As a fellow manufacturer....
- ...I'll chime in a bit. First off, I'm not going to get into who owes who what or any of that personal business. That's between Tom & his customers. The only thing on that I will say is that being a manufacturer in a niche hobby isn't easy.
As far as running a few hundred kits a year and making a pile of cash, well, I guess if it was a sure fire way to get rich everyone would be doing it. Maybe that's the problem. When laser cutters came along everyone & his mother bought one & went into the high end craftsman kit business. And the market can only bear so much. There is a lot of great product out there all fighting for a smaller and smaller piece of pie. So the days of running 250/500 kits and selling them all in short order are numbered. Some guys still do OK I guess (FSM) but what if you do that one big kit & it's a swing and a miss and not a swing and a hit? A whole years worth of labor & investment is gone. Not many can survive that.
I agree with Tom, that people ask for certain kits, and then when you do them, sales are often much lower than expected. "Too big too small too eastern too western too new too old too expensive etc etc etc". So that is hard too. Any more I just go w/my instincts. If it sells, great, if not, on to the next thing.