Trading Models for Paint Jobs – in Absurd Scale

Not too long ago, a local gamer posted on our forum that he would be interested in painting some figures in exchange for more models.   You might remember Cole from some of his posts here on the blog, or from his own (despite it not being updated since 2010).  He’s a pretty good painter with a penchant for burning through models relatively quickly, and I think he’s trying not to waste money on Warhammer, so the idea of trading for something he can churn out relatively easily, is something that appeals to him.

wh39kSkavenforGoblins (1)Of course, his offer to paint wasn’t targeted at me, but I made a snarky comment about my hoard of goblins.  When he didn’t scoff—despite having a rough idea of just how many figures I had kicking around, we started talking.

Which leads us to today.  He’s supposed to come over on Tuesday so we can work through the details, so I thought I’d try to get my thoughts out on paper to figure out what we need to accomplish, and what sounds reasonable.

Let it be known that I don’t think anyone committing to painting several hundred models for anyone at any price is reasonable.  Yes, I know Cole will read this, and I’m more than willing to give him an out before he commits.

Anywho, we’ve already sent a few emails back and forth on the subject and what seems to be the baseline for the deal is:

  1. Models should be exchanged in roughly 1:1 fashion, with larger ones counting for multiples
  2. He’s looking for WHFB (not 40k), specifically Chaos, Daemons, Beastmen, Chaos Dwarves, Lizardmen, and Skaven/Ogres are also possibilities (though practically speaking, for me to do this, Skaven are a must-include, since I don’t have much/any of most of those armies)
  3. He has a full-time job, goes to school, and a family, so timelines have to be flexible.
  4. It’s an all-or-nothing proposition.  I don’t want half of the army painted, so he’d have to commit to painting everything.

With that in mind, I had to do a couple of things on my end to prepare, including counting up both my Orcs & Goblins, as well as acquiring enough other models to make this even remotely possible.

wh39kSkavenforGoblins (4)Despite not playing WHFB since 4th edition (which was from 1992-1996, for those whipper-snappers in the audience), I started picking up some goblin lots from the 7th edition starter:  The Battle for Skull Pass.  When I did play WHFB, I had a Dwarf force, Undead force, and a Goblin force, and knew that if I was ever to get back into the game, it’d be the greenskins (specifically night goblins) that’d draw me back, and I was buying lots for $.25 each or so.  I figured that even if I never played with them, I could at least get my money back out of them one day.

Anywho,  I knew I’d picked up 7-8 sets of those, and another goblin army off some guy locally, plus various units off ebay over the years, which meant at least 500 goblins that would need to be painted, and I had nowhere near that many other WHFB models to trade.

So, I wound up picking up two more lots of Skaven/Chaos from local gamers.  One was a purchase for $150 (I think), that also included some River Trolls that would need to be painted), and another was a trade for a massive amount of Skaven for some Marine stuff I had kicking around (expect another blog post about this trade shortly).  When added to the lot of Skaven I’d traded from Brandon a few years back (that doesn’t look like it ever got a blog post), I might be close.

I wound up spending the morning taking inventory, and came up with the following goblin models:

  • wh39kSkavenforGoblins (3)420x Goblin Infantry
  • 6x Trolls
  • 14x Goblin Chars
  • 70x Spider Riders
  • 6x TeePee
  • 1x Games Day Orc
  • 1x Grumlock & Gazbag
  • 3x Gamezone Fanatics
  • 1x Orc Character
  • 1x Finger Goblin
  • 1x Snotling Pumpwagon
  • 37x Black Orcs
  • 15x Squigs
  • 9x Fanatics
  • 3x Fanatics
  • 1x Grom’s Chariot
  • 1x Giant Squig
  • 1x Goblin Spearchukka
  • 60x Night Goblins
  • 40x Goblin Infantry
  • 1x Trolls
  • 2x Goblin Chars
  • 10x Spider Riders
  • 1x TeePee
  • 14x Trolls
  • 1x Skarsnik & Gobbla
  • 2x Metal Chars
  • 1x Giant Spider

That’s a total of 723 models (more than I’d originally thought), the vast majority of which are from the Battle for Skull Pass set.  In addition, there are a bunch of painted models that would need to be touched up to match the paint scheme—but since those are already painted, I didn’t include them, hoping that they could just be touched up to fit in, and not have to be stripped—which would actually make them harder to paint.

For trade, I have the following:

  • wh39kSkavenforGoblins (2)120x Skaven Clan Rats/Slaves
  • 11x Skaven Characters
  • 8x Skaven Mortars
  • 8x Skaven Rat Ogres
  • 15x Skaven Characters
  • 100x Skaven Clan Rats/Slaves
  • 60x Skaven Clan Rats/Slaves
  • 50x Skaven Clan Rats/Slaves
  • 50x Skaven Clan Rats/Slaves
  • 12x Skaven Mortars
  • 20x Skaven Storm Vermin
  • 20x Skaven Plague Monks
  • 30x Skaven Plague Monks
  • 20x Skaven Storm Vermin
  • 28x Skaven Giant Rats
  • 3x Skaven Warmachines
  • 15x Skaven Rat Ogres
  • 10x Warriors of Chaos Chaos Knights
  • 2x Warriors of Chaos Warmachines
  • 36x Warriors of Chaos Footmen
  • 2x Lizardmen Skinks
  • 5x Demons Juggernauts
  • 1x Demons Balrog
  • 1x Demons Lord of Change
  • 8x Demons Bloodletters
  • 10x Warriors of Chaos Hounds

Like I said, most of this is Skaven, and a good deal of those are from the Isle of Blood sets.   It’s a total of 645 models, so there are fewer of these than goblins, but there are also a good deal of larger/more expensive models—but the question is how to account for those.   Is there enough to make up the difference?

So, things that I think we need to figure out when we talk:

  1. Are these balanced?  Maybe we can come up with a ratio that would explain what the equivalent in goblins is for larger models?  Perhaps something like calvary being 2 models, 40mm bases being 4 models and large warmachines being 16?
  2. What level of quality would be expected?  I’d definitely suggest a single test model be done to make sure we’re on the same page.  Ideally, I’d love to see squad markings of some sort to differentiate them.
  3. What’s the timeline for completing everything.  Originally he suggested “a couple of months,” but that really doesn’t seem realistic at this scale.  Is 6 months enough?  I’d almost believe that “before the end of the year” is as stringent as we could get…
  4. What happens if he doesn’t complete them in time?
  5. Who holds the models during the process?  Do I give him all of the goblins up front?  Would he prefer it in waves?  Does he get all of the skaven/chaos up front or in parts?
  6. I’d also like to have some unit fillers made.  I suspect that I wouldn’t even have to buy models to make this happen, but could use some of the ones I have in the boxes.  So, ideally, I’d like to work a solution wherein I get some time to build some of these into nice little unit fillers.  Yes, I realize that unit fillers seem stupid in a 700 model force, but I really like the character they add…
  7. Should I even do this?  I mean, 600+ GW models should fetch a good price if I just sold them online.  Is it really worth whatever that money to have a painted army for a game that I don’t play?  (I know that’s part of why Cole is considering this though, as he could goad me into playing WHFB if I had a completely painted army)
  8. Should Cole even do this?  That’s an absolutely huge commitment…   I know that I certainly wouldn’t do it if I were him.  Then again, I’m nowhere near as fast a painter, and I don’t enjoy it all that much.

Anywho, those are the thoughts I’m mulling over.  Anyone else have thoughts on the matter?

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13 comments on “Trading Models for Paint Jobs – in Absurd Scale

  1. Yikes, that has comes out bad written all over it I’d think. we have someone who sounds like they have a pretty full plate, taking on over 700 models for trade? I mean the timeframe alone is crazy, and if he gets 3-400 in, I obviously don’t know how long that would take for him, and for whatever reason can’t continue, he just gets burned for it? I don’t think its a hot idea.

    • I’ll admit that I’ve had people paint stuff in the past, and it’s never gone quite as planned–and certainly never been on this scale. In the past, I’ve had people volunteer to paint things like 100 termagants to a base-coat level for $.25-$.50 each (which frankly, isn’t enough incentive), and they tend to burn out about halfway through.

      This certainly does have a huge potential for failure though, and I suspect I’ll spend a good deal of time trying to set realistic expectations. The most important thing is not completing the project, but rather maintaining a friendship when it’s done (especially if it the actual project goes sour).

  2. The trade rate is about right. A good rule of thumb is to get something painted it should cost about as much as the model(s). So trading 1 for 1 is about right. the project however seems too large. I would suggest doing it in bits, figure out a army list and start there. If it works and he wants to continue great, if not you still have an army painted and there is still ebay to get rid of the unpainted stuff.

  3. I certainly think it’s plausible…

    One thing to bear in mind is that those goblins are pretty easy to speed paint. He could have them all sprayed in one sitting, touched up in another, and then skin basecoated – even for several hundred – in not a great deal of time. Or at least, some people could – I don’t know Cole!

    Some other things worth thinking about: splitting the whole lot into a smaller army – say 300 goblins, along with supporting units, and then adding army extensions. I know you want the whole lot done, but at least this way you’d be left with something useable if something goes wrong half way through. Timing would suit everyone – you’d have time to create unit fillers, and he’d be able to work on a smaller project with an end in sight. And you’d be able to provide part payments more easily.

    Something else worth thinking about: if you don’t take up this opportunity, is it remotely likely that they’ll get painted any other way? Is there any possibility of you painting this many goblins? If not, and you’d therefore be considering ‘paying’ someone to paint them in the future, why not look seriously at this now?

    Some other thoughts: perhaps tie in the painting goals with his. Get it into your contract that he paints up one of your units for every unit of skaven he paints. This achieves two things: it breaks up the painting for him (keeping him sane and more likely to keep up with it), it incentivises him to work on your army if he wants to work on his, and as both of your armies will grow at the same pace, you’ll have the opportunity to play each other too. perhaps set a goal of playing against each other at the end of every month. His responsibility is to ensure that each army is painted in time! Of course, this would only work if he actually wants to expand his skaven army with 500 or so infantry rather than the equivalent points’ worth of monsters and wizards.

    Perhaps it might also be worth thinking about a real money price on the painting. That way, if he did burn out half way through (and I’m assuming he’s not going to _want_ to screw you over), you both have a fallback option: rather than him painting more rats, you’ve got a pre-agreed ‘this is how much money it’ll cost me for you to finish the job’.

    • Great ideas, all around.

      I’m still loathe to break it up into smaller lots, but that’s definitely the smartest way to go.

      You asked if I would paint these myself, and the answer is no. I’d also never dream of paying a painting service to do the army–heck, I don’t even play the game. This is, practically speaking, the only way I can imagine that I’d have the army painted. So, despite the fact that this started as a farce, it is definitely something worth seriously considering.

      As for the cost of paying a professional, I thought about that last night (which is when I came to the idea that 1:1 really isn’t a bad deal cost wise). What’s it cost to hire a painting company to do your models? $1-3 per figure? Of course, it’d cost far more to do them up to a high quality, but I don’t think we’re going to get there. So, if we’re painting 700 figures, we’re talking $1500 to paint it all (rough guess). Being the cheapskate that I am, I just couldn’t give away $1500 for what amounts to vanity and laziness on my part.

      Then again, I started thinking about what I could sell all of the skaven/chaos for… if I do a trade, lack of selling those is an opportunity cost that ultimately affects my bottom line. Then I started trying to figure out what I actually paid for them, and there are just too many blanks. The more I think about it, the more I’m willing to actually do it–assuming Cole is crazy enough to take the actual commission.

      Thanks for the thoughts. I’m sure he’ll read through these before we meet up tomorrow, and we’ll likely integrate some of these into the final “contract” if we can come to a deal. Mahalo!

  4. Just a quick response re: breaking it up and the army list. You don’t need to write a proper army list – and who knows if it’d still be ‘competitive’ in a year’s time in any case? But there’s nothing stopping you creating an ‘army’ and one or more reinforcement blocks based on what looks right.

    The purpose isn’t so much to guide the way you play as to give Cole something to work towards, and you something you can do something with if the worst happens.

    I hope you work something out though – I’d love to see some huge goblin army action!

  5. so couple questions, whats with the odd numbering on the models for trade? You have multiple piles of the seemingly same thing?

    EX:
    100x Skaven Clan Rats/Slaves
    60x Skaven Clan Rats/Slaves
    50x Skaven Clan Rats/Slaves
    50x Skaven Clan Rats/Slaves

    also in that last picture i see a warriors of chaos monster not in the list (mutalith vortex beast) is there perhaps more?

    Off the cuff were certainly close to a deal with the models presented, i’m not sure were all the way there but perhaps seeing the plastic tomorrow will make me even happier. I still like the 1 to 1 idea, only thing that catches me at this point is the number of models and the paint supplies that entails. I don’t mind the details paint, even at this number of models that isn’t likely to be much of an expense, but the primer/base coat could end up costing me close to or over a hundred bucks.

    To simplify the equation we have:
    You giving: Models
    Me giving: Paint supplies and Painting of models

    And yes part of my motivation is getting you to play WHFB again!

    I fully understand this is a big project(more now with numbers of course…) So i think the biggest question we have is timeline, given the number of models, within the year should be the expectation.

    700 models doesn’t concern me if time doesn’t concern you, sure painting 420 goblin infantry will get repetitive fast.. but the way i paint large blocks of troops tends to make it less annoying. Which leads to the point of “should you give me all the models at once?” I would say yes for all models that are similarish, so basically all goblins infantry or similar models, vs Trolls. I will be hitting them with an airbrush as much as possible, so painting the whole batch(or large chunks anyway =) is easier in the long run then painting say one unit of them at a time from start to finish.

    After the airbrush stage i will likely break them down into units to paint details, wash, drybrush. It’s at this point we can distinguish units if you want, how we do so should be a question asked so i can be sure it’s not going to break the airbrush part. You will also need to provide details on what is included in a unit, of course i can help you understand the WHFB book if you need it.

    I dont have any current thoughts about contingency for failure to complete, if you want to put something down for it we can, but given were not strangers we could always just deal with it if it occurs for some reason.

    Quality wise, i intend to paint them like this:
    1. Prime
    2. Airbrush primary color
    3. Airbrush secondary color/shade (this is dependent on model…goblins are small so second coat with airbrush might be pointless)
    4. Paint details, basic rank and file infantry will get less of their tiny details picked out.
    4.5. Unit marking details
    5. Drybrush models, basic rank and file infantry getting less
    6. Wash models

    Did you want them based? That’s more time/supplies, but i’m willing to put it into the equation.

    that’s all i can ramble for now…back to work.

    • Base response: 1) The duplicate lines are because this is a breakdown from a spreadsheet I created. Each line item is based upon type of models, quantity, location, etc. So, in the example you provided, each of those lots is in a separate bag. There’s also another stash of them that are on the sprue in another box. Yes, for the purposes of this post, it would’ve been better to consolidate them into one line item, but the spreadsheet will make it easier to verify everything. I should’ve emailed you that sheet, and will endeavor to do so when I get home–otherwise, you’ll see it tomorrow.

      2) I’ve entertained the idea of throwing in cash to cover additional primer, etc. I’m not opposed–especially if the raw model counts aren’t equal.

      3) Timeline doesn’t matter all that much, but I think it has to exist. Otherwise, these projects fall by the wayside or get terminally procrastinated. That’s why I’d like to see a hard timeline and repercussions if things aren’t met. Ultimately, I’d prefer not to have them, but I think they’re required. I think the idea of having a firm contract will help keep the friendship, not harm it.

      4) The proposed painting quality is probably just fine, but to be sure, I think a test model would be a good idea to set a baseline.

      5) I still think it’s overly lofty, and would love to see it work out, but want to make absolutely sure that you’re game. For the record, I’ll try to talk you out of this several more times…

      By the way, want anything special for dinner? I figure I might as well feed you… Also, if we have time, I’d like some pointers on my airbrush. I’m guessing that won’t happen this trip, but I’m still having problems spraying blue…

      • Also i’m interested in the 26 Characters?

        Is that like 13 of the warlock, and 13 of the warlord from the starter box? Or are there other characters in there?

      • I think they’re all just the starter box stuff. I think that might also include some of the guys with prods. They’re all in one bag, so you’ll be able to see them–but there are no other characters that I’m aware of. I do have a grey seer or a bell priest I think in my other skaven (to be used as Plague bearers) if that’s a deal breaker.

        There’s also a box of other stuff that I didn’t include, but don’t have any heart aches about. Some Undead stuff, chaos warrior halberd blisters, etc.

  6. Much as I find the idea of writing a contract between friends awkward and uncomfortable, I think it’s a good idea. Doesn’t have to be a 17 page document reviewed by lawyers and signed in blood. Just to have in writing, in an email, on a piece of notepaper etc. what’s expected from each party. It doesn’t then matter too much if the contract is broken – the timing slips, extra paint is needed, etc – that’s where the trust and friendship and being open about problems as they occur comes in. But it actually takes a lot of the stress out anything to do with the exchange in the long run, removes sources of resentment, etc. If something does go wrong, it’s better to admit that you’re going to miss a deadline and ask for an extension, than keep quiet, feel guilty about taking ages and letting your friend down, avoiding the subject and getting more and more annoyed with each other. And it goes both ways. If you’re waiting for a service from a friend, it’s horrible to feel like you’re hassling them for an update. At least, that would be the way I would feel about it if I was getting in to something like this.

    • My thoughts exactly.

      It also eliminates problems from arising in the future if things do go wrong and we need to figure out an amicable agreement. It’s best to try to sort those things out in advance, so that emotions don’t cause one of us to ask for unrealistic compensation.

      I think this falls in line with the “good fences make good neighbors” adage.

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