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Is this the best time ever for RTR models?

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#1 Barry O

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Posted 14 October 2017 - 18:29

As part of the Warley NEC Show this year the demo area has a retrospective view to what it was like to model ( and train spot) in 1967.

So what was it like to model in 1967? Looking at RTR availability... well if it sort of looked like the prototype it was good enough. Livery availability.... limited..

Materials in use in 1967 - no etchings, no 3D CAD,

and train spotting .. depending here you were .. steam, diesel, maroon and blue & grey coaches...freightliners...

Looking at today .. lots of RTR .. and lots of "moaning" .. so is this the best time ever for RTR??

Baz

Edited by Barry O, 16 October 2017 - 06:48 .

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#2 Mallard60022

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 08:26

Probably. It's all relative though Baz. When there was no 4mm RTR and then Hornby Dublo appeared, maybe that was the 'best time' and then Triang came along (unsure if that was best) with two rail drive rather than three. Then. quite some time later there was the appearance of Palitoy and Airfix....the wow factor of the time. Lima...,.,..? Maybe the diesels were OK?

My personal view is that we are very fortunate at this time to have such a wonderful choice of RTR stuff in several scales and also people that can advise and encourage us to build our own and at the very least, enhance things ourselves.

A lot of 'moaners' really do not know how, or can not remember when, things were so dire.

Phil


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#3 Reorte

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 08:52

I've not been modelling long enough to really know but the combination of quite a lot of things available, as well as the means to do your own thing, makes it a good time to model in general I think. When I compare the models I've got now with the ones running around on the trainset my dad put together when I was small the difference is significant, not that I would've cared as a small boy then. So certainly technically better. The real question is whether or not you get more out of it though. I'd hazard a guess at "possiblty" there since the improvements all help to remove potential frustrations.

 

I'd much rather go trainspotting in 1967 though!


Edited by Reorte, 16 October 2017 - 08:53 .

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#4 Pete the Elaner

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 09:23

It depends on your point of view.

 

It is now possible to model a fairly accurate representation of an area or location. Has this always been possible in the past?

Even in the 1960s, many short distance trains were formed from multiple units, but models of these were scarce.

Going back a bit further, there was a ride range of locomotive designs with the smaller ones less well represented than the more glamorous larger locos.

 

Back in the 1960's most modellers were more content with a generic layout to run short trains of what we wanted to see & the majority of modellers were happy with this.

These days it is more common to model a real location, or something based on a particular area.

 

We now have manufacturers maybe not competing head to head with individual models but they are pushing forward with the accuracy & performance of models, so they all have to keep up with each other with wheel standards, track standards, haulage capacity etc.

The drawback is that the price of models is rising quite sharply a the moment, but we need to put this in context: How much does a modern OO scale A4 cost compared to the average weekly wage compared with how much a 1965 model to the average 1965 weekly wage? I really don't know the answer to this.

 

There does seem to be lots of moaning but as models get better, our expectations of them get higher.


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#5 Oldddudders

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 09:26

It is not in Man’s nature to be satisfied with his lot. The quality of detail on current RTR is off any previous scale. Yet the better it gets, the more demanding people become. And there is evidence that the beauty is skin-deep. Sneeze near some models and bits fall off. Mechanisms are allegedly rather less robust than the Ringfield era.

Yes, we have the awful luxury of too much choice, too many ways to make the wallet cringe - but are we any happier than when the only 4-6-0 was a Castle, the only 2-8-0 an 8F? I’m not at all sure.
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#6 Pete 75C

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 09:35

How much does a modern OO scale A4 cost compared to the average weekly wage compared with how much a 1965 model to the average 1965 weekly wage? I really don't know the answer to this.

 

According to the wonderful internet (so may not be entirely accurate - irony), the retail price of a Hornby R357 Brush Type 2 diesel in 1965 was 49s.6d The average weekly wage was £19.11s.9d.

Forward to 2017, the retail price of a Hornby Class 31 (non-Railroad) is £160 and the average weekly wage is £519.

Hmmm....


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#7 woodenhead

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 09:40

I think the same was said when Lima was at it's most prolific with diesels - it's all relative as new techniques make more detail possible.

 

I do think we are at peak production though with companies vying for our money like never before - are all the models the best though - unfortunately not - little mistakes are still there even though modern techniques suggest it shouldn't happen - and perhaps we are being sold something by certain pockets within the hobby that really isn't attainable so we end up being disappointed with new models that aren't as perfect as some believe they should be.  For every new model that comes out there is a list of plaudits and then the inevitable list of criticisms, some are justified, some are nit-picking, some are the result of prototype variations being some complex that some generic-ism within a model is the only way to model it.

 

What we are getting now which is making RTR interesting are the smaller locomotives, the odd balls and industrials - I suppose that is the mark of a best time ever.


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#8 APOLLO

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 09:41

YES, this is the best time ever for RTR models, without any shadow of doubt.

 

I modeled in Tri-ang TT gauge back in the 60's, very little variety and not cheap on 2s & 6d  a week pocket money (12.5 pence today !!) - but we got by and made do (enjoyed it also). Mates mostly had Tri-ang OO with one lucky lad having a Hornby 3 rail set up. I had the "bigger" layout though by using TT.

 

Today I happen to model the 1965/6/7 era, green & blue diesels, last of steam, mixed rakes of maroon & blue/grey, some Mk 2 coaches also in blue grey, maroon & green (non air conditioned). Virtually EVERYTHING is available today for this era, Heljan providing the oddball diesel classes also.

 

I also model in American O scale - and again lots of good stuff available - though these days mostly second hand. The glory days for this was the 80's, Atlas O was cheaper than Hornby OO back then !!

 

No moans from me anymore !!!

 

Brit15


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#9 Legend

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 09:42

There is no doubt , models are more accurate now than ever before. I'm not sure about QC though or whether some of today's models will last long. There seems to be some fine models out there with cheap motors that maybe start to decline after 9-10 hours running.

Also it's fine if you buy everything when announced and hold onto it for when you have a Railway in that period/geography etc . As an example if you want to model ScotRail now , where are the turbostars , Class 158s? No chance of buying new , you are stuck with eBay, if you can find any.

Personally I do think we peaked about 6 or 7 years ago , certainly in terms of value for money and availability.
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#10 34theletterbetweenB&D

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 10:13

I am emphatically in the 'best ever' camp, and still improving.

 

Price comparison with fifty years ago: the crucial aspect is how the price stands relative to discretionally disposable income. When my Father was teaching me how to run a household budget at about that time (readying me for independence) I could see how small a proportion of the household income was left after all essentials had been paid for. Those same essentials are a typically a far smaller proportion of income now. The problem is that of choice now: far more non-essentials bidding for the spare cash, and with capability undreamed of in 1967. You couldn't buy a computer or the present mobile phone capability for any money as a private individual in 1967!

 

Applied to model railway product, the comparison has to be made with a 1967 quality product on current sale, Happily Hornby provide this, in the form of the original representation of the class 08: nothing like the prototype and with a poor mechanism, and still available in all its authentic 1960s direness. £2 back then, usually under £30 now at retail. (It is fair to compare the actual retail prices, they are the real prices.)


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#11 Legend

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 11:04

I am emphatically in the 'best ever' camp, and still improving.
 
Price comparison with fifty years ago: the crucial aspect is how the price stands relative to discretionally disposable income. When my Father was teaching me how to run a household budget at about that time (readying me for independence) I could see how small a proportion of the household income was left after all essentials had been paid for. Those same essentials are a typically a far smaller proportion of income now. The problem is that of choice now: far more non-essentials bidding for the spare cash, and with capability undreamed of in 1967. You couldn't buy a computer or the present mobile phone capability for any money as a private individual in 1967!
 
Applied to model railway product, the comparison has to be made with a 1967 quality product on current sale, Happily Hornby provide this, in the form of the original representation of the class 08: nothing like the prototype and with a poor mechanism, and still available in all its authentic 1960s direness. £2 back then, usually under £30 now at retail. (It is fair to compare the actual retail prices, they are the real prices.)


Actually I think you'll find that's 1976 direness as the non side framed model dates from then , the previous one from the 50s being devious diesel
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#12 34theletterbetweenB&D

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 12:47

Actually I think you'll find that's 1976 direness as the non side framed model dates from then , the previous one from the 50s being devious diesel

 The 1967 direness of R152 'D3035' in BR green in a Triang box is unfortunately only too real. In terms of a comparison: distorted one piece body moulding to fit on a wholly inappropriate standard mechanism of poor performance, I would say it is a solid comparison to the present Railroad deformity.



#13 Dunsignalling

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 13:15

More choice, more detail, greater accuracy, what's not to like.

 

OK, there are down sides, cost (though arguably not radically higher in relative terms), fragility and (sometimes) coreless motors for those who insist on not buying a modern controller because their  50-year old Duette still "works".

 

If you were happy with the stuff you could get in 1965 or 1975, there's still plenty of it out there, and dirt cheap if you enjoy the hunt. 

 

So, are we in the midst of a/the "Golden Age"?

 

Quite possibly, whichever camp you inhabit, but we won't know for certain until it's either over or gets even  better.  :scratchhead:

 

John


Edited by Dunsignalling, 16 October 2017 - 13:20 .

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#14 Dunsignalling

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 13:28

According to the wonderful internet (so may not be entirely accurate - irony), the retail price of a Hornby R357 Brush Type 2 diesel in 1965 was 49s.6d The average weekly wage was £19.11s.9d.

Forward to 2017, the retail price of a Hornby Class 31 (non-Railroad) is £160 and the average weekly wage is £519.

Hmmm....

And the Railroad one, which is still better than the original, for around the £60 mark or £115 with TTS sound............. 

 

John


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#15 Legend

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 13:28

More choice, more detail, greater accuracy, what's not to like.

OK, there are down sides, cost (though arguably not radically higher in relative terms), fragility and (sometimes) coreless motors for those who insist on not buying a modern controller because their 50-year old Duette still "works".

If you were happy with the stuff you could get in 1965 or 1975, there's still plenty of it out there, and dirt cheap if you enjoy the hunt.

So, are we in the midst of a/the "Golden Age"?

Quite possibly, whichever camp you inhabit, but we won't know for certain until it's either over or gets even better. :scratchhead:

John

Is there more choice though? As I said above if you buy it when first released your ok , but items quickly go out of stock. Also in terms of spares , you are expected to buy a new loco rather than fixing it yourself. Try looking for spares for a Hornby Rebuilt MN for instance. And of course this is particularly troublesome given the poor QC .

Edited by Legend, 16 October 2017 - 13:29 .

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#16 Reorte

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 13:31


If you were happy with the stuff you could get in 1965 or 1975, there's still plenty of it out there, and dirt cheap if you enjoy the hunt. 

Happy with the models available then and happy modelling then aren't quite the same thing though. I'll stick my neck out a bit and guess that for a lot of people it's a question of results vs. means, so what you could do with what was available then gave just as much satisfaction as what you can do with what you've got now, but it wouldn't be satisfying to use the RTR from the 60s or 70s now.



#17 Dunsignalling

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 13:40

Is there more choice though? As I said above if you buy it when first released your ok , but items quickly go out of stock. Also in terms of spares , you are expected to buy a new loco rather than fixing it yourself. Try looking for spares for a Hornby Rebuilt MN for instance. And of course this is particularly troublesome given the poor QC .

Your first point is covered by matching our behaviour to the way the industry has evolved. Resistance is futile. :jester:

 

We all know that if we hang fire too long, we may have trouble getting what we want. Those who do, know the risk and I'm afraid that if your interests chop and change, there will always be more stuff you can't buy new than you can.

 

I have settled themes for both area and era, plus I don't push my luck by exercising "discount brinkmanship" if it's something I really care about having. It's all about wanting to get the model ahead of wanting to get it cheap. I can therefore count the number of desired models I've failed to get on half the fingers of one hand!

 

Incidentally, I've got half a dozen Hornby MNs, including two from the very first runs. Admittedly, I don't work them hard, but none has needed spares yet, though I think the oldest may need a new motor soon (available).

 

I have many more Light Pacifics, and look out for damaged malachite ones (they're cheaper) at swapmeets so as to split them myself.

 

John


Edited by Dunsignalling, 16 October 2017 - 13:51 .

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#18 tomparryharry

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 15:41

I'd say that it's the best time ever for model railway stuff/kit.

As the spectrum decreases, so some non-mainstream model inspiration falls under the spotlight. So the quality & fidelity shoots up. Good news all round. This also means that what was termed as cliché, becomes niche, sometimes very much so.

Tact & diplomacy is paramount here. With the right words & attitude, we can get anything we want. Demanding won't work. Gently leading a producer to the finished article is far less painful.

I'll leave you with an example: Taking Triang/Hornby as an example. Nellie or Peckett? Toad, or AA13 toad?

Ian.

#19 Mallard60022

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 16:14

I'd say that it's the best time ever for model railway stuff/kit.

As the spectrum decreases, so some non-mainstream model inspiration falls under the spotlight. So the quality & fidelity shoots up. Good news all round. This also means that what was termed as cliché, becomes niche, sometimes very much so.

Tact & diplomacy is paramount here. With the right words & attitude, we can get anything we want. Demanding won't work. Gently leading a producer to the finished article is far less painful.

I'll leave you with an example: Taking Triang/Hornby as an example. Nellie or Peckett? Toad, or AA13 toad?

Ian.

Exactly, as it is in any sort of business approach or negotiation. The results of the lack of use of the tact bit is being demonstrated by a certain political negotiator right this minute.

Phil


Edited by Mallard60022, 16 October 2017 - 16:22 .

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#20 Poggy1165

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 16:29

It probably is. My only slight doubt is whether these modern models will prove robust in the longer term. If you buy a Bodgington and Buckington Junction Railway class 12X today the chances are it will not be available in 5 years time if you need a replacement, as most things come in very small batches.

 

The old Hornby-Dublo models were crude by today's standards, but they were so robust that many are still running 50-odd years after the newest ones were made, and they existed in such vast numbers that if you lost one tomorrow you could probably find a replacement by Saturday.

 

Of course as stuff like 3D printing technology advances, it may be that you'll be able to order literally anything, at any time, and at a relatively modest cost. But we are not there yet!


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#21 Tony Wright

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 16:42

A very interesting thread. Thanks for starting it Barry,

 

My thoughts? 

 

Clearly the standards of RTR have never been higher, especially in the level of detail and, particularly, the paint finish. With regard to the level of detail, this comes at a 'price'. Much is far too delicate (ever tried fixing lamps or headboards on to Hornby Gresley Pacifics?). In handling, I've found lots of things just drop off (I'm not inherently clumsy). As I've mentioned on Wright Writes, I was loco-doctoring at the Peterborough Show. One guy brought a Hornby B17 for attention, and two steps and the cylinder drain cocks on one side just fell off in picking it up. When I open the packaging (don't mention the current packaging!) to take a product shot of an RTR loco, I do so over my photographic paper now - because so many bits have fallen off in transit. 

 

Some recent RTR locos are almost impossible to get into for servicing/attention. Too many I've had through my hands in the last two years have motors which have failed. It would appear they are nowhere near as robust as motors of yore. 

 

As for price (in comparison to, say, Hornby-Dublo or Tri-ang of years gone), exceptional value I'd say, but not so good if the products aren't as durable as those robust 'toys' I've just mentioned. But then, current RTR products are not sold for/to children in the main. 

 

I suppose (as has been discussed on Wright Writes), there is a 'sameness' nowadays with regard to locos/stock on mainstream layouts at exhibitions and in the press. 

 

Is there much moaning? I've listened to folk wail about such and such a loco not being exactly the one they want. When I suggest they renumber/rename it to the one they desire, they turn pale, or get someone else to do it for them. 

 

As for those who prefer to make their own locos/stock, either from kits or from scratch (though the kit market is diminishing), they probably don't give a fig about RTR. They just get on (as was the case in the past) with actually making things for themselves. They've probably always been in a minority, anyway.  


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#22 Dunsignalling

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 18:38

Is there more choice though? As I said above if you buy it when first released your ok , but items quickly go out of stock. .

Nowadays, you have to do the choosing up front, simply because the models will never all be released/available simultaneously. For me, that's no bad thing as impulse purchases are the items I end up selling or trading-in, usually at a loss, a couple of years down the road.

 

Planning ahead really shouldn't be a hardship as, in most cases, we get at least a couple of years to make our minds up.

 

I am probably lucky in that there is currently enough that I properly want coming through to satisfy my acquisitive instincts (and soak up most of my budget). If there wasn't and I was trying to choose between things I liked in isolation, but which didn't fit into my chosen theme(s), it would be more tricky. As it is, I think the modeller in me overpowers the collector and I can happily ignore most such releases.  

 

John


Edited by Dunsignalling, 16 October 2017 - 18:42 .


#23 Barry O

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 19:22

So if you visit our 1967 shop some people may be just a bit alarmed at how little RTR was available BUT you could buy a Codar controller - a good controller for its time...

 

Baz


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#24 jjb1970

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 19:45

In some ways yes. The standards of fidelity to prototype and finish of modern RTR is quite remarkable. Running qualities are for the most part beyond what OO modellers dreamed of 25 years ago. Details are locomotive specific and despite price rises it is still a relatively affordable hobby provided you don't want to one of everything released. And we are seeing models made RTR that would've been niche prototypes for kit producers not that long ago, never mind RTR. So in all of those aspects I do think it is correct to say we've never had it so good and my thanks to the model companies and their Chinese manufacturers.

 

On the other hand, I do think durability has gone down and things like spare parts availability and manufacturer service support has gone backwards. The higher incidence of Mazak rot does raise questions about quality assurance. For all that, I do think the upsides far outweigh the downsides and that it is still fair to say we've never had it so good.

 

That said, my own taste is for classic brass and models supplied by companies like Overland, PFM and Challenger. But that's just me.



#25 Nearholmer

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 20:07

We probably need to go cautiously about what we wish for here.

The two previous "best times ever for r-t-r" were 1914, and 1939.

In 1913, if you had deep pockets, you could buy stunningly good r-t-r tinplate models (models, not toys) in Gauges 2, 1, and 0. Anyone who has never seen the Carette wagons and coaches made for the GB market at this time is in for a treat when they do.

In 1939, again if you had deep pockets, you could buy some beauties in 0 from the likes of Bassett Lowke and Leeds, and Hornby had just launched its poshest ever 0 loco, along with far better track; Hornby Dublo was getting into its stride, and Trix were making some superb locos and coaches.

Need I say what finished the "best ever", and set the progress of railway modelling in Britain back ten years, in each case?
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