coaster

1225 North Pole Railroad

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So maybe it's too early to talk about Christmas yet, but we're testing the waters at BrickTracks by releasing our first full train set for Christmas this year:

North Pole Railroad

We've had a fair amount of downtime waiting for the tooling for the switches to be completed, so thought it would be fun to do something a little different. 

North Pole Railroad

Each kit comes complete with all of the bricks and elements needed, including a PF L-motor, IR reciever, battery box, and remote control.  It is all LEGO except for some 3rd party elements, including Big Ben Bricks wheels, improved magnets from Studly Trains, BMR bearing bricks, and of course, a loop of R104 tracks from BrickTracks.  Printed bricks and stickers are by OKBrickworks.

North Pole Railroad

Some of you may have seen the prototype of this set running at the NILTC Cantigny show last year, where we were putting it through its paces.

North Pole Railroad

All-in-all, the set is over 3800 pieces. We're taking pre-orders through September, after which a limited number will become available December 1st.  

North Pole Railroad

If you're at all interested, you can check it out at www.bricktracks.com.  Yes, it is expensive, but we don't get any support from LEGO, so we have to source the bricks from resellers on Bricklink as well as sort and count everything for each set.

It's been a lot of work, but also a lot of fun to do.  I'm hoping that if we are moderately successful with this we can release additional rolling stock for it each year.

I hope you like it and can forgive the shameless advertising.

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Posted (edited)

The proportions are spectacular - this is a case where a model looks more like fine scale than Lego. Having said that, you're right, it's unbelievably pricey.

Have you considered selling the instructions rather than just the kit? I believe I could more than justify spending, say, 50 bucks to source my own parts... but I'm totally out of the market for $1,250. 

Edited by SteamSewnEmpire

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Posted (edited)

The loco looks 100% amazing, but for me, an 18 year old $1250 is a bit too pricy.  Even my 15 year old brother loves it but the cost is way too high for us. 

I agree with @SteamSewnEmpire that this may be better as an instructions kit.  Also I think if you put custom rods in it would look better and may justify the price more. 

 

Lastly do you have any upcoming sales on BT as I'm looking to get a loop of r104 from you but I don't want to buy when it is $120.  Is there any chance you may be lowering price also, I know your margins my not allow it but I just can't afford the $120 for just one loop of track, well mainly my 14 year old brother who wants them.  Will you be doing any discount on the tracks at all as I want them so bad but right now they are out of our price range.  Or can you do any discount special for young TFOL's

 

-Conner and Cole

Edited by Coal Fired Bricks

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8 hours ago, SteamSewnEmpire said:

The proportions are spectacular - this is a case where a model looks more like fine scale than Lego. Having said that, you're right, it's unbelievably pricey.

Have you considered selling the instructions rather than just the kit? I believe I could more than justify spending, say, 50 bucks to source my own parts... but I'm totally out of the market for $1,250. 

If you think you can source the parts yourself for $50, keep dreaming. 3800 parts at roughly 10¢ a part means parts alone is $380. That is a VERY generous estimate because it doesn't really account for things such as wheels, PF stuff and custom decal printed bricks which is much more than 10¢ a part. 

Additionally, printing a ≥100 page, double sided booklet in high quality isn't cheap. Then factor in the box it comes with and all the time it takes to sort the parts for each individual order and the price becomes more than fair. Frankly, I think Scott should be charging far more than what he is currently. His price is in-line with nice O-scale offerings and you get the added benefit of being able to build it yourself. 

39 minutes ago, Coal Fired Bricks said:

The loco looks 100% amazing, but for me, an 18 year old $1250 is a bit too pricy.  Even my 15 year old brother loves it but the cost is way too high for us. 

I agree with @SteamSewnEmpire that this may be better as an instructions kit.  Also I think if you put custom rods in it would look better and may justify the price more. 

 

Lastly do you have any upcoming sales on BT as I'm looking to get a loop of r104 from you but I don't want to buy when it is $120.  Is there any chance you may be lowering price also, I know your margins my not allow it but I just can't afford the $120 for just one loop of track, well mainly my 14 year old brother who wants them.  Will you be doing any discount on the tracks at all as I want them so bad but right now they are out of our price range.  Or can you do any discount special for young TFOL's

 

-Conner and Cole

This hobby isn't cheap. Scott might be having a Labor Day sale but $120 for a loop of this track being as quality as it is is again, more than fair. 

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Just now, Jeffinslaw said:

If you think you can source the parts yourself for $50, keep dreaming. 3800 parts at roughly 10¢ a part means parts alone is $380. That is a VERY generous estimate because it doesn't really account for things such as wheels, PF stuff and custom decal printed bricks which is much more than 10¢ a part. 

Additionally, printing a ≥100 page, double sided booklet in high quality isn't cheap. Then factor in the box it comes with and all the time it takes to sort the parts for each individual order and the price becomes more than fair. Frankly, I think Scott should be charging far more than what he is currently. His price is in-line with nice O-scale offerings and you get the added benefit of being able to build it yourself. 

So... $380 now equals $1,250? I understand that people have to be compensated for labor, design, packaging, etc., but not to that degree. There's a big difference between 'expensive' and 'I could get a brass O or G-scale locomotive for less than this.'

Also, why are you so defensive over this? What does it really matter? The model is lovely - it's superbly designed. But it's also for sale. People can comment somewhat negatively regarding cost.

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At first I thought it would be like $500-700, $1250 USD is a lot! That's like CAD$1678.23... I could by another LEGO train for less than that and get EXACTLY what I want.

This product has to compete with other LEGO products, or people's own imagination of what they can build themselves with $1250. I recommend just selling PDFs of the instructions. 

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It is $1225, was $1399.99 as listed on the website with an SKU 1225 too. 

 

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1 hour ago, SteamSewnEmpire said:

So... $380 now equals $1,250? I understand that people have to be compensated for labor, design, packaging, etc., but not to that degree. There's a big difference between 'expensive' and 'I could get a brass O or G-scale locomotive for less than this.'

Honestly, it adds up really fast. It's easy to know as a untested fact that these things are more expensive than they may seem, but even knowing that the actual costs of a full set don't really hit you until you actually try doing it.

"$380" is itself a ridiculously low part cost estimate, given how many parts are Dark Red and Dark Green, the fact that these are all coming from the second-hand market and not directly from LEGO (And the fact that LEGO themselves don't really ascribe to 10c per Part, any set with large parts, custom molds, intricate parts, or low-production parts hit above this average - something easily seen in official LEGO train sets). Then you have to factor in shipping costs from lord-knows-how-many stores, plus all the train specific parts tend to be in the "Dollars per part" range and not "cents per part", throw in the loop of track, the PF equipment, the printed parts, and I could easily see this thing hitting $800+ bucks before you get to anything else involved. Throwing in high quality printed instructions, packaging, shipping on top all adds up too.

The biggest thing nobody accounts for when talking about the prices of the custom kit stuff though is the time it takes. And like, holy crap, the time it takes. I've in the past sold some stuff as full kits, the easy ones were little 200 part ornament sets and I've done a 800~ part diesel locomotive for somebody. The amount of time and effort that went into designing and testing a reliable model, making the instructions, sourcing the parts, sorting, counting, double-checking, triple checking, from start to finish, even for a run of small kits, was enormous. And the costs were well above what I expected, even with my expectation being that it would be more expensive than I thought. A huge advantage to buying these custom "Full Sets" is that, for the buyer, all that work is taken out of the equation AND you get a much more premium experience. Someone still has to do the work - and the cost of labor needs to be factored in, too.

But like, ok, that still leaves us at the end of the day with "This is still expensive" and "I could get a brass loco for less". Which is true! You could. And if you want to, you ought to. But different items in different markets will, well, have different values. And even in the same space, "Industrialized" versus "Custom" products have a huge difference as well. Custom work is always more expensive in anything out there - models, art, maintenance, you name it. Industries have advantages of production, scale, marketing, and make enough to be able to pay people to focus on the products full-time. You just don't have those advantages with custom work, in anything. And in any scenario, trying to cut down the expected costs to just the costs of the raw material just doesn't work out. You have to remember that you're paying for the time and experience of the people who are offering their service. 

The cost for this is high, but for everything involved and keeping in mind too the time spent, I personally think it's very fairly priced. Out of my budget right now? Sure. But maybe I can get one later. I'd certainly like to get one. But just because I can't afford it, doesn't mean it's not worth the cost. Could Bricktracks decide to cut down the price to something just barely above what they expect (But have no guarantee) that the raw materials cost will be? I mean, I guess. Would it be worth it to them to then sell that for no profit after hundreds of hours of work? Not really. The cost for this is high, but for everything involved and keeping in mind too the time spent, I personally think it's very fairly priced. Out of my budget right now? Sure. But maybe I can get one later. I'd certainly like to get one. But just because I can't afford it, doesn't mean it's not worth the cost.

I think the general LEGO community in particular suffers from this blindspot really badly. Looking at a custom products, from just plain instructions to full sets like this one, there are always people who go "That's too expensive", and usually it's followed up with "I could do that myself for a lot cheaper". Sure, that's true in theory. When I go to Comic-Con, there's tons of artists there selling pictures of all sorts. Hand drawn stuff, paintings, digital art, etc.,  nobody looks at these and goes "Wow, $30? The paper is like 20 cents and the ink couldn't have cost more than another 50 cents. I'll do it myself!". Most people recognize that what's in front of them is more than the sum of the raw materials - it takes a lot of time, skill, and dedication to be able to take $1.50 of raw material and turn it into what you see there. Not even the artists who conceivably could do it themselves act this way. Most other communities understand and respect what goes into the artistry of the thing, and I just don't see that in the LEGO community. There are a lot of individuals who do, but it's definitely not typical of the community as a whole. Maybe we'll get there someday. 

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I don't have any argument with the price per se; I respect the time and effort involved to do this project and the need for enough profit to make it worthwhile doing. 

From my perspective, the competition would be to buy the Disney train for $330, a circle of R104 track for $140 delivered, and some parts to build a Christmas tree car to go with it for a total of about 1/2 the selling price of this set. And you get a station and Disney characters as a bonus. Granted the locomotive and cars are not near as nice as the BrickTracks one but do kids and non-AFOL's really care?

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Posted (edited)

It's a wonderful model, but I would agree with the others that it seems quite pricey for most people.

For me, a set with just the 3rd party elements, stickers and instructions at a reduced price would be much more desireable.

Nonetheless, great work!

Edited by Viscount_Prime

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26 minutes ago, bogieman said:

I don't have any argument with the price per se; I respect the time and effort involved to do this project and the need for enough profit to make it worthwhile doing. 

From my perspective, the competition would be to buy the Disney train for $330, a circle of R104 track for $140 delivered, and some parts to build a Christmas tree car to go with it for a total of about 1/2 the selling price of this set. And you get a station and Disney characters as a bonus. Granted the locomotive and cars are not near as nice as the BrickTracks one but do kids and non-AFOL's really care?

Eh. To be fair, this locomotive blows the Disney train out of the water. Aside from the steam dome - for which Lego still provides no decent 3-w solution - the loco could be at a glance mistaken for a Bachmann 10-wheeler. It's that good.

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26 minutes ago, bogieman said:

I don't have any argument with the price per se; I respect the time and effort involved to do this project and the need for enough profit to make it worthwhile doing. 

From my perspective, the competition would be to buy the Disney train for $330, a circle of R104 track for $140 delivered, and some parts to build a Christmas tree car to go with it for a total of about 1/2 the selling price of this set. And you get a station and Disney characters as a bonus. Granted the locomotive and cars are not near as nice as the BrickTracks one but do kids and non-AFOL's really care?

You are missing one key point here: This set is not intended for the mass market. Heck, I'm pretty sure @coaster couldn't even handle more than 10-100 orders of this set. It is clearly geared towards those who want an absolutely stunning looking train that will be a conversation piece when displayed/running around the Christmas tree, and who have the budget but not the time to design and build such a masterpiece. It is like buying a Koenigsegg or a Lamborghini .... Small niche clientele, high price but absolute perfection.

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Just now, Phil B said:

You are missing one key point here: This set is not intended for the mass market. Heck, I'm pretty sure @coaster couldn't even handle more than 10-100 orders of this set. It is clearly geared towards those who want an absolutely stunning looking train that will be a conversation piece when displayed/running around the Christmas tree, and who have the budget but not the time to design and build such a masterpiece. It is like buying a Koenigsegg or a Lamborghini .... Small niche clientele, high price but absolute perfection.

I agree - it can be out of 99% of our price range and he'll still almost certainly sell out.

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Posted (edited)

$1000? Never for me. Ever. But that is OK! There are people out there willing and capable to spend this amount of money and that is perfectly fine with me.

I'd just suggest going PoweredUp (Pup) - and not PF. Pup is making its way. It would be really unfortunate to limit the things you can do with a >$1000 set by PF. The Pup L motor along with the 2I/O hub would not affect the price tag at all. In contrast: PF will phase out, I am pretty sure. Even including a Pup remote would not rattle on the price tag. But: You can do so many more things (given you have a smart device with BLE) - it would fit the set much more. Take speed control alone ... in case the train has to go through original LEGO track. With Pup it will do that at >constant< speed, provided you tell it to do so via the Pup app.

Just my 2 cents.

Best
Thorsten

P.S.: An ESP32 nodeMCU costs $10 max. It can readily control a Pup train in every regard; particularly an XMas set, where the train may go back and forth, or does this and that ...         

Edited by Toastie

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9 hours ago, SteamSewnEmpire said:

So... $380 now equals $1,250? I understand that people have to be compensated for labor, design, packaging, etc., but not to that degree. There's a big difference between 'expensive' and 'I could get a brass O or G-scale locomotive for less than this.'

Also, why are you so defensive over this? What does it really matter? The model is lovely - it's superbly designed. But it's also for sale. People can comment somewhat negatively regarding cost.

You're only focused on the part count and not the man hours that goes into designing these models, developing the instructions, gathering the pieces, and then assembling the kits.

For example: my Big Boy. I have over 60 hours into the design and easily another 60+ into designing the instructions. Then I have another dozen or so hours of building the model and then testing. All in we are at probably close to 140 hrs for something that is a PDF instruction set. I value my time in the $20-25 range when doing anything with LEGO because I find it fun and therefore don't feel like I need to pay myself a very high dollar amount. This puts me at a $2800 to $3500 investment just for a set of instructions! Granted my main goal isn't to make money but to better the hobby and encourage others to develop as builders themselves but at the end of the day, I want to make sure I am compensated for my time that I invest. 

Factoring all the time it takes to assemble the kits, and double, triple checking and I bet Scott makes an okay amount off of each kit sold. Which is great because guess what Scott can turn around and do? Invest some of it back into BrickTracks which means more great products for everyone. I would happily buy a kit myself but it just isn't my style. However, I think the price is more than fair.

I get defensive because people don't realize this stuff doesn't happen overnight. It takes time so when I see people being like "wahhh it's too much" it irritates me. Creators should be valued and paid appropriately. I still think Scott is about $500 too low on his kit.

7 hours ago, Daedalus304 said:

~snip~

Couldn't have said it better myself.

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Posted (edited)
53 minutes ago, Jeffinslaw said:

I get defensive because people don't realize this stuff doesn't happen overnight. It takes time so when I see people being like "wahhh it's too much" it irritates me. Creators should be valued and paid appropriately. I still think Scott is about $500 too low on his kit.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Except, the design part can and does happen overnight - I do it all the time, and that's really the only part that requires unique talent. Maybe the kit is worth what he's asking (I don't believe that myself, but whatever - I think it's a very flawed approach to be purchasing Lego in what amounts to a 4th-party transaction. Lego is overpriced even out of the box; it doesn't need 'sales from sales from sales' markups tacked on), but the failure to offer an "every man" option in the form of instructions is rather tone deaf in today's economic climate. No, the answer is not 'this is what the hobby costs,' nor is it responsible to brand those who don't possess immense disposable income as crying. We aren't all wealthy. Period. And the answer shouldn't be "then get out."

I'm not going to post anything else in this thread because the man's trying to sell his product. But I did feel it necessary to respond to a call out like "wahhh it's too much." You're on a first-name-basis friends with this guy - maybe that slightly skews your POV on this?

Edited by SteamSewnEmpire

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Posted (edited)
42 minutes ago, SteamSewnEmpire said:

Except, the design part can and does happen overnight - I do it all the time, and that's really the only part that requires unique talent. Maybe the kit is worth what he's asking (I don't believe that myself, but whatever - I think it's a very flawed approach to be purchasing Lego in what amounts to a 4th-party transaction. Lego is overpriced even out of the box; it doesn't need 'sales from sales from sales' markups tacked on), but the failure to offer an "every man" option in the form of instructions is rather tone deaf in today's economic climate. No, the answer is not 'this is what the hobby costs,' nor is it responsible to brand those who don't possess immense disposable income as crying. We aren't all wealthy. Period. And the answer shouldn't be "then get out."

I'm not going to post anything else in this thread because the man's trying to sell his product. But I did feel it necessary to respond to a call out like "wahhh it's too much." You're on a first-name-basis friends with this guy - maybe that slightly skews your POV on this?

I love your models and they look great ..... digitally. Designing a train on the computer is _completely_ different from designing a train that also runs reliably on track. Many things that seem to work on screen do not work in real life. That's where most of the extra hours go into. So your comparison is flawed.

Edited by Phil B

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IT's a very lovely model indeed !

On the second topic ....

It's never a question of being too expensive but more a question of willing or being able to afford it.

The people making such sets know very well that they need to set a reasonable price level for the customers but they need to think of themselves as well. No viable business when you underprice to please customers.

On a personal note : If I could afford it , I'd probably spend the money on something else . For me the fun is in designing, tinkering, building and chasing the parts. Not in having the model....

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2 hours ago, Phil B said:

I love your models and they look great ..... digitally. Designing a train on the computer is _completely_ different from designing a train that also runs reliably on track. Many things that seem to work on screen do not work in real life. That's where most of the extra hours go into. So your comparison is flawed.

So much this. @SteamSewnEmpire when was the last time you designed a model that ran on track in the brick? I can "design" a model in a day, will it run on track and hold together when handling? Probably not. 

@Jeffinslaw is correct there are hundreds of hours into instructions alone, then you add order and dealing with BrickLink sellers, counting parts, sorting parts, etc it adds up FAST. Just look at other custom kits available from places like BrickMania and Armor Brick or heck even Brick Model Railroader. Those prices range from $0.50 to upwards of $1.00 per part and they sell reasonably well. 

@Daedalus304 put it into perfect words. This is a custom, short run, piece of art. The price comparison to LEGO is not even close they wont produce a set unless they think they can sell tens if not hundreds of thousands of them. (yes I know there are exclusives for events but thats not the point here) They can take the couple hundred man hours of design, testing, instructions, redesign and spread that cost out over a LOT of sets. @coaster is not making hundreds let alone thousands of these kits so he needs to recover the cost of his time for these. 

Yes its expensive but the idea that it could be designed "overnight" is a total fantasy. 

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8 hours ago, supertruper1988 said:

Yes its expensive but the idea that it could be designed "overnight" is a total fantasy. 

The guy is nuts to think it can be done overnight.

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Yes, that is a lot of money, but the rule of thumb 10 years ago was $0.50 per part for custom builds (mostly 2x4 bricks) was a good break even target for commissioned builds. So this set should come in at $1900 by that measure. Given the number of expensive parts in it, the set should probably be at least $200 higher given: large train wheels, PF, roller bearing trucks, loop of track. I bet he's taking  loss on the track and the roller bearing trucks since he only has to pay production costs rather than retail costs. At any rate, If you are looking for a train like this it seems to be a good value for an all in one set (especially with the loop of track). This train design is certainly in the upper tier of MOC's I've seen on this forum. It is a niche set and there will be folks who will jump on it.

I am sure there are many people on this forum who could rival this design, but those folks are not the target audience. It takes years of work to be comfortable enough with bricks (real or virtual) to be able to design a good steam locomotive (both in terms of looks and performance), and a lot of time to learn how to source bricks. If you are fortunate enough to have those skills it makes perfect sense that you would rather save your money and build something that is closer to your tastes.

For those folks who are not at that skill level (or simply like to see how others solve some of these problems) and do not want to pay the premium cost of an all in one set, there are some really great steam engine instructions out there for $10-$50 and you can source your own bricks. That is a different market.

Whenever I get the idea of putting together a set, I just pay attention to how much time it takes me to source parts for a build and I quickly change my mind. I've made a few 50 piece sets, I had someone ask to buy 100 copies and they expected a bulk discount, unfortunately the brick market doesn't account for that. I could find the seller with 10x of the rare part cheap, but I'd quickly exhaust the supply of cheap parts. So you actually see the cost of raw materials per build increase as your quantity goes up. It's a crazy market. In this case, one could get a PF battery box from lego for $13, but you can only get 2x. The cheapest seller on BL with more than 4 copies comes in at $18, but if you wanted to avoid international postage, since this is a US seller the cheapest (and only) available in quantity in the US is $26. All of that without the time it takes to order, the postage, etc.

Now on the flip side, @SteamSewnEmpire and @Coal Fired Bricks I think you are looking at this the wrong way. You seem to be thinking,

  • "that's a lot of money" + "I could do at least as good myself" = "he's crazy"

What you might want to be thinking,

  • "that's a lot of money" + "I could do at least as good myself" = "maybe I should look into making instructions to sell"
  • "that's a lot of money" + "I could do at least as good myself" = "next time I build an engine for myself, get enough parts for 1-2 extra copies and I could sell those for $1000 ea." + "(but I'll hold off buying the really expensive bits until I've made a sale)"
  • "that's a lot of money" + "I could do at least as good myself" = "maybe I should solicit commissions to build one of my designs for a customer at $500-$1000 up front"

 

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28 minutes ago, zephyr1934 said:

.....

  • "that's a lot of money" + "I could do at least as good myself" = "maybe I should look into making instructions to sell"
  • "that's a lot of money" + "I could do at least as good myself" = "next time I build an engine for myself, get enough parts for 1-2 extra copies and I could sell those for $1000 ea." + "(but I'll hold off buying the really expensive bits until I've made a sale)"
  • "that's a lot of money" + "I could do at least as good myself" = "maybe I should solicit commissions to build one of my designs for a customer at $500-$1000 up front"

 

This is incredibly accurate. I design and sell lots of instructions, probably more than most folks in this hobby. It takes a lot of work to even just sell a PDF+decals for the builds. A crucial step and determination of making a build is designing it, but then actually building it. I can learn more in 1 test build with physical bricks than I can in 100 hours on the computer. 

For example, I designed and sold a small 0-6-0 steam locomotive for Iron Horse Brick Co. We sold a physical instruction kit which included the side rods, decals, power adapter, and the printed instruction manual that was 100+ pages. When I designed it, I put together the drive train and tested it for 25+ hours before I ever considered even building the rest of the locomotive. That is no small time investment. I want a product that looks good and works well. Sure next time I design a 0-6-0 or any X-6-X locomotive, I will start with that drive train because I have run it for more than 100 hours at this point with 0 issues. I will of course have to test pilot truck designs and frame designs for any non 0-6-0 locomotives but at least I put the time in to make it work correctly and sell a product I can fully support. 

LEGO also does this but even if they put 1000 man hours into a design/test/instructions cycle on a product, they can expect to sell 100,000 or more copies which means the added cost to each set is pennies. If I put 100 hours into a design/instructions/test, and sell 10 copies, then I have to get 10 hours from each sale. If I gave my self a "wage" that would be $200 per sale in labor time alone and I have only made instructions at this point. If you check out the links in my signature, you will see that the pricing means none of my instructions will pay me back for my time in near future time frame. 

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4 minutes ago, supertruper1988 said:

This is incredibly accurate. I design and sell lots of instructions, probably more than most folks in this hobby. It takes a lot of work to even just sell a PDF+decals for the builds. A crucial step and determination of making a build is designing it, but then actually building it. I can learn more in 1 test build with physical bricks than I can in 100 hours on the computer. 

For example, I designed and sold a small 0-6-0 steam locomotive for Iron Horse Brick Co. We sold a physical instruction kit which included the side rods, decals, power adapter, and the printed instruction manual that was 100+ pages. When I designed it, I put together the drive train and tested it for 25+ hours before I ever considered even building the rest of the locomotive. That is no small time investment. I want a product that looks good and works well. Sure next time I design a 0-6-0 or any X-6-X locomotive, I will start with that drive train because I have run it for more than 100 hours at this point with 0 issues. I will of course have to test pilot truck designs and frame designs for any non 0-6-0 locomotives but at least I put the time in to make it work correctly and sell a product I can fully support. 

LEGO also does this but even if they put 1000 man hours into a design/test/instructions cycle on a product, they can expect to sell 100,000 or more copies which means the added cost to each set is pennies. If I put 100 hours into a design/instructions/test, and sell 10 copies, then I have to get 10 hours from each sale. If I gave my self a "wage" that would be $200 per sale in labor time alone and I have only made instructions at this point. If you check out the links in my signature, you will see that the pricing means none of my instructions will pay me back for my time in near future time frame. 

All this!

Instructions are REALLY hard to get right. It's part of why when I released my SF&D passenger cars, I released the instructions for free... I wanted them to exist so the idea of the cars gets out there in the world, but I didn't want the "pressure" of getting them 100% right. So releasing them free meant they didn't need a warranty. In opposition, I'm working on a non-train instructions book, and the amount of brain cycles and revisions I'm having to put in is INSANE. I think I'm about to render out every page of the book for the 20th time because of not only step order tweaks, but just general graphic design and layout changes.

Is this train out of my price range? Yes. But I'd love - after @coaster sells out of his run, which will happen - to take a gander at the instructions to learn from them. And with the price he's charging for the model, I can rest assured that the build is a solid one with damned fine instructions when he releases them for sale. :-)

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Gorgeous model. Even to see it running around a Christmas tree or winter themed layout would make it quite the season. Best wishes on your sales.

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