Customs: Custom Transformers Commission: Pricing?

Discussion in 'Creative General Discussion' started by Superquad7, Sep 23, 2009.

  1. Superquad7

    Superquad7 We're only human. Super Mod

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    Often times we see a cool custom and would certainly love to own it or one like it. It's commonly known that custom-made artwork can get expensive with all of the extra work and details put into it. What's less commonly known is that while a lot of sculpting may be present on a given toy, Hasbro has stated during the Botcon 2007 Hasbro tour that each paint application builds up a cost very quickly. In an effort to keep costs down, less paint applications are actually used on toys, even if they're meant to be there.

    With those things (and others) in mind, the topic comes up, just exactly does a commission cost? I figured I'd start the discussion with a primer and let others pick up from here /bad pun:

    • Consider the base mold. Quite simply, some molds are much easier to work with. Also, some molds are much more complex than others. The base mold being used can quickly determine the cost of the entire project.
    • Consider the nature of the project. A repaint can generally be much less involved than a project with kitbashed parts or a scratchbuild. Other bells and whistles, such as certain custom-wired electronics, can inflate the price as well.
    • Consider the experience and skill level of the artist. Many Radicons have been at their craft for several years, and have quite the porfolio. Radicons is the oldest Transformers customs board on the 'net, therefore producing a lot of heritage of Transformers customs by many of the same artists. Some Radicons are just getting their feet wet. Pricing may vary on the experience and skill level of the artist.
    • Slave Labor? Generally speaking, most persons working any sort of job desire a paycheck. Art is a skilled craft. This makes creating a custom "skilled" labor. A good rule of thumb is this type of labor has a relative average of $10/hr. But wait! Couldn't an artist just have a time sheet and let the clock tick away, earning millions? If the client is a sucker and the artist is a thief, perhaps. However, most artists know their time and output level, and generally create a reasonable estimate.

      That being said, there are some artists who are just starting out, that are looking for experience. Sometimes, these artists just want to make a project and will do so for a reduced fee or even no fee at all. Also, our community is very generous, and you may luck up to be able to find one who can crank out a custom so easily and cheaply that the artist, regardless of skill level, can do the same.

      Consider customs and kitbashing materials. While the topic of base mold has been briefly discussed, other materials such as paints and adhesives cost money. An artist generally is well aware of how much that the materials creating a particular piece cost, especially since he/she generally purchases them on their own.

    The bottom dollar for "skilled labor" is $10/hr. I'd use that as a springboard for a reference. Some artists can charge more, of course. Also, keep in mind that some "free" jobs may lead to other doors that otherwise wouldn't be opened. Wish you well :thumb ​

    Feel free to comment and/or add your own portions to this topic :) 
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2011
  2. wylungz

    wylungz Well-Known Member

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    how do YOU charge ur labor fees on customs?

    hey guys.. i do customs as merely a hobby.. i see something or a idea i like and i do it to display on my shelf.. however some ppl actually offer to buy my customs and some i actually would think of selling.. but i have trouble with coming up w/ prices.. this is wat i could think ...

    -charges-
    1. Parts (figures and accessories)
    - this i feel could be the bulk.. or even labor.. but lets say if i bought a ROTF optimus.. and then thats my base.. and then i buy a 07's OP just for the gun/hands/wheels... i would probably just charge for the whole 07's figure itself right?
    2. paint?
    3. Labor?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!??!?!?!?! how would u go by this.. hr? days?

    can anyone shed any ideas for me?
     
  3. aurascope

    aurascope Kitbash Resource Indexer

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    The labour should make up most of the cost.

    If you buy 2 figures for to make the custom,
    you charge him 2 figures for it.
    If he wants, you can send him the unused parts
    from the 2007 Optimus Prime.
     
  4. Napjr

    Napjr <b><font color=gold>Mr. Internet</font><br><font c Veteran

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    Personally, i would let the commisioner (sp?) buy all the needed parts, and just charge for the labor, wich could be paid with money and maybe keeping some spare pieces for later use (whose most likely he wont ever use again)
     
  5. aurascope

    aurascope Kitbash Resource Indexer

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    It would not be fair to charge by the day,
    because there may be disputes later on.
    eg. the buyer thinks you have been sitting
    on your ass and still charging him for it.

    it's usually better for both parties to agree
    on a fixed price for the entire project
    with clearly demarked targets and expectations.
    The kitbasher will have to give a quote
    and stick with it, come what may.
     
  6. encline

    encline customizer of love TFW2005 Supporter

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    This is good to have out there.... the only thing I can add is the price area...

    MACCO or CHIP FOOSE....... both "skilled" labor..... yet... much different prices.
     
  7. Megatron31

    Megatron31 I Belong to Nobody! TFW2005 Supporter

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    ive always been curious whe someone decides they want X custom,do they provide the base figure or is that built into the price??

    a great for instance would be combiners.
     
  8. Treadshot A1

    Treadshot A1 Or just 'A1' for short...

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    ^Either. You and the kitbasher decide beforehand. Obviously, if you provide the figures, the job will be cheaper for the kitbasher, and so cheaper for you money wise, but you'd be sacrificing your figures.

    Generally, though, i'd argue that most of the job specific parts (like the joints that go into a combiner) should be bought by the kitbasher, with a fixed price agreed beforehand, because the client rarely has any idea what joints will need to go into the project.
     
  9. supervir2

    supervir2 Feels like the kid in Big everyday.

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    A few thoughts from a buyer:

    1) In general, I've provided base figures where I can. This has worked well. At times, the radicon has had some parts on hand and/or readily available at good prices, so that would be added in.

    2) I prefer a little bit of texture to a quote rather than just a number (ie, some itemization). Give a total, then rough estimates for the components such as parts (paints, styrene, pieces, etc) and labor. It is also good to establish whether shipping is part of the total or not.

    3) As for reasonable prices...this is variable. I've seen dirt cheap and I've seen house payment prices (paid both and have been happy with both). Everyone works at different rates, has different skill levels, and has different reasons for doing the work. Those that do it mostly for enjoyment, tend to charge a bit less than those that use it more as a cash source even if they like what they do. Some are great painters, some are great builders, and some have tremendous skill at both. Artists also have distinct styles...you can tell frogDNA from sabrinaNG for autobotx23, etc which people pay for. I don't know that you can come up with a consistent scale here. In my dealings with radicons, these are some rough windows that show the variability in cost:

    deluxe repaint w/ minor or no mods: 30-200
    voyager repaint w/ minor or no mods: 45-400
    5 figure combiner: 1000-3000 (some may do this more cheaply, but this is from the people I approached)

    As the customer, I always appreciate lower prices. As an observer, to plan, prep, mod, and paint a figure or figures entails a pretty extensive and varied skill set which I don't have the time to cultivate. I can't mortgage the house, but within some reason, I'm truly willing to pay for your trouble.
     
  10. SG hailstorm

    SG hailstorm Thundercracker fanatic

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    i charge 5 for deluxe, 10 for voyager and 20 for anything higher and 1 dollar for spare parts, but thats if anybody wants me to do a custom for them
     
  11. Treadshot A1

    Treadshot A1 Or just 'A1' for short...

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    ^ :lolol 

    Good one Hailstorm. :)  Throne, go ask in the requests section or look at artists' work in Commissioner Listing and Feedback in the Creative Marketplace, you'd probably get more replies (though I'm not going to report it because the mods obviously think you're better off here, that's just a suggestion from me).

    I think now that I have actually taken commissions I can contribute some more to this discussion. Firstly, $10 an hour is way too low. There's no way you'd get anything more than a complete beginner for that amount. Obviously for me my prices are far different (I'm a 3D designer), but even so, that price is ridiculous. I'm not going to say my price per hour since obviously that changes depending on the project difficulty as well as time necessary, but I wouldn't be charging $10 an hour, not even for my best friend.

    Secondly, the base mold is a real pain. I mean, even for me as a designer, tracking down a toy so that I can design toys to work with them can be a real pain if the toy isn't on shelves at the time. Guess that would affect the pricing as well. For you, Throne, that might be a pain considering you specified you wanted some G1 parts (easy for Bruticus, since Ruination and the other repaints make getting the moulds easy as pie, but other combiners might prove more difficult).

    That's all I got, off the top of my head.
     
  12. Superquad7

    Superquad7 We're only human. Super Mod

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    That's why I originally said $10/hr is the bottom dollar fee. :wink: 

    I think I've said before that I've made customs for my friends for free (as gifts) and even for less than $10/hr as well. I've had the same offered to me as well. Regardless, 95% of my work is in my collection anyways, so it's not really an issue for me, personally.

    The nature of this thread is a springboard of ideas for artists of varied skill levels, much like Radicons itself. Keep it rollin' guys :thumb 
     
  13. Unicron9

    Unicron9 Chaos Bringer 9

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    I'm certainly no beginner and I barely raised my prices from when I first started selling my work and taking commissions. Sometimes I make less than $10 an hour and that's fine with me because I love having plenty to keep me busy and often don't charge extra for unforeseen things I needed or just wanted to do or add.
    The way I do the commission thing is, I will hunt down and buy base figures if the customer wishes as long as they tell me a limit to spend and pay that, but it can be cheaper for a customer to get and send the base fig or any parts I don't have and will need. I usually refund a bit or cut down the price when i will have fodder left over from a customer.
    All of my prices include shipping, to keep it simple, and because I take full payment before starting and like my customer knowing they are all paid up.
    As for prices, my average on TFs is-
    (heavy extra details or full repaints)
    Scout sized $35 shipped
    Deluxe $65 to $75 shipped
    Voyager $80 to $100 shipped
    Leader $100 to $130
    Add only $10 to $15 for minor mods and head swaps.

    Like SQ said, there are factors to consider that can raise or lower the price, sometimes significantly. I try to stay in that range though. I love making custom figures and only started doing this to enhance my own figures at first. A man has to pay his bills though and this job is much easier to manage with 3 kids!
     
  14. Superquad7

    Superquad7 We're only human. Super Mod

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    I find it a bit odd that there are so many people doing customs for commissions now, yet this thread has gotten only a few replies thus far . . . .
     
  15. Treadshot A1

    Treadshot A1 Or just 'A1' for short...

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    SQ7, you made the OP slightly too well, I think. There isn't much for us to add.

    I suppose the only thing left is to say, shipping needs to be considered. I mean, not only does time and distance take their toll, but also, whether insurance is involved. I would imagine everyone would choose to insure their customs on their way from kit basher to customer, but still, maybe for a legends class or something, there'll be people willing to not insure.

    Still, i'd probably advise insurance, even though I have no experience on the matter, it just seems the obvious thing to do, and if people needed me to remind them, then they really need to put more thought into the purchase. :lol 
     
  16. Superquad7

    Superquad7 We're only human. Super Mod

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    Perhaps, but I'd like to hear from all of these "career" guys. I mean, if one does this for a 40+ hour work week, there are things to consider like the IRS.
     
  17. phoenixliger

    phoenixliger Ogre

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    Unicron-9 pretty much hit it on the head. Im just starting out with the radicons here here on the boards but ive been doing Warhammer figures for years and painting them is usualy double the price of the product. Example $20 set of Space Marines is $40 to paint and a total of $60 if i have to supply the Space Marines give or take if i have to customize the figures
     
  18. froggy124

    froggy124 Well-Known Member

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    Advice needed for commission pricing

    So I have been requested by someone to do a couple of customs (paint work) and would like to know what clients are willing pay and what customizers are charging. Basically a FAIR price for both parties.

    I would like to leave out specifics to avoid giving out personal information but here is some info that might help.
    I am new to the commisioning game, I do not see myself charging the client as much as other more experienced customizers. However I do not want to lowball myeslf, so to speak.

    In the end I want my potential client to be satisfied and I do see myself taking on future commissions as I build a reputation.

    Any advice, numbers, from clients or customizers will be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you for your time.
     
  19. destrongerlupus

    destrongerlupus #MoreSawBoss

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    One of the interesting things about this hobby is that artists have not come to any kind of a standard price range, at all. Even a little.

    I've worked with a TON of artists both big names and "new guys" , and, for a DLX scale figure, for instance, I've paid everything from $40 - $300

    Within that range there's been NO consistant correlation between complexity of the work requested, quality of the work received, or popularity of the artist comissioned.

    So my best advice is, figure out how much time you'll need to put in, decide how much that time is worth to you, and make an offer. If the buyer takes it great. If not, either negotiate or walk away.

    This art form is still in the wild-west phase....big time.
     
  20. Satomiblood

    Satomiblood Prototype Black

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    I personally try to keep my rates modest, but that has to do with the fact that I'm new to commissioning. However, even with more exposure, I still think my rates will remain relatively modest.
     

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