Quoted from Coz:
It supposedly only costs stern $2500-$3500 to make a stern pro. No one but stern knows the official numbers. Obviously there is some room for profit or stern would be out of business.
If they were only selling Pros, they might be. They have other revenue streams now like the digital pinball, the Premium/LE, contract manufacturing, etc. As you say, no one but Stern knows their actual profit per machine, so why are so many people quick to point at Gary and say he must be lying?
I get it, from an emotional collector standpoint we all want pins to be priced the way they were in 2003. But given no other manufacturer offers a pin at the cost of a Stern Pro, and given Stern must have the highest overhead of any other pin manufacturer (most factory space, most employees), why is it so hard to see it might not be all that profitable of a model?
Until Deeproot comes out with the be all, end all of pins and sells it for $4k and they manage to stay in business for more than a couple of years I will just go with assuming Gary knows more about it than I do.
I think the Premium, and especially the LE models are overpriced and are designed to milk as much out of the collector as they can. As a hobbyist, this bothers me and has had me buy fewer and fewer pins over the years. If I were a business partner at Stern that is exactly what I would want them to be doing though. Strike while the iron is hot, for all they know this resurgent interest in a niche hobby will be gone next decade. Make hay while the sun shines.