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    Avatar photoWilliam Jones

    I am considering sculpting some figures which would not be commercially viable and having them cast.

    Has anyone had first hand experience, or well informed second hand experience or hearsay, about the travails and expenses of getting minis cast up?

    If it matters, these would be 30mm, perhaps up to 40mm.

    Avatar photoPiyan Glupak

    If you don’t get any effective help here, there will be people on Frothers who will be able to help.

    Frothers has a bit of a reputation because it has very little moderation, and because posts by people who have not logged in are permitted.  People sometimes express their opinions in a very forthright manner.  Short words referring to bodily functions are permitted, although not obligatory.  If you are unsure that Frothers is within your comfort zone then I suggest that you just stick to the normal boards, and avoid the ‘Frothpot’.


    Avatar photoMike

    Yep. What do you want to know?
    To answer that I will need to know what you want doing and how many…


    Avatar photoAlvin Molethrottler

    When I was commissioning figures the going rate was £3 per millimeter, so a 30mm green would cost £90. It cost £25 to get a master mould made and another £25 for the production mould. I contracted with Martin Baker for my figures and used Ian Kay at Irregular Miniatures to have the moulds made. However, my info is a little out of date so go with whatever Mike has to say on the matter.

    Avatar photoBlackhat

    I’ve done it for a couple of people (and did all Armies Army original casting before Keith bought a Tiranti Centricast machine).

    I charge £50 a mould and £3 a spin plus metal cost for the casting.

    Griffin are a similar price (though they charge VAT).

    I only take on very small projects nowadays as I have enough of my own work to do!


    Avatar photoMike

    Hee Hee.
    That is indeed quite a bit less than I pay.
    You can of course shop around for price, but as with so many things, you often get what you pay for.
    I could have gotten my figures at half the price I do, but people that use the cheaper caster tell me they often have to send lots back as they are miscast..
    I gave them a try all the same and binned the sample they sent me.
    I used a more expensive caster and they are the ones I sell.

    Drop me an e-mail if you don’t want everyone knowing your business.
    In the mean time maybe look at this:

    AB’s cost of models link

    Avatar photoAngel Barracks

    Mike @ Blackhat did me a sample 6mm figure once.
    It was utterly mould line free.
    Best quality 6mm I have ever seen.

    Avatar photoRhoderic

    I charge £50 a mould and £3 a spin plus metal cost for the casting.

    As I’m interested in forming a better understanding of miniature production costs, roughly how many figures would one spin average? Say, 28mm or 15-18mm figures?

    Avatar photoRhoderic

    Also, another question to anyone who has insight: Is it standard practice to only do one sculpt (in however many multiples) per mould? I mean, say for instance that I have five “greens” of 28mm human-sized figures that I want moulded and cast. Would I be looking at having to pay for five separate master moulds and five separate production moulds – that is, one of each for each figure? Would a mouldmaker or caster have any objection to the notion of doing a single master mould with all five figures, and then a single production mould with all five? Would such a mould be priced differently from one that only casts multiples of a single figure?

    Of course, I’m aware that moulds get run down with use, so if I was out to manufacture a great quantity of those five figures it wouldn’t make a difference as I’d be commissioning numerous moulds anyway. But say I was just looking to make a relatively limited number of “vanity castings” like the OP?

    Oh, and here’s something I’ve never been fully clear about regarding master moulds: Seeing as a mouldmaker only has one original “green” to start with as he begins making a master mould (assuming a single, solitary figure is being moulded), does that mould only produce one single copy of that figure per spin? Or are multiple moulds made of the original and combined into a single disc somehow?

    Avatar photoMike


    A master mould is used to make metal masters (tins) that will be used to make the production mould.

    So let us say you have 3 greens:

    The master mould would have your 3 greens in it (if you have a nice mould maker he will share this master mould with someone else’s greens and split the cost, otherwise a mould for just 3 greens is not good value.)

    You then decide what goes in the production mould.
    Let us say it fits 15 figures.
    You decide you want to sell your 3 models in packs of 5. (thus you get 3 packs per spin)
    You decide you want 1 officer, 3 troopers and 1 support per pack you sell.
    You tell the mould maker that you therefore want the 15 models in the production mould to be:

    3 officer models
    3 support models
    9 trooper models.

    this means he spins the master mould 9 times to get the tins he needs and then uses these to make the production mould.
    (this results in left over officer and support tins, he may or may not charge you for these)

    The production mould then yields you 3 packs per spin.

    Or, if you have cash to burn…
    Make a production mould for each type of model.

    Avatar photoRhoderic

    That’s shedding a lot of light on things. Thanks!

    Avatar photoBlackhat

    Michael has answered most questions, but the number of figures you can fit into a mould depends on the pose. For a marching figure you might fit upto 16 figures in 28mm or up to 20-25 in 15mm (slightly less for 18mm).

    For figures who are firing or a lot more active they will take up more space (and you need space for air channels – especially if they have thin bayonets/other pieces) so you might only fit in 12 figures for 28mm / 16-20 figures for 15mm.

    Most of my fantasy production moulds (dwarves, etc) produce 3-4 sets of 4 figures (5 if hobbits), while I have 15mm hoplite moulds have produce 30+ figures each spin

    And mould life for silicon moulds is about 1,000 spins, 5,000 for black rubber – though that varies a lot with how much they are used, how hot they are run and the number of undercuts.


    Avatar photoRhoderic

    Very helpful, thanks again!

    For some reason I was always under the impression that a mould could typically only survive a few hundred spins. Not sure where I got that notion, but no matter. Glad to hear it’s not that bad.

    Avatar photoWilliam Jones

    Thanks to all of you.  Man, I love this site.  Small, but high quality, and people are ‘excellent to each other’!

    The project is an odd one.  Very personal and nothing that would have any significant commercial appeal.

    Some of you will remember the very old school WWI toy soldiers, such as my current avatar.  Most of these were hollow cast, roughly 54mm figures as pioneered by Britains, and painted in gloss enamel.  There was a period style to those done in the 1920s, and many clever and unusual poses.  Some examples here: http://www.toysoldier.freeuk.com/ww1.htm and some motorcyclists on this blog page: http://motorcycle-74.blogspot.com/2012/12/vintage-motorcycle-toys.html

    I have always loved that style, and while watching some very old Soviet animation, the idea got stuck in my mind of Russian Civil War figures done that way, with great propaganda flourish on both sides.  This was the animation that grabbed me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZqVOFSYRWI    I see a synthesis of that animation and the 1920’s toy soldier style for sets of Reds, Whites and Interventionists.

    The project would be big 30mm figures – in scale something like RPG heroic sized 30mm figures, but with the quaint, simplified and expressive sculpting  of the 1920s.  Infantry, cavalry, heavy weapons and probably field guns, limbers and tchankas.  Anything bigger than that would just be scratch built as there is no market or advantage to mass production.

    I can do the sculpting, in fact that is part of the draw.  The casting though is a whole other matter, and doing the old school Prince August method does not appeal to me at my age and levels of aggro.

    So, the feasibility and costs are what I’m looking at here.  Perhaps Prince August would be the route the for such a project…

    I can see them though.  They are so clear that they are going to be real.  Painting with enamels will be some major nostalgia too.

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