I emailed Nicks boots a few times and Gary at Nicks suggested I call. So I called Gary yesterday and spent 30 mins on the phone talking about different boot options. Here are some nuggets I gathered that I thought I would share.
For fit, you send Nicks the fitting guide and they will send you a pair of boots in the appropriate size for that last (of course, I assume you pay for the try-on boots). You wear the boots for about 10 minutes around the house then call Keith the fit expert at Nicks. Keith will walk you through exactly how the boots should fit/feel. Gary said that a Nicks boot should start out like a firm handshake fit at ball of the foot and through instep. There should be a full thumb at the end of the boot. An initial fit like this and they will will break in perfectly. If they are very easy to get into and very comfy at initial try on then they will be a sloppy loose fit in 3 months. Send back the try-on boots, then Nicks will begin building your custom boot.
The Roberts boot has a dress-type anaflex leather. I want a rough-out, but that isn't possible with the Roberts dress leather as Gary said the anaflex RO gets fuzzy and generally looks like s!*t. I asked if they can do a Roberts in the heavier oil-tanned leather and Gary said that makes it a Ranger model boot. Gary also mentioned that the Roberts is lighter than the Ranger. If you make a 6" Ranger out of the oil-tanned leather, it will be about 1-lb heavier than a 6" Roberts made of the lighter anaflex leather. The new Nicks site has some good pics of the types of leather, including RO and exotics. Go to the FAQ and click on Leathers.
I was initially interested in the Roberts boot (some parts of the site refer to this also as a weekender boot). The Roberts has a roundish toe (#3 in the Nicks FAQ). But after talking with Gary, I am leaning toward a 6" Ranger. Ranger is built on same last as the Roberts and will have the same round-ish toe. Gary suggested getting a padded collar top (a $30 additional charge) because a pull-loop on a 6" boot gets hung up on pants pretty often when standing up after sitting or crossing your legs. I'm not sure of the durability of the padded top and I also don´t like the look. Gary also suggested a single celastic toe ($20 additional charge).
For my needs/wants, this is what I'm thinking of:
6" Ranger, Hot shot style (rough out toe and heel, with smooth upper), cut-top w/ pull-loop, single celastic toe, Natural edging, Vibram 430 mini-lug sole, Cap Toe (or maybe LTT).
A few miscellaneous tidbits...Gary said Nicks target is 8-10 week turnaround. They are running 12-14 weeks now. Not a deal-breaker for me.
Gary suggested finding a local place to take the boots for rubber heel recap only, without touching the leather heel base. Then send to Nicks only when needing a full resole. When sending in to Nicks for resole, mention that heel caps have been redone prior to resole. Nicks can then adjust the heel.
For maintenance of RO leather, Gary suggested 30-grit sand paper or suede brush. Rubbing it on the RO will make it nice. I've never had RO boots, so I can't comment on how well this works. Also, if you need a highly polished boot, get the black strap leather.
When comparing the pictures of the Roberts and Ranger on the web, it looks like the Roberts laces come lower than the Ranger. I asked Gary about that, and he said the laces go down the same on both boots. The difference is due to the size of the boots in the picture and maybe just the picture itself.
I will try to post pics and feedback of the try-on pair as well as the finished product.