What Would You Charge For This Duff-Style Cake?

Business By handymama Updated 13 May 2009 , 4:32pm by loriana

handymama Posted 11 May 2009 , 4:25pm
post #1 of 20

An important client has requested two 3-D train engine cakes. He has two specific (real-life) engines that he wants. Both are very detailed with hoses, hardware and gizmos sticking out of them. This is for a major meeting of train enthusiasts who will know instantly if something isn't right--no "I like trains" 8-yr-old birthday party here. So far, I have no details as to size/servings. My gut says minimum of $1,500 each. What do you think? That would be more per serving than I've ever charged. On the other hand, when things go right my work in this type of cake is equal to or better than what Charm City Cakes would produce. Really would like input from some seasoned decorators please. Here is a link to an image of one of them:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/f/fd/PM1225.jpg/300px-PM1225.jpg
and here's the other:
http://wasteam.railfan.net/portland/g99a.jpg

Thank you!!

19 replies
melodyscakes Posted 11 May 2009 , 4:37pm
post #2 of 20

Holy cow!

I hope they expect to pay a good chunk of change. that is a lot of detail.

Starkie Posted 11 May 2009 , 4:44pm
post #3 of 20

I agree with melodycakes. That's a ton of detail! And BTW, I just checked Duff's site yesterday, and his minimum for cakes is now $1,000!!! So your client would be getting a DEAL at $1,500 each. I say, ask yourself if there is anywhere else he can get this kind of cake, and then go for it. Good luck!

mommachris Posted 11 May 2009 , 8:05pm
post #4 of 20

Yikes, they sound as if they are going to be pretty picky about the nuts and bolts of it. If that is what they want...a piece of art....then they need to be willing to pay the price of a commissioned work.

Send them the quote. If they balk then they can get an edible image somewhere else. At least they can't complain about it not being 'right' then. icon_wink.gif

mommachris

Mindy1975 Posted 11 May 2009 , 8:12pm
post #5 of 20

I'm shaking in my booties just looking at those pics! Glad it's you and not me! lol I would definitely price at least $1500 ea. if they are wanting all that detail. I would price it high just so I would have a good chance of not getting the job! lol WOW!!

pipe-dreams Posted 11 May 2009 , 8:36pm
post #6 of 20

Handymomma
I saw your photos and definitely think you can pull it off. My questions is, do they want any part of it to be moving, like's Duff's cakes. If so, make sure you can do that before you agree to do the cake. $1500 is a lot for a cake, and I know Duff gets it, but a lot of that has to do with his celebrity status. You definitely need to block out your schedule for all of the detail for these 2 trains, so I would be charging on the high side. It is a lot of detail and work, but I feel the first one looks much more complex than the second. If you have to give a per train cost, I would keep that in mind and charge more for that one than the other. But don't sell yourself short! Good luck!

LaBellaFlor Posted 12 May 2009 , 1:28am
post #7 of 20

The price for those cakes sound right, BUT only if you can truly pull it off. Like they are gonna look just like those trains to the point where people think they are models, not cake. And of course they are decent sizes. I'm all for fair pricing to decorators, but I also believe you get what you pay for, and at that price, I'm sure they'll feel they better get exact replicas. If you feel you can do it, ask away! icon_biggrin.gif

sweetiesbykim Posted 12 May 2009 , 1:44am
post #8 of 20

I get queezy just looking at those pictures! I'm not the kind of "artistic" decorator that can envision how to interpret a real photo or item into a cake, and how to execute it. I don't like a "cartoon-y" look that Duff's cakes sometimes turn out like, but I tell myself I don't need details down to the texture and finish of the paint or every nut and bolt to make a really good replica.
I think you might need to go crazy with realistic detail at that price, though. As stated before, I think Duff and all the other cake challenge stars need to jack up the price so they don't get orders from every tom, dick, and harry -like we do! Wouldn't we all order cakes from stars just to "try out" if they were normal bakery prices?! I also don't think they are priced according to the time put in or the exotic ingredients, but because who they are. My 2 cents icon_smile.gif

handymama Posted 12 May 2009 , 1:51am
post #9 of 20

Talked to the client today and he wants this to be "off the charts extreme". I told him I can do it but it will be very expensive. Now he wants a couple "smaller versions" for a "preliminary event" that the Governor and other dignitaries will be invited to, and apparently PBS is filming. Good grief. My current thought is that I will give him a price range and tell him that the final number will be determined by the amount of detail and precision that I can pull off. My current plan is to have a working headlight and smoke, but nothing moving. I've already formulated how I'll do most of it, but I do have some concerns about humidity that time of year (July). I know I read somewhere about what can be used that won't wilt, but I don't remember what it is right now. On the "gizmo" end of it, I'm very comfortable with power tools, construction concepts, wiring, etc. (After all, I am "handymama" thumbs_up.gif )

-K8memphis Posted 12 May 2009 , 2:01am
post #10 of 20

What I think is that I wanna come help!!!

Yes Yes Yes!!! $1500--but not too big for $1500--say what, 18" long for that price? If it got bigger than that I'd up the price. 'Cause that's gonna be about 10" tall give or take--it will be a two tier cake already. If it was 24 inches long it'd be a three tier cake and you're gonna have all that everlasting detail--if you make it much longer than 18" you're gonna loose money on the structure alone--what do you think???

How awesome!!!

handymama Posted 12 May 2009 , 2:26am
post #11 of 20

K8memphis--we're on the same page. I was thinking 16"-18". Trouble with trains is that they're tall and skinny. I just emailed the client and told him (gulp) that each engine will be $1,500-$2,200 depending on how much detail and precision I can pull off. We'll see how he reacts to that before proceeding. This is right before I'm doing a 3-D James Dean Porsche--with JD driving--going past a billboard advertising Rebel Without a Cause. And all of it is right before the ICES Convention. My DIL just sent me an email and said I'm a masochist.

-K8memphis Posted 12 May 2009 , 2:35am
post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by handymama

K8memphis--we're on the same page. I was thinking 16"-18". Trouble with trains is that they're tall and skinny. I just emailed the client and told him (gulp) that each engine will be $1,500-$2,200 depending on how much detail and precision I can pull off. We'll see how he reacts to that before proceeding. This is right before I'm doing a 3-D James Dean Porsche--with JD driving--going past a billboard advertising Rebel Without a Cause. And all of it is right before the ICES Convention. My DIL just sent me an email and said I'm a masochist.




She's right of course. Wow do you have the awesome orders.
So happy for you.

signed,
pea green

icon_biggrin.gif

Ps. But it is time to say "no", Cakebuddy. Just in case you get another juicy opportunity. Clench your teeth together and practice, "nnnnnnnnno". But I mean if they might be able to re-schedule for sometime in August.... icon_lol.gif

LaBellaFlor Posted 12 May 2009 , 3:50am
post #13 of 20

Yeah, I agree with your DD, you are a masochist! LOL! icon_biggrin.gif Of course, I'm kind of glad you are, cause I can't wait to see the pics! icon_biggrin.gif

loriana Posted 12 May 2009 , 6:30pm
post #14 of 20

Hey Handymama, I'm no pro like you, but I wanted to point you to a few cool cakes for reference in terms of realism with trains/buses, etc...

(and also, I wanted to "bookmark" this exciting thread so I can see what "train"spires with this potential client)

Ok... will you forgive me one pun?

Here are some cool pics that are more realism based than AoC (IMO):

Mitsubishi cake on Debbie Does Cakes:
http://www.debbiedoescakes.net/home.html

Blue Car cake (good deal of realism) on Planet Cake:
http://www.planetcake.com.au/couturecakes/birthday.php

Cars and trucks on Just Fabulous Pastries:
(note: take a look at their tour bus on Page 3... it might be the closest thing yet in terms of size, shape and realism needed)
http://www.justfab.com/listings/products.asp?cat=27

handymama Posted 13 May 2009 , 11:08am
post #15 of 20

Thanks for the links loriana. My goodness those are magnificent, although the chihuahua is downright spooky--so lifelike, how could the pet owner stick a knife in it?! I'd like to know how debbie achieves the shine on her cakes. Anybody out there done this? My biggest problem right now is to get some good, detailed photos of all sides of these two engines; Google is helpful but not comprehensive. Second problem is to decide just how far to go with the detail. I'm wondering, myself, just how this is going to "trainspire" icon_rolleyes.gif . Aren't you cute!

Chippi Posted 13 May 2009 , 11:22am
post #16 of 20

You use vegetable oil and a paintbrush to get the shine icon_smile.gif Just a light thin coat. HTHS and good luck!!!!

Chippi

FromScratch Posted 13 May 2009 , 11:57am
post #17 of 20

I think your pricing sounds more than fair. Those would be some BIG ASS cakes and a tond of detail. Good luck... a $3000+ cake order would be too sweet. icon_biggrin.gif

loriana Posted 13 May 2009 , 4:11pm
post #18 of 20

Handymama, I went to bed last night thinking about you... no... not in that way icon_razz.gif

I thought, "my friend works at the hobby shop down the road and always has those catalogs of model trains"... maybe I should mention that to her...

Then your post today. Haha!

What you might want to do is go to a local hobby shop that sells trains and explain you are a cake decorator working on this project and want to know if you can borrow an old catalog. There are tons of pictures of model trains to look at in these things. They arent pictures like your first pictures you posted, but model train pictures which I think would behoove you to look at. The reason is, you will be modeling a train yourself so you can see where they have made changes from a real train to a model... perhaps the wheels and the locomotive parts, etc...

If you look at a cartoon-type picture.. no help. if you look at real-life pictures, it would take a lot of figuring out what to model and what to "fudge" or combine, etc... but if you look at pictures of model trains, you might get a more realistic idea of what can be done in fondant and gumpaste.

BTW, there is an airbrush silver spray you can buy, that might be a good way to get silver on buttercream, although it sounds like you would be able to paint silver/everclear mixture right onto your fondant cake. Don't forget that some online stores sell the mega-size silver dust... that might save you a bit of dough LOL....

Talk at you later!

FromScratch Posted 13 May 2009 , 4:31pm
post #19 of 20

I just have to hyjack for a second and say that everytime I see your avatar Loriana I crack up... icon_lol.gif

loriana Posted 13 May 2009 , 4:32pm
post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratch

I just have to hyjack for a second and say that everytime I see your avatar Loriana I crack up... icon_lol.gif




Hahaha! I love that picture too. Poor kid... *snicker* icon_twisted.gif

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%