, I use Chaos black of all my painting needs. Touching up spray base coats, corrections, thinning down into a quick wash, freehand work, etc. I run through black paint more than anything else in my 40K shopping list, and almost everytime I pop down my local store or buy anything online, Chaos Black is without fail, a must-buy.

Chaos black is a nice little profit earner for GW. It’s like a drug man, and I needs me my fix!

Note: Anybody else have any alternative ‘black’ paint sources I should look into?


  1. Speaking of... you've reminded me to put some on my list. Cheers.

  2. Now I do tend to procrastinate on painting my minis, I've yet to run out of any particular color of paint. Chaos Black, I've no doubt, will be the first.
    Funny that my LGS manager noted when I asked when he expected more Blood Red in, he couldn't get any. While I expect it is more laziness on his part (I don't know how he stays in business), he suggested the recent release of Blood Angels had increased demand for Blood Red pots past the ability of GW to supply.
    Now I'm curious which color is second on the list after Chaos Black?

  3. My guess: Mithril Silver!

    On a personal note, due to my 512th colour scheme for IG I run outof black, Codex Grey and Mithril silver most of the time, and these 3 colours are always high on my 'Repeat Buy' list.

    On a related note, I asked said manager about why 'Brazen Brass' has disappeared (it having been a much-needed component for gold effects). He said it had something to do with the change of (paint) supplier, by the new supplier being unable to get the colour mix right, hence it was discontinued.

    Oh well, there's always Dwarf Bronze!

  4. top tip: mix a bit of Scorched Brown into the darker of the gold colors and you should find something quite close to Brazen Brass. If it looks too Bronze, add just a bit of Dark Flesh as well to redden it. Something like that.

  5. Wow thanks b.smoove! Great tip.

  6. I was going to say how I've replaced Brazen Brass by mixing Tin Bitz and Burnished Gold, but now I find that Burnished Gold appears to also be discontinued.

  7. Great post, and those are the reasons I give my Paint money to Vallejo models color for most things and Delta Ceramcoat (craft store paint) for washes and colors like black.


  8. Geez, GW's discontinuing half their metals? Those are/were their best paints.