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Building cars for profit


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32 minutes ago, Bainford said:

Your question and your topic heading are at odds with each other. There are a number of guys building models and then selling them. No one is making any profit from it.

Paul Hettick does quite well. I'm sure there are others that build and sell. But, I doubt they bring in the profits he does. I've thought about selling some that I've built just to reduce the herd. But, I probably wouldn't recoup the cost of the kit and supplies. 

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I've had people ask me about building them a model, expecting I'll do it for $10 or $20 or even $50. I tell 'em I'll do it for $25 an hour, and it will probably be somewhere between 20 and 40 hours. That squashes the idea fast, which is fine with me. I got plenty of stuff I want to build for myself--probably more than I can finish in my lifetime. 

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I do sell some of mine on the bay from time to time. I only have room for so much and I need to clear some room from time to time. I don't do it for profit but once in awhile one will strike a cord with a couple people and I do ok. I am happy just to get back enough to pay for another kit and a few supplies.

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2 hours ago, Snake45 said:

I've had people ask me about building them a model, expecting I'll do it for $10 or $20 or even $50. I tell 'em I'll do it for $25 an hour, and it will probably be somewhere between 20 and 40 hours. That squashes the idea fast, which is fine with me. I got plenty of stuff I want to build for myself--probably more than I can finish in my lifetime. 

Agreed! Closest I’ve come was for my department secretary many years ago. Her husband had a 68 GTO in Verdoro Green and I knew of a diecast the right color. I added his license plates from the Acme plate maker and it was a hit!

I’ve built kits to give away, but that’s a whole different subject!

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10 minutes ago, Tom Geiger said:

Agreed! Closest I’ve come was for my department secretary many years ago. Her husband had a 68 GTO in Verdoro Green and I knew of a diecast the right color. I added his license plates from the Acme plate maker and it was a hit!

I’ve built kits to give away, but that’s a whole different subject!

And I love the ones who say, "I might let you build a model of my old car sometime."  :lol: I always say, "Let me? If I decided I wanted to, you couldn't stop me!" :lol::lol::lol:

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50 minutes ago, Snake45 said:

And I love the ones who say, "I might let you build a model of my old car sometime."  :lol: I always say, "Let me? If I decided I wanted to, you couldn't stop me!" :lol::lol::lol:

Amen. Snake. Most people I've build for love the idea.

 

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I agree with others. You might be able to sell built models but except for a few exceptions you are not  going to make a profit.

Given the cost of kits and supplies relative to what some of the less expensive diecast you are going to have a difficult time to make a profit.

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1 hour ago, ewetwo said:

Amen. Snake. Most people I've build for love the idea.

 

Back in the 1990s there was a guy who owned a chopped 49 Mercury who called himself Fonzie.   There was a little model car show attached to Lead East back then. A young guy did a replica of this fellow’s Merc.

The car and owner were at the outside car show when someone must’ve told him to take a look at the model. The guy went nutz on the poor kid! This was HIS car, HIS copyrighted design etc.  it took a couple of guys to calm him down and get him off the kid. 

There’s always one idiot!
 

 

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I've asked myself the same thing knowing I'll reach a point where I wont have room for any more builds and will have to thin the fleet, "if I sold a model would I make a bit of cash from it?" short answer is no, taking into account the cost of the kit and the supplies used to build it. Unless it's a super rare model or built to a extremely high standard you might as well forget about making a profit. If you build a kit that has so much detail it looks real, would you want to sell it? Some of my better builds that I've spent lots of time on I will never sell, and they're nowhere near as good as what I've seen from others on this forum. When I have no choice but to clear a few kits I'll just have to accept a loss and be happy they go to someone who will display it, or even restore it.

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Paul Hettick does well, but then again he has had to build a reputation over a number of years to reach that point.  Some of his builds are based on resin kits that are costly to start with, so sometimes he isn't doing as well on a build as it seems at first glance.  

Making money at it would require being both good and fast.  I built two '60 Fords for Round 2 some years back (quite possibly the least seen two builtups they ever had at any trade show!).  I learned a lesson...I can do good work but cannot do it fast.  I won't attempt such a thing again.

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Back in the early 80’s I molded the 5 battleship class hulls and a bunch of superstructures for an part time model maker. He advertised in a veterans magazine for replicas of the WW2 battleships that sailors served on. The model maker would have me cast the correct hull, specific structures and ship them to him. He worked out of his house on Cape Cod. I had to check this guys operation out. So I decided to deliver his first order personally.               Turns out he had the most spectacular view over a marsh on the Cape Cod National Sea Shore. He was building models to supplement his Navy pension I was a very jealous young man.

 

  


 

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3 hours ago, Mark said:

...I learned a lesson...I can do good work but cannot do it fast. ...

Ditto. Back in the 1990s I learned of a guy with money who wanted top quality model buildups but had no time to build them himself. I thought I could make a small profit, but in each case, considering what I valued my time at back in those days, I could do no better than break-even. My '57 AMT T-bird in this thread is one of the ones I built for him, and if I remember right, I think I charged $350 for it, but I know of various areas where I could have done a better job (paint / windshield / more wiring), but the price would have kept on climbing. He really liked the buildup, but that was around his top end purchasing limit for each car, and I didn't see a way for me to do better without taking more time. And time = money.

A expert craftsman could make money, but it would likely end up being a really small niche market where mega-cash guys like Jay Leno might see a particular model they want commissioned to be built, either as an exact replica of a really unique model the original builder doesn't otherwise want to sell but could replicate if you paid him enough cash (say, for example, "Hollywood" Jim Fernandez's Steampunk Mercury), or simply an exacting replica of a 1:1 car that shares very little with any plastic kits. If cost is no object for the buyer, that's where a builder could demand enough cash to not end up starving while building a really fine commissioned model.

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Last century I did a few commissions.  Might have made Chinese slave labor wages.  It was enough to buy a few kits and tools.  Recently I've tried doing just resin Coke coolers and tool boxes, but for the time and material I'm not making squat, it's more to share what I can.  I acquired a nice resin kit from Portugal, I can't imagine the guy makes a living doing it, just the wire wheels alone must take awhile.  I also think if it was to become a "job" for a living, it would be...... work.

But if you can make it, more power to you!  I'm just a pessimist.

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The smaller resin casters not really making money is true too.  I did it myself for several years and can vouch for this.  By doing it, I did go to more shows that I normally wouldn't have gone to, and met a number of people I wouldn't have run into in my travels otherwise.  But the profit was minimal or not there at all, and you do burn out on the whole thing.  I pulled the plug before getting to a point where I thought I was doing everybody a favor (sadly, not everyone does that, and continuing under those circumstances wipes out any good will built up in the "good" years).

I did know one guy who did builds to order, he was fast and good, and was happy with what he was getting for his work.  But even he burned out on it after a few years.  I bought his stuff when he quit building altogether, for good.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/1/2021 at 6:11 PM, Tom Geiger said:

 

The car and owner were at the outside car show when someone must’ve told him to take a look at the model. The guy went nutz on the poor kid! This was HIS car, HIS copyrighted design etc.  it took a couple of guys to calm him down and get him off the kid. 

There’s always one idiot!
 

 

His "copyright?" Since when? Did he get exclusive license that no one can replicate his car design? Probably not. If anything, the guy should have been honored, not flip off on some 3 year old throwing a tantrum. Over-react much?

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1 hour ago, Nacho Z said:

Tom, may I ask which ship and which kit?

USS Norfolk DL-1. I forgot who made the kit. I've got all the parts (ASROC launcher, 7" deck mounts. etc.) to fit it like it was when I was aboard (63-66).

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On 11/1/2021 at 3:11 PM, Tom Geiger said:

there was a guy who owned a chopped 49 Mercury

 

On 11/1/2021 at 3:11 PM, Tom Geiger said:

This was HIS car, HIS copyrighted design etc.

If only Fonzie could see the irony in that... I’m sure there are more chopped ‘49’s than stock ‘49’s at this point.

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