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Got a question about commission builds.


1to1scale
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As I have been out of work for almost two months now, my wife and I have been discussing me staying out of work while taking a part time job. I had at one time done commission work over 20 years ago, but have thought about doing it again. What would you guys suggest as where to get started? I don’t really want to be a YouTube vlogger, so what other ways can I get out there?

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Mark, I tried it and thoroughly hated it. Part of the joy of building is building a subject I love for myself or for a close friend. 
But there’s always an exception, and mine is that I do the odd build for Kitty Hawk because I really like the subjects they choose to kit. 

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I built a few models that I ended up selling later when I switched scales. That was fine as I had originally built them for me. However, the guy I sold them to found a kit in the same series and asked me to build it to match. He also asked me to make it more accurate (It was an old Bandai Hummel kit that came with parts for battery operation and thus had some compromises). Since I generally build OOB for myself the prospect of cutting and modifying a kit for someone else became not fun but a chore, especially as I now had the pressure of not screwing up another person's hard-earned money (That Hummel kit is not cheap).

 

If they simply want you to build and paint a kit for them because they cannot for whatever reason, then fine. I would charge for cost of materials and for time spent.

If they want you to make an exact duplicate of their granddad's old mount, I'd say no.

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Exactly.  That’s why the KH builds are fun.  Straight OOB except for having to close up the entire thing to guard against handling damage. 

But dealing with a list of custom demands, no thanks. And in the end, when you add up the time you have in it, it adds up to you making abut .12/hr. I’d be better off picking up and returning discarded beer bottles v

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I built an aircraft for a friend because he had no skills to build anything never ever being a modeller.

It was an aircraft that his cousin was lost in and the instruction was for the aircraft to have the squadron marking etc.

A straight forward build and he loved it.

166-015.jpg

I am not in the habit of doing such builds, its just that it flew from an airfield nearby.

 

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I used to do a lot of commission work when I was a lot younger and hungry for every penny that came my way. I worked for cheap too at the time. Now, I rarely do commission work unless it pays very, very well and is a comparatively easy project. It can be a mojo killer if not kept in check plus finding the people that are willing to pay what your skills are worth is far and few between. Most people are cheap and don't understand the time and effort involved in putting a good model together especially if there is custom work.

If you figure a labor rate of $15-$20 an hour and apply it to a tamiya corsair or similar that could easily get into the high 3 to low 4 digits price wise.

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I can see it not being able to replace a full time job, but if I’m just laid off anyway, then it could be a small supplement.
 

I understand the difficulty, I did commission work back around 2002-2004 with a partner, but it really wasn’t my thing (cars), I did decals design work (i had an alps printer and adobe and publisher programs) and model assembly, he did custom airbrush work. We were making about $500 a month to supplement our full time incomes. I also did resin parts for police cars, wheels, light bars, pushbars, lighting systems, and decals. I did contract batch work for some police departments building 1/18 models of their cruisers, this was pretty lucrative and most of the work was on the first copy, so turning out a dozen at $150 each was good work. And we offered a service that no one else did. But as times changed and there were lower grade copycats undercutting us, competitors price and quality went low, and selling to Govt agencies, cost was always a deciding factor. Another kick in the nuts, I had a company i was working with to cast my parts, steal my original masters and sold the parts under their name, so we gave it up and went on with our full time careers. 


 

 

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If I would be asked to build, say, a model of the T-28 that a guy withZERO model skills soloed in when he was a kid, that’s cool.

A tidy little sum could be made, assuming you’re building a kit that falls together.

me it’s be T-28s, John would be Corsairs, etc, etc.  That’s the kind of thing you could charge a flat rate and see if the guy bites.  But a copy of my RCAF Lanc, at any kind of decent rate, would easily be 10K plus.  Big $$££¥¥€€ no matter where you live. 

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9 hours ago, 1to1scale said:

Lol, I bet you would sell it for $10K.

LOL. of course, but to do something like that and make it worth a man's while, you'd need something close to that to make it work financially.  That's a year's work assuming you use every single minute of your free time.  Assuming 200 hrs of work at 20/hr, that's 4K in labor alone.

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Back in the 90's I used to sell models through Napoleon's military book shop in Pitt St Sydney. I was charging 10 bucks per hour. I was building 1/48 scale and spending around 30 hours per model. So at the time $300.00 was normal. I recall building an F-18 for a RAAF pilot. I charged $600.00 for that model. On the flip side I built an Academy Super Etendard in 1/72. I got $200.00 for that little kit.

I don't know if military book shops exist these days. If you find one ask if you can sell models on consignment. 

:thumbsup2:

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I'm doing one for a guy at work.   I'll never do it again.   Its sapped my fun from the hobby and turned it into something I "have to do" as opposed to something I love to do.  And, he was shocked by the price I wanted which was only $100 over the cost of the kit and stuff he wanted for it! I might be making 2 or 3 bucks an hour doing it.  Mark, I'd suggest try building something you like, then sell it on Ebay.  I think that'd be a great place to start.  You're still building what you want at the pace you want, but making some money off it too.

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18 hours ago, TJTX said:

I'm doing one for a guy at work.   I'll never do it again.   Its sapped my fun from the hobby and turned it into something I "have to do" as opposed to something I love to do.  And, he was shocked by the price I wanted which was only $100 over the cost of the kit and stuff he wanted for it! I might be making 2 or 3 bucks an hour doing it.  Mark, I'd suggest try building something you like, then sell it on Ebay.  I think that'd be a great place to start.  You're still building what you want at the pace you want, but making some money off it too.

Yes, I have been thinking about that too, but I plan to enter everything I have built in the next show here Nov 16, I am trying to convince the board that they need more than one class for 1/32. So I am going to flood the contest. After that, I was going to sell a few.

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3 minutes ago, Clunkmeister said:

Tony, I TOLD YOU SO!!

LOL

It seriously sucks the life out of you.

I think one of the hardest parts is its 1/48. I now despise 1/48 and building that scale sucks.  1/32 all day baby! I have 3 mojo producing builds ready to go as soon as the commission one is done.  I already feel the excitement again. 

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