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"Cost of making a sculpt and masters?" Topic


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3,112 hits since 14 Jan 2016
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Killerkatanas Inactive Member14 Jan 2016 2:58 p.m. PST

Hello,

Can someone with experience tell me what the normal cost is for a contracted sculpt and someone making a master for it?

Personal logo Pictors Studio Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Jan 2016 3:28 p.m. PST

It depends who you get it from and what size they are.

Often you are looking at about $10 USD a mm for a sculpt. I pay $125 USD for a master mold but often split that. I can get them to put about 30 15mm figs in a master mold or 10-12 28mm figs.

So if you wanted 10 28mm figs you might pay about $2,800 USD for the sculpts and $125 USD for the master for a total of nearly $3,000. USD

Sometimes sculptors will charge less for doing minor conversions to a previous sculpt they have done or will make a dolly to get more variety of poses. So I pay about $30 USD for a head swap, for example.

tsofian Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Jan 2016 4:52 p.m. PST

I think you mean 100 not 10 dollars

Personal logo Pictors Studio Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Jan 2016 5:13 p.m. PST

No, I mean $10. USD

Personal logo Pictors Studio Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Jan 2016 6:10 p.m. PST

$10 USD a mm x 28mm x 10 figures = $2,800 USD

$10 USD a mm x 28mm = $280 USD a figure x 10 figures = $2,800. USD

Plus a master mold $125 USD = $2,925. USD

rmaker14 Jan 2016 8:02 p.m. PST

I didn't notice the

a mm
at first, either.

Personal logo MrHarold Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Jan 2016 9:32 p.m. PST

Those costs reflect my experiences as well, plus or minus.

nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP15 Jan 2016 12:38 a.m. PST

Sixteen 28 mm figures cost me 2,000 to have sculpted. I can't remember the mold costs.

Killerkatanas Inactive Member15 Jan 2016 2:37 a.m. PST

Thanks for all the information.

However, please excuse me for my lack of knowledge, but this does not seem that expensive.

It appears to me that a person could make a small investment and, judging by how popular the figures are, make their money back without much problem. Of course you still got to buy the casting material, and I have not figured that into the equation.

Would you say this is the case?

olicana15 Jan 2016 3:47 a.m. PST

It appears to me that a person could make a small investment and, judging by how popular the figures are, make their money back without much problem. Of course you still got to buy the casting material, and I have not figured that into the equation.

That isn't the end of the costs. You will need a casting machine and smelter with a small workshop (spare room with storage space for product and business materials) in which to operate it, and it's a smelly business; or pay to hire time (with hourly rate for the operator) on one. You will then have the costs of the metal, plus if you are hiring casting services, the cost of delivery of the product to you. After that, you just have the costs of advertising, the cost of your own time to cover for the time you spend processing any orders, and depending on where you are, taxes.

You also, and most importantly, must have a product people want, which means you must find an unexploited (popular?) niche or produce something significantly better than is already out there.

Good sculptors might also prove harder to find than you might imagine. They are not that expensive but they are, I'm told, hard to get the time of and for obvious reasons.

Anyway, enough downside, good luck to you.

Papa Volks Inactive Member15 Jan 2016 6:14 a.m. PST

Hi my name is robi baker i'm a freelance sculptor I do both organic and non organic sculpting. My prices are reasonable and I work from 10mm upwards please drop me an email robi1baker@yahoo.co.uk

Mike Bravo Miniatures Inactive Member15 Jan 2016 6:23 a.m. PST

"It appears to me that a person could make a small investment and, judging by how popular the figures are, make their money back without much problem.

Would you say this is the case?"

Yes, but see the earlier comment from above:

"You also, and most importantly, must have a product people want, which means you must find an unexploited (popular?) niche or produce something significantly better than is already out there."

Also depends on what you call a 'small investment', and what your ambitions are.

If all you want to do is break even on a few packs then it's not a huge investment and should be relatively low risk if (a) you pick the right figures to start with and (b) don't mind how long it takes.

As an example of what is possible, see: link

If you have big ambitions then it's a bigger outlay/risk to scale it all up. You're not looking at 10 figures, you're looking at 100 etc.

Mike Bravo Miniatures Inactive Member15 Jan 2016 7:05 a.m. PST

ps, I can vouch for Robi / Papa Volks above. Recommended.

Mister Tibbles15 Jan 2016 8:09 a.m. PST

You could do a kickstarter to help fund the project.

Killerkatanas Inactive Member15 Jan 2016 12:50 p.m. PST

Olicana,

I understand the extra costs that are involved and right now I am only kicking around ideas.

Assuming that I do not make my own molds, I have found spin-casting equipment for around $300 USD-$2500 (used stuff on Ebay--do not know if it is any good), and a pot for melting metal is not very expensive. The costs of metal I don't know, and you can't use Lead anymore. Of course, I would have to add the costs of a vulcanizer if I have to make the molds myself.

I am familiar with the cost of advertisement based upon the sell of my books. Also, this would be a one-man operation, so I would not need to "pay" myself.

So about $3,000 USD to make some masters and molds, up to $2,500 USD for equipment (if used), and ? for the metal, plus ? for advertisement, power, storage, and so on. In all, lets figure it costs $10,000 USD to get started. Based upon the costs of figures today that does not seem like too high a sum to not be able to recover, and if you have a product to help boost the sale of those figures, I suspect you can gradually recover your investment.

But I am still kicking around the idea.

olicana15 Jan 2016 2:26 p.m. PST

Hi Brian,

I guess it depends what your figures would be.

If they were, say, samurai lords then people might want one of each, perhaps not one of every figure. In that case you might struggle to recoup money quickly.

If you did, say, figures for a unit of ashigaru, including officer standard bearer, etc. then over all you might well recoup the money very quickly by selling several dozen of several figures types to each customer.

If you are planning to do stuff for Killer Katanas you might be onto a winner. There is definitely more room for another good manufacturer there, and you have a certain kudos in that genre.

Whatever you decide to do,

Best Regards,

James.
(Born, as it happens, in Bradford)

Killerkatanas Inactive Member15 Jan 2016 6:19 p.m. PST

Yes, my thinking is along the area of samurai, but not so much the samurai as their opponents.

Samurai have been done by many (Two Dragons, Minifigs, Naismith, Essex, Lacashire, Old Glory, Eureka and Peter Pig are some). I think Two Dragons has an excellent line of figures for the samurai that just cannot be beaten. With that said, at one time Tim was going to make the Koreans and Ming, and this was never done and I am still waiting!

The available 15mm Choson and Ming troops is fairly limited (Kennington, Grumpy, Outpost, and Old Glory) and, in the case of the Ming, nobody has done specific Imjin War Chinese. Most are either too early or late, with OG's being fairly generic for the period.

For samurai I would only do those figures that are not well represented, and of course, Lords, lots of lords.

But I am also thinking of doing the Boshin War, which nobody has done in 15mm.

But as I said, I am still kicking around ideas.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2016 8:33 p.m. PST

Would it be cheaper to contract out the casting to someone who already has the equipment?

rmaker15 Jan 2016 10:03 p.m. PST

If you are planning on doing your own casting, don't overlook problems (and costs) with local ordnances and permits.

Mike Bravo Miniatures Inactive Member16 Jan 2016 2:38 a.m. PST

I'd contract out the casting until you reach a size that justifies it. and even then I probably wouldn't bother. You save on the equipment cost and you buy in years (or decades) of skill and experience.

foxweasel Supporting Member of TMP16 Jan 2016 4:44 p.m. PST

I've paid £1,500.00 GBP for 10 40mm figures, I'm looking at about £50.00 GBP per mould.

napthyme Sponsoring Member of TMP16 Jan 2016 11:49 p.m. PST

Killerkatanas If your not adding kickstarters into this equation then the prospect of breaking even/making a profit is in no way shape or form easy.

I have been in business for 7.5 years now and have had 4 releases sell a total of zero figures, 100% of the rest never even paid for the first run of castings. all of them are still waiting to break even.

Do not count on being able to fund something new with what your selling cause it may never happen.

MechanicalHorizon17 Jan 2016 11:03 a.m. PST

If anyone is in need of a sculptor I'm looking to take on new commissions.

If you have anything that needs sculpting I would be interested. I work in any scale and subject; fantasy, sci-fi or historics.

I've done work for:

Games Workshop's Forge World and Specialist Games
Privateer Press
Shieldwolf Miniatures
On the Lamb Games
RAFM
Avatars of War
On the Lamb Games
Clearhorizon Miniatures
Loud Ninja Games
Cauldron Born Miniatures
Crossover Miniatures
World's End Publishing
Anti-Matter Games
Wartime Miniatures
Dark Realm Miniatures
Kabuki Models
Zenit Miniatures
Soda Pop Miniatures.
Microworld Games

You can see a portfolio of my work here:

link

You can contact me by either leaving a message at my Deviant Art profile or by my e-mail at sean(dot)bullough(at)hotmail(dot)com

Cheers!

jwebster22 Jan 2016 11:32 a.m. PST

@killerkatanas

Good luck – I like 28mm so sounds like you're not playing there. Your rules are on my buy list :) Will get the Imjin wars just for the historical info if I ever get around to buying Koreans

I am continuously astounded at the cost of display type Fantasy figures (poke around cool mini or not to see what I mean). I really wonder how many figures need to be sold to break even, and honestly who buys them.

Wargamers (particularly 15mm) seem to have much lower cost thresholds than the average Games Workshop customer. Personally, I'm not cheap, I'm frugal and my lead/plastic mountain is out of control

John

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2016 12:53 p.m. PST

Bear in mind that fantasy mini's also get some crossbuy from RPGers though it's probably pretty small.

Personal logo Buckeye AKA Darryl Supporting Member of TMP04 Mar 2016 10:22 a.m. PST

I would be interested in 15mm Boshin War!

altfritz28 May 2016 11:35 a.m. PST

$280 USDUS is the low end for 28mm. It also varies with the actual work. An elaborate design should cost more. Some sculptors charge more as well. I recall a quote for $1,200 USD for a single figure. The use of dollies can be used to reduce costs if similar figures can be made from the same dolly. Many of Mark Copplestone's Back of Beyond figures are very obviously from the same dolly. Too much so, IMO. And for things like head swaps you might only pay a bit cost. I paid 10GBP per head swap once, but as there were 80+ figures involved it still added up to a tidy amount! :-)

altfritz28 May 2016 11:39 a.m. PST

Killerkatannas – there is an old joke about the miniatures business: How does one make a million dollars in the miniatures business? Invest two million! :-)

CriticalGeek Inactive Member20 Jul 2016 5:38 p.m. PST

"Also, this would be a one-man operation, so I would not need to "pay" myself."

Small Business practices 101: Yes. Yes you do need to pay yourself. Also, if you are serious incorporate your business so that potential risks cannot endanger your personal assets.

Personal logo BrigadeGames Sponsoring Member of TMP22 Jul 2016 2:41 p.m. PST

"make their money back without much problem"

That is pretty funny.

If it was easy or a slam-dunk, I would have a fleet of Ferraris pulling my stock trailer to the conventions.

Ottoathome24 Jul 2016 6:44 a.m. PST

Hey Pictor's Studio

Glad you finished that big jewelry project you put off my proposal for and are soliciting business again. Does this mean you will be responding to my request about a commission that I sent you two or three months ago?

I'm glad you finished it so quick! You said it might be four months. So I await your reply.

Otto

Ottoathome24 Jul 2016 6:44 a.m. PST

Hey Pictor's Studio

Glad you finished that big jewelry project you put off my proposal for and are soliciting business again. Does this mean you will be responding to my request about a commission that I sent you two or three months ago?

I'm glad you finished it so quick! You said it might be four months. So I await your reply.

Otto

Personal logo Frank Wang Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Aug 2016 7:42 p.m. PST

sculptor in china is cheaper, but communication is a problem

Tumbleweed Supporting Member of TMP17 Aug 2016 9:21 p.m. PST

Way too much. Better off buying an existing range.

For every mold that is made, another will be put on a shelf in a basement or garage, never to be seen again.

Mick the Metalsmith18 Aug 2016 2:39 p.m. PST

Sculpted in China means pirated figures soon enough. No respect for IP. My line of jewelry got stolen even without sending masters.

The H Man06 Oct 2016 5:54 p.m. PST

While everyone else is at it. I sculpt and paint.

link

Message me here or there.

Based in Oz (second munchkin from the left).

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