Mini Auction prices. Are we expecting too much?
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Thread: Mini Auction prices. Are we expecting too much?

  1. #1

    Default Mini Auction prices. Are we expecting too much?

    Greeting to all you wonderful miniature painters,

    I guess I'll get right down to it, i think we've all browsed through the auctions here at CMON and seen the truly spectacular painting available, and I know I'm not the only who has seen a very good model or squad and then looked at the expected price and nearly choked on their drink.

    I'm not trying to say people shouldn't get paid for the blood, sweat and tears they've put into their work, but does anyone else think that some of the prices people expect are getting a bit unbelievable?

    Being a freelance artist and needing to get paid for my work I understand the desire to get what you're worth, but I've also had to limit how much I charge in order to get work, at least until I've reached a level where I have clients clamoring for my services.

    While I haven't looked for myself at how many mini's get put up for auction and how many actually get sold, I'm under the impression that the number is fairly small.
    Any views on this?

  2. #2


    can you give examples ?

    and most of the time I think the painted minis are under what it should cost. I mean the artist probably put in 20+ hours of work for a decent mini/squad, so even at minimum wage it should be at least at least 150-200$, probably more.
    This of course doesn't apply to the ebay-propainted category, there the seller should pay for generating all the extra work (stripping the minis before repaint)

    edit: I see 9 auctions ending today, from those I'd say:
    too expensive: 3,5
    seems ok: 5,5

    on one I couldn't decide, on 3 others I find the the price too much for the paintjob.
    Last edited by MAXXxxx; 03-06-2015 at 02:04 PM.

  3. #3


    It really depends on the individual mini(s) if it's worth it or not. I know of a single mini going for £500 , was it worth it? Well it was to the collector. I don't collect minis, just love painting them. I keep the ones that have a special meaning to me and the others get' recycled' in other projects. I've been asked loads of times now if I will do commission work , I nearly always decline - don't know why just carnt paint for money? I get the shakes lol
    Last edited by ten ball; 03-06-2015 at 02:12 PM.
    1. 'Painting is a companion with whom one may hope to walk a great part of life's journey.' W. Churchill
    Thank you for asking but I don't do commissions.

  4. #4


    I think you can always find people trying to sell stuff on ebay for more than it's worth, not just figures. Well painted figures can, and do, go for a lot of money. However I'm not sure ebay is the best place to sell high quality work, there's not a large number of people interested in painted figures and willing to pay high prices. Plus, as anyone who's searched 'pro-painted' on ebay knows, a lot of people have an unrealistic opinion of how good they really are.

  5. #5


    I sell stuff when i run out of room. All my gaming armies went fast this year. They were taple top+ and i sold them for 1/2 retail. They were underpriced and several people contacted me re commissions. It's a hobby. I just want enough money to pay for the next minis. It's like a self sustaining hobby that way I'd say there are no professional mini painters selling their wares on ebay. Real pros have their own sites and paint to a clients needs not just random crap that they post on ebay.
    "Remember, you can't spell paint without a little pain."

  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by Bailey03 View Post
    a lot of people have an unrealistic opinion of how good they really are.
    It's only a flesh wound!!!

  7. #7


    Those are some very good points.
    I don't want to pull specific mini's from the auction list, due to it might be offensive to which ever painter I happen to choose. I agree, with the amount of time and effort spent getting them to look just right, anything less than three digit prices would feel like wasted effort.
    As Will Terrell said about pricing your services as an artist, you aren't paying just for the time it takes to produce the actual work but also paying for the years it took to get that good. For me that's about 30 years worth of learning and practice.
    However, I also know that asking for heaps of money is a good way not to sell something. At least at first.

    Yeah commission can be lucrative, but you need some serious discipline and a thick skin to take criticism. Imagine having to repaint or sculpt a mini 10 or more times till it's just right.

    I guess my guideline for pricing is no more than the original cost plus 50% maximum. And that would be for a top of the line mini that perfectly fit the theme of my army or game. $100+ for a single fig is unrealistic.
    I can see how much time and effort people have put in and how much of themselves they channeled into what they're painting, though with that said I'm of the opinion that some sellers aren't looking at their minis with an objective mind. Taking their bias's and feelings out of the picture and asking themselves what would someone realistically pay for this? Am I asking for so much that a potential customer could very well buy 30 or 40 brand new miniatures for what I'm asking for this single one?

    Thanks for the great replies

  8. #8


    Art work is very fickle and the price is only guided by the public demand for that artwork or artist. Exceptionally good and well known artist will have ppl quing up and hanging them £100's to paint a single figure but then an artist who isn't well known (like most of us) would properly be aiming to make double on a single figure, there they are a decent painter. like you say your paying for the knowledge and exp of the painter as well as the labour to paint the mini itself but even more important than that is the reputation and how well known the painter is.

    I would agree that ebay properly isn't the greatest place to sell a mini (I do sell stuff I paint on ebay when I'm just wanting to cash to buy more private stuff to paint and they don't go for anywhere near the amount of effort I put into a paint job, but then sometimes they do). I normal list my mini's on ebay for mini price+mats and what ppl bid on is my labour, sometimes I win, sometimes I don't but I win more than lose (i normally sell figures for double that I pay for them). Commission work I just assess per job but then I only really paint for the local gaming folk although I am planning to expand and do it full time as I might have to quit my day job due to my wife being ill.

    I'd rather paint for free for everyone because I just enjoy painting and putting my love into the mini's but alas I have bills to pay and simple commission work that I get from the local folk is easy cash to allows me to continue painting.

    Going back to topic I think that a lot of ppl think they are the worlds best painter... just search ebay for the 'pro painted' cat, omg there is some really badly painted minis in there, it really annoys me because it totally undervalues what real art is but you do see the odd exceptional painted mini
    Last edited by EpicMiniArt; 03-06-2015 at 06:33 PM.


  9. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by DarrenStillsSr. View Post
    Yeah commission can be lucrative, but you need some serious discipline and a thick skin to take criticism. Imagine having to repaint or sculpt a mini 10 or more times till it's just right.

    I guess my guideline for pricing is no more than the original cost plus 50% maximum. And that would be for a top of the line mini that perfectly fit the theme of my army or game. $100+ for a single fig is unrealistic.
    nah, it's not that bad. Most customers don't need a very flasy mini. So if you follow the requested scheme, don't paint it badly (like primer still showing through, mispaintings, mouldlines left on figure) there is very little need to repaint something, most don't ask for one even if there are minor problems.

    I think 100$+ is not unrealistic depending on the quality. There are quite a few minis with paintjobs, where I'd 'love' to spend that much (most cmon 8-9 ones fall into this category), but not enough money for that.

    ebay for the 'pro painted' : I think nowdays it's a joke . For example on dakkadakka it's a synonym to "painted like sh*t". Still, rarely there are some wonderful minis that for some reason sell really cheaply (Last I remember was a GD winner in the LotR category that sold for around 50$).

  10. #10


    Ebay is probably better for selling basic table top or slightly above table top work for a moderate mark up. When it comes to serious display/competition level pieces, people will spend anywhere from 20-100+ hours on them. If you're charging just $10 an hour, that's $200-$1000 plus the cost of the figure and supplies. I paint for fun, not to make money (although I do take on the occasional commission piece and have sold finished work). For commission work I try to estimate how much time and then set a fair price, but it is rare that I take on a project like this. For pieces I've already finished, it's more difficult to figure out a price. I try to factor in the size of the figure/time spent on it, how difficult it was to do and any extras it has, and, of course, the overall quality of the piece. In the end, it's worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it.

    The impression I get is people who paint for a living often focus on painting whole armies and not single figures (display level). Seems like that gives you the best return on your time. For the few that do single figure display level work instead of armies, it seems like running classes and seminars (and probably box art) is necessary to make ends meet.

    For anyone interested in selling display level work, try attending major painting shows. These are places where you can run into serious collectors who understand the art and are willing to pay what it's worth. From my experiences in the US, the MFCA show has a lot of collectors. When you sign in to enter your figures, they have stickers to place on the base to let everyone know if the piece is for sale. The group running the LIHMCS show in Long Island also did a good job of getting collectors in touch with the artists. That's not to say people were selling tons of figures, I have no idea how many where sold. But I know that it did happen.

  11. #11


    Oh really? I had no idea shows like that existed...puts a new spin on it. Creating display quality pieces to be shown at something like a gallery environment is, I must admit, exciting. Now in an environment like that I could see serious collectors putting down a heap of money for a special piece.
    I'll have to take a look at those events you mentioned.

  12. #12


    Are you located in the US or somewhere else? Some of the bigger pure figure shows (as opposed to those attached to gaming tournaments) here are the MFCA Show (Philadelphia in May), SCAHMS (LA in April), the MMSI Show (Chicago in Oct), and AMFS (Atlanta in Feb). And the Chicago group will be hosting the World Expo in July 2017, which should be really big. There are also a lot of shows all over Europe, but I'm not as familiar with them as I am with the US ones.

    If you're in the US, you might be interested in a list I put together of the ones I'm aware of, along with dates and links over on my blog. In addition to the big 4 I mentioned, there a number of smaller shows (including one in TX next weekend).

  13. #13


    I'm in Canada, which is close enough to make it to one or some of those.

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