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Commision Builds...pointers please!

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  • Member since
    January, 2014
  • From: Nampa, Idaho
Commision Builds...pointers please!
Posted by jelliott523 on Sunday, February 05, 2017 12:47 PM

This is an area where I have no experience. Recently I was in the local hobby store and I started up a conversation with a gentleman who was having a WWII aircraft poster mounted. As we were talking about the different aircraft on the poster, he noticed that I had some kit building supplies in my hands and he asked if I build models and what I built. I explained that it is a hobby of mine that I got back into a couple of years ago and blah, blah, blah...  Anyhow, he said that he had picked up a kit to attempt to build himself and said his hands werent able to deal with the small parts anymore.

He asked if it was common for people to pay others to build models for them. I explained that there are quite a few people I have seen out there that build models for a commission, but it was not something I, myself, had ever done. He asked if I would consider doing one. I told him that before I agreed to build something like that I would want to set up a time for him to come and personnally see some of the stuff I have built, that way if he didnt like the work I had done, I wouldnt cause him to waste his money. 

I'm still waiting to hear from the gentleman; however, I was hoping to get some pointers from some of those here who do commision builds. What is a typical price range for these, is there a typical hourly rate that someone charges, and do you set a time frame for how long it will take to build.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!

On the Bench:  Lots of unfinished projects!  Smile

  • Member since
    August, 2014
  • From: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Posted by goldhammer on Sunday, February 05, 2017 1:22 PM

Not a commision builder (not near enough skills for that), but have a long talk with what his expectations are - does he want an OOB build, special decals/markings (that may/may not be available), a/m parts (resin, PE) etc.  That will help define if your skills line up with what he wants, and the subsequent time frame.

As to time frame, cost, etc., I'll let others get to that aspect.

  • Member since
    January, 2014
  • From: Nampa, Idaho
Posted by jelliott523 on Sunday, February 05, 2017 1:27 PM

Thanks GH! Obviously, at this point I really dont know what he's looking for, since he hasnt contacted me. That being said, you definitely hit some major points that need to be addressed. He did mention that he would likely buy the kit and have me build it. I do not by any means consider myself a "master", I'm just a styrene hack at best. Stick out tongue That is why I told him that I wanted him to look at some of the things I've done before committing to building for him. I think I do a decent job; however, there are many on here that do far better work than I do, I only wish I could be as good as them when I grow up!  LOL

On the Bench:  Lots of unfinished projects!  Smile

  • Member since
    March, 2007
  • From: Northeast WA State
Posted by armornut on Sunday, February 05, 2017 1:53 PM

As GH said, I would also get as much information about the subject from him. It may not be a bad idea when you talk to mention whats avaiable and different costs for the kits. As you stated your skill set may not be suited for the type of kit he may purchase. I built a couple of commissions for folks I worked with. I never charged for them but your time and supplies are of value to you so that is something else to discuss. I believe you can do the work,don't sell yourself short. P.S. MedStar in Spokane is gone and LFN didn't want me.

we're modelers it's what we do

  • Member since
    January, 2009
  • From: hamburg michigan
Posted by fermis on Sunday, February 05, 2017 2:10 PM

It's tough to factor a price...after market, custom markings, improvements, etc., plus the kit itself...does it build easily (Tamiya)..or is there fit/accuracy issues..how much work involved just to make the kit look good? Personally, I don't like to do the math, when it comes to figuring out what the  "hourly rate" works out to...it's usually somewhere around $4/hr., give or take.

What is the subject?

  • Member since
    January, 2014
  • From: Nampa, Idaho
Posted by jelliott523 on Monday, February 06, 2017 10:59 AM

@Armornut: I know exactly what you mean about not wanting to sell myself short! I'll be sure to ask as  many questions I can think of.

Sorry to hear about the LFN deal, most people from up there didnt stick around from what I hear. I talk to Steve occasionally, he's working for Idaho State Police now. It's not my favorite company to deal with, all about $$$ and forget about people.

@Fermis: That sounds reasonable. I was actually hoping that, if he contacts me, that I would discuss with him what kit he was thinking about and explain that some kits are not worth the effort due to the amount of "fixing" that would be needed to make it look good.

On the Bench:  Lots of unfinished projects!  Smile

  • Member since
    September, 2013
Posted by Marcus McBean on Monday, February 06, 2017 11:41 AM

I have seen several ship building you-tube videos where the builder mention doing commission work and they all said they charged $1 per part.  Seems a little high to me but some ship kits can be alot of work to get right.

  • Member since
    January, 2009
  • From: hamburg michigan
Posted by fermis on Monday, February 06, 2017 11:56 AM

Marcus McBean

I have seen several ship building you-tube videos where the builder mention doing commission work and they all said they charged $1 per part.  Seems a little high to me but some ship kits can be alot of work to get right.

 

Man! That would be GREAT!!!

Over 100 bucks right here...

  • Member since
    November, 2016
Posted by bob29579 on Wednesday, February 08, 2017 3:41 PM

Interesting subject.  I have a store in the mall and I kept a few of my extra model kits on the shelf to sell.  I also sell built ships and things like that, that are quite nice, but I could never find a nicely done tugboat or titanic that was prebuilt that I could sell for a profit. I started doing the lindberg tugboat and the titanic kit from revell. The titanic for example runs about $25 in the craft stores and with a 50% coupon costs about $15 with tax, gas, paint and so on. I put a price tag of $95 on it and sell about 1 each month. I am constantly making these and people think they are great. It's a hobby and really I'm just wanting to get my money back out of it and have some nice things to set in the case for sale.  Works out great.

   I built a B17 for my dad one time.  He flew one in the war. Then I did a B25 for him, he also flew in one of those. They turned out kind of nice, so I did the same thing with a couple of planes like I did with the ships.  I keep an A10 warthog, an apache helicopter and some sort of propeller WWII fighter plane built in the case for sale and they sell often enough that I keep busy building models when there are no customers in the store.   I don't make a lot off of them, but it's enough to be sort of "cool" to me if you know what I mean.

   My real hobby is street rods and I'm often sitting here building them. Many times someone has seen me, then watched me, then asked questions about it. It has led to building many cars for people, but this is very different that building planes and ships. Most people don't remember what the titanic looked like and if you get the wooden decks a little dark, they won't notice or mind at all.  But. If you get that green 36 ford a shade or two off, it's just not the same and it's just not their car. If you don't customize it and get those 32 headlights on it, it's not the same and it looks wrong in some odd way.   My point is, I get a lot more to do a specific car than I do for stock ships or planes and you'll want to take this into account.  You might need to rob a dozen kits to get that one car just right. You might need to mix paint for a couple of days until you get it the way you want it. You'll need to get the carpet inside at just the right length and shade etc. etc.

   These guys that can afford a street rod today won't bat an eye at dropping $500 or more to get a nice replica of their car, but getting $100 for a titanic or a smaller scale airplane might be pushing it.

   One more bit of advice.   Be sure if you do anything like this for anyone, you get enough up front to cover the materials.  Then you are covered because everything else is really just a hobby for you, right ?

   Sorry to be so long winded, but I always wondered what others get for this kind of thing.

  • Member since
    March, 2007
  • From: Northeast WA State
Posted by armornut on Wednesday, February 08, 2017 6:00 PM

J, say hey to Steve for me if ya talk to him. Got a sweet gig elsewhere so no foul. Hope that fella gets back to ya about the build, feels good when the person sees the finished product and says WOW it's better than I hoped for. With the right information and enough time,( be sure to set a schedule that works for YOU not the client), your finished product will dazzle them. Not to be to rude but if they had the skills they would build it themselves. Good luck and PM me sometime if ya like.

we're modelers it's what we do

  • Member since
    January, 2014
Posted by Silver on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 6:50 PM

Commision builds are almost a thing of the past.90% of the people can't fork up the $ for such a thing.you would have to be at the right place at the right time.You also can run into a real legal problem if things go wrong.A long list of what not to do is out there.I have done such a build for a lawyer  and found out many things about these commision builds."Under The Table Agreement " is what this is.Anyway,I do it at times and to me $1.00 a part is good for me also.

  • Member since
    February, 2012
  • From: Parma, Ohio
Posted by lawdog114 on Saturday, March 04, 2017 11:06 PM

Silver

Commision builds are almost a thing of the past.90% of the people can't fork up the $ for such a thing.you would have to be at the right place at the right time.You also can run into a real legal problem if things go wrong.A long list of what not to do is out there.I have done such a build for a lawyer  and found out many things about these commision builds."Under The Table Agreement " is what this is.Anyway,I do it at times and to me $1.00 a part is good for me also.

 

Isn't that the truth....the right place at right time.  Fortunately it's not a thing of the past for me at least, as commissions are pretty much all I do anymore.  I started by thinning out my personal collection on ebay and it has taken off from there. Now I have a handful of regulars who keep me very busy. One guy has me furnishing his new man cave.  

I suppose legal issues can be avoided by delivering as promised and keep the prices reasonable.  I general charge a flat rate that we both can agree on and there is never any surprises.  It also helps to keep the client updated with in-progress pictures and never take a cent until the subject is completed.  I figure it can always be sold on ebay if the buyer doesn't pay.  I've had no issues yet.    

 "Can you fly this plane and land it?...Surely you can't be serious....I am serious, and don't call me Shirley"

 

 

 

 

  • Member since
    January, 2014
  • From: Nampa, Idaho
Posted by jelliott523 on Sunday, March 05, 2017 9:40 AM

Thanks for the information everyone. I have not heard back from this gentleman, so I'm not sure if it will even happen at this point. I do appreciate all the information and will use it to develop a process if and when the opportunity ever comes up again.

@lawdog, I figure that if you are doing enough for others, there would be no point in having a stash, as you would want to focus on the customers build. I wouldnt mind trying my hand at such a thing if it presents itself, not sure that it's something I want to do long-term.

On the Bench:  Lots of unfinished projects!  Smile

  • Member since
    June, 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Sunday, March 05, 2017 10:25 AM

Hi;

 I understand all the points listed in this thread . I have built on commission on and off for over forty years , making a  living ? Nope . Extra money yes ! Thing is You might find yourself in the situation unexpectedly .

 The Kidd/Arizona are a case in point . My client and friend had a Kidd . It was in poor shape and not finished and had some structural issues .Tha Arizona was simple . I will build yours as long as you duplicate the kit and aftermarket accessories for me due to fixed income .

     His Arizona has been set aside at the ninety percent mark in favor of the Kidd . The Kidd being wood was a bear at first .Now she's shaping up nice .Then I get to stop due to cardiac issues . Not once , But twice ! My friend is the model of patience though .His Kidd will surpass any I,ve seen built , If it is the last ship I do I will give him my best  . This is something I've decided . He deserves every ounce of skill I have because of his patience !

     Same for the Arizona . Now as a break I have done four 1/87 tugs ( waterline) . And sold all four . They sold for $ 450.00 which included the cost of the kit ! All were built to my standard which is a fully detailed wheelhouse . In larger scales this is my trademark.

 The last civilian ships were for Clean - Bay of Ventura California . If it was in the pictures I took of the wheel - house it was in there . Yep coffee cups , portable radios and wet blue jeans on a stair rail ! 

 This last two ship project will probably be my last .Too much time has been involved and I am about six months behind where I like to be . It has been fun , frustrating and extremely satisfying when everything goes as planned .

  If you want to do it , Have the desire and are mentally ready this is what you need to factor in .What is the subject ? Are there any special markings or equipment involved ?  and Does the client want a kit based build ? If so , Is it available in the scale he wishes? Is it the model he wants ? and how much aftermarket or superdetailing does he want ?

    In the case of aircraft I do a simple equation - Kit+ Paint + time + superdetailing parts or scratch work . Stand -No stand (extra Parts and work here ) . Finally  and most important , as you said , Show your previous work to cement or derail the deal . Time must be agreed upon and try to keep on schedule . Any hourly work Must be factored in the price .

 All done , you will have time as your master and guide to the coldhearted " Bottom Line . " In other words , If you feel " Fuzzy " about it - Don't commit . You won't regret backing away if you feel any Trepidation about it .

    Good luck if you do it and remember , Model On !  Tanker Builder P.S. After reading the other replies I do have to add , I started by doing models of sites , scenes and machinery for  a personal injury attorney . Then two of them . Yeah , very good money as it was figured in as  "special research " by the attorney and I had to be known to the court .

 Then computers could do it better  . Ah Well !

  • Member since
    January, 2014
  • From: Nampa, Idaho
Posted by jelliott523 on Sunday, March 05, 2017 2:04 PM

Thanks TB for the input and information! I really admire and appreciate the people and assistance I have recieved at various points when needed here. I truly believe that most of the people here are here to help, all you have to do is ask. I've learned a ton from people here, and I feel the improvement in my modeling skills is directly attributed to those here and other forums I frequent.

 

Thanks again!

Jeremy

On the Bench:  Lots of unfinished projects!  Smile

  • Member since
    February, 2012
  • From: Parma, Ohio
Posted by lawdog114 on Monday, March 06, 2017 6:25 PM

jelliott523

 

@lawdog, I figure that if you are doing enough for others, there would be no point in having a stash, as you would want to focus on the customers build. I wouldnt mind trying my hand at such a thing if it presents itself, not sure that it's something I want to do long-term.

 

 

Its not to say I'll never build for myself again, just right now I'm getting great satisfaction in building for others. If I can make a few bucks doing it so be it.

 

I still buy kits I'm interested in and have a decent sized stash.  I have maybe 100 kits. I recently snagged two of the new Airfix P-40s and the Meng P-51. The latter was a personal build, as I wanted to see how it built up.  I do intend to sell it though now that it's doneIndifferent 

 

 "Can you fly this plane and land it?...Surely you can't be serious....I am serious, and don't call me Shirley"

 

 

 

 

  • Member since
    June, 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Tuesday, March 07, 2017 5:12 PM

Lawdog ;

   How is that P-40 kit ? I have not done this plane for years because of what I thought were poor offerings . T.B.

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 11:56 AM

Great discussion.

my conclusion, from what is said here, is that the best reason to build for others is because you like to build for others. As an act of friendship.

As for the economics, I do not think there's much argument that $4/hr is on a good day.

 

  • Member since
    January, 2009
  • From: hamburg michigan
Posted by fermis on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 8:35 PM

GMorrison

Great discussion.

my conclusion, from what is said here, is that the best reason to build for others is because you like to build for others. As an act of friendship.

As for the economics, I do not think there's much argument that $4/hr is on a good day.

That is a great conclusion!

 

  • Member since
    February, 2012
  • From: Parma, Ohio
Posted by lawdog114 on Wednesday, March 15, 2017 12:35 AM

Tanker - Builder

Lawdog ;

   How is that P-40 kit ? I have not done this plane for years because of what I thought were poor offerings . T.B.

 

 

I don't know.  I haven't built it yet.  It's on my short list though.  

 "Can you fly this plane and land it?...Surely you can't be serious....I am serious, and don't call me Shirley"

 

 

 

 

  • Member since
    December, 2002
  • From: Massachusetts
Posted by ajlafleche on Friday, March 17, 2017 9:40 AM

If you don't know the guy, make sure you get everything in writing. When you meet with him, determine what he wants. A basic OOB should be the retail (including tax) cost of the kit times 3 if you have to buy it. If he supplise it, double the retail. If you have to buy paint specifically for the kit, add that at full retaiol including tax. Paint from your shelf should not be included. Iif you are doing custom decals, add the cost of the decal paper. Commercial conversions to a basic kit should be charged as the same rate as the basic kit.

If there are special requests, it's a good idea to send pics of the prjuect as you go along. If you've agreed to a certain modification and done it then he says he doesn;t want that, don't be afraid to tell him redoing it will cost him money.

I find it good to get all the info and references a customer wants, and provide a spreadsheet with costs of parts and labor involved before agreeing to a project. If the customer balks, don't be afraid to walk away.  I had one whose negotiating started at "I have people who do this for free and you want to charge me $X?" Because I'd done a few jonbs for him, I gave him a relatively low cost on a group of figures. He complained so I quoted him what a semi pro charged. He was shocke.  I have taken to high balling his costs because he is such a pain to deal with.

Remember, if the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.

  • Member since
    July, 2014
  • From: Meridian, ID
Posted by modelcrazy on Friday, March 17, 2017 10:46 AM

Was it Hobby Town? Dang it! I want to find someone to do a commission build for. BTW Jeremy, the Boise IPMS club does a build in at Hobby Town every second Saturday. Not too many people show up but it's fun with the ones who do.

Also Hobby Town is having their Bi-Annual contest April 15th so bring something to show if you want. Anyone is invited since its Hobby Towns gig.

Boise's IPMS meeting is this Saturday at 6:00 if you’re interested.

ON THE BENCH

1/48 Hasegawa C.202 Folgore (Thunderbolt GB)
1/32 Hasegawa Mk Vb Spitfire (RAF GB)
1/72 Hasegawa A6M5 Type 52 Zero (RAF GB)
1/350 Dragon USS The Sulivans built as USS Johnston (Shelf of Doom GB)

In Que

1/72 Airfix B5N2 Kate (Coral Sea and Japanese GB's)
1/72 Hasegawa B5N2 Kate (Midway GB)
1/350 Aoshima IJN Takao (Japanese and 1942 GBs)

  • Member since
    January, 2014
Posted by Silver on Saturday, March 25, 2017 7:24 PM

A good start is to charge $1.00 a part.also supply the kit.Ask how they want it done.Show your example work.I did commission work and I kept it in 1:48 scale and in a static scene parked in an Inex plastic case glued in.Its safe and presentable to the customer.I made lots of $.

  • Member since
    January, 2014
Posted by Silver on Wednesday, April 05, 2017 2:57 AM

Super detail projects like open up engines and so on may run up to the 600$ on up range.Tamiya and Trumpeter 1/32 scale kits will be in that range.

  • Member since
    July, 2012
  • From: Douglas AZ
Posted by littletimmy on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 10:00 PM

What I use to do was charge 4 times the kit cost. But as demand for my stuff increased I eventually started charging $35 an hour. That worked fine for simple stuff. And it kept the "masses" from beating down my door. ( I do have a life outside of modeling.)

But then I spent 100 hours on a 1/87 scale steam crane. There was no way I could charge $3500 for it .... so I said $100 was fine. It was fun to build and lets face it... I went totally off on it!

So unless you work for George Lucas ... dont expect  more than about $4 an hour.

By the way dont charge for waiting on glue/paint to dry.... thats just wrong!

 Dont worry about the thumbprint... paint it rust and call it "Battle damage" !

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