Lo and verily, all.
I know I haven't been active on the list in... Let's just leave it at "a
while," as nicely ambiguous as that is. But this recent line of discussion
strikes me as interesting for various reasons:
How cool would it be? Would it be $5 cool per color? $4? These
aren't worth manufacturing, but someone with a band saw could
quickly turn a bulk order of Treehouse sets into a pile of
0-pointers. They'd probably wind up at ~$1 *per piece* retail,
though. That's a lot of money for such a small pyramid.
A standard Treehouse set costs $9.00 retail, $4.50 wholesale. It contains
only three pieces of each color, so to effectively create and sell ZPIPs
(Zero Point Icehouse Pieces), you would need to convert sets in multiples of
five. Five Treehouse sets would make 3 ZPIP sets of each of the five
colors, at a total investment of $22.50 for someone with access to
wholesale, plus whatever they feel is fair for their time and energy.
That's $0.30 per piece for the materials. At minimum wage, you'd be adding
about $0.11 per piece (going with the 90 minute estimate here): $0.41
wholesale parts plus cheap labor.
Of course, paying someone to cut something is usually not minimum wage work,
so you're probably going to add around $0.20 in labor per piece, making the
cost to the manufacturer $0.50 per piece.
In my opinion, a buck a piece (the standard price for any, individually)
is a fairly decent price, for one-off "replacements". But when one wants
to initially buy a complete set--5 per color, 55 total--that could get
prohibitive. That's when bundling would come in, as you suggest above.
Going by my above numbers, $1.00 is realistic.
So... Volcano caps are $4 for a set of five. Assuming the production
cost goes down for a 0 (less plastic, no paper insert, tiny baggie) one
might be able to get the MSRP of a set of five 0-pointers down to $3.
Using the "cut a piece and sand it" method, there's no realistic way to sell
a 5-piece ZPIP set for $3.00, since that would be less than $1.00 above
parts plus labor, even with a minimum wager ($2.05 per set parts+labor).
The only way to get a single color ZPIP set down to $3.00 would be to
injection mold them as ZPIPs.
No brainer: I'd drop $33 for 55 pieces, to "complete" my rainbow; and I
suspect many other folks would as well. And one cool thing is that they
could just be sold in a plastic baggie, because one *can* fit five
stacks of four pieces into an existing tube. You have to do one stack
up, one stack down, one stack up, etc--so that no stack's peak nests
into the stack above it--but it does work (I do this to add a d6 in a
Treehouse set, for Martian Coasters).
Converting Volcano Caps wouldn't really be feasible, at least not at the
above cost. I'm not even sure if Looney Labs wholesales them, and if they
did, it would be at $2.00, which is already $0.40 per piece. Your
parts+labor for a ZPIP Volcano Cap set is $2.55 to $3.00.
The real question is less "how much would you pay," but more "how many
people would buy them?" Is there enough demand for ZPIPs to merit injection
molding them? If not, is there enough demand to merit doing them at all for
sale? I wouldn't expect anyone to bother if it only meant selling a dozen
or so sets.
<Regarding the usefulness of ZPIPs>
For me, a ZPIP is less useful as a fourth size, and more useful in the sense
originally shown: Combined with 1 and 2 pointers to make a mini Icehouse
set. I can see that 4-size games would be possible and even interesting,
but that interest is personally secondary.
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