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"Selling scratch built scenery question." Topic

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2,031 hits since 11 Jan 2013
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Kyn ell Inactive Member11 Jan 2013 3:27 p.m. PST

I was thinking about this question for a while, so I'd like to get some feedback on the matter if thats ok.
Is there much of a call for custom scenery pieces? Those being ones I could make and market myself, put them on my site(and ads/ebay etc) Are people prepared to buy scenery of this type, or prefer either getting unpainted cast stuff, or making it themselves? Would there be any interest or worth the effort to create such bits?
Also, providing there were any interest, how does one start to calculate how much a piece is worth?
Lastly, since some models sometimes have fragile parts/basing and such that may come off during unlucky transit, what then is the safest way of sending them via mail without it costing a fortune for both the sender and the buyer in postage/packaging?
I have sold some pieces previously, but since they were local buyers so I didn't have to get them great distances, or the buyers have picked them up.
Any insights or advice, ideas feedback appreciated.

doc mcb Inactive Member11 Jan 2013 3:32 p.m. PST

I've bought a number of scratch-built terrain pieces, but ALWAYS at a con where I can see it close up and carry it away without worries about shipping.

Personal logo Grelber Supporting Member of TMP11 Jan 2013 3:45 p.m. PST

Scenery like foam hills always seem to sell well at the auction one of the local stores runs twice a year.

Mako11 Inactive Member11 Jan 2013 3:54 p.m. PST

I guess for the shipping, UPS may be a better option than the USPS soon, given their new rate structure kicking in at the end of the month.

Rorschach Inactive Member11 Jan 2013 4:16 p.m. PST

I have been considering this myself and I think I've come to the conclusion that "IT all depends on what you're selling".

If it is something that is at great risk of damage in shipping, I will not sell it online; only in person.

If it is something that is likely to survive shipping unscathed, I will sell online well padded WITH the caveat that I cannot be responsible for any damages caused in shipping (however likely or remote they may be).

What it means is you have to very carefully weigh what is worth shipping by how likely it is to be damaged.

For pricing :
Time to build x What your time is "worth" + cost of materials = minimum price.

Kyn ell Inactive Member11 Jan 2013 4:45 p.m. PST

Would a caveat be enough? Surely in some respects disputes and damage will still occur, such on places like ebay where the seller tends to have less protection than the buyer, will the caveat be enough to cancel out any buyer protection built in etc (if you get my meaning!)

Rorschach Inactive Member11 Jan 2013 4:50 p.m. PST

Selling from your own webstore, absolutely. Big business and small business alike make caveats like that all the time (you could probably even copy/paste from some of them to get the wording correct).

Selling on EBay on the other hand, you are at the mercy of the buyer in most cases, regardless of what you may have said in your listing and (rarely) at times even if what the buyer is claiming is not true.

Mehoy Nehoy Inactive Member11 Jan 2013 5:32 p.m. PST

Making and selling buildings is something I looked into once. I decided that the price that wargamers would realistically pay would not cover the time I spent on them. You'd have to work quickly and efficiently to make each job pay.

Kyn ell Inactive Member11 Jan 2013 6:05 p.m. PST

Rorschach: Cool! I suppose I could design my stuff around an easier fit for transport, ie: have some bits that affix afterwards with magnets/slots/sockets etc. I would like to avoid ebay sales , however ebay provides plenty of buying traffic through the doors, so to speak, so some ebay trading at first probably would happen…

ninjasaurus: I'm not going to be doing commissions on the stuff i would be selling, and they would usually be things I would like to make, but don't have room to keep (I'd also have them for a bit, so while I did I could use them for gaming!!) Plus since I try and keep my costs as low as I can (most things I make only cost time/glue/paint) so profit is higher than if I would buy the materials I use.

I enjoy making stuff so, it would give me chance to make some good stuff that normally I wouldn't make due to either space restrictions and storage, or I didn't need it at all even though it'd be great to have anyway!
The thing about costing is something I can't quite make my mind up about, I mean what IS a realistic price to charge?
If you've seen my stuff, I'm not bad at making models. I would be interested in buying stuff of my own standard if I saw it for sale, but how do you grade prices correctly for level of finish/size/features/etc. That problem is made worse by not having anything direct to compare them against!
At least ebay has an advantage of prices finding their own level.
Also theres ETSY I keep hearing about, something I have never used, but for handmade stuff my models would fit the bill, but having never used it and knowing very little about it, is it any good and worth spending time faffing with it?

CorSecEng Inactive Member11 Jan 2013 7:57 p.m. PST

Unlike Ebay, You can just list stuff on Etsy(pay the fee) and it stays there till you take it down. You could come up with several repeat designs or just the basics like hills. Those can be ordered/made on demand. If you make a one of a kind scratch built piece then list it as a single item and it is gone once it sell.

The issue is lack of gamers in the Etsy world. It's full of people making jewelery and traditional crafts. You'll have to work harder to get people to view your product.

monger Inactive Member11 Jan 2013 8:57 p.m. PST

Kyn ell: I have been custom building terrain for myself, and sale, for years. It is a craft. Keep that in mind when selling your creations.

When pricing, you need to remember… you are not just pricing the final result, but rather the effort and skill you put into it as well. This is what makes custom-made pieces different from those resin/commercial pieces. Like I said, its a craft. Anyone can make a hill, or some ruins really… but how good IS the final result? People WILL pay for a high quality design. Not everyone has the time, or TALENT to design a custom piece that really stands out.

Packing is a HUGE issue. It is very important (esp. on Ebay) that you get good feedack from customers regarding not just the piece, but the packing as well.

I have used USPS for a long time, and never had an issue. Of course I have pretty much perfected the art of packing terrain pieces! lol Lots of bubble wrap/paper, and no loose packing (ie, make sure things do NOT move around within the box).

Yes… people will buy custom terrain. But here are a few final words of advice:

1. Test your pricing! See what people are willing to pay. Don't shoot yourself in the foot here. Above all… NEVER go cheap! Remember… this is a craft.

2. Make pieces gamers will want! Don't just post a bunch of basic hills (unless you want to sell them dirt cheap). Make it a hill with interesting features as well. Be creative. think about what gamers would WANT in a terrain piece that they can't norm. find on the market.

3. Try an Package some of your pieces together without getting too pricy. Gamers like getting a nice assortment for the price they are paying. Follow a theme for your packages.

4. Experiment… see what other sellers are selling, how much, etc.

5. ahhhh… this one is s secret ;)

Good luck!


ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Jan 2013 5:14 a.m. PST

Years ago I started a company called Space Junk Enterprises. I made custom-built terrain (mostly fantasy and SF stuff). This was pre-Internet so I only sold it it at conventions. Initially sales were great, way beyond my expectations (at one con another vendor pretty much bought my entire stock before the doors even opened). But eventually, since I was dealing with the same con attendees over and over, the market became saturated and sales fell off and I closed up the business. These days I have my PaperTerrain business and the Internet and business has been strong and steady for seven years with no signs of that stopping.

So I'd say go for it. Setting up and maintaining a website doesn't cost that much. I'd suggest attending a few cons a year, as I do, just so people can get a close-up look at your stuff.

Good luck!

Scott Washburn

Kyn ell Inactive Member12 Jan 2013 8:54 a.m. PST

Thanks for the advice guys, you have certainly given me some things to think about!
I have been thinking about it for a while now, so might start off with a couple of test pieces first to see if there's any interest in my stuff, I've got a few ideas and I'll steer clear of hills and basic stuff in favour of more detailed stuff like this kind of thing:

Any ideas what I should be charging for a piece like this? (This one is mine so not for sale, but I can knock something similar up no trouble)

RudyNelson12 Jan 2013 9:29 a.m. PST

QA guy in Jacksonville Florida travels to several of the same conventions that I do. His product line is custom made scenary. Like every other store, some shows he does well at and others he does enough to pay expenses only.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Jan 2013 9:39 a.m. PST

Pricing is a tricky issue. If you've got the right product, people will pay good prices. I had been making my custom terrain pieces for my own use and my friends were telling me that I should start selling them. I was skeptical because I didn't think anyone would be willing to pay a price that could justify the time I spent making them. But then I was running a pick-up game at a con and some guy walked up, pointed at one of my pieces and said: "I'll give you a hundred bucks for that!" (This was like 20 years ago so that was a pretty significant sum). So I sold it to him right off the table (much to the annoyance of the player who was sheltering his troops in the piece) and my business was born!

Just from your photos, I'd think you could get a few hundred dollars for a piece like that. Nice work BTW!

Kyn ell Inactive Member12 Jan 2013 9:49 a.m. PST

Cool! As much as that! This is looking good $200 USD is £124.00 GBP or there abouts so, there seems to be plenty of meat on the bone with that. I have a chance of a table at a big Wargames Con in May, so it looks like I'm going to get to work!!

Long Valley Gamer Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2013 11:35 a.m. PST

The old saying is your products are only worth what someone is willing to pay for them…

Marc the plastics fan12 Jan 2013 12:09 p.m. PST

Amd shabby terrain at Bring and Buys stays on the table, so quality counts. But some of us gamers are tight wads so if you can find someone who likes your stuff at a price you want, then that is your gold dust I reckon :-) Bit like painted figures – some people will pay £20.00 GBP a fig, but from chatter on these sort of sites, most of us want £20.00 GBP quality at £2.00 GBP pricing.

Why don't you make a few pieces, and try them out for sale, and see if your style is what people want. There is so much good quality/competively priced terrain out there you will need to find a niche I reckon.

Good luck.

monger Inactive Member12 Jan 2013 12:56 p.m. PST

THose are some FANTASTIC pieces you have there. True talent. That's worth something.

I have seen guys make items of high quality like that and end up selling them off way too cheap.

When selling an item like that, which should go for 200+$, keep this in mind: You are looking for one customer… just one! THE one who is willing to shell out the price it's worth. Might take some time finding this guy… but trust me, he will show up.

Kyn ell Inactive Member12 Jan 2013 4:57 p.m. PST

thanks for the vote of confidence! Your quite right that I should get some test pieces done, I think I'll make a similar one to the one above, maybe the other side of the road perhaps, that way I'll get to use it as well.
Not sure what the other should be, maybe something matching. Thanks for all the advice so far guys!

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