In Warhammer 40,000 lore, the Thunderhawk gunship is one of the Adeptus Astartes' best means of providing Space Marine transport and firing support. In the tabletop world, the 1997 all-metal models (big enough to actually fit a kill team) are one of the rarest miniatures, normally worth anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000. Warhammer YouTuber Emil "Squidmar" Nyström just set a new record, selling one he assembled and painted for a whopping $35,000 USD/£25,600 GBP on eBay.
One of only 500 made, Nystrom began charting the history of the Thunderhawk mini back in February, when he acquired one from a man in Sweden who never took it out of the box to assemble. Nystrom even got in touch with the original creator of the model, who says he was assigned the task as a sort of test for future work with Games Workshop.
"I had never made a miniature in my life before. That was my first stab at making a metal model ever," the creator, referenced only as "Tim" said. Tim had only six months to design and cast the model for GW's annual convention, finding time in the evenings after his day job to make progress.
The whole package, including a fancy wooden chest with Aquila markings and certificate of ownership, weighs in at 22lbs. Even for Nystrom, who's made his career out of working with Warhammer 40,000 minis, the instructions for the all-metal model are extensively complicated.
Back in the '90s, the Thunderhawk cost a generous (even by Warhammer standards) $650, or $1,050 when adjusted for inflation. They were made before lighter, cheaper plastic became the norm for Games Workshop models. The result is 204 pieces of metal, many of which individually weigh as much as an entire modern Warhammer kit box. To add insult to injury, the points of contact on the model are totally flat (basically where one bit is supposed to be glued to another), making it a challenging assembly even for seasoned vets.
Who's the lucky buyer? The owners of a hobby shop in Melbourne, Australia named The House of War.
"We figured we were purchasing a piece of history," said shop co-owner Riordone Treylourne, who actually purchased not one, but two additional Thunderhawk miniatures that they plan to assemble and display in their store.
"When we come out of lockdown, it'll be really something to share with the community," Treylourne said. "Particularly in Australia. We're a bit backwater when it comes to gaming stuff. One of our goals is to increase awareness of the gaming community in Australia."
As someone who's had to help a friend lug around several briefcases full of Space Marines, I can appreciate that Nystrom spent an additional $500 to get a custom case and foam padding to transport the model across international waters. Nystrom said the case could be dropped from a maximum of 300 meters and still not damage the model inside.
If you don't have $35,000 laying around for some beefy space bros, try your hand at Games Workshop's relatively new subscription service or buy the plastic version of the Thunderhawk for about $770. You could also fill your shelves with the best Warhammer 40,000 books, or fill your Steam library with the best Warhammer 40,000 videogames.