Conventional Fixtures Spot Doh!

I'm posting this PSA with the express hope that someone else does not make the same mistake that I made (and also because I don't think my negative reviews on the vendors' sites will make it past their moderation).

I recently purchased some of the new Spot Dot 3.0 with both upgrade kits (the magnet upgrade and the standoff upgrade). I bought the items from Norcostco, but obviously the primary vendor is Tools for Stagecraft.

The Spot Dot 3.0: $230. Definitely an upgrade from the old version. Seems well-made. My only complaint is that the base is raw material (i.e. bright silver). Some paint will fix that problem easily enough.

The Magnet Upgrade Kit: $28. Literally just a second set of the stock magnets so you can double the magnetic hold of the base. Nothing really to complain about here.

And now we get to the reason for this post....

The Standoff Upgrade: $30. Gives you to option to increase the distance between the Spot Dot head and its base by 1", 2", or 3". And what do you get for $30 to achieve this? Well, check out the pic. Three generic 1/4" bolts, two fender washers, and two small-gauge metal spacers in a zip-lock bag. You also get a brand-new food container to house your taller Spot Dot, one that replaces the original food container that came with the unit, though you don't get bigger pieces of foam. All of that for the tidy sum of $30. $2 worth of hardware, a snack-sized zip-lock bag, and an off-brand Tupperware container for $30....

Now, I understand that our industry is small-market, with products being made in limited quantities, which means costs are higher and that the markups are going to be higher. But there has to be limit. Putting together an "upgrade kit" from parts and pieces that any one of us could find laying around on our workbenches, throwing them in a baggie from the kitchen, tossing that into a container for leftovers, then slapping a price of $30 on it is just ridiculous.

PLEASE do not buy the Spot Dot 3.0 Standoff Upgrade Kit. Go to your local hardware store and spend a few bucks instead.

Thank you.

[Strike soap box]
 

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JonCarter

Well-Known Member
While I heartily sympathize with GhostLighter and shudder at the thought of spending $5 (much less $30) on 50 cents' worth of hardware and a plastic box, I can see the seller's point of view. HE had to buy the 50 cents' worth of hardware and plastic box, put them in a baggie, advertise them, sell a lot of them to a distributor who sold them to a wholesaler who sold them to the dealer you bought them from, and EACH of them having to make their 15%-25%+ for their time, effort, cost of $$$ and the overhead necessary to be in business.

Now, I'll assume you are working for an employer and making living wage. How much would your employer be willing to spend on your figuring out what you needed to do the job, sending you to the hardware store, bringing back the 50 cents worth of stuff, assembling the thing, trying it out, then finding that you needed three machine screws that are 1/4" longer so that you had to repeat the whole process?

I'm amazed that ANYBODY can sell ANYTHING for $30 nowadays.

Now, in my day, when we worked for $50/week, things were different.
 

Malabaristo

Well-Known Member
To me the answer is not necessarily that they should charge less for the kit, but that they should make the detailed list of what's in the kit readily available. That way individuals can decide whether to spend their time gathering the pieces, or spend the money to have someone else do it for them. There are plenty of cases where the latter is a reasonable choice, but it shouldn't be the only choice.

Of course, to me the whole product sounds like an overpriced solution when you can by a complete Telrad Spotlight Sight for $39. I made my own "magnet upgrade" by gluing hard drive magnets to the base, and that worked out really well. I've never used anything else, so I can't draw any direct comparisons. Maybe someone can jump in with actual experience comparing the two products?
 
@JonCarter Your points are well-taken. And with just about any other over-priced product in our industry, I would agree with you and wouldn't take the time during a tech week to post about it. However, with this particular product, It's quite clear that Tools for Stagecraft put together the kits themselves. Them and Norcostco are the only two vendors in the U.S. for the Spot Dot and its accessories (I think), and they both sell the upgrade kit for $30. So...the usual supply chain markups don't apply. Perhaps if the "kit" seemed more specialized than a cobbling together of random consumer parts I would feel better about the value of my purchase. But as it stands, I feel like I just donated money to Norcostco. And without getting into what I get paid, I'm certain my employer would agree. That being said (and this relates to what @Malabaristo posted), I'm not against someone else wanting to spend that money for the convenience of not having to solve the problem themselves. If I had known exactly what I was getting when I purchased the kits, I would have passed and just found the parts myself in my workshop.

I've used the Telrad as well (for years, in fact, before finding the Spot Dot) and I'll say that the biggest advantage to the Spot Dot is its size. The Telrad is just so bulky, making it difficult to attach (securely) to a smaller, or more slim, followspot. Particularly a fixture without a smooth, cylindrical shape, like a Source Four in a gimbal rig. Even though the Spot Dot 3.0 is bigger than the Spot Dot 2000, with a chunkier base, it's still small enough to fit just about anywhere on/around a fixture. Trying to get a Telrad to scope around 10° S4 tube is quite challenging. Not to mention that it takes considerably fewer batteries than the Telrad. But the Telrad is still a great thing to have if you can't spend the $200+ on a Spot Dot.
 

derekleffew

Resident Curmudgeon
Senior Team
Premium Member
Maybe someone can jump in with actual experience comparing the two products?
Many have spoken at length in this thread: https://www.controlbooth.com/threads/followspot-aiming-tips.4018 . As I said there, "I have used both, like both, but prefer the SpotDot." However, given the, now, exorbitant price difference, I'd go with the Telrad today. Didn't think I'd ever say that.

I do enjoy that the Spot Dot 3.0 vaguely resembles a carbon-arc Super Trouper. Coincidence?

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Michael K

Well-Known Member
I do enjoy that the Spot Dot 3.0 vaguely resembles a carbon-arc Super Trouper. Coincidence?
Hmm, probably just coincidence. That honestly looks like a cheep ~$20 eBay/amazon red dot scope, commonly made for airsoft and low powered rifles. If I build one I would throw together some 3D printed bits and mount one of my spare scopes to a Mag Switch. If it was for a company then it could very likely be easier to buy everything at once from one vendor, even if the materials cost was significantly more.
 

mbrown3039

Well-Known Member
I'm posting this PSA with the express hope that someone else does not make the same mistake that I made (and also because I don't think my negative reviews on the vendors' sites will make it past their moderation).....And now we get to the reason for this post....

The Standoff Upgrade: $30. Gives you to option to increase the distance between the Spot Dot head and its base by 1", 2", or 3". And what do you get for $30 to achieve this? Well, check out the pic. Three generic 1/4" bolts, two fender washers, and two small-gauge metal spacers in a zip-lock bag. You also get a brand-new food container to house your taller Spot Dot, one that replaces the original food container that came with the unit, though you don't get bigger pieces of foam. All of that for the tidy sum of $30. $2 worth of hardware, a snack-sized zip-lock bag, and an off-brand Tupperware container for $30....

Now, I understand that our industry is small-market, with products being made in limited quantities, which means costs are higher and that the markups are going to be higher. But there has to be limit. Putting together an "upgrade kit" from parts and pieces that any one of us could find laying around on our workbenches, throwing them in a baggie from the kitchen, tossing that into a container for leftovers, then slapping a price of $30 on it is just ridiculous.

PLEASE do not buy the Spot Dot 3.0 Standoff Upgrade Kit. Go to your local hardware store and spend a few bucks instead.

Thank you.

[Strike soap box]

Even with a hardware store about 2 miles from my office, I could not get this amount of hardware for the same cost if I factor in the value of my time, fuel, etc. $30 seems fair.

As a side note, years ago I stumbled across the "TLC" price list for a *major* speaker manufacturer. TLC = "True Landed Cost;" in other words, what the manufacturer's cost was for the product design, making it and shipping it to their offices here in the US. I was shocked at the difference between TLC and dealer price....but, that's what pays for magazine ads, lunches, golf outings and dinners, trade show booths, etc. Capitalism at work!
 

MRW Lights

Well-Known Member
Even with a hardware store about 2 miles from my office, I could not get this amount of hardware for the same cost if I factor in the value of my time, fuel, etc. $30 seems fair.

As a side note, years ago I stumbled across the "TLC" price list for a *major* speaker manufacturer. TLC = "True Landed Cost;" in other words, what the manufacturer's cost was for the product design, making it and shipping it to their offices here in the US. I was shocked at the difference between TLC and dealer price....but, that's what pays for magazine ads, lunches, golf outings and dinners, trade show booths, etc. Capitalism at work!

It also hopefully goes towards paying the salaries of those that engineer, build, test, and run the company from finance, to reception, to the poor souls who answer our customer service calls in the heat of equipment failure... but you're right you've probably never benefited from that ad, or the trade show booth where you met the person that got you the deal or solved your problem or put the face to the email signature that's saved your butt numerous times or thrown a corporate party at LDI,USITT,NAB...

Captalism says you... Thanks says I.
😜
 

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