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joshuaslater

Tin Prices

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I saw an anouncement on the Forum of Doom from Andy over the pond at Heresy miniatures. Apparently tin prices are soaring, and it doesn't bode well for our collective hobby. Is Reaper seeing a soaring increase in production costs? Will this affect future pricing? Will you announce this like you did in Casket Works, or will we see something on the forum as well?

 

Cheers.

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If prices will increase has Reaper ever considered switching to resin? Many companies have done so in response to high pewter prices. Just curious.

Ken

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Resin is a pretty radical change in terms of production techniques, capital, etc. REaper would have to redo all their molds, I would bet, not to mention retrain its staff, invest in materials, etc. The cost of switching to resin would be pretty drastic. Also resin is A LOT more toxic, and there is more waste (a miscast metal piece can go back in the pot; resin cannot). On top of that, models designed for metal casting, when converted to resin, may not work out so well (a sword blade in metal FREX may not need to be so thick, compared to resin). So I really don't see resin conversion as a likely avenue...

 

As for tin, prices have been soaring for the last year or so, thanks to the emerging economies of China and India. I would expect we'll just have to pay more, like everyone else, unless Reaper switches back to a lead based alloy (which ALSO may be increasing for the same reasons as tin...)

 

Damon.

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Also I believe Reaper will always stay metal

 

resin tears up molds quicker then metal anyways

 

RM

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This is just more incentive for people to recycle! Participate in your local recycling program! Drive up the supplies!

 

(I'm a waste managemnt/recycling NUT, hehe)

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From what I recall of my very enjoyable and informative tour of the Reaper factory during ReaperCon 2005, Reaper would lose several of the tools they use to keep their prices low. They reuse just about every scrap of metal that doesn't make it into a production miniature - you can even bring in old sprues to trade as they can reuse them, and mangled minis get melted back into the pot. They also save costs by processes that let them keep moulds going for far longer, and from what haldir says, resin would be much harder on the moulds. I suspect that the RPG players who only buy minis for games and aren't experts on painting, prep and so on would not like the more brittle nature of resin, and from my experience working in a game store for a couple of years, they are a pretty sizeable customer base.

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I have a sneaky feeling that Reaper is ahead of the game on this point. Tin, like any comodity, is purchased as a future. Some of the hard-nosed metal guys there (bless you Al) are pretty good at keeping the cost down to a fine line. The boys and girls in the office are playing smart ball as well. We have recently seen models that used to come in 3's or more now available in singles and the multi-packs are fixing to move to nine instead of 3 or 4. Taking this approach helps defray a cost to the customer by allowing a volume purchase and the discount lost in the multi-packs can be made up in the single mini department. There are other methods at work in Denton that seem to be helping the cost stay low. From recycling to smart alloys to reconstituting waste that typically gets shipped back to solder houses, Reaper is making every penny stretch to the 1.1 cent mark.

 

Unfortunately, as aa metals company, they will always be a slave to the market price of raw materials, but I would not fear large price increases in the near future. Price rises with inflation and Reaper will have to eventually go up, but so does you gas price and the cost of a gallon of milk. Thats life. I can remain very certain that the guys in charge will always remain the highest quality for the lowest possible profitable price.

 

IMHO, not even resin could prove more cost effective in the overall scheme of things. Reaper is owned and operated by fans of minis just like you and me. Barring apocalyptic tragedy, I don't see them gouging their customers or toppeling under the volitility of the market prices of materials.

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Also, after I inquired about lead content during my pregnancy, Ed is extremely concerned about having too much lead in the minis. Also, there are some states that regulate how much lead content can be in items (minis being one of those items). I don't see Reaper changing their formula at all for more lead content.

 

They do what they can. We can do our part by taking our unwanted (Reaper Only) sprue and extra stuff to ReaperCon and cashing in on it.

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If prices will increase has Reaper ever considered switching to resin? Many companies have done so in response to high pewter prices. Just curious.

Ken

 

I can't think of any companies that have switched to Resin. Which ones have done that? The only companies I can think of that do it the smaller scales have always done it like Fenril(sp?) and Fortress Figures.

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Well Fortress Sells 10 resin figs for $10, and has done so for a while. A few years ago, they sold some Ral Partha figs in resin. Resin is cheaper than metal, by a long shot.

 

http://www.fortressfigures.com/cgi-local/f...mbies&pid=4

 

Different techniques are needed, but I know FF does spincast resin.

 

I would say the avg mini has a volume of 10cc, or 1/3 an ounce

 

16 fl oz of casting resin is $15. which comes to $0.31 of resin per mini. Buy the 2 gallon kit, that drops to $0.15 per fig.

 

Buy 100 lbs of pewter, you get pewter at $10/lb at some suppliers.

 

Density is around 7g/cc

 

So, a figure containing 10cc of metal, that metal weighs 70g, or ~2.5 ounces, and that 1 lb bar of pewter gives you only 6.5 castings, which means each mini has $1.50 of metal in it.

 

So the cost of raw materials between casting a fig in pewter or resin is nearly 10x! I think you could handle a few miscast resin figs at that price difference. Heck, you can probably work shorter mold lives into that as well.

 

The other problem too, is distributors magnify tin price rises even more. If Tin rises just 10 cents, Reaper needs to increase it's price to distributors by 0.10. By the time it reaches the store, because markups are in percentages, that rise of 10 cents can become 40 or so!

 

So I think until more tin mines come online, prices will continue to rise. It's starting to give me pause in buying habits!

 

I REALLY think manufacturers do need to look to alternate materials. For the next few years, tin is only going to keep climbing. China's economy is still growing. Some people are successfully spincasting resin, and resin is real cheap, by a factor of ten. That gives you a lot of wiggle room wrt other costs.

 

Current tin prices may affect my cav purchases. :/ Sorry, but it's getting crazy! I think that really, reaper should look into alternatives!

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Somehow I don't think Fortress does the same volume Reaper does. How long does it take to spin cast resin figures, Crusoe? I've watched the Reaper casters churn out an insane number of pounds of metal per hour. I think the fact you're not factoring in labor costs, or the added costs of safety equipment, may be throwing off your conjecture a bit ::D:.

 

Besides, I think to most gamers looking for a quick mini slight contact with a teeny-tiny amount of lead > filing off resin mold lines, the dust of which is inherently really bad for you.

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I've been painting for over three years and I keep putting off working on any of my small selection of resin minis due to unfamiliarity with prepping them, the need to wear a mask and close off the room while filing them (paint area is also cat food/catbox area, and I don't think I can get him to wear a mask), and concerns over the brittle factor. I'm hoping to start getting over some of that, just mentioning to point out that there are hurdles to resin on the consumer as well as the production end that I'm sure are factors in the decision of any company about which materials to use.

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A typical Reaper fig does not have 2.5 oz of metal in it. I did a quick water displacement test with a mini sitting on the paint table which fit into a graduated jar, so I'd estimate more like 2-4 cc for a typical mini (0.5-1 oz of metal).

 

From a forum where people do a lot of resin casting, I hear a lot of talk of the molds only being good for 25-60 moldings with resin before they need to be replaced. That would mean new production molds on a daily basis for casting popular items. Many of the casting resins also require 1 or more hours before they can be demolded, and the resin only has a 5-10 pot life once mixed. So a lot of time wasted mixing resin and waiting for it to cure (not to mention the fun of slightly wrong resin mixes which don't quite ever cure or bubbles in the resin from mixing to fast and not pressure casting the figure).

 

Note also that Mega Miniatures does castings in metal for a lot of the Fenryll resin figures (similar to what Adiken was doing a few years ago).

 

Many of the high quality resins used for figure casting have gotten around the problems of extreme brittleness. The most brittle tend to be the cold cast porcelain (porcelain powder is mixed into the resin). Yes, the dust from resin is always bad.

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Also, after I inquired about lead content during my pregnancy, Ed is extremely concerned about having too much lead in the minis. Also, there are some states that regulate how much lead content can be in items (minis being one of those items).

 

I was under the impression that there was a federal limit on the amount of lead in toys that was enacted at some point in the early 90's (or was it late 80's) which is why all of the mini companies switched to pewter from all lead minis. I seem to recall a bit of "doom and gloom" talk from various gamers and companies about how the government was killing the hobby.

 

Thanks to those who mentioned the danger of resin dust: I didn't know that. While I only have a few resin bases at this point, I might eventually pick up some resin minis.

 

Ron

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