Been thinking about this a lot recently as I made another purchase of some 2nd hand assault marines on eBay. Sooooo I decided to write a pros and cons post about it all.
Note these are mostly about minis bought on eBay or other online trading sites. The can apply to models picked up at wargames shows and the like but there you have a bit more discretion.
- They're cheap. Generally speaking you can save 30 -40% off retail prices by buying 2nd hand. This is usually dictated by the quality of paint job on them.
- They're ready made. No wasting time clipping and gluing. You should be able to strip off any paint (if any) and paint away. You may even be able to game with them if the painting is good.
- They can be "Out of Print". This is actually bigger now than it has been thanks to GWs disastrous deployment of Finecast as a metal replacement. You can pick up a lot of the current range in metal (which is easier to strip) and also get hold of some unique older minis.
- Nasty Nasty paint jobs. 9 times out of 10 you're going to get models that appear to have been painted by a blind chimp. Unless you pay over the odds for a good paint job, this is usually the reason for their cheapness. On metal models this isn't an issue as good old Nitromors can strip that back to shiny new but plastic is a other problem. There are many ways to get paint off plastic models (Mr Muscle Kitchen Cleaner being my favourite) but the success of this can be greatly varied. This is mostly due to the fact you have no idea how many layers of paint or varnish are on there as they be 3rd or even 4th hand.
- They may still need cleaning up. This is more likely than not as most seem to be assembled by less than savvy modellers. Parts are often left with sprue tags and huge mold lines in them and any modeller worth their salt will want to clean these up. This is often hampered by the fact that the model is assembled, making it harder to clean properly.
- No choice on loadout. No sprues mean no spare parts, and therefore little choice in what the model looks like or what weapons it carries. This has the added problem of no spare bits for other projects either.
So there you go. Personally I've bought my last set of second hand plastics. I think the money you save is out of proportion with the lack of choice, extra clean up time and general shabbiness of what you end up with. I'll happily keep buying kits on sprues and metal models, but no more plastics.