I think you need to revamp your "don't panic" button. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has the words "Don't Panic" on the front in very soothing and calming letters. Those letters don't soothe me at all! O.O
I charge $75 per plushie for pretty much everything I do, unless it's something reeeeally intense. That would cover all the details I can manage to fit in (stripes/spots, jewelry, etc.) I love doing detail work, so my plushies tend to be pretty accurate.
Definitely learn everything you can from your boss! I worked as an assistant at Airbrush Headquarters in Destin for four years and it was an absolutely priceless experience. We had five artists who were all amazing. And crazy, haha. If you ever check out Airbrush Action magazine, there's almost always one of them in there.
We all used to joke around the shop and introduce ourselves like "Hi, I'm such-and-such, you might have seen me in Airbrush Action," because we'd all been in it at some point. Terry Hill put me in one time as his "fabulous and talented artist's assistant," LOL.
I have a bit of a waiting list with the plushies, so just let me know whenever you're ready and I'll get you on there.
The books were really excellent. Number five was kind of slow, but I didn't mind it. I could read those books over and over again and they would still be as crazy and unexpected as the first time I read them.