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How many is "big-selling"? How "Limited" is "Limited"?

Discussion in 'General Figure Talk' started by Babelfish, Jan 3, 2024.

  1. Babelfish A Fixture

    Fair to say I reckon that in the grand scheme of things, ours is a bit of a “niche” hobby. Added to which there are the “niches within a niche” (guys who only paint fantasy, guys who only paint certain scales or certain eras, guys who only paint busts etc. etc.)

    All of which has often led me to ponder, how many units of any particular piece does a manufacturer need to shift in order for said piece to be a “big seller”? 100? 1000? 5000? 10,000?

    It puzzles me because there are pieces that have been in companies’ ranges and (apparently) in production for donkeys’ years, yet I’ve never seen a single one of painted up either online, in print, in anyone’s cabinet or at a show.

    But given they’ve been (or were) readily available for a long time, you’d think that someone somewhere must be buying them! Or maybe not? Were an initial (say) 500 cast that hardly anyone bought, hence there are plenty still to be had from various outlets?

    Companies are often cagey (perhaps understandably so) about their exact sales figures for any given figure. But I for one would be fascinated to know if anyone has any info on this - or even if any manufacturers reading this might be willing to give us a clue.

    And that brings me on to a follow-up question about “Limited” releases.

    Obviously something like 20 or 50 units is pretty “Limited” in anyone’s books, with such releases quickly attaining “rarer-than-rocking-horse-poo” status and becoming “holy grails” - Chris Clayton’s “Hush” bust (50 units if I recall correctly) and the SKA Project 54mm Hougoumont 1815 vignette (20 units) being good examples of these.

    But when we’re talking "Limited releases" of 300, 500 or 1,000 units, is that really “Limited”? Or are there still going to be plenty hanging around in dealers’ stocks and still available 5 years after the initial launch, and the whole “Limited” tag is just a marketing ploy playing on the “FOMO” factor in order to boost sales to waverers who otherwise might not have bothered?

    That'll depend of course at least to a degree on the quality and (subjective) desirability of the piece in question, and will vary from figure to figure. But as a rule of thumb, how “Limited” does a release have to be in order to be truly “Limited”. Can we even generalise like that? I for one don't think that 1,000 sounds particularly "Limited" whatever the subject is. But others may disagree.

    Interesting questions I think, hence I thought I’d throw them open to thew wider membership to ponder and comment on.

    - Steve
  2. Tecumsea PlanetFigure Supporter

    Limited has become a catch all to encourge forward sales, it is not a new marketing ploy I've no doubt the Romans were using it in the day...LOL. Another tactic is an open limited with a set time scale. At the end of the day if you think you are going to paint it, then buy it but don't buy anything because it is limited. With very few exceptions, seldom do these things fetch a premium over the initial sale price especially when you are tying up your money which with a bit of common sense will earm you at least 5% in bank interest at the moment.

    Limited is what ever the seller wants it to be. The reality is that there are too many kits chasing too few paint jobs resulting in huge grey armies which never get painted.

    I say the above because it is a reality, however I subscribe to some of this because I feel the market is going through huge change and suppliers are struggling to keep pace, 3d printing on demand, high postage costs, customs levies, availability of several sizes in a single item, increased material costs, move from Historical to Fantasy, etc, etc.

    As modellers we have never had it so good. So don't be hard on the suppliers.

  3. Babelfish A Fixture

    Definitely agree with the first part of that Keith. The choice we have now is just incredible (and unimaginable even just 10 years ago) and long may it continue.

    I apologise if my comments came across as having a dig at suppliers. That wasn't my intention at all. I was just pondering numbers!

    - Steve
  4. Blind Pew A Fixture

    Nice one, Steve, another interesting and thought-provoking thread. I, too, have noticed this. I've noticed it when I've Googled a figure and found the only pic I can find is the original box-art. I've also done web searches and found the only painted example I could find was my own. That's one reason I get a real kick in seeing someone else's rendition of a figure I've done. I can only imagine that some peoples' grey armies must be a sight to behold. We're all guilty of this to some extent.
    I keep saying it, we are in a Golden Age in terms of the breadth of people who're producing top quality. We no longer have to reply upon 2/3 makers to come up with top stuff - loads are doing it now. Look no further than a copy of 'Mil Mod' from the early 1990s; you'll see stuff in there people wouldn't get away with now. We, the modellers, are the beneficiaries, without doubt. 3D prints are in their infancy, image what we'll see in 10 years' time?
    I do recall this very topic being discussed about 20 years ago IRL, not online. You know Andrea Miniatures' massive kits like U-boats, stage coaches, and stuff? Apparently they planned to sell 500 and would've been overjoyed with that. How that translates to a normal single figure, I don't know.
  5. Ferris A Fixture

    I have also wondered about these figures.

    The best info on this I have ever seen was from a post, I think on PF, of Pegaso’s owner, as part of a discussion about figures being so expensive. He shed light on the cost breakdown of releasing a figure and it included info on release amount. Unfortunately I didn’t link or copy the info. Perhaps another member remembers where to find it?

    My own estimate is that selling 50 to 100 of a piece would be a good number for many a supplier, for what it’s worth.

    Hoping to learn from this thread...

  6. Martin64 A Fixture

    Interesting question. If I recall correctly former sculptor Uli Puchala released looong time ago a set of German Paratroopers riding on a captured Morris Truck (produced by Lead Slet ) with a 3,7 cm Pak (in fact the 4,2 cm special airborne version) in tow. The set came with the figures, the truck and the gun at the price of about 400 Deutsche Mark ( today officially about 200 € but due to the loss of value of the Euro more like 400,-€). Uli told me that he had to sell 20 sets to get even and start to earn money. My two cents. Cheers Martin
    Blind Pew and Babelfish like this.
  7. arj A Fixture

    Martin64, Ferris and Blind Pew like this.
  8. Ferris A Fixture

    Yes, that was the thread Andrew! Great that you recovered it.
    The posts about Pegaso’s numbers was the one I meant.
    What I did not remember correctly was some of their run sizes reaching 4 digit numbers.

  9. Steve headley A Fixture

    Hi Steve it’s a good question. The limited edition we have sort of stayed away from at TFB. But having said that the first 4 runs of the John Rossengrant figure sold out in a weekend. So that’s an exception to the rule.

    We do runs of 50 units at a time then we cut the runs down by half when the momentum is finished and then after about a year just keep a couple in stock or we would retire the figure.

    It depends on the subject some move faster than others so you have to gauge your runs on how you think it’s going to go.

    We also have our trade side which we can determine how meany runs you do. At the end of the day it’s shipping stock

    We know how meany we need to sell to make a profit that’s taking into account the following:

    Cost of the master ( this depends on who the sculpter is and what they charge )

    Production cost ( this depends on what kind of RTV rubber and Resins you use)

    Packaging ( this includes boxes, box art, plastic bags ect )

    Postage ( we offer free post in the Uk ,and we try and keep the postage to a minimum in the rest of the world)

    So with that said we established that selling 25 to 30, 75mm on average pays for the first run everything above this is profit. The next run their is no master or box art to pay for so you make more profit on your second run as it’s just rubber and resin to pay for.

    So if we sell a first run of 50 then that figure you could say is a success. Some companies might say selling 100 is a success depends on the company. Some figures take longer than others to reach the target you want but as long as you make a profit on it then it’s a success in our book.

    Hope that helps


    TFB Miniatures Team

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