Just because a mannequin is used, does not always mean that it will be cheap. Similar to buying automobiles, some mannequin brands hold their value because of their superior craftsmanship, unique design and established brand name. Just as a used Rolls Royce or Mercedes will cost more than a brand new Toyota, there are some brands of mannequins that are expensive even though they are used.
A brand name mannequin with realistic features can cost between $750-$1300 brand new. If a used one is 50% off, it will still cost more than some of the new no-name mannequins imported from Asia which retail between $250-$400.
Brand name mannequins cost more because they are actually fiberglass sculptures of real life humans and many of the steps involved in creating them are done by hand. Sculptors usually begin with a metal skeleton, bend it into a pose and build it up with clay. The clay figure is then cast as a mold to hundreds of identical fiberglass mannequins. The mannequin is passed through the hands of at least a dozen artisans, from sculptors to sanders to painters and this level of detail is why high end mannequins look so lifelike and their solid construction makes them more durable. If you are looking to buy a Rolls Royce or Mercedes caliber mannequin on the used market, here are some brand names to look for: Adel Rootstein, Patina V, John Nissan, Hindsgaul, Ralph Pucci, Greneker and Goldsmith. Usually – but not always – mannequins produced by these companies will have their company name stamped somewhere on the mannequin – bottom of the foot, or on the butt or back, even on the head.
The less expensive mannequins use thinner and fewer layers of fiberglass so they break more easily if dropped. More expensive mannequins also have metal – not plastic, painted to look like metal – fittings which also makes them more durable.
There are a few other factors that can drive up the price of a used mannequin. Since the majority of mannequins in retail stores are in a standing position, a mannequin that is in a seated, reclining or athletic pose is highly sought after and the demand outstrips the supply. Also Asian mannequins, African-American mannequins and plus size mannequins are scarce in general, so a used one in good condition will command top dollar.
A few mannequin manufacturers (Rootstein and Patina V) have produced limited edition mannequins that were fabricated after real-life supermodels or entertainers. When these mannequins are no longer in production it increases the value of used ones. Another mannequin company, Ralph Pucci, commissions well-known artists and designers such as Maira Kalman, Jeffrey Fulvimari and Ruben Toledo to design a line of mannequins for them. Since these mannequins are popular as art pieces in addition to being a vehicle to display clothing, they can sell close to their original price of $1,100.