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Made in ca
Regular Dakkanaut





Has anyone here ever started a miniature company? If so what' does your first year of operation look like? And what kind of issues have you encountered

Making the jump from resin to plastic. How much does an extruder company set you back? Or is it cheaper to buy your own machine.

What are your average yearly expenses running your company.

How much money did you start with.

Are you a successful business and if so why?

Is terrain a better option than game development?

Lastly are model cars/ planes , and trains more lucrative than wargaming and RPGs and other table top game?

Providing you have a truly unique idea. What other sources of funding are available in addition to crowd sourcing.

Thanks.



This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/04/19 22:15:41


 
   
Made in au
[MOD]
Cutting stuff up and bunging it back together in new and interesting ways.






Under the couch

The Allfather wrote:

Making the jump from resin to plastic. How much does an extruder company set you back? Or is it cheaper to buy your own machine.

You're looking at injection moulding, not extrusion. Cost varies widely, depending on the company and your relationship with them - you would need to speak to some production companies to get any sort of meaningful figures. But no, buying your own injection moulding machine is unlikely to be a viable option unless you know how to operate such a thing. And you're still going to be outsourcing mould tooling, which is the expensive part of the process.

The other big considerations are -

- Time.

An experienced resin producer can potentially get you from master model to production casts in a week or two. For plastic production services, you're looking at an absolute minimum of 6-12 months, and potentially more if they have a full waiting list. The number of companies out there experienced with moulding specifically for models is fairly small, and most of them either have long waiting lists or are simply not taking on new clients.


- Sculpting Talent

Because plastic injection moulding for miniatures has really only been achievable by a very few companies historically, the pool of available, good sculptors is very small. With the industry shifting to digital sculpting, you would think this would open the field up a lot, as there are a lot of people out there banging out digital sculpts of just about everything you can think of... but the vast majority of them are sculpting either for video games or for resin/3D printing production, and sculpting for injection moulded plastic is a very different skillset.


- Volume

Plastic production is only viable with large volumes, due to the high setup costs, which is a big part of the reason most start-ups go for resin or metal instead. There's no point shelling out for plastics tooling if you're only ever going to sell a handful of copies of that model.




Is terrain a better option than game development?

Define 'better'...?

If what you want to do is produce a game, then game development would clearly be the 'better' option. If your focus is just to run a company making something, and hopefully make money from it, then terrain is potentially the 'safer' option... getting market share for a new game is hard, because most gamers won't bother to try a new game for fear it won't last. And games don't last if people won't try them...

The problem with terrain is that there is so much of it out there now... The market is saturated with resin and laser-cut options in varying levels of quality and cost, so you need to find a way to stand out from the crowd. Plastic is certainly under-represented in the fantasy and scifi gaming market, but that's mainly because of the expense in getting started... it's a massive investment for an unpredictable return.



Lastly are model cars/ planes , and trains more lucrative than wargaming and RPGs and other table top game?

They have a wider potential audience, certainly, but you would be competing against some very big players, so I wouldn't expect it to be at all an easy option.



What other sources of funding are available in addition to crowd sourcing.

There would obviously be the more 'traditional' options of saving up to self-fund, taking out a bank loan, or finding investment partners with available funds to throw at you.

   
Made in us
Osprey Reader



York, PA USA

The Allfather wrote:
Has anyone here ever started a miniature company? If so what' does your first year of operation look like? And what kind of issues have you encountered

Making the jump from resin to plastic. How much does an extruder company set you back? Or is it cheaper to buy your own machine.

What are your average yearly expenses running your company.

How much money did you start with.

Are you a successful business and if so why?

Is terrain a better option than game development?

Lastly are model cars/ planes , and trains more lucrative than wargaming and RPGs and other table top game?

Providing you have a truly unique idea. What other sources of funding are available in addition to crowd sourcing.

Thanks.



I have done what you are asking about. You can review about 7 years worth of my blog. Just google " Proxie Models Blog"

I can sum up my adventure by saying it has been rewarding- just not in the traditional sense. ( so not getting rich)

Please feel free to contact me directly via the web site if I can help in any way.

If you do not fail often you are not tackling big enough challenges. 
   
Made in us
Snord





Florida

It's not rocket surgery to spincast metal miniatures:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEsvsK_dfJ0

That being said, if you are also not the graphic designer you are going to have to pay out for an artist so that you can make your molds.


I play:
40K: Daemons, Genestealer Cults
AoS: Blades of Khorne, Disciples of Tzeentch
Warmachine: Convergence of Cyriss
Infinity: Haqqislam, Tohaa
Malifaux: Gremlins,Neverborn
Wrath of Kings: Shael Han
Dark Age: Brood, Kukulkani
Guild Ball: Morticians, Brewers 
   
Made in us
Tzeentch Aspiring Sorcerer Riding a Disc





Orem, Utah

I'm mostly painting miniatures and sculpting wedding cake toppers, but for a little while, I was also making miniatures licensed from book franchises.

We did miniatures from Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn, Howard Taylor's Schlock Mercenary and Jim Heinz' Goblin Quest. So I guess add contacts and contracts for licensing minis to the equation. I also have a casting company make resin armatures for my wedding cake toppers (although I don't sell them as is).

The move to plastic is extremely expensive, and varies based on the materials. Since we only made collectible miniatures, there was never a real need to make that move.


So here are some expectations:

- You need to either sculpt the minis yourself or hire someone to sculpt them. Expect to pay between $300 and $500 for a 30mm mini.
- A lot of miniatures are sculpted in Z-brush and then 3D printed for casting. The benefit of this is that it is much easier for you to ask for changes to the sculpt. The downside is that you need to pay $150+ for quality 3D prints that you can cast minis from.

- The cheapest molds are resin. Expect to pay a few hundred dollars for a run of about 30 minis (it takes about 30 minis to finish off a resin mold). It is also possible to learn to cast resin miniatures in your garage, if you learn the methods and buy some equipment. Because the molds don't last very long, resin casting doesn't get cheaper with volume of sales (biggest expense is the labor to make molds and cast minis). Also, ordering another lot of resin miniatures will take about a month (resin takes time to cure, so casting thirty minis from the mold takes a while).


- Metal molds cost around $150+ and they last through hundreds of castings. Pewter cools very quickly, so the castor's turnaround time doesn't have to be as long as with resin.

The equipment needed to cast metal minis in your garage is much more extensive and expensive than with resin, but not necessarily out of reach for a small business.


- We never made the move to plastic. The move to plastic is a crazy huge leap in expenses. Plastic was completely out of reach for small companies for a long time. For a small business, I believe that Kickstarter is necessary to get the kinds of funding you'd need. The biggest expense for any kind of plastic miniature is the mold/tooling.

Very few companies can bring in the kind of money needed to purchase and run the machines for plastic injection- even Reaper Miniatures only has one small machine (it produces their bases- the rest of the Bones miniature line is produced in China).

Chinese production means that your turnaround time is very long, and- like I said, the costs to start production is vary high.

 
   
Made in eg
[MOD]
Keeper of the Adeptus Arbites Flame






Cairo, Egypt

You might want to contact Proxie Miniatures, they're a one man shop (he's a one man shop?) that does plastic.

His blog is also insightful about the woes of the business.

He does bases and terrain mainly.

 
   
Made in us
Osprey Reader



York, PA USA

 Kid_Kyoto wrote:
You might want to contact Proxie Miniatures, they're a one man shop (he's a one man shop?) that does plastic.

His blog is also insightful about the woes of the business.

He does bases and terrain mainly.


I am also moving in to slot cars-

Yes it is possible to do plastic injection at home but it helps to be a bit mechanical. Lots of stuff to go wrong that needs fixing.

The past few years I have just been working a day job mostly.

Also been wasting a lot of time making things for personal use that I can not sell. And on top of that I help other people who want some things made and that can be all over the place.



I made the rear engines, wings, and lights for this conversion kit a couple of years ago for a guy. We are plotting some Space 1999 things this year.

I would caution anyone looking to get in to the hobby/industry to be aware that China is now on the playing field in a huge way. They have advantages over other countries that are really hard to explain.

Imagine a Bloodthirster vs. a halfling. And the Bloodthirster is using loaded dice.........................................................

If you do not fail often you are not tackling big enough challenges. 
   
Made in eg
[MOD]
Keeper of the Adeptus Arbites Flame






Cairo, Egypt

Hey Ken, just FYI I love the new brick walls, very useful for any game, any era.


 
   
Made in it
Reliable Krootox






I'll echo Insaniak, plastic is, for the most part, something that's well out of reach for the average startup.

It's not just that the machines themselves are ludicrously expensive but they also require quite a bit of specialised housing, care and attention. Unless you've got (or want to rent) an industrial space then you might be best off going to a 3rd party for manufacture.

Cars and trains might have a bigger audience, but if you're producing existing (or even just recent) vehicles then the threat of copyright infringement could also be something to factor in.

I started a small business making toys a while back.

Kept the day job to cover the mortgage and staying alive. saw a niche for some fun toys (7cm caricature figures in plastic) and found a potential buyer, they'd take a few thousand but wanted some changes. Changes were made, the product became much more complicated but still doable. Sourced manufacturer in China (after not getting any replies from 2 local manufacturers). Moulds were much more than I'd budgeted for and I couldn't raise the capital without risking the house so the project went all Cthulhu while I looked at other funding.

Running costs are low - co-working desk hire, rough prototypes in-house (a couple of € for feed), ~€25 for a better quality print (quick turnaround, Formlabs 2 25micron). Start-up costs were effectively negligible as I had pretty much everything anyway. Just occasional non-home desk space at a local studio.

Business is successful, while the product I aimed to make is sleeping I did pick up a couple of clients in the process who keep the wolves from the door. Between them and teaming up with another developer to thrash out a product things are going well.
Lucrative isn't a term I'd apply the life of a part-time whatever-I-am, even if I'd had the mould money the margins were slim enough to have made the payback pleasant, but hardly the cornerstone of long term financial stability. In terms of non-financial reward though it's beyond compare.

As for funding - If you don't want kickstarter or your own savings then it's business loans and grants. Not sure what your locality offers for new startups, but in some places you can get yourself a nice set of golden handcuffs. Or canvas local businesses/people for investments capital.
   
Made in us
[DCM]
Courageous Space Marine Captain





SoCal

@Ken of York, what scale are the slot cars? Also, that Cheyenne class conversion is dope. Is it for the 1/2500 kit? (Also, why did he have you create the engines for a spaceship most famous for using markers for engines?)

   
Made in us
Osprey Reader



York, PA USA

 BobtheInquisitor wrote:
@Ken of York, what scale are the slot cars? Also, that Cheyenne class conversion is dope. Is it for the 1/2500 kit? (Also, why did he have you create the engines for a spaceship most famous for using markers for engines?)


1/32 scale cars. The engines are like an oreo. The red tip and blue stripe down the side are clear. There is space for LED lights. The client wanted to be able to light the engines when built. I will have to search for some pics of it lit up, just out of curiousity. They were made for Perry County Hobbies. He may still have some but I think the embossed Star Fleet logo had him scared to sell them any more. He has not ordered a restock in some time.

Lucrative isn't a term I'd apply the life of a part-time whatever-I-am, even if I'd had the mould money the margins were slim enough to have made the payback pleasant, but hardly the cornerstone of long term financial stability. In terms of non-financial reward though it's beyond compare.


Bingo. Perfectly summed up what I also feel.

One thing I did was bring mold making equipment in house. I also use my existing building so no rent. Big problem? No employees so the amount of stuff that gets done is limited by how many free hours I can find to work on it.

Best part is I am rapidly approaching retirement so it is going to be a nice place to hang out and pass my time tinkering on stuff.


Automatically Appended Next Post:
 Kid_Kyoto wrote:
Hey Ken, just FYI I love the new brick walls, very useful for any game, any era.



My friend Elliot wanted some walls to play Hero-clix with so I made them for him. As the designer I pay-pal him 20% when they sell. Plus he gets as many as he wants to use.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/05/02 13:10:24


If you do not fail often you are not tackling big enough challenges. 
   
 
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