Home Forums Horse and Musket Napoleonic AB figures and figure prices

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  • #172446
    Sir Able
    Participant

    This is not quite a moan, just a surprised observation:

    A 28mm Perry Caisson is nearly the same price an AB 18mm one!

    https://www.perry-miniatures.com/product/fn116-guard-4-horse-ammuniton-caisson-walking/

    https://www.eurekaminuk.com/collections/ab-18mm/products/horse-artillery-large-caisson-team-18mm

    Which I suppose tells a lot about where the cost of production lies.

     

     

     

    #172448
    willz
    Participant

    Interesting observation, I suppose this drives us to invent a potato powered time machine and go back 20 / 30 years and buy a shed load of figures 😁.  Though does that cause a time paradox if I buy the figures someone else bought at the time, my head hurts now😒.   Time for some red wine😊.

    #172449
    Bandit
    Participant

    Which I suppose tells a lot about where the cost of production lies.

    Yeah, big time. Metal production costs have always had labor as a proportionally large contributor simply because it is not a very automatable, and therefore not a very scaleable, process.

    Additionally now the cost of metal has doubled (more than doubled?) in the last ~18 months.

    Meanwhile plastic production costs (which are also going up) seem more practical than in the past.

    #172451
    Mike
    Keymaster

    2 more horses in the metal one?

     

    #172505
    Sir Able
    Participant

    Both are metal. I think the price similarity tells us that the labour involved with metal casting is similar regardless of scale – the bulk of the cost is in the people time not the quantity of metal.   I also though recognise that AB is a premium product with  (justifiable) pricing to match (and Perry is premium but doesn’t seem toi premium – bless ’em).

    Now there’s so much plastic available that means newcomers can start at low costs – perhaps metals pricing will need to rise.

    #172519
    OotKust
    Participant

    Inevitable and to be expected I’d say. Those models come from the same ‘house’ so to speak so I’m prety sure they’ll be accurate reflections of efforts.

    I’m lucky in that Eureka are closer but freight doesn’t get any more reliable or cheaper. [It took longer to fky figures from Melbourne Oz than it did books from Meekins]. The govt. based postal ‘services’ cant cope with societal changes and don’t even try any more. Tr*** put paid to the US system; billions in tax breaks to his buddies, but screw a few million for basic social service support.

    Holding stock isn’t as vaiable now unless your completely self-sufficient (ie no debt and cash positive); so much casting is contracted out; look at the failure of ‘new’ businesses expanding with old ranges etc.

    I suspect those who claim ‘stress of orders’ delays actually are carefully stage managing production for these reasons.

    cheers d

    Blinking paint by numbers... bahhumbug!

    #172533
    Mike
    Keymaster

    Both are metal.

    My bad!

    #172536
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    People will pay what they are willing to pay.

    Your theorising about production costs and the price of metal doesn’t bear scrutiny.

    A smaller model uses less metal, that’s obvious.
    Say a 28mm model weighs 100g, and a similar 15mm model 95g.
    That’s only 5g, but multiply it by a hundred models and it’s half a kilo.

    White metal casting alloys suitable for wargames figures come in many different grades and the prices vary a lot according to grade and market prices of metal.

    That volatility of the market is factored into the price per figure, or should be if your caster wants to stay in business.

    Now, do you want to make a case for Games Workshop’s ridiculous pricing? 🙂

     

     

     

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    #172540
    Sir Able
    Participant

    My bad!

     

    I wasn’t criticising!

    #172541
    Sir Able
    Participant

    Now, do you want to make a case for Games Workshop’s ridiculous pricing? 🙂

    I’m not sure I’m trying to make a case, just curious and exploring possibilities.   I do think the AB pricing is probably mainly because people are willing to pay?  I’d pay more for Perry (but don’t tell them)

    #172544
    OotKust
    Participant

    Your theorising about production costs and the price of metal doesn’t bear scrutiny. A smaller model uses less metal, that’s obvious. Say a 28mm model weighs 100g, and a similar 15mm model 95g.

    Well “theorising ” using ridiculous figures isnt any better arguement. Yours fails because you require more and longer process manual labour to decant or whatever the technical term is for demoulding, smaller scale figures than larger.

    On that basis 25/28mm should be cheaper. But cost equalisation happens across entire production sphere, not in micro detail. The reduced/ lack of labour , decentralised casting (ie contract) and better ROI by more active producers determines their status, and thereby costs/revenue.

    Saying the richer will pay is irrelevant. I buy figures I need, not what I hope to use.

    ~d

    Blinking paint by numbers... bahhumbug!

    #172549
    Bandit
    Participant

    I think the price similarity tells us that the labour involved with metal casting is similar regardless of scale – the bulk of the cost is in the people time not the quantity of metal.

    Sir Able is entirely correct here. I’m not sure why there is dispute. Just ask anyone who works in casting miniatures, or works with those who cast miniatures – I’m in that second group, my company has worked with other companies who manufacture miniatures either as their primary direct-to-gamer business (like AB and Perry do) as well as companies that manufacture miniatures as OEMs for other businesses.

    The primary cost driver for metal miniatures has historically always been the labor required. We might think that since a 15-18mm figure is X amount smaller than a 25-28mm figure, and therefore uses less material and takes up less space in the mold, it should cost something like X less. But that’s not actually true.

    1) Labor is your primary cost driver, material costs are a kicker and not generally the root cause of pricing. This means that while lowering the cost of material can have an impact on overall cost, it will have a reduced impact related to its proportionality to the overall costs. If the labor to produce something is $1 and the material to produce it is 20¢, then material costs dropping to 5¢ (75% reduction in material costs) will still only have a maximum impact of about 12.5%. Sure, 12% is 12%, but is sure as heck is basically nothing compared to the 75% reduction it took to accomplish that 12%.

    2) Metal molds are more labor than they are not labor. Everything about a mold relates more to labor than anything else. The cost to make a mold? Overwhelming labor. The cost to spin a mold? Overwhelmingly labor. Increasing mold capacity – perhaps by casting smaller miniatures – should help, because it means I can fit more in, therefore buy less molds (maybe, but not really*), and I can spin it less times. Woohoo! Except: due to how metal molds work there is innately “lost space” in them. Metal flows out from the center towards the outside edge. Reducing the height of a miniature doesn’t really give me more mold capacity. Reducing the bulk/width of the miniature does… but the net result is that while shrinking a miniature from 25-28mm to 15-18mm reduces the volume of the model in multiple dimensions, my mold capacity doesn’t gain in all of those dimensions, only some of them. Therefore, there’s a benefit, but it isn’t as great as one might want it to be or think that it is. This means that the molds required (labor) doesn’t change that much and the number of spins required (labor) doesn’t change that much.

    3) Smaller can actually require more labor not less. As OotKust noted, if I have one large model in a mold and you have five small models in a mold, it may not take 5x as much time for you to de-mold the five smaller figures, but it will take more than 1x. The net result is that the minimal labor gains we might have scored by dropping to a smaller scale are getting eaten pretty fast.

    *This really isn’t true either because product package configuration combined with spin yield is the ultimate driver of the number of both the number of molds required and the spins required.Since generally gamers expect and buy smaller scale miniatures in higher volume than larger scale miniatures the labor per package can easily end up being more similar than you might want it to be or think that it is.

    All of this really comes down to metal casting being a labor intensive, un-automated process, which over the last 18-24 months has been additionally hit by rising material costs, which, while not the primary cost driver, certainly have been piling on.

    Meanwhile, the primary cost driver for plastic has historically been startup costs, i.e. tooling. Overall, traditional hard plastic (HIPS) manufacturing is a good choice if you are doing relatively high volume, whereas metal was a good entry-level solution because of low startup costs. The problem is that metal didn’t and still does not scale. Selling you 1,000 of something will generally cost the manufacture the same per figure as selling you 100 of it. Conversely, selling you 1,000 of a plastic item has a radically higher profit margin and lower costs than selling you 100 of that same thing. This is changing some with newly available short-run plastic technologies, but that’s another discussion.

    Now, with additional pressure on labor, combined with rising metal material costs, the issue for metal manufacturers ends up being: Will customers continue to pay what is necessary for manufacturers to remain profitable? Hard to say. I suspect in 5-10 years we’re going to see a lot less metal manufacturing going on unless current trends change radically.

    Hope this helps.

    #172552
    OotKust
    Participant

    No arguement from me, I had a close association with a ‘firm’ for quite a while and knew a lot of the ins and outs going on. Yes i got a discount, no I didn’t abuse it.

    >>in 5-10 years we’re going to see a lot less metal –

    and a lot less caring!

    But WTF does TWW logout users -a week? It takes me that long to unpadlock the bloody safe!

    – cheers d

    Blinking paint by numbers... bahhumbug!

    #172560
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    Your theorising about production costs and the price of metal doesn’t bear scrutiny. A smaller model uses less metal, that’s obvious. Say a 28mm model weighs 100g, and a similar 15mm model 95g.

    Well “theorising ” using ridiculous figures isnt any better arguement.

    It’s what we engineers call a “hypothetical example”, and I wasn’t replying to you. Don’t climb out yer crib.

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    #172745
    Sir Able
    Participant

    Thank you for fleshing out my curiosity. 🙂

    #172756
    Mike
    Keymaster

    But WTF does TWW logout users -a week? It takes me that long to unpadlock the bloody safe!

    Every 2 weeks, it is a security feature that the software uses.
    I know some other sites are less fussy about such things, no SSL, no ability to delete your personal data or posts and so on, not here though.
    Whilst far from perfect, I do try to stay on the right side of legislation and keep TWW as safe and secure as I can.

    #172760
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    A small price to pay for security and peace of mind. :^)

    (Though if you saw me when it happens, tearing at the few strands of remaining hair as I try to remember the password, you may doubt the sincerity of my remark.)

    #172769
    Ian Marsh
    Participant

    AB Figures cost what they do because Tony Barton licenses them to be produced and charges a royalty for doing so, the percentage of which I’m not prepared to reveal, but it’s not small. When I also cast them under licence from Eureka I had an additional royalty to pay on top of that, the end result of which was that a large chunk of the price was royalties.

    No one is paying for a magical better way of production, so you’ll still get mould lines, flash and vent metal from traditional spin-casting moulds and techniques. If you think you are not getting those, then you haven’t seen some of the figures I never sent out to customers while agent.

    No one is paying for magically better levels of customer service, or should expect it because AB Figures cost more. You get that because the people who sell AB Figures are nice people. YMMV 🙂

    Eureka uses a relatively cheap tin-lead-cadmium alloy (cheap, that is, compared with the lead-free pewter I used for licensed AB Figures) so no one nowadays is paying for magically better metal quality. It casts well and holds detail. The actual cost of metal in an 18mm foot figure, for example, is pennies, even given the high price of tin nowadays.

    You are paying for shipping twice over. Once in the actual price, caused by the cost of importing to the UK. And then again for dispatch within the UK. Shipping from Oz to the UK typically used to add 16% to the price of the figures, done in bulk via courier.

    So it’s not surprising that a domestically produced 28mm item costs near the same as an imported 18mm item on which royalties and shipping play a significant part in determining final costs.

    Ian
    Fighting 15s
    www.fighting15s.com

    #172783
    Sir Able
    Participant

    Thank you for explaining. 🙂

    #172792
    OotKust
    Participant

    Good info Ian though the ‘quality’ of product I believe was never in question. It was merely a comparative pricing issue.

    You obviously have higher cred./ respect for customers  than some sellers/ manfrs as, while I can sympathise to a degree (as i said I WAS closely associated in the trade at one time), I still receive some figures so full of detail faults as to require 15-30 minutes cleaning, BEFORE I get to any actually modelling work.

    This is partly the reason the Perry’s etc. have captured market share with plastics, not just their attention to detail, innovation and very high degree of research, not to mention nearly perfect product.

    cheers dave

    Blinking paint by numbers... bahhumbug!

    #172886
    Ian Marsh
    Participant

    Sorry, I accidentally fired the shotgun load of customer assumptions about AB rather than using the sniper rifle and being more precise and sticking to the point. 🙂

    Some customers come across as very entitled when they buy AB Figures, with some very odd ideas about what the price gets them. I am very happy to no longer be serving those few who made selling the best figures there are a sometimes miserable experience. Most of my customers for AB were lovely.

    The worst ever customer was the one who acquired AB figures secondhand from other people over a number of years and then sent the broken ones to me expecting them to be replaced. Others have come close. 🙂

    Ian
    Fighting 15s
    www.fighting15s.com

    #172887
    Jim Webster
    Participant

    But WTF does TWW logout users -a week? It takes me that long to unpadlock the bloody safe!

    Every 2 weeks, it is a security feature that the software uses. I know some other sites are less fussy about such things, no SSL, no ability to delete your personal data or posts and so on, not here though. Whilst far from perfect, I do try to stay on the right side of legislation and keep TWW as safe and secure as I can.

    I just have my password ready to copy/paste and drop in 🙂
    No worries at all, and it’s nice to see things being done properly

     

    https://jimssfnovelsandwargamerules.wordpress.com/

    #172888
    Sir Able
    Participant

    the one who acquired AB figures secondhand from other people over a number of years and then sent the broken ones to me expecting them to be replaced.

    wtaf!

    #172889
    OotKust
    Participant

    the one who acquired AB figures secondhand from other people over a number of years and then sent the broken ones to me expecting them to be replaced.

    wtaf!

    I actually had to look that one up!

    Yes Ian I understand there are indeed those quirks out there, that are ‘entitlement’ rich and expect every packet to contain a Rolls-Royce. I have respect for those who treat customers well and fairly too- but the standards are slowly slipping and I’m not sure why, other than some need to retire to the meadows if they cannot place themselves in their customers shoes.

    – d

    Blinking paint by numbers... bahhumbug!

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