Star Wars-Themed ‘X-Wing’ Miniatures Game a Collectible in the Making

The base X-Wing game, now on sale at your local Target for $39.99, includes all of the cards, dice and rules you need. If you get into the game, expect to buy at least two of these sets.

The biggest blockbuster to come out of the relatively tiny hobby games business last year was the Star Wars-themed miniatures game, X-Wing. Published by Fantasy Flight Games, X-Wing was my selection for Game of the Year in my weekly tabletop gaming column and I think it is quite possibly the best miniatures game that I’ve ever played. It’s tremendously accessible, with great-looking pre-painted models of X-Wings, TIE Fighters and other iconic ships from the beloved film franchise as well as easy-to-learn rules that capture the spirit of the Original Trilogy. You don’t have to be a gamer to get excited about seeing a massive space battle with Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and Han Solo laid out on the table.

The base game, which includes an X-Wing and two standard TIEs, retails for $39.99 and you can even pick it up at Target. It’s enough for two people to play some dogfight scenarios and get a feel for the game. Additional ships are sold in individual blister packs through hobby retailers, with small fighters like the A-Wing and TIE Interceptor selling for $12.99 retail and larger craft like the Millennium Falcon going for a $30 asking price. Then there are optional third-party accessories and add-ons, including starfield maps that range in price from $20 to $200, carrying cases with foam inserts to keep those S-foils locked in attack position from breaking off in transit between Yavin and Hoth, and laser-cut acrylic markers to track game information. There are even folks making custom models for the game, including ships from other science fiction favorites like Battlestar Galactica and Firefly. There’s also a Star Trek game coming this year that uses a licensed version of the X-Wing rules.

It’s an expensive game, no doubt about it, but the a la carte distribution lets the consumer decide just how far down the rabbit hole they want to go. It’s a far better concept than the “collectible miniatures” games of the past, where you’d buy a box of randomly assorted figures of varying rarity—and wildly divergent aftermarket values. You know what you’re getting in every pack, and it’s up to you if you want to get everything or just focus on building up a nasty swarm of Imperial TIE fighters led by Lord Vader himself, winged with ace pilots.

Straight out of the movies: ships are perched on acrylic stands to lift them off the table. Each stand also has a cardboard token displaying all information about the ship needed to play.

The interesting thing about X-Wing from a collectibles perspective is that it’s already witnessing increases in value while it is still in print and typically available at retail—largely due to Fantasy Flight not being able to manufacture and ship stock fast enough. Shortages of some of the first wave ships, including the titular X-Wing, have resulted in these models selling for double or even triple their retail value at auction. Typically, players want multiple models of each ship to build out their fleets, so someone looking at fielding a large squadron of X-Wings might find themselves rather frustrated at the lack of stock on store shelves and these inflated aftermarket prices. Wave 3 was recently announced for release in September of this year, which includes my beloved B-Wing fighter and the Imperial Lambda-class shuttle, has already sold through preorder quantities at most online retailers. I’d expect that in the weeks after release we’ll see Wave 3 ships doubling and tripling in price in the aftermarket.

I think the rarity and spiking prices are a temporary situation, since the game isn’t even a year old, but I would also put on the speculator’s cap and suggest that this game could produce some very valuable collectibles in the years to come, particularly since we’re just two years out from J.J. Abrams’ upcoming revitalization of the film franchise and a potential epidemic of Star Wars Mania waiting in the wings. I think over time there will be enough TIE Fighters to go around but I don’t think the value is going to be in the standard product line’s SKUs.

The Rebel fleet, featuring the recently released large ships—the YT-1300 Millenium Falcon (top center).

The Imperial fleet features the Firespray-class Slave-1 (top center), piloted by bounty hunter Boba Fett.

Where X-Wing could become very collectible and very valuable is if Fantasy Flight decides to start revising or retiring models. And if they produce limited edition ships or accessories only available as promo incentive for conventions, in-store events or tournaments then the sky’s the limit. Completists and Star Wars fans will be in the market competing with those looking to acquire the rarer models for play. If the company were to release, say, a limited edition black X-Wing like those currently featured in Dark Horse Comics’ popular comic books at this year’s GenCon or Origins gaming conventions… well, let’s say it’d be something like the sound of millions of wallets opening and suddenly being emptied.

As a regular player and collector of the game, I’d really rather that this doesn’t happen. I want the hypothetical black X-Wing, but I don’t make it out to the conventions and I can’t see paying $50, $100, $200 for it. But collectors that enjoy and even thrive on speculating and hunting down these kinds of limited or rare items might find that X-Wing could prove to be a fairly lucrative proposition in the years to come.

Michael Barnes is a lifelong game player, collector and enthusiast. He has parlayed his passion for games into several successful ventures, including a retail hobby store, two popular gaming Websites, and 10 years of widely read commentary and criticism about both tabletop and video games.

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