I'm a pretty utilitarian hobbyist in many ways. Whilst I have a lot of projects on the go at any one time (oh, you noticed?) they all tend to be with the stated intention, if not actually the result of, having a playable army. Recently, though, I've been getting models for another reason: learning.
I've started buying odd, one-off models to test out techniques and polish a certain skill. For instance, I really need to get better at painting smooth skin tones. My old “drybrush the fuck out Bugman's Glow with Cadian Flesh” method is good for human soldiers who look okay a bit sunburnt but for High Elves it isn't quite so convincing. An elf, especially a High Ekf in his fine white robes, should not look sunburnt.
|Image from Games Workshop webstore, I ain't that good.|
So I ordered a Wood Elves Shadowdancer because, as you can see, she's not wearing much so I'll have plenty of chance to practice. True, she won't be much use afterwards but the model will look pretty and if I ever do a Wood Elves army that's 160 points of character allowance taken care of.
On a similar note, if I don't decide to pursue the Mechanicus as an army (we'll see when the Codex arrives) then at least the Skitarii will have given me plenty of experience highlighting metal, another thing I want to practice.
The thing about being utilitarian, you see, is you can justify just about anything.