So let me start by saying I absolutely do not intend this thread as a criticism in a negative sense. Instead, I intend it as positive, and as information-seeking. After reading the new catalog and hearing some discussion of this, it prompted me to seek a more "official" response.
I've read and heard and talked to folks and have felt myself for a while that the higher-end Spyderco knives coming from Japan are... confusingly-priced for the materials involved. Or, perhaps, they are confusingly-built for the price. They come with plain handles, usually black G-10, and are in VG-10 steel. But, they're often priced higher than would seem, to me, appropriate for the materials.
Examples: Ouroboros, Introvert, Tatanka, Starmate, Junior, Q-Ball, Lil'Temperance 3, Roc, Mike Draper (yes, Ti, but still VG-10).
I know that these are all knives that will work well for what they are. And I'm not knocking G-10 or VG-10. he worst one, to me, is the Firefly. This one retails over $200, but it's just orange G-10 and VG-10, with a little carbon fiber (which could easily be just laminate). But if I'm going to pay that much, or the amount for some of these others, am I nuts for expecting a better steel at a minimum, and perhaps better handle materials? I'll take plain black G-10 if I can get better than VG-10, but either way, the cost vs. materials has already knocked multiple knives down my list because if I am spending that money I can get another Spyderco for the same or less but with better steel and probably a better handle.
I also get that Spyderco is trying to keep the cost down by using these materials. But what I don't get is how VG-10 and Japanese production can make the Ouroboros retail for $170. Is it a matter of scale and they don't make enough of some of these? I know the Golden knives are sold at an aggressive price, but are they really discounting the significantly-larger Para 2 with S30V by $45-50 in comparison? Does G-10 and steel liners really add $40 from the FRN VG-10 DF2 to the G-10 model? Is there not a middle-ground steel that is available in Japan at a reasonable price that would slot in between VG-10 and ZDP-189 that would allow these nicer knives to have an upgraded steel but not have to go with the increased cost of ZDP? Is this why there are rumors of S30V making its way over to Japan, probably to serve that purpose?
I really, really like the Ouroboros. But at around $170, I could get: Hungarian, Pingo, Military, S110V Military, Mantra/Mantra2, Positron, Foundry, Caly 3.5; and for not much more, knives like the Sage 2, Gayle Bradley, or around $200 instead of a Firefly you're getting into Techno, SpydieChef, Chaparral Ti, Domino/Dice, Stretch 2 ZDP-189. And drop down to $140-150, and there you have all kinds of PM2, Native 5, Manix 2 XL, Sage 3, Gayle Bradley 2 options. So when I was asked to make a wish list of Spydero knives recently, the Ouroboros fell down that list behind knives that give me better materials for the money, and the Ouroboros isn't interesting enough to overcome that difference with black G-10, VG-10 steel, and teflon washers. And those lists just now didn't include some of the more esoteric knives available in those prices as well.
Sorry for the wall of text, but I wanted to make sure I was being clear. TLDR: Why are G-10/VG-10 Japanese Spyderco knives so expensive with those materials?
Current: Dragonfly 2 ZDP-189, Chaparral 1, Techno 1, Delica 4 HAP-40, Dragonfly 2 HAP-40, Mantra 1, Ladybug Salt Hawkbill, Nirvana CPM, Endura 4 HAP-40, Sage 4, Para Military 2 CPM Cru-Wear, Sage 5, Caly3 HAP40, Sliverax, Lil' Nilakka, Chaparral Raffir Noble, Zulu, Manbug HAP40, Meerkat HAP40, Sage 1/Sage 2/Sage 3 CF, Introvert, Techno 2