Thursday, October 4, 2012

Kampfer Desolator Cost Analysis

In the aftermath of the Kampfer Desolator project, I shared the final pictures on a number of gunpla forums and social sites- and I've received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback for the model. One of the modelers even went as far as to donate a generous amount to my gunpla budget! I have a donate gadget on my blog, but never in my wildest dreams did I think anyone would use it! To the person who donated (whose name I'd rather not divulge in case he gets spammed by donation requests), I want to thank you for your generosity. Rest assured that all donations coursed through this blog will be spent on gunpla materials only.

On that note, allow me to share my thoughts on the rudiments of this hobby, along with a cost analysis I wrote up for this build. The objective of which is to illustrate how a project like this one might cost in terms of time and money. I know most of you can do the math on your own, but in the essence of the blog's title I think it would be fitting. I intend to do a cost summary for all succeeding projects I undertake.

Let's crunch some numbers!

Kampfer Desolator Cost Analysis

The charts show that the materials for this project turned out more costly than the base kit itself. However, a closer look at the notes column shows that I ended up with a lot of left overs that can be used to reduce the cost of succeeding projects. Items like the Mr. Mark Softer and Tamiya Cement last a long time, and the extra paints can always be used for mixing. The cost for materials came around to Php 2994.00, enough to purchase another Master Grade kit. The question is, would I rather have 2 snap-built kits, or the Kampfer Desolator? I favor the latter, hands down. Not only was it a blast to build, I also get to claim that no one else in the world has this model. (unless of course someone decided to build it and make the exact same errors. lol.) To have this model up on my shelf, knowing that it is the only one of its kind, makes it priceless.

Some collectors purchase very expensive limited edition items for their collection to get the exact same feeling. For those of us on a budget though, getting bitten by the collector bug can be very frustrating, especially when you want to own items that you simply cannot afford. I have been into a lot of hobbies in the past, and I've all too often heard or read the phrase - "if you can't afford it, find another hobby!".  While this may hold true for many collecting hobbies, gunpla is a bit different in the sense that you can create your own one-of-a-kind model, out of the most common kit you can get your hands on. Sure there are hard to find or out-of-production kits that the gunpla community will pay an appendage for, but it does not prevent you as a gunpla builder/collector from looking at your own collection and getting a natural high.

There are so many ways to enjoy this hobby, and most of them won't cost you more than being into a sport, having a gym membership, or a monthly internet subscription. For building custom gunpla, like most hobbies, the bulk of the cost comes from getting started - acquiring the right tools and equipment in particular - but once you've saved up for that, then the monthly cost can be acceptable for anyone with a reasonable allowance or a regular day job.

To site the Kampfer Desolator as an example, I spent a total of Php 5294.00 ($129.12) on the build which took about 14 weeks. Let's see how that breaks down if I had been saving/paying for it on a weekly or daily basis:

The table above shows that this project costs a little over a dollar a day for 98 days. It could have been built in a shorter period of time, but as I have a day job I can only work on it an hour or two a day. This is a good thing - as the longer build period actually makes the project fit into my budget perfectly! If I had more time on my hands - say I could build it in HALF the time - that would only DOUBLE the daily cost, and I would have to buy a new kit to work on, sooner than I have the money for it.

With my current set up (about 100 days per model), I can produce an average of 3 to 4 models per year, all up to the same quality level as the Kampfer. That suits me just fine :)

But what does this mean for you? Well, for starters, if you were thinking you could never build something like this due to time, cost, or skill concerns... well... you're WRONG. You CAN build a model just as pretty, or even better! It's just a matter of finding the perfect balance of those three elements. Here are 3 examples:

  1. In my case I don't have much free time, a limited budget, and average skill. That means I need to extend my build period to achieve better quality, and it should be extended such that the daily cost can fit my budget (about $1-$2 per day). 
  2. If a person of greater skill and deeper pockets were to take on the same project, he could accomplish it within a shorter build period - because he can afford the higher daily cost while maintaining the same quality with his exceptional skill. 

  3. As a third example, a person with less skill but with lots of time can spend upwards of 6 months on the same project - achieve the same quality - at an even smaller daily cost.

There are some people who have all three: time, money and skill - and while it may be easier for them to achieve great models, they can have a harder time finding a challenge than those of us "less fortunate" modelers - and challenge is what we all seek, otherwise what is the point?

If you have never customized your models before, I hope that this article removes your doubts and inspires you to take your craft to the next level. For the veterans out there, i hope you can also share your thoughts and opinions on modeling to help promote the hobby. The tutorials you share online are a great help to those of us starting out, and your advice is most welcome.


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