Friday, 18 February 2011

Getting paid to make and sell minis...

Another money post today. I'd suspect that this is the evil exact opposite of the last one though. Before it was daydreams and the fun of being rich, today we're onto harsh reality...

This is, in many ways, a very tough industry to be in. Scarily I can say both that it's very expensive to run a minis company and yet I can also say that many sculptors and painters are paid less than they are truly worth. Very few minis companies make any kind of money at all. For some this isn't a huge issue as some companies are run as hobbies but, for others, they have made selling minis their livelihood and I've noticed a tendency amongst some upon the net that rather irks me. In a heroic fashion, the minis buying public are often there to support a minis company that is in financial trouble (it can happen and I've been there) and I applaud anyone who will stand up like this but there's another side that sometimes raises it's head. There does seem to be a sector of the public that actively complains when a minis manufacturer does make money. Details of the sales numbers of a hot mini get out and people start doing the sums. Maybe a figure made thousands and somehow that is sick and the manufacturer is ripping the public off. Now often there is the case to say that there are more hidden costs than are directly thought of (anyone who doesn't have their income tax deducted automatically may not know the shock and pain of getting a bill for a huge chunk of your yearly earnings) but, let's forget that and just go to 'they made a fortune off this mini'. Maybe they continue to. Let's just say that a boutique range makes a hundred thousand in profit in a year. Can't imagine anyone is even close to that but it's an extreme example. Frankly, I say, good on them? Personally I like the success stories. Especially when said success stories are giving us awesome product.

Steve B is not earning 100K, but thinks it would be nice...

12 comments:

  1. Well..I think its going to be very hard to sell enough mini's without creating a NEED to the buyer (like Games Workshop has done)to buy huge loads of your miniatures=)
    The buyer will most likely only need one piece of that new interesting individual miniature, that you have spent hours and hours of your time.

    Mikko L has never sold any single miniature and so, doesn't have any real clue about this matter=)
    Carry on please!=)

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  2. Well, there are a number of very successful mini companies who only produce one-off miniatures. That business model in itself is no reason that they will not make money.

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  3. It comes down to jaw-dropping incredible models.

    I purchased Selene with no intention to do anything other than paint and challenge myself to do 'a good job'. Why Selene, because it's a beautiful model.

    The cruel reality is that people can't respect beauty if they do not know it exists.

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  4. It does sometimes make a little part of my soul break off whenever I release a new figure and always get at least one person declare - 'love it, but far too expensive'. The other wonderful pearl of wisdom which is said a lot (especially when I first started) is: 'well he's selling it for £xxx, I know how much these things cost to produce, so he'll be raking it in'. That one really gets me going - not least because I often thing I'm doing something terribly, terribly wrong if that were true! I could never deny that the figures are pretty expensive, but hey, I'm not going to force anyone to buy the things if they don't want to. I just slightly object to folk having all this wonderful inside knowledge about how much it costs me to run the business! Okay, breath in....aaaand relax.

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  5. i could go on for hours about this but i suppose im on the other side of the fence really, but it never ceases to amaze me how many people are misinformed about such matters and how many people think they know everything - miniatures are very underpriced as a rule and most do not have a problem spending on other hobbies which cost a great deal or luxuries such as beer, films and all the digital wonders you can get these days - i used to mess around with harleys, a rather expensive past time and i certainly spend to much on minis - im wondering where its all going what with the price of metal going up at such a rate ....

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  6. There are so many hidden costs involved in the process of producing miniatures. Sculptors pay, production costs, shipping, tax, and marketing all add to the costs of producing models. Plus if the models are sold through retailer outlets instead of direct from the manufacturer the retailer and distributor will need to make some profit too. All this adds to the cost of minis You can see where the price point comes from - even though it may seem expensive to some. Price increases are effecting everything, take a look around, its not just the cost of miniatures that is increasing. If we want to still have fantastic quality minis to model and paint then we are going to have expect to pay the necessary price for them.

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  7. all that stuff - designing, sourcing, producing web sites and packaging - accounts and accountancy, photography, shows, advertising, clerical, conceptualising, outsourcing various elements and all the chasing up involved, research, and much more are generally hidden from view but take up so much time and money and i quite agree to have the models we have to pay an appropriate price to allow companies wether big or small to thrive .....

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  8. In 15 minutes I'm going round the corner to grab a coffee from my local emporium. This particular essential must be paid for too...

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  9. ah the joys of stimulants theres another storey - never drunk coffee its a milk thing really - until mi stroke ten years ago i did not know the systems boot one could get bi consuming such things - then i discovered diet coke which despite its chemical drawbacks has simply made such a big difference to mi levels of energy - it costs of course both money brains and teeth but it sure does make a difference ....

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  10. I'm enjoying some of your very insightful observations here.
    On this subject I suppose you could be referring to what makes a figure sell in the first place? Is it the inclusion in a game system or just the uniqueness that appeals, there are many different reasons why people collect things, not just miniatures.
    For me its an almost undefinable quality and has more to do with the expression of character and sense of 'life' than any design or detail feature.
    This is something that cant be taught to sculptors and artists and will shine through whatever outlet they express themselves in, regardless of whether they work alone or for a big firm.

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  11. im an addict because i cannot stop buying the things - theres such a broad spectrum to be involved in, so many periods scales and types - the creative expression especially with painting and converting for me demands such concentration and the reward so satisfying - the level of deep involvement is almost meditative and certainly the most relaxing i know - the community is so friendly by most part and has provided a sense of belonging for many years for myself with no social barriers visible ...... and of course there are a number of true artists sculpting to feed our hunger .....

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  12. The minis industry is weird, IMO. Hundreds or thousands of dollars (and if painting, hours) to invest in 28-33mm skirmish wargames. With RPGs, the open-ended requirement of needing hundreds of kinds of monsters makes the main market player characters, and proxy most else. Then there are the collectors and painters who must be buying all those minis with boobs (succubi, fairies, angels, schoolgirls and tomb raider types being well over-represented in most ranges, IMO).

    It seems schizophrenic to me, like the industry is wandering aimlessly. The preponderance of PCs and succubi in say, the Reaper range seems a symptom of the failure of the miniatures industry to serve RPG gaming. And it barely serves skirmish wargames successfully. I don't know what the answer is, but maybe minis' business model at 33mm and beautiful is fundamentally flawed?

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