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MarkSG

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  1. I've noticed that Rails tend to be a bit more wide-ranging with their packaging, and somewhat less standardised, than Hatton's. Whenever I've bought anything from Hatton's it's always arrived in a fairly standard box - typically, the long thin ones used for locos and wagons, but sometimes a larger, more rectangular one - and the box is always new. Rails seem to use whatever they have to hand, and don't mind reusing boxes - my Bachmann crane arrived in the box that Bachmann sent it to Rails in, but with the extra space (since I'd only ordered one) filled with foam packaging.
  2. I suspect the issue is that Hatton's goods-out department is geared up for packaging models, most of which do need to be properly protected, and it's not worth their while investing in things like Jiffy bags for the relatively small proportion of orders that don't need any special protection beyond a suitable envelope. It also won't be costing them any more to send it like this; their delivery costs will be based on weight, not dimensions, so it doesn't matter how much air is in the box. It's not just Hatton's that do this, a lot of online retailers tend to use oversize boxes, and for the same reason: it's simply easier and cheaper for them to use a small number of standard sizes than getting lots of different sized boxes that more closely match the contents.
  3. It's being discussed in the steampunk community: https://www.facebook.com/groups/BritishSteampunkCommunity/permalink/2923224501034739/
  4. It probably is deliberate, and suggests that someone involved in the project is familiar with the genre (or, at least, has done their research). Babbage and Lovelace are iconic figures in the steampunk genre, because they were both ahead of their time. Babbage, in particular, was tantalisingly close to creating a working mechanical computer. Had he done so, and had others built on his invention, the Victorian world would certainly have been very different. More specifically, the novel that is generally credited with establishing the genre conventions of steampunk is "The Difference Engine" by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, which is based around the concept that Babbage succeeded in developing his mechanical computer and that Lovelace was able to develop some key mathematical theorems that, in reality, were not discovered until the 1930s. The book explores the potential this would have had to change history.
  5. These aren't really aimed at the average member of the general public either. They're aimed at steampunk fans and the kind of people who shop in Games Workshop. I have a feeling that, to them, the name "Hornby" would actually be a negative factor, because they will associate it with stuff that they're not interested in. Just like we'd probably be a little suspicious of a new range of model railways branded Warhammer.
  6. Because they see it as a sufficiently different sector to justify a different brand. To customers, "Hornby" means, broadly speaking, scale models of real locomotives and wagons (even Smokey Joe and the ubiquitous 0-4-0 are loosely based on a genuine prototype). This stuff isn't based on reality, at all. So it makes sense to do it under a different brand. "Growing the market" doesn't have to mean growing the market specifically for the Hornby, the brand. It also means growing the market for products made by Hornby, the company. That also includes Humbrol, Airfix, Scalextric, Corgi and the various European brands that they own, as well as, now, Bassett Lowke. It's all about finding things that they can profitably make and sell.
  7. I don't recall it snowing very often, although it did a couple of years or so ago. It's fair to say that the weather usually is typical of Staffordshire in February, that is, chilly and varying degrees of damp. But then again, what better place to be when the weather outside is manky than in a warm and dry exhibition hall with lots of great layouts on show!
  8. MarkSG

    New Hornby Rocket

    I'm pretty sure Buster Keaton's Rocket was a lightweight petrol-engined replica. It certainly looks light when you watch it bouncing around on the track. It can't have been a tender drive, because the first time you see it moving (around 14:21 in the version on YouTube) the loco pulls away from the tender slightly, it's clearly not a fixed coupling. But, also, the close-up of the engineer shows him pulling on a lever that's nothing like a steam regulator, but does look very similar to a typical floor-mounted gearstick on a 1920s car. So I suspect that it was built around a modified car mechanism. https://youtu.be/cRNObtP_Fgo?t=861 That would, in any case, be consistent with Keaton's other movies. He used modified cars a lot, so it wouldn't have been much of a departure for his set builders to put one on rails. And as for staying on the track, they just edited out the times it didn't and took as many goes as necessary to get a take that worked! On the subject of Buster Keaton and trains (and modified cars), here's a scene from one of his classic shorts featuring both: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5J21F4fbQrE
  9. MarkSG

    New Hornby Rocket

    I think Hornby would need new tooling to represent any other Rocket class loco, or, indeed, even Rocket itself when in service. All the contemporary drawings show locos with horizontal cylinders (as can been seen on the preserved Rocket). The angled cylinders on Rocket at the trials seem to have been a very short-lived intermediary development phase. The model, and all the replicas, represent the version of Rocket used at the trials. And, at the time, it was a prototype.
  10. MarkSG

    New Hornby Rocket

    Novelty had quite a lot of depth below the running board, being a well tank design. I'm pretty sure there would be space in there for a chip.
  11. MarkSG

    New Hornby Rocket

    Incidentally, the BBC "Timewatch" programme did a recreation of the Rainhill Trials using replicas in 2002. The full episode is available on YouTube.
  12. MarkSG

    New Hornby Rocket

    Firstly, it's important to bear in mind that Rocket didn't have bigger front wheels than the other competitors. They all used as large a set of driving wheels that they could, because of the need for speed. It's just that Rocket's design allowed a smaller set of rear wheels. These photos are replicas, obviously, but assuming they're reasonably accurate it's easy to see that the driving wheels are essentially the same same (compare them to the height of the humans). But the small rear wheels of Rocket, as well as keeping the weight down, also made for a more compact, and hence probably more stable design. As for sources, I'm mostly following the citations in the Wikipedia article on the Rainhill Trails.
  13. MarkSG

    New Hornby Rocket

    Rocket didn't have bigger front wheels than the other competitors. It had smaller rear wheels! But it did have a much higher axle load on the front, which would have helped with adhesion. Rocket wasn't the fastest loco in the trials, either, that was Novelty. But Rocket was more reliable. The trials were, in many respects, unrealistic. The rules favoured lightweight, fast locos with only moderate pulling power. Rocket and Novelty were both very much built for the competition, but used very different designs. Rocket's design, though was more suitable as a base to improve for a production model. Novelty, had it won the trials, would have been difficult to scale up to something capable of hauling a full length train.
  14. MarkSG

    New Hornby Rocket

    The coupling rods themselves would have been additional weight. And wheels also have weight. Given the very stringent overall weight limit, it made sense to dispense with the couplings and have a much smaller - and lighter - set of rear wheels. Bigger wheels certainly do help with speed, and the other contestants also had large wheels, for that reason. Rocket's front wheels weren't significantly different in size to those on the other locos. But Rocket's rear wheels were a lot smaller.
  15. MarkSG

    Bachmann 2020 Range

    I'm pretty sure you'll find that the lead time from deciding to do a model and that model reaching the shelves is about the same, give or take a year or so, for all the main manufacturers. The difference is more about when in that process they decide to announce it. Hornby's preference is to announce late, when the model is already at a stage where they can be showing off samples or, at least, 3D prints, so that it can all be rolled into a big annual reveal for that year's range. Bachmann in the past at least, tended to prefer to announce earlier, when it's just at the planning stage. There are advantages either way. An early announcement minimises the risk that you'll be pre-empted by someone else doing the same model, or that your own model will directly compete with someone else's. Bachmann themselves got caught in exactly that position when their Blue Pullman effectively scuppered the production of a version by Heljan, commissioned by Olivia's Trains. An early announcement is more industry friendly, as it minimises the risk of duplication. But, it does result in long lead times from announcement to delivery, and runs the risk that an announced model may be cancelled. A late announcement means that there are fewer risks of cancellations and significant delays, as most of the period vulnerable to those will have passed by the time the announcement is made. It's also more customer-friendly, as it means people aren't kept waiting for something for too long. And it's also better from a PR perspective, especially if, like Hornby, you prefer to do your announcements in a single annual event. The downside is that there's a much greater risk of duplication, and also a risk that your future plans may leak. Hornby are possibly big enough not to really care about that, and in some respects they've even been happy to release spoilers - the Terriers and Class 66s, for example. But Bachmann may be more cautious about investing too much into a model before gauging public reaction to it and ensuring that it isn't on anyone else's future plans. Given Andy Y's comments earlier in this discussion, that Bachmann are beginning now to move towards a later announcement system, that is likely to mean less new stuff announced in the short term. That doesn't mean it isn't being worked on, more that there's a reset in their marketing of forthcoming products which will have an effect on the announcement schedule. I do wonder a bit if that's related to their takeover of the Thomas franchise. While we modellers like to know things as far in advance as possible - just so that we've got something to endlessly discuss on the Internet when we really should be modelling! - retailers don't work on the basis of ifs, maybes and "it's ready when it's ready" announcements. They want firm commitments. They need to know now what they will be able to sell in December, they need to know this summer what will be available next year. Moving into the more general toy train market is a bit of a departure for Bachmann UK, so it's quite likely that it will have had an effect on other aspects of their business model as well.
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