Sunday, August 6, 2017

What Is My Time Worth, Part 1

There's no doubt that 1/1200 scale sailing ships can be very labor-intensive compared to other miniatures.  Even if you don't rig them, you still have to paint the hull with all its tiny details.  Then you have to assemble the sails and masts, paint them, and glue them into the hull.  Once that's done, then you have to make a base for them, or buy a pre-made one which will still have to be painted. If you do decide to rig them, then that's even more work.

So then, it's not a surprise that there are few places or people that will paint and/or assemble them for you.  When you can find one, their services don't seem very cheap.  For example, a rigged British 36 gun frigate from with white metal sails and a base costs 73 Euros, not counting shipping. At this writing (early August 2017), that is approximately $85.96 US.  A three-deck ship of the line like HMS Victory costs 138 Euros/$162.47 US.  By comparison, that same $85.96 will get you anywhere from 42 to 85 to 122 painted 15mm infantry figures from Fernando Enterprises in Sri Lanka (  The wide variance in the number of 15mm figures is because Fernando Enterprises offers three different painting levels to choose from.

I now realize that I have no idea how long it takes me to build and rig one of my models.  What this series of posts are going to do then, is to try and figure out how long it takes to build one ship, and how that compares to the prices above.  I'll build a British 36 gun frigate, and record my progress in this post.  When it's done, we can see what my time is worth by comparing it to the ModelJShip price.  I suspect (and am a little afraid) that I won't like what I find out very much!

First up is the miniature itself.  A British 36 gun frigate hull from costs $6.50, the sails costs $7.25 and the ratlines costs $3.00.  I've used the same spools of threads for years, so won't count that.  I can make many bases from the plastic sheet I buy, so to price that we'll use the cost of a resin base which is $3.50.  That makes the total cost for the raw material $19.25.  In the next post, we'll take a look at how long it takes to paint the hull.


  1. It's going to be interesting to see the final outcome. I have a feeling that although the commercial prices seem high they will look good value on a hourly rate basis.

  2. I suspect the same thing, and I believe that the last one of these will probably have some disclaimer about how we build these for love, not money.

  3. The only way to really make it worthwhile is to mass produce them like Julian does. It is the only way to make the money match the time expended. Julian has perfected the method.

    1. Oh, absolutely! And I will say right up front that I can't mass produce them like he does. I'm sure that if I did it for pay, I would find some tricks to speed up my production rate.