Daily Illuminator

October 2, 2011: The Cost Of Manufacturing

If you've followed the news in the manufacturing world over the last few years then I don't doubt that you've encountered story after story discussing one simple fact: It's not getting any cheaper to make things. And it's not just clothing -- "Gap profits drop as raw materials increase in cost" -- and industrial coatings -- "Reichhold Announces Gelcoat Price Increase for European Composites Industry" -- that are affected by increases in the cost of raw materials. Games, specifically games like Cthulhu Dice and Zombie Dice, suffer when raw materials costs climb.

Starting with the newest Cthulhu Dice color -- blue and yellow, shipping next month -- the game's MSRP increases to $5.95. Colors already on shelves are unaffected, but any new colors (or reprints of existing colors) will have the higher price. At the moment, our supply of Zombie Dice is strong, but there will come a time (likely late 2012) that we'll have to reprint the game. While we'll do everything we can to hold the price, there's no telling what the future will bring. Already in 2011, we've seen two raw-materials increases, so with luck we're done with price increases for the next year or two.

Another recent example of materials affecting prices is the new Munchkin Jumbo d6 MSRP ($5.95) vs. the upcoming Munchkin Jolly Jumbo d6 MSRP ($6.95). We wanted to use the same retail price for both expansions, but between tooling costs and raw materials costs, there was just no way that we could have published the Munchkin Jolly Jumbo d6 at $5.95. And if the Munchkin Jumbo d6 sell well and require a reprint, the price will increase to $6.95.

But not everything is going up in price.

Our various Munchkin games are strong sellers and sell in high enough quantities that unless something drastic happens, the prices will hold through 2012 (and should hold through 2013). And considering that we've held the $24.95 price for a decade now -- the Westegg Inflation Calculator shows that $24.95 in 2001 was the equivalent of $30.78 in 2010, so Munchkin's cost has actually fallen relative to inflation -- I think we're doing okay. Plus, we're printing more copies of Munchkin than we were in 2001 so we see some savings just based on volume, and it's that volume that's allowing us to hold the MSRP of the game today at its original 2001 price.

We're taking advantage of a few manufacturing tricks to save money without decreasing quality -- the more raw acrylic or urea we use at once, the more we save, for example, so we're running some special Munchkin dice at the same time as a few new Cthulhu Dice colors -- and we have a fantastic relationship with our factory. That helps, but there's just no way around the terrible fact that a few of our games will increase in price over the next year. And it's better to share the information now than to wait and surprise everyone later.

-- Phil Reed

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