Nuremberg Toyfair 2015 – Part 2
Day 1: Several appointments today, but the intervals between allowed me to have a good look around Hall 4A, dedicated to model railways. Immediate impressions (confirmed by others) are that the number of exhibitors is fewer than in previous years and that those attending have, in many cases, opted for smaller stands. The result is that where, a few years ago, model railway companies spilled out into neighbouring halls, the reverse is now true and various unrelated companies now fill out the hall. There’s also been some careful arrangement to make the space look fuller than it actually is.
But, that doesn’t mean that there are no stories out there, and that’s what you really want to read about!
Trends: Apart from radio controlled drones, which seem to be everywhere in all shapes and sizes, there were a few noticeable trends visible in model railways this year.
- Options: With a drive to attract younger modellers at one end and provide ever better detail and features at the ‘top end’, whilst keeping prices realistic for those in the middle, there’s a noticeable stratification in the offers of many companies. A good example is Brawa, which has started offering ‘Basic’ (DCC Ready), Basic+ (DCC Ready with extra lighting features) and ‘Extra’ (DCC fitted with sound and extensive lighting features) options on its new HO locomotives. Would this work in the UK? Would enough British modellers fork out around £350 for a high-quality diesel locomotive with all the bells and whistles? And is it practical for manufacturers to split production runs down even further?
At the same time, the big German companies such as Roco and Maerklin are pushing their very basic train set ranges aimed at young children (6-12yo), as well as much more sophisticated models aimed at adult collectors and a great deal of items in between.
- Crossover: Another relatively recent phenomenon is the appearance of certain models in the ranges of more than one supplier; the result of co-operation to broaden distribution across Europe and share development costs or exclusive editions for certain countries. ESU’s ‘Engineering Edition’ HO models also fit this category – being upgraded versions of models produced by more established manufacturers.
- Barrel Scraping: A crude term, but appropriate as manufacturers search for interesting new subjects to extend their ranges. Just as in the UK, where numerous obscure subjects and one-off prototypes are appearing, the German market in particular is seeing some esoteric new models being announced – for example Liliput’s 1970s/80s Henschel DE2500 experimental diesels and Roco’s USATC S160 2-8-0 in HO scale. To balance this out slightly, the big manufacturers are also upgrading the most important classes with new tooling, such as Roco’s upgraded German Class 143, 151, Bombardier TRAXX electrics and Brawa’s BR290-294 diesels.
- 3-D Printing: It’s been around for a few years, but is really starting to make its presence felt in mainstream model railways. As it was with laser-cut card kits, Noch is an early adopter of 3-D printing for mass production, introducing a small selection of highly detailed station and lineside detailing packs. Laser-cut kits also continue to march on, with a large number of suppliers (large and small) including them in their ranges and encompassing everything from weathervanes to giant industrial buildings.
New Product Highlights – Day 1
A brief summary of interesting and relevant bits seen today at the fair…
Oxford Diecast had decorated samples of its new 7-plank coal wagons on display (dodgy mobile phone snap below). When asked about the red painted inside of the bodies, Oxford told us that this will be painted in appropriate colour on production models. Also confirmed is that the tension lock couplings will be shortened in response to customer feedback.
Several new products are promised by Peco across its own ranges and those of Wills and Ratio. Pre-production samples of the 4w Glyn Valley Tramway coaches and wagons were on show, along with a 4mm scale laser-cut small wooden station building (LK-200). Track-wise, new O gauge Setrack No. 2 radius turnouts and OO9 Radius No. 1 turnouts are planned, along with an SM-32 gauge bufferstop track.
From Ratio a new family of modern level crossing components should be popular. It includes gated or ungated crossings, a relocatable equipment building and CCTV cameras on posts. Meanwhile Wills has also gone ‘modern’ with a modular modern industrial/commercial building system known as ‘Wills Modern’. Components will allow various styles of industrial units, out-of-town retail unit and supermarket frontages, loading bays to be assembled in full or low relief.
Deluxe Materials’ next new product will be ‘Strip Magic’, a safe, effective paint stripping liquid that softens up paint and printing, which can then be removed with a cotton bud. More details soon.
Fans of the Kato 9mm gauge 1:150 scale ‘Glacier Express’ set will be able to add a Rhaetische Bahn ‘Allegra’ EMU set to complement it in April. Despite the discrepancy between scale and gauge of these models, they are reported to be extremely popular.
Piko has developed a new DCC system ‘Piko SmartControl’ – the handset combining touchscreen control with a proper wheel for speed control, selection of features etc. Capable of storing up to 16,000 locomotives, 1,000 accessories, running 28 functions per locomotive and consists of up to four locomotives it will soon be available in the UK via Gaugemaster.
Preiser has been persuaded to reintroduce a small range of 1:76 scale figures for the UK market; 11 sets include a range of passengers (seated, running, waiting), British police and BR station staff plus a set of cows.
The many British enthusiasts who have visited Germany’s Harz narrow gauge network may be interested in Tillig’s new range of HO scale (HOm) locomotives and stock for the Harzer Schmalspurbahn and its predecessors. The magnificent 99 72xx 2-10-2Ts will be added to the range this year, joining a good selection of modern and vintage coaches, wagons and an 0-6-0T.
Turkish firm Proses is to release two fully-wired switch boards with LED indicator lights for controlling up to six solenoid point motors or signals or the same number of lights, turntables of accessories. These neat and easy to install units should be available in the UK via Golden Valley Hobbies. Proses is also releasing a modular helix system in clear acrylic (N) or PVC (HO/OO) which can be assembled without tools.
That’s it for today. I'll post more photos when I can - RMweb photo file limit is 1MB and I have no way here of reducing the file sizes to suit!