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Andy Y

Hornby 2019 announcements

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I'd guess this is part of the deal. Put your products where people will buy them as "pocket money" items. The Wacky Races sets are the same idea - I can't see many Comicon visitors baulking at the RRP, it's peanuts compared to the stuff they buy.

 

Of course, if Hornby does find success in these areas, it makes you wonder about the enthusiasm they will have for the "we want all the minute detail but will endlessly moan about the price" sector...

To put it in absolute terms, Hornby's can only succeed by producing goods for people who are prepared to pay enough for them to generate the returns necessary for the business to thrive. So, the willing: "Customer Type A", the reluctant, who grumble but still buy: "Customer Type B", (albeit, in both cases, perhaps in reduced quantities), and the refuseniks who grumble and stop buying altogether: "Customer Type C". 

 

So long as there are sufficient Customers of Types A and B, and they collectively buy enough models to enable production in batches of viable size, everything in the garden is rosy.

 

Customers of Type C, by definition, cease to be customers. Not quite sure where they'll go, as the products of Hornby's closest competitor are generally more expensive. Might they start making their own models, I wonder?  

 

John

Edited by Dunsignalling
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To put it in absolute terms, Hornby's can only succeed by producing goods for people who are prepared to pay enough for them to generate the returns necessary for the business to thrive. So, the willing: "Customer Type A", the reluctant, who grumble but still buy: "Customer Type B", (albeit, in both cases, perhaps in reduced quantities), and the refuseniks who grumble and stop buying altogether: "Customer Type C". 

 

So long as there are sufficient Customers of Types A and B, and they collectively buy enough models to enable production in batches of viable size, everything in the garden is rosy.

 

Customers of Type C, by definition, cease to be customers. Not quite sure where they'll go, as the products of Hornby's closest competitor are generally more expensive. Might they start making their own models, I wonder?  

 

John

No they’ll just buy second hand or give up and do something else instead. But I think amongst the main U.K. manufacturers Hornby are showing more awareness of the need to be price competitive and not lose Customer Type C completely

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I go to the 'manufacturer' who gets the model right, and I'd rather have one correct at a higher price, than two with uncorrectable errors at a lower price.

 

For me, I still wonder why Hornby don't market their ranges to better target their likely buyers - the higher detail stuff still, IMO, needs to be marketed differently.

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No they’ll just buy second hand or give up and do something else instead. But I think amongst the main U.K. manufacturers Hornby are showing more awareness of the need to be price competitive and not lose Customer Type C completely

 

The Customer C types include those who for various reasons are on tight budgets (including the junior modellers), and those who are 'dipping a toe in the water' to see if the hobby is for them, with minimal outlay.

 

The less experienced/junior modellers almost certainly won't have the skills to make things themselves...

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Of course, if Hornby does find success in these areas, it makes you wonder about the enthusiasm they will have for the "we want all the minute detail but will endlessly moan about the price" sector...

 

I can't see Hornby ever pulling out of the high-end model market, not least because those products are bought by some of their most loyal and non-price sensitive customers: the collectors. And I think that's a market sector that we here on RMweb (and within the hobbyist sector in general) often fail to appreciate.

 

The "toy train" market we do, generally, have some understanding of, even if we sometimes pooh-pooh it a bit, partly because a lot of us started there as children before moving on to become hobbyists and partly because it's clearly where the more mass-market models (such as the Christmas train set) are targetted. But collectors are a bit of a different breed. I suspect it's the other route of progression from toy trains, some of us get drawn into the nitty-gritty of layout construction and developing our skills in that area, while others just like to carry on buying things - they just buy more expensive things when they grow up and get a job!

 

To give an illustration of that, I was chatting to someone the other day that I'd been told "likes trains", so I mentioned our mutual interest. And he told me all about his collection of Hornby locos - as far as I can tell, he owns pretty much every express passenger steam loco that Hornby have ever made since he started buying them. He says that, now he's retired, he has to ration himself a bit, but he still likes to buy one or two a year. And all he does is run them round an oval of track in his spare room, with no attempt at creating a realistic setting for them. And he doesn't buy any other locos - no diesels or electrics, or even what he calls "boring black" steam locos. He likes colourful 4-6-0s and 4-6-2s, and that's pretty much it. Oh, and they're all Hornby. Nothing else.

 

Now, that's a world away from my experience as a modeller - although I do buy the odd thing just because I like it, I mainly aim to stock my cabinets with models that can realistically (with maybe a little modeller's licence) be used on whatever I'm building now, or have a hunch I might build in future. And I love "boring" 0-6-0s, and quirky little tank engines. And whatever loco I'm running, I like it to have a realistic setting and be hauling an appropriate set of rolling stock.

 

But I reckon my acquaintance spends far more on Hornby products than I do. Certainly, he did when he was working, even if he has scaled back a bit since retirement. So it's not at all unreasonable that Hornby will continue to cater to that market. However much we hobbyists may froth over industrials and put gap-filling workhorses on our wishlists, the "top link"  express locos are Hornby's cash cow in the collector market. And there are other collectors who do like industrials, or freight locos. There's a significant proportion of Hornby's customer base who will buy it "because it's there". And they're not going away any time soon.

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Your friend who spends more on Hornby locos than you do because he collects every large express passenger loco as it comes out is a very important customer for Hornby.  I have 10 locos, which is enough to run my timetable and cover boiler washouts; I am intending to buy 1 more as a replacement for an inferior version (Baccy 94xx to replace Limbach), and possibly a Hornby 5101 when it appears but I'll have to be feeling flush and will probably wait for discounts or s/h to appear.  I have not paid full RRP for any of them; new ones have been discounted at my local model railway shop, which is 2 of them, and the rest are secondhand from the same place or 'Bay.  I think I've spent about £50 per loco on average (the 94xx'll blow that out the water when it arrives), which makes a total of £500, very little of which has gone in any direct way into the pockets of RTR manufacturers.  Your friend would struggle to own 3 or 4 of his big locos at today's prices, and I'm assuming his oval of track doesn't need DCC!

 

This puts me pretty much in customer C territory, but I do not regard myself as a price moaner or in any way likely to give up and do something else; I love my railway.  This brings us back to the point that railway modellers, while they may be important to the companies, are not necessarily the bread and butter, and if you want to get a sense of how marketing to the hobby works, you might be better off looking at somebody like Peco.  I think of myself as customer B, but my disposable income is limited and disposed of very quickly; the companies must despair of the likes of me!  

 

But, as I've said many times, what it costs is what it costs; I'm gonna be happy to shell out nearly £100 on a pair of new H Collett suburbans when they appear in BR livery, which'll be the largest amount I've ever spent on coaches in one go, because I want the coaches more than I want £100, which will be the bulk of my disposable for that month and mean a few nights in.  The iron and immutable law of supply and demand is obeyed, I get my suburbans, Chinese workers' get better standards of living from pay rises (this is what's driving the prices up, and why shouldn't they), H make due profit, my local shop gets a cut, and I can retire my old Airfix B set and use it's bogies for other projects; everybody's happy.  

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My apologies if I missed this in earlier posts; I think I have read them all! My question concerns the pre-orders for Gresley 61’ teak coaches. The teak seems to look OK, but I cannot fathom whether the bodyside moulding issue has been ‘fixed’. Guidance/wisdom would be welcome.

 

Best,

Marcus

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The Customer C types include those who for various reasons are on tight budgets (including the junior modellers), and those who are 'dipping a toe in the water' to see if the hobby is for them, with minimal outlay.

 

The less experienced/junior modellers almost certainly won't have the skills to make things themselves...

Any hobby is a luxury, funded by discretionary spending. Hornby, like all leisure-oriented businesses, make their living from offering products or services, at prices that make the effort worthwhile, to customers who want and can afford to buy them.

 

When I was on a tight budget, nearly all the models I bought were second-hand, it was that or the same loco, two coaches and four wagons until next Christmas (yes, it was that long ago). I also, aged 8 upwards produced my own buildings from balsa wood and cereal packet cardboard. They cost little and got replaced or altered repeatedly as  I gained the ability to make better ones.

 

If someone wants (for instance) to "dip their toe" into photography, they don't (if they have any sense) buy a new DSLR, they get a six/seven-year-old one for a tenth of the price to learn the basics on. Nikons like the one I still have produce sharp, noise-free A4 prints and can now be picked up for about £70, the current equivalent is up around £800.

 

Then, with the knowledge of what sort of pictures they want to take, they can make a better-informed decision on what equipment to buy, and what is an acceptable budget for them when they are ready to get in more deeply.

 

I really don't see why railway modelling is, or should be, any different. 

 

John

Edited by Dunsignalling
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However someone can also go down to Argos and buy a very cheap, basic, digital camera for £40-£80. No, it doesn't have lots of extra lenses or other features but it can still be given to a child as a Christmas present, used to record family events, and with some good framing etc even pull off some decent photos now and then. 

 

I'm certainly not saying that there shouldn't be *any* superdetail models, and I'm happy for those that want them that there are those models available. But there's a balance to be struck and there's room in the market for both the superdetail models and the budget models.

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Basic models are in fact very useful to anyone with a modicum of modelling ability (that's me out, then); so long as they are dimensionally accurate we can add details and work them up.  I would prefer a dimensionally accurate but basic model, even with moulded detail that has to be cut off and replaced, than a highly detailed but dimensionally 'out' alternative.  

 

Some models are so far out that nothing can be done with them, but by and large anything produced new in the last 30 years is reasonably close to the mark.  At the end of the day yer pays yer munny an' yer takes yer choice.  The choice is better than it's ever been!

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My apologies if I missed this in earlier posts; I think I have read them all! My question concerns the pre-orders for Gresley 61’ teak coaches. The teak seems to look OK, but I cannot fathom whether the bodyside moulding issue has been ‘fixed’. Guidance/wisdom would be welcome.

 

Best,

Marcus

I highly doubt it. There is no indication that they are retooled or had any modifications done.

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However someone can also go down to Argos and buy a very cheap, basic, digital camera for £40-£80. No, it doesn't have lots of extra lenses or other features but it can still be given to a child as a Christmas present, used to record family events, and with some good framing etc even pull off some decent photos now and then. 

 

I'm certainly not saying that there shouldn't be *any* superdetail models, and I'm happy for those that want them that there are those models available. But there's a balance to be struck and there's room in the market for both the superdetail models and the budget models.

But the crux of the matter is for how long producing the budget models will remain worthwhile for the manufacturer. Even Railroad prices are drifting upwards and I, for one, wouldn't consider that two of them represent better value than one "full fat" model of comparable size. Where I do concur, is that they are far more suitable for younger children and (perhaps inept) beginners.

 

That £40-£80 camera from Argos isn't aimed at the potential hobbyist in any event, but the analogy equates quite well to the Smokey Joe train-set. Both do the job, so long as one's expectations are realistic, and nobody is suggesting for a moment that both don't have a place in the market. Quite apart from the cost (new), and however good a bargain a decent used DSLR may be, many will consider one much too big and heavy for casual use. I agree, which is why I also have a compact, though my compact cost more last year than my SLR body did seven years ago, and produces very comparable results.

 

Some years back, I failed to persuade my stepfather, who was determined to own a brand new car for the first time, a City Rover, to buy an extremely well-kept, high-spec, low mileage, three-year-old Ford Focus for the same money. The Rover was traded in for peanuts with bits falling off it before it even needed an MoT. Fortunately, its replacement, a Daihatsu Sirion (also new), proved to be an exact opposite and remains in rude health and good cosmetic condition as it approaches its twelfth birthday.  

 

The bare truth, in all three comparisons, is that a low price doesn't necessarily (or even often) constitute a bargain and you can almost always find something of better quality second-hand for the same or less money.   

 

John

Edited by Dunsignalling
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Has anyone bought the Blue scotsman yet? What’s the front footplating like? Any sign of ski jump?

 

Pictures from Rails on Facebook now - presumably on thier website too. I wouldnt like to call it regarding the footplate.

 

Hatton's has photos too.

 

If anything the footplate looks straight along its length, but the cab appears to be sitting on its haunches a bit, making it look like the loco is pointing slightly skywards.

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... if Hornby does find success in these areas, it makes you wonder about the enthusiasm they will have for the "we want all the minute detail but will endlessly moan about the price" sector...

For just so long as the return on investment remains satisfactory. Money always speaks louder than words in business.

 

I can't see Hornby ever pulling out of the high-end model market, not least because those products are bought by some of their most loyal and non-price sensitive customers: the collectors...

Which will be for so long as that active regular customer spending continues in response to introductions of new subjects and renewals of the dated models.

 

But the crux of the matter is for how long producing the budget models will remain worthwhile for the manufacturer. Even Railroad prices are drifting upwards...

And these are the product groups that look increasingly vulnerable to me. Not least because there is a mountain of 'better than budget and Railroad' built up over the past 20 years and still building. Apart from a few known victims of Mazak rot, most of this will comfortably outpace the budget and Railroad items. Surely I am not the only one who has noticed that there's an increasing supply of good s/h from current manufacturers, as opposed to the not so long ago dealer tables full of Triang/H-D/Wrenn?

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For just so long as the return on investment remains satisfactory. Money always speaks louder than words in business.

 

Which will be for so long as that active regular customer spending continues in response to introductions of new subjects and renewals of the dated models.

 

And these are the product groups that look increasingly vulnerable to me. Not least because there is a mountain of 'better than budget and Railroad' built up over the past 20 years and still building. Apart from a few known victims of Mazak rot, most of this will comfortably outpace the budget and Railroad items. Surely I am not the only one who has noticed that there's an increasing supply of good s/h from current manufacturers, as opposed to the not so long ago dealer tables full of Triang/H-D/Wrenn?

 

Yes but note that the cost of second hand is also creeping up , but its a good point .

 

I still think there' a reasonable amount of money to be made ,even on Railroad .Hornby are not stupid they must have costed their mark 2f  coach(not a Railroad item, but competitively priced)  up and be happy with the return. They are not doing it to spite Bachmann. they are doing it because they think there is a market there and can make money . Similarly if you've got Oxford producing an N7 which sells at £87( discounted), why cant others .  Its the same manufacturer- retailer- enthusiast routing.

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And these are the product groups that look increasingly vulnerable to me. Not least because there is a mountain of 'better than budget and Railroad' built up over the past 20 years and still building. Apart from a few known victims of Mazak rot, most of this will comfortably outpace the budget and Railroad items. Surely I am not the only one who has noticed that there's an increasing supply of good s/h from current manufacturers, as opposed to the not so long ago dealer tables full of Triang/H-D/Wrenn?

 

Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places but I don't know where to get a second hand GWR railcar in decent condition for £45.

 

To me, one thing that stands out from the 2019 range is that Hornby seem to be putting more emphasis on the Railroad range and at lower prices than we've seen recently.

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If they move their focus to a more lucrative sector, we will only have ourselves to blame.

 

What we don't know is which is the more lucrative sector?  I'm presuming that Hornby do but don't get me wrong I have seen some higher quality Hornby models sold in 'department stores' in the pre-Christmas period at the sort if discounts that make Hattons old ways look positively tight fisted.  The trainset market is a very different thing and I suspect that if it is correctly marketed (e.g Hogwarts Express or 'Flying Scotsman') it will get into the Argos/mail order and what's left of the department store market areas and sell out of Hornby in very considerable numbers at what are likely to be 'competitive' prices, i.e. at a level that such buyers will find marketable once their margin is added.  

 

The big advantage for Hornby, provided they get it right - and Phil's obvious enthusiasm foe 'wacky races' suggest that Hornby probably have got it right for that plus toy trade accolade for Hogwarts Express says the same - means that Hornby will sell these items in large quantities, good old fashioned Hornby market approach.  But still a valid approach because even if profit per item is low the bulk sales will mean higher cash flow.  In contrast the sooper dooper hifi GWR non gangwayed coaches will not sell in such bulk but at roundly £50 a throw at retail level the profit per item is likely to be a bigger percentage that mass sales of Hogwarts Express.  the encouraging thing this year is that we are seeing the reinvigorated LCD led Hornby doing both and I wouldn't mind betting that at the end of the day, and more pertinently the end of the financial year what will matter is how much these two area of market have made in total and that two pronged approach won't change as long as both prongs work and make money for the company.  The ultimate of course would be high volume coupled with high gross profit and you never know but an LCD led Hornby might actually get there.

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Any hobby is a luxury, funded by discretionary spending. Hornby, like all leisure-oriented businesses, make their living from offering products or services, at prices that make the effort worthwhile, to customers who want and can afford to buy them.

 

When I was on a tight budget, nearly all the models I bought were second-hand, it was that or the same loco, two coaches and four wagons until next Christmas (yes, it was that long ago). I also, aged 8 upwards produced my own buildings from balsa wood and cereal packet cardboard. They cost little and got replaced or altered repeatedly as  I gained the ability to make better ones.

 

If someone wants (for instance) to "dip their toe" into photography, they don't (if they have any sense) buy a new DSLR, they get a six/seven-year-old one for a tenth of the price to learn the basics on. Nikons like the one I still have produce sharp, noise-free A4 prints and can now be picked up for about £70, the current equivalent is up around £800.

 

Then, with the knowledge of what sort of pictures they want to take, they can make a better-informed decision on what equipment to buy, and what is an acceptable budget for them when they are ready to get in more deeply.

 

I really don't see why railway modelling is, or should be, any different. 

 

John

 

Example - years back when cash was tight with two small children and herself only able to get a few hours work in the week i was perfectly happy to buy a secondhand Airfix 61XX at a swapmeet for a few quid  - because it was the only way to get a Western large prairie; I couldn't even afford the wheels for it if I bought a Wills kit.

 

Now I have a new Hornby large prairie on order for the coming year and I might well add a second one - as far as I'm concerned they are not massively over-priced and they'll come with top notch detail which has been very thoroughly researched.  That's the way the world has changed - the youngsters are out at work, I've got three pensions (and I'm even allowed to keep one of them for myself  :O ), so I can spend my discretionary money how I want.

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My purchasing philosophy runs something like this (and bear in mind that I am nobbut a poor pensioner who has to watch the pennies carefully); product is on market when I look for it or is announced and I am waiting for it.  I decide I want it.  The next stage is to ask the question 'have I got or can I reasonably easily get the money required to pay for it?  If the answer is no. I can't 'ave it and that's that, so my railway does not incorporate DCC control.  If the answer is yes, then irrespective of how much it costs, or how much of a rip off I think it is, or any other factor, then I'm 'avin' it and that's that.  

 

I can get away with this because I have sufficient income to live within my means even if it is fixed, and no dependents relying on me.  The squeeze is not high maintenance and pretty much self supporting, the bills all go out at the beginning of the month from one of the pensions, and when food and utilities are sorted the rest is my 'funny money', divided between the railway and the pub.  Doesn't hurt me not to go up the pub if I've caned it a bit on the railway.  I can also get away with it because I have cut my cloth according to it's width and do not have more than a fairly basic BLT to supply stock for.

 

A cloud looms on the horizon (even noticeable above the bigger cloud that I'm probably, by which I mean almost certainly, going to die in the next 2 or 3 decades); I have just attempted to install a new operating system in my Mac to be told that my Mac cannot run it.  This means that it is only a matter of time before I will not be able to source software for it, and I must think in terms of a replacement in the next 2 or 3 years.  But I should have finished the bulk of spending on the layout by then anyway!  

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I do feel that they may have gone for an overkill on railroad standard items with all those 66s and 47s (nearly all of the latter having been released before). Mind you I'm biased in that all of those things have no interest to me what so ever. The vast selction of small tank locos should sell like hot cakes - oops my bias in preferring these. 

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Just to put this into context, I have just looked at some prices for Hornby Dublo frpm the late 50's and early 60's.

An 8F would have cost £ 4 1s 6d which equates to £ 90 based on RPI or £ 199.90 based on labour cost.

The figures for a West Country were £ 5 16s 5d, £ 113.80 and £ 271.90 respectively and a City of London £ 5 5s, £ 111.10 and £ 245.30 respectively.

The prices do not seem to have gone too far out of line, given the improvement in quality - there is no comparison between a modern City and an HD one, although I still like the old one. 

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