Custom Models – Made to Order
Got an idea for a custom made, one of a kind model but not sure where to start? Need a figure not currently offered on the market and don’t want to build it yourself? If you have a figure in mind that you would like modified in some way, or need something built from the ground up, we can be of help.
White Metal Games is well known for its evocative conversions. From single models to entire armies themed around a central concept, we specialize in creating custom models for your favorite games!
Kit Bashing vs. Conversion
Kit Bashing vs. Conversion, What’s the Difference?
There’s nothing quite like distinguishing your miniatures on the tabletop, and there are a lot of ways to alter the appearance of a miniature.
Kit-bashing refers to swapping parts from multiple kits to create a simple variation of an existing model. Not more than 25% of the model should change to be considered a kit bash.
For example, changing a head or helmet, swapping arms and armor, etc. It’s a simple way to achieve a unique looking model. Our custom miniatures are kit-bashed from a variety of sources, including existing model ranges, action figures and toys, vinyl kits, and more! We believe that no bit should be left behind or wasted.
Conversion refers to making significant changes to an existing model in a meaningful way. When a model varies from its base model between 26 and 50%, we consider this a minor conversion, between 51 and 75% a major conversion.
Beyond simple kit-bashing, this usually requires at the very least rudimentary sculpting skills on the part of the converter as they work to blend parts to together so that when painted they are seamless and invisible. A good example of this might be adding wings to a model that was never intended to have wings.
Scratch-Built refers to building a model without relying on a kit as a key component. If a model varies by over 75% we consider this a scratch-build. It can, and sometimes does, refer to significant sculpting. For example, building a tank from a card board, plasticard, straws, and plastic tank treads, would be a great example of scratch-building.
Sculpting refers to creating a model or at least parts of a model, from scratch, sculpting the pieces by hand using tools and putty. It is beyond the scope of most hobbyists. At White Metal Games we dabble in sculpting, and many of our custom models possess new features that were hand crafted by one of our talented artists.
These techniques are often combined to great effect.
Cost to Convert
When you hire us to paint a model, the cost of labor already includes the price of basic assembly. However, it does NOT include the cost of customization, such as modifying a model in a significant way, incorporating new (and often expensive) bits into the model, or building a model from scratch.
Because each model we modify is unique and one-of-a-kind, the price of each model is decided on a case by case basis.
Alternately, you can simply set a ‘conversion stipend’ and let us run wild with your ideas. The more you allocate the more original we can be! (see below)
The below chart is meant to serve as a PRICING GUIDELINE, and not meant to act as a guarantee, estimate, or indicator of price.
|Type of Customization||Conversion Pricing Guidelines|
|Kit Bashing||No cost if common bit we have in stock: Cost of Bits if Rare.|
|Conversion||About 25% of the cost of labor for minor conversions, plus cost of bits if rare. About 50% of cost of labor for major conversions.|
|Scratch Building||VARIES. We try to stay within 100%-200% of the cost of a comparable model of it’s type, plus cost of component parts/kits.|
|Sculpting from Scratch||VARIES. We try to stay within 300%-400% of the cost of a comparable model of it’s type, plus cost of competent parts/kits.|
For custom models featured in our web store or our eBay store, the price of assembly is already worked into the price so you don’t have to worry about any additional costs.
Conversion Stipend Option
The above chart works great for individual models, but what if you want dozens of custom converted models! In these cases we suggest setting a ‘Conversion Stipend’ allowance.
Suppose you want us to make a unit of ‘Ork Zombies’. Well, we’d need a box of orks for sure, and maybe even a box of zombies! By setting a stipend we know how much money we have to work with. From there, we decide if it’s worth buying an entire kit, or simply raiding our bit boxes for whatever we can find (which is admittedly, quite a bit).
The advantage of a stipend is you don’t go over budget, and we don’t have to account for every nickel spent. We use our best judgment to acquire what we need for the project and then go from there.
3rd Party Bits and Conversion
There are dozens of popular third party bits manufacturers, such as Chapterhouse Studios, Max Mini, Kromlech, and Micro-Arts Studio to name a few. For clients that wish to use these bits in their conversions, let us know and we will gladly account for them in your estimate. If you set aside a conversion stipend instead, we may very well have planned to use these very bits all along.
Wings are a popular conversion request for models such as angels, demons, or dragons.
For models requiring wings that do not come as a part of their standard kit, wings are acquired from a variety of sources; including miniature retailers, or action figures, in some cases.
The price below reflects the cost of materials, pinning the wings to the model, and smoothing over any gaps while blending the wings seamlessly into the model. In some cases, musculature will be re-sculpted.
Wings may be plastic, resin, or pewter, and can be leathery or scaled (dragon or bat like), mechanical, or feathered, at client request.
|Unit Name||Base Size||Cost||Example|
|Monstrous Infantry||40mm||$30||Tyranid Shrikes|
|Gargantuan Creatures||120-170mm||$60+||Great Old Ones|
We are sometimes asked if we offer ‘truscale’ miniatures. Truscale generally refers to modifying miniatures, in particular Games Workshop Warhammer 40k Space Marines, to a more accurate depiction of their appropriate size. This can include modifying miniatures, vehicles, and terrain.
We consider ‘truscale conversions’ to be sculpting from scratch conversions and as such the fee for this ranges from 300-400% of assembly cost. Put another way, it cost about $7.50 extra/marine to have them rebuilt as truscale, and about $15 extra/terminator. It costs between $10-$20 extra for highly detailed models, such as Sternguard, Wolfguard, or Character Models. Vehicles likewise cost more to assemble.
So while ‘yes’ we offer trusccale as a service, it’s a luxury service and comes at a high premium.
Hand Made Means One-Of-A-Kind
The art of conversion is highly subjective to artistic interpretation. By its very nature, customized models means every figure is a stand alone piece, unique in some way that will never be re-built exactly the same way again.
Although we attempt to create models that can be replicated easily, so that anyone who wishes to purchase a similar model can do so, this is not always possible. Some bits are out of production, or unusually expensive or hard to obtain. While this means that your order will be personalized and one of a kind, it also means that not every model can be duplicated.
If you send us a picture of a model we’ve never seen before and ask us to reverse engineer it and build you a cheaper alternative, you must understand that our model will be different than the picture you’ve provided us with. To keep the project within the scope of your budget, we may be forced to use alternative materials. Likewise if you send us a picture of a movie monster and tell us to build you something as close as we can get to it, we will do just that, but we can’t replicate a model 100%. If you want that, then just buy the real model. You’ll be happier in the long run.
We are not trying to pass off the models we create as our own, nor is our aim to infringe upon the intellectual property of any of the companies whose models we modify. We primarily aim to modify models using bits from existing ranges.
To this end, we draw inspiration from a variety of sources: video games, movies, books, to name just a few (and for the record, we’re not trying to infringe upon any of these creators intellectual property either). We often think of our work as ‘alternative’ or a ‘re-imagining’ of a concept. Another way to think of it is ‘counts-as’, substitute model, avatars, or a proxy, at least until the miniature manufacturer comes out with an official model for standard play.
Furthermore, we can only approximate concept art. We will try out best to emulate any picture you send us, but we are limited by your budget, our ability, bits available, and copyright laws. Please take all of this into consideration when approaching us about a project.
We aim to please every client, every time. If, in the unlikely event you are dissatisfied with your project, we will work to find an amicable solution to both parties. See ‘All Sales Are Final’ for more information.
We will not intentionally replicate a trademark property but we can recreate something similar to the original (e.g, I can’t build you a Zerg, or a Doom of Malan’tai, but I can build you a ‘Brain Bug’ of any size or scale within reason.) In addition, due to legal reasons, we are restricted from accepting commissions based on other company’s intellectual property. See our Legal Disclaimers for more details.
Tournament Disclaimer and ‘Counts As’
Tournament Disclaimer and ‘Counts As’ Acceptable Limits of Conversions
Clients intending to use converted miniatures at a tournament or event of any sort should check with their Tournament Organizer (TO) to ensure models will be considered fair to use during the course of play (i.e., ‘legal’). To avoid confusion in a competitive setting, most TOs require that custom models be easily recognizable for what it represents on the table. Each individual TO will determine their own conditions for acceptable ‘counts as’ models. Always confer with your opponent before any game to make sure they have a clear understanding of what they are seeing on the table. If a client can provide us with literature relative to a specific Grand Tournament (GT), we will GUARANTEE our models will be accepted at the GT, or we will reimburse you the entry fee.
However, we WILL NOT refund any other fees associated with the GT, including but not limited to: travel, accommodations, lodging, food, fares, parking fees, entry fees, registration fees, tips, gratuities, etc. We will otherwise do our best to ensure all hobby related conditions are met. Winning is up to you.
In the words of Gav Thorpe . . .
“Tournaments are an artificial environment, laying down restrictions and criteria to provide a competitive environment. Using your imagination and doing what you want with your toy soldiers is your choice, not the game developers . . . “