I prefer 02 tool steel to 1095 and want stag handles. Not interested in having a knife everybody else has. Look for form, function, and quality.
The knife maker has to eat, has children to raise, and needs shelter. $50 won't cut it. Let Condor use cheap labor and better QC and see what they come up with, but I still will prefer something made by the local knifemaker.
I couldn't agree with you more about a craftsman's needs to feed his family and should be paid well not only for his work, but also for his learned skills, and like you I really appreciate custom made and semi custom made knives, I have some of both, customs by MML, Turley, Adventure Sworn, Jeff White, MP, and a few from lesser known local makers, each chosen because they were unique in some way, and all have been great knives for me.
I also have a couple of semi customs from Bark River and Blind Horse, that I enjoy very much, but all of them with the exception of my ENZO Trapper and Jeff White knife ($125.00) retail for $200.00 or more, and I'm sure that some of my Vintage fixed blades by Western Cutlery and Camillus would go for much more today than I paid for them 50 years ago, but I also have some inexpensive outdoors knives that are pretty inexpensive even when compared to the lower end knives being sold by Buck, Gerber, and other.
A couple of examples are Condor made knives, Kephart model and a Woodlaw model, the Kephart is not a true heavy duty bushcraft knife though I'm sure Kephart himself would have been disappointed with Condors version for his needs and what he used his belt knife for, and at under $30.00 that I paid for it it's been a good all around light duty camp and food prep knife, and it's pretty good at processing small game and fish.
My Woodlaw is a modified scandi and excels at processing wood, notches, feather sticks, light batoning for kindling, cutting cordage, and carving projects like spoons, the Woodlaw I think you'd like, the finished blade was $18.00 from Amazon, the brown micarta scale material, the white and green spacers and custom pins for the knife and matching ferro rod were about $20.00, if it weren't for the Condor name on the blade it could be mistaken for a Sargent 3-M custom knife.
My point was, if a craftsman is going to bother making a knife that will be competing in the market with other cheap and ugly looking neon colored knives, why not just offer a better quality blade with traditional styling, I meet other hikers and campers in my travels and at the several meets I attend every year and except for the few Mora Clippers and bushcraft blacks I see, I can't remember ever seeing (except for one guy carrying a BG Survival knife) anyone wearing a brightly colored knife.