Shapeways Sales Review – Who knows what will sell? It sure isn’t me.

The model railroad industry is a surprisingly competitive place, and it certainly isn’t a place where people go (at least not sane people) go to try to make money unless they have a lot of dedication or are crazy (see Exhibit A Jason Shron of Rapido Trains).  I’m a hobbyist, but one with some skills in 3D design, and whose dabbled in 3D printing for our hobby.  As part of this, I’ve been able to make some of the 3D printed bits and pieces I’ve done for my models available through my Shapeways Store.  I’ve sold a fair bit of stuff, but not nearly enough to make any kind of living or consider it to be a real business.  It’s a pleasing sideline to the things I need for myself to fund me buying things I design for myself.  I’m not treating it as a business, and have no plans too, but the emails when things are bought always amaze me and I’m constantly amazed at what sells.

imgp4766My Best Selling Item – A Sprue of HO Scale BBQ propane tanks. I’ve sold 39!!

My top three selling items are all HO Scale little details, the aforementioned sprue of BBQ gas tanks above, a block of 4 HO Scale lockers, then a residential BBQ.  Perfectly sensible small items that are all fairly cheap, and not readily available from commercial manufacturers.  This however, is where it gets weird.  My fourth best-selling item, is something I did initially as a “this would be nice for my friends layout”, a resizing of the HO Scale Canadian National Fairmont Speeder Car into S Scale.

The S Scale Fairmont S2 speeder on its own, and alongside its little HO Scale brother.

Not including the one I printed myself that was gifted to Trevor Marshall, I have now sold 22 of these!! I’ve only sold 18 in HO Scale in a much bigger pond than the S Scale universe.  The message here, is twofold, one, as Trevor keeps telling me, there is a pent-up demand in the S Scale universe for products, and two, even in S scale, something small ish like a speeder can be a profitable item at a reasonable price where its affordable enough to sell lots, but where I can have enough markup to actually make some money from it.

I’ve had a number of people as about the Fairmont M14 speeder I’ve done in HO in S Scale.  I am seriously considering looking at re-scaling it and doing it in S Scale, if there really is a market out there, I’d like to help those modellers, and I’m not going to complain about a few extra dollars in my pockets every month!

imgp6081rawconvFairmont M14 Speeder in HO Scale, aparently coming soon in S Scale based on market demand!

So, with that, S-Scalers, I still don’t do commissions or take on outside work, as my 3D modelling time is my lunch break at work, but if you see anything in the handful of small items or detail parts I offer in HO on Shapeways that you really think you must have or there is a market for, let me know in the comments.  That may be enough to push me over the top into adjusting the 3D model and offering it to you.

6 thoughts on “Shapeways Sales Review – Who knows what will sell? It sure isn’t me.

  1. Stephen,

    The Sn42 Speeder is fantastic, If you are bored at lunch I could use a couple M14’s in Sn42! 🙂

    Have a great weekend!

  2. Interesting! You now know more about what will sell. Time to add the deck furniture to go with the propane tanks and bbq’s. 🙂

    The S scale sales might also be benefiting from word of mouth. It is always a challenge to figure out if people don’t buy something because they don’t like the price/whatever or because they don’t know it is available.

    • Thanks Mark. In the proof I have no business sense category, I linked to my general store, and the HO Speeder, but not the hot selling S Scale one in the post. I’ll need to go edit it to fix that!!

      And yeah, I think there is word of mouth, Trevor saw someone on a forum or Facebook s gauge group talking about it yesterday and messaged me about it.


    • LOL, those have been around forever. I have no idea who buys them, but I see them from time to time and shake my head. A Canadian Manufacturer who will remain nameless for a long time was selling a model of a strip club and listing figures for dancers and what would kindly be described as “street walkers”. Not sure who puts that kind of thing on their layout, but it’s definitely not my cup of tea when seeking to create cameo scenes or details!!


      • And then there is that Preiser kid running away with the bikini top while pursued by the owner. Modelers of a certain era seem unable to resist.

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