Frame Shop

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Re: Frame Shop

Postby Joshua A.C. Newman » Tue May 13, 2014 4:28 pm

I'm certainly not going to allow any sort of MFØ-related branding on things where the creator hasn't been consulted, or even where the contract is exclusive. Ideally, the creators are all selling their own creations, in fact.

Sell things you designed. If the design is based on someone else's design (that is, it's a derivative work), then ask them first. If they say yes with qualifications, stick to their qualifications. If they say no, go find something else to sell.

To use MFØ branding, you must either be the creator of the thing, or have a non-exclusive right to distribute it (which means, if you want to give it away, the creator must be OK with that; to sell it, they must be OK with that). The nature of that contract is not my business, except to say that the creator must retain the rights to do whatever they want with their creation.

Make up tiny giant LEGO robots and sell them! Just don't treat each other like an expendible resource, dig?
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Re: Frame Shop

Postby mraichelson » Wed May 14, 2014 3:35 pm

Rather than trying to guess what kind of stuff to order for chub kits (or at least to gauge interest for the future) would people be interested in a pre-sale kind of setup where there's a period to line up and such to buy a set that won't get charged until the time is up. Then I'd be able to know exactly what to order which would make life a bit easier.

Also: everything Joshua posted I agree with 100%.
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Re: Frame Shop

Postby Buckit » Wed May 14, 2014 4:53 pm

I would have to make sure my wife is fine with me dropping money on this sort of stuff, but I would totally be interested in buying a couple of basic chubs and scramblers so I can continue to entice friends to join us.
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Re: Frame Shop

Postby Foghammer » Wed May 14, 2014 6:49 pm

mraichelson wrote:Rather than trying to guess what kind of stuff to order for chub kits (or at least to gauge interest for the future) would people be interested in a pre-sale kind of setup where there's a period to line up and such to buy a set that won't get charged until the time is up. Then I'd be able to know exactly what to order which would make life a bit easier.


I'm not 100% sure I follow your train of thought here, so I am making this comment in a manner that follows my understanding (correct or otherwise).

Rather than post pre-orders and build on demand (that's the idea, right?), I think I would just go with the "WYSIWYG" principle. If it's "in stock" you can buy it right then, if not, then it's not available. If you're doing very basic black and bley chubs/conscripts/hi-legs in mass quantities, of if there is a design of your own you're buying bulk parts for to sell, then those items could be left in the store as "Out of Stock" items. However if you have a group of frames that use colors that don't pass through your hands often, or you build something that makes use of a ridiculous number of something like motor bricks or is full of heavy modding (cutting, painting, decals, etc), then those items could just be removed from the store once they sold since it's unlikely that an exact copy of that company will be put back out.

I mean, if your concern is spending money on bricks that aren't going to sell, I guess that's legit, but I would just look at it as having more Lego pieces for myself. If they sell, awesome! If not... awesome! But, that is assuming this business venture isn't being taken out of need for profit, but out of love for the game and building. If one was trying to supplement normal income, then I can see more merit in the build on demand. It just adds to the wait time between the buyer placing an order and receiving it. Commission works are obviously always BOD, but that's not what I thought you were talking about...

I'll shut up and wait for any corrections.

Also: everything Joshua posted I agree with 100%.


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Re: Frame Shop

Postby mraichelson » Wed May 14, 2014 8:11 pm

Foghammer wrote:I mean, if your concern is spending money on bricks that aren't going to sell, I guess that's legit, but I would just look at it as having more Lego pieces for myself. If they sell, awesome! If not... awesome! But, that is assuming this business venture isn't being taken out of need for profit, but out of love for the game and building. If one was trying to supplement normal income, then I can see more merit in the build on demand. It just adds to the wait time between the buyer placing an order and receiving it. Commission works are obviously always BOD, but that's not what I thought you were talking about...

Yeah, mostly it's not wanting to put up the money up front for a bunch of stuff that might not sell when I already have far more frames for myself than I can reasonably justify.

As far as profit/etc discussion: I'm really just shooting for "doesn't lose money" and "doesn't take so much time out of your day your 'real' work is impacted".
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Re: Frame Shop

Postby DRevD » Wed May 14, 2014 8:32 pm

Best thing about Lego is you can always use those pieces to make something else. If something isn't selling, repurpose those pieces into something that will sell. It will require some work from the seller to know whats currently selling and in demand.
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Re: Frame Shop

Postby mraichelson » Fri May 16, 2014 1:22 pm

Okay, so, after touching base with They-who-are-on-high, here's where I'm at:

If you (or anyone else you know) wants a kit with parts for 5 chubs I'm taking orders now to be put together over the next few weeks and sent as soon as I can in mid-late June. Those can be snagged from here: https://gum.co/mobileframezero-chubs

I've got some stuff assembled for putting together a simple site to provide links to the kits and links for other people selling companies: If you have companies for sale now that you'd like me to include on there once it's ready shoot me a message on here and let me know what it is, how much yr looking for, and how people should get in touch with you for it (and a pic, which pretty much everyone does anyway).

For an ongoing frame-kit shop: Have some options in the fire, but want to see how the "batch of chubs" kits do before putting actual money into parts and software and such.

Just curious and want updates? You can sign up for email updates: http://eepurl.com/Uen6v
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Re: Frame Shop

Postby Scrape » Sat May 17, 2014 12:31 pm

That's awesome! I'm spreading the word on other sites. $50 is the perfect price point and you've offered the perfect level of customization (simple color choice).

I hope it works out so we can see more interesting team builds in the future. Very cool!
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Re: Frame Shop

Postby mraichelson » Mon May 19, 2014 7:40 pm

Aaaaand, how about a single thing to bookmark? Sounds good, right?

http://MobileFra.me/

(If anyone has companies for sale they want me to add send me a message.)


/* My stupid web host swapped servers on me right after I had uploaded the actual site. If anyone saw anything weird, well..no, you didn't. */
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Re: Frame Trader

Postby Ced23Ric » Tue May 20, 2014 9:22 am

Mhmm. I have a question, and mean no disrespect, but where does the price come from? I am seemingly looking at about 400 pieces (4 frames and terrain), which would come out to about US$40, ideally. Assembly is a non-issue, as it's lego. Assembly also makes shipping harder. Are instructions included in the price?

To be honest, this is a problem I have with selling companies to begin with - the prices seem really high, for what you effectively get.
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Re: Frame Trader

Postby A YATES INDUSTRIALS » Tue May 20, 2014 9:55 am

Well my frames are very parts intensive !
So I charge a lil' xtra... Plus I will ship in the states for free!
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Re: Frame Trader

Postby woodwardiocom » Tue May 20, 2014 9:58 am

Ced23Ric wrote:Mhmm. I have a question, and mean no disrespect, but where does the price come from? I am seemingly looking at about 400 pieces (4 frames and terrain), which would come out to about US$40, ideally. Assembly is a non-issue, as it's lego. Assembly also makes shipping harder. Are instructions included in the price? To be honest, this is a problem I have with selling companies to begin with - the prices seem really high, for what you effectively get.


If the seller isn't making a profit, they have no incentive to sell in the first place. The markup is high but not absurd; wholesale costs are often about half of retail costs. (And I'd pay a fair bit to get other people to deal with BrickLink for me...)

Now, it's entirely possible you're not the target market, here...

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Re: Frame Trader

Postby Foghammer » Tue May 20, 2014 10:26 am

Ced23Ric wrote:Mhmm. I have a question, and mean no disrespect, but where does the price come from? I am seemingly looking at about 400 pieces (4 frames and terrain), which would come out to about US$40, ideally. Assembly is a non-issue, as it's lego. Assembly also makes shipping harder. Are instructions included in the price?

Your question is valid. It's something I have put a lot of thought into myself.

If I had paid $0.10 per piece then you would be absolutely right. However, I had to order much of these in small lots over a long period of time, and I don't recall a single time hitting the "golden ratio" on dark tan or dark blue pieces. On average, I find dark tan in the 15-20 cent range, though often higher, and in small lots (particularly dishes and tiles). More recently there have been sets that include larger numbers of these pieces (Chima springs to mind for dark tan and olive; Star Wars for dark blue and dark red), so maybe those prices have come down a bit, but I have not been shopping for them since 2014 rolled out. I haven't priced out each according to the part, but I would not expect to be able to gather a parts list for any of these and make a single or even two orders on Bricklink and have everything to build them. Maybe, but I don't expect it. (Minimum shipping on Bricklink orders averages $2.50 for anything 13 oz. or less.)

Then, there are a lot of people who apparently hate using Bricklink. Figure that anyone who would rather buy pre-made frames instead of learning or at least dealing with Bricklink would rather pay a little extra to save themselves the headache.

Also, while it's true that I would freely post breakdowns of any of my own designs for other people to copy, I'm selling what is essentially artwork. I didn't just sit down for 5 minutes and belt out a dozen zealots, I actually spent a lot of time working it out and testing things. If you check my flickr account you can actually see a variant of it that I have since decided isn't as well-defined or clean looking, though at once point it was the primary concept model.

I am not proficient in LDD or other Lego-based design software, partly due to my laptop being unable to run the software. Any building I do comes from being able to actually touch and handle the pieces, so I do not have formal instructions as such. How I handle that is to take detailed breakdown shots of anything that seems complicated, and I only disassemble where necessary, keeping as many parts as I can together. For example, a chub or zealot is sent with the arms, legs, and head removed from the torso, and either placed in a zipper bag or wrapped in some protective packaging. I am probably needlessly careful about this part.

In the end I think they are worth it, and if no one else does, I will keep them. LFoW's Desert Mercenary Asada is a frame I have coveted for a long time, and I was prepared to pay as much as $40 for that frame alone if he had ever agreed to sell it. Granted it had a bit of modding done to it, but it was more about owning that model than the pieces that went into it. Everyone has a different perspective on these things. [/shrug]
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Re: Frame Shop

Postby A YATES INDUSTRIALS » Tue May 20, 2014 11:04 am

I'm with ya Fog I have also put a lot of time and money into bricklink and a lot of sweat and tears into my frames.. I'm not trying to get rich, I just want people to enjoy my frames as much as I do and still be able to cover my brick addiction! And yeah bricklink can be a pain the last order I made for my "ARMLITE" company was over $70 and I had to order from 5 different stores!
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Re: Frame Shop

Postby mraichelson » Tue May 20, 2014 11:22 am

Jaded "I work in a service/thought industry" response: Trying to price a custom frame strictly by parts is sort of like trying to price a custom house off just the cost of the lumber. There's a lot of intangibles that go into the creation of things like that and part of it is "this is how much your idea is worth to me" on top of "8 headlight bricks at $0.09 each equals..."
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Re: Frame Shop

Postby Ced23Ric » Tue May 20, 2014 11:55 am

Without going into individual quotes, some thoughts:

Supply and demand requires a demand that can be met by the supplies and supplies that are drawn upon by the demand. Ideally, the elements are balanced, from a commercial aspect, you want a higher demand for less supply - because then, you can raise prices. A lower price, though, generates more demand.

I am absolutely and 100% not the target audience. I build my own frames and companies and would not consider buying a premade thing in the first place because I love to build and tinker. At the same time, I was debating on offering similar services for Europe/Germany, but ultimately decided against it. I felt uncomfortable reselling bricks I had ordered (with seemingly little effort, as I find Bricklink to be clunky, but work my way through it fairly fast) with a margin, and then giving someone an idea he could get from, say, FlickR be reverse engineering, and then slap a margin of 100% on it to make it worth my time effort. As an employee in a service position that does not move product at all, my time and mental effort are my sold resources myself.

I found that paying myself $15 hourly for R&D, partial assembly, S&H and communication slapped a pricepoint on a handful of bricks that made the entire thing seem unattractive, from a buyer's perspective. To drive the price down would cut into my hourly pay, and while it would generate more revenue, it would also deplete existing potential buyers faster - which is a horrible thing to do in a market as tiny as this.

So personally, I did not find a pricepoint I found worth the effort while yet being ... morally acceptable, to myself. But I admit that I am horrible at selling to people I am friendly towards. Especially the personal effort aspect of any bill always stumped me.

I wish all of you the best of luck, really.
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Re: Frame Shop

Postby Blorf » Tue May 20, 2014 12:33 pm

There are a lot of factors that go into a price point. Here's a breakdown of what people have said, plus some thoughts of my own:

  • Cost of individual parts
  • Cost of parts acquisition
  • Cost of packing material
  • Cost of shipping
  • Cost of transaction fees or taxes if applicable
  • Value of builder's time in designing the frame
  • Value of builder's time in creating build instructions
  • Value of builder's experience/creativity
  • Value of scarcity (one off/limited edition? unpublished instructions?)
  • Value of builder's time in parts acquisition
  • Value of convenience to buyer (not having to source parts, not having the skill to create the design, perhaps even not having to tactically consider loadouts)
  • Value of the creation as a visual artwork
  • Value of the creation's ability to function as a game piece
  • Value of customization (if commission)
  • Market forces
  • Value of adding to and furthering other goals (typically this would reduce the price)

Direct cost is just a small part of the consideration. I would wholly expect chubs to sell for much less expensively than a single-edition unique design, even given an exact match in parts.
Last edited by Blorf on Wed May 21, 2014 11:49 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Frame Shop

Postby Foghammer » Tue May 20, 2014 12:37 pm

Ced23Ric wrote:A bunch of insightful stuff.

Yeah, man, selling anything for profit is difficult, especially with intangible factors. I actually work at a place that sells fine craft art (not artS and craftS, which is like summer camp stuff). Students are required for their senior thesis to set up an exhibition of their work (fine pottery, furniture, jewelry, etc), and part of that is pricing their work for sale. It's super fast and easy to double the cost of materials and add $15/hr to the price, but there's often more to it, and prices are usually much higher than mass produced goods.

I guess it's something like paying a buck fifty for a 20 oz soda from the gas station when you can buy a whole 2-liter from the supermarket for a dollar. You are paying for the convenience of the drink being right there, cold and accessible, only in this case, shopping Bricklink for several days or weeks and tinkering around for about that long replaces going to the store and chilling your 2-liter and then lugging it around all day for when you might want a sip.

In any case, no harm done and no ill will . Different strokes, as they say.
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Re: Frame Shop

Postby Ced23Ric » Tue May 20, 2014 12:48 pm

Blorf wrote:I would wholly expect chubs to sell for much less expensively than a single-edition unique design, even given an exact match in parts.
Homo oeconomicus says, that's a horrible idea. You are basically taking a bottle of water, rip of the label, make a ribbon around the nozzle and then sell it for more than the previous bottle. It's still the same bottle of water. While I can understand unique builds, custom ordered, being more pricey, selling the same parts under a different configuration (especially deliberately) is a weird if not distasteful thing to sell for more coin.

It's still a Chub kit.

The rest, I follow.
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Re: Frame Shop

Postby Blorf » Tue May 20, 2014 1:19 pm

Ced23Ric wrote:selling the same parts under a different configuration (especially deliberately) is a weird if not distasteful thing to sell for more coin.


If someone requested that you spend time to carefully design a custom frame for them, and one of their requirements was that it used the same parts as a chub, wouldn't that command a higher price than just sourcing the chub parts? You would consider your time on the design and creating the instructions to be worth nothing?
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