With 3D printing becoming more and more affordable, it would be foolish not to tap into that resource.
Cryptic and PWE should set up an agreement with an on-demand 3D printing company. We can then buy special 'datachip' from the c-store that upon using, will let us select what ship, toons, or Boff to print.
$20 to $50 worth of zen depending on the size of the print order sounds reasonable.
I know I would love to have a model of my ship sitting on my desk. Would you?
At least the idea of ship models has been discussed before.
However it was more along the lines of built and painted models like the WoW figures.
Back then the DEVs said that several of their ships were unsuitable for this because the designs would have to abide by the laws of physics then.
And certain ships have rather big nacelles with only small pylons (the Star Cruisers and DSSVs come to mind) and those would probably break under the stress of...gravity.
My guess is the materials used in 3-d printing would not change that either.
Considering they want $20 for a fake fleet ship in a video game that will vanish into thin air some time in the next decade, I think your real world costs if we scale up are missing a zero.
Printing is just an out source job.
They just need to take your ship's model with the right parts and paint job and upload it to a printing company and that company do the rest.
The ships cost money in game because people have to code, model, and paint textures.
With 3D printing, it doesn't cost that much to set up a system to extra a file and send to off. Most of it would be automatic. The rest of the cost is just the material. I also did not include shipping cost in my estimation.
To be honest, a person competent with computers and extracting game assets, like people who mods, can probably extract their ship model and texture on their own and send it to a printer for a cheaper price, but not everyone has those skills.