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BBC Four - James May's Big Trouble in Model Britain

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Posted (edited)

Yes with a model railway its a system approach, set , controller, scenery, large place to put it , quite large cost for the lot.   With a kit its an individual buy , apart from glue and paint nothing else required.    I do wonder how many kits do actually get constructed in the end . There do seem to be many 60/70/80s vintage ones around on eBay .  I really don't have the patience to construct the engine on that Hellcat in the program. I bet a substantial number of the 5000 kits sold will never actually be put together.  On reflection it was quite a fascinating program

Edited by Legend
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Jeff Smith said:

I used to build plastic model aircraft but am not up with the hobby so was interested to see that type of model fair.  I wonder, and I'm sure there are multi-disciplined modellers here, whether the same type of accuracy discussions/complaints take place about aircraft models as about loco models? 

 

Yes, most definitely - the various plastic modeller forums I'm a member of are full of threads bitching about inaccurate kits with various major dimensional inaccuracies, never mind the more subtle detail stuff. And they also have to contend with poor fit or alignment of parts when they build the thing, requiring much filing, sanding, application of filler, smoothing of seams and re-scribing panel detail lost in the previous operations! We do have it rather easy with RTR!

 

I have recently rejoined the model aircraft world, prompted by a couple of Airfix's new toolings (their 1/72 Lightnings and Shackleton, but have equally bought kits from the likes of Revel, Sword and Italeri, all post-WW2 RAF types). I've started a couple of kits and have first-hand knowledge of my previous para!

 

I've attended Scale Model World the past 2 years and have been impressed by both the sheer variety and quality of models displayed and the high number of visitors, (with an average age maybe 10-15 less than many of the larger model railway shows). Then again, while the models on display are very high quality, the interaction between exhibitors and punters is much more limited and there's very, very little in the way of demos or sharing of techniques. And the models are, of course, static. There's no 'action' to keep the viewer entertained.

From a trade point of view - there's the box-shifters, second hand merchants and plenty of detailing stuff (much of which is far, far ahead of what we're happy to accept)

 

I firmly believe there is much we can learn from the plastic modelling world (and vice versa), if only folk on both sides of the lineside fence would venture over it!

 

 

Regarding the James May programme, I found it largely informative and enjoyable, with only a few cringe-worthy moments and I'm looking forward to part 2.

 

The programme that followed it on BBC4, about the history of 'train sets' and model railways was possibly better in that it presented the hobby in a largely positive light, including contributions from the likes of Gordon and Maggie Gravett, showing that we're not all sad weirdos! :locomotive:

 

 

Edited by CloggyDog
sense!
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2 minutes ago, Pacific231G said:

Not just paperwork (which is actually fairly standard) It would be almost impossible to get those permissions in a busy exhibition unless the youngsters appearing in shot were pre-arranged. You also have to be careful with adults. If the shot of the waiting queue had been illustrating a script line about sad old gits on the spectrum anyone identifiable would have quite a good case for legal redress.  Remember that those rules don;t just apply to professsional broadcasters. They also apply to anyone who posts videos on YouTube etc.

James May's jockular quip about teenagers, girlfriends and modelling, may have been a throw away gag to hide a legal requirement, but I wonder what would be the effect on any teenagers watching, did it just reinforce the stereotype of 'do this and your just plain sad'  that does deter some from more active indulgence?

 

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4 hours ago, blueeighties said:

So in that case, why do DCC Concepts sell analogue and digital Cobalt motors? 

The answer is in my post - same point motor, but one is set up to be run by DC and the other by DCC. I don't know how much clearer my post could have been.

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57 minutes ago, Chameleon said:

How come Hornby still have the huge building at Margate? (Big enough to currently house 12" to the ft models) if they have moved out both production and offices. That sort of building must cost a helluva lot to keep and maintain?

 

50 minutes ago, Legend said:

 

They sold it , moved to Sandwich and are now moving back. Presumably leasing a small part of the site they used to occupy , not the whole factory. Probably a lower cost than the glitzy offices at Sandwich , that we did see in the program.  They don't need the whole factory as they don't manufacture anything

 

 

As Legend says, Hornby sold the whole site a few years ago, but retained a lease on the Visitor Centre, initially with the intention to move that to a new site as well.

 

In moving back to Margate, they have leased the office space and some of the unused part of the old factory from the current owners.

i.e. they are now tenants.

 

This is all documented in past local newspaper reports that can be read online.

 

As said by someone else earlier, the return to their “spiritual home” , probably has a lot more to do with saving money.

Presumably, the empty and unwanted old Margate offices are considerably cheaper to rent than the swanky new office suite at Sandwich.

 

Ron

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11 minutes ago, Legend said:

Yes with a model railway its a system approach, set , controller, scenery, large place to put it , quite large cost for the lot.   With a kit its an individual buy , apart from glue and paint nothing else required.    I do wonder how many kits do actually get constructed in the end . There do seem to be many 60/70/80s vintage ones around on eBay .  I really don't have the patience to construct the engine on that Hellcat in the program. I bet a substantial number of the 5000 kits sold will never actually be put together.  On reflection it was quite a fascinating program

As the man said (IIRC) SABLE - Stash Accumulated Beyond Life Expectancy.

 

It applies to railway kits too, but I presume aircraft modellers do as I do with wagon kits, buy on first release while the moulds are at their sharpest....

 

John

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I also posted Bassett Lowke but the post has not registered.

 

Well done for MKD, one that I, of all people, should certainly have thought of. I have history with MKD!

 

So that gives us 15. I don't think that Skaledale would count as a separate brand.

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35 minutes ago, Pacific231G said:

 

In the H0 world inhabited by most of our hobby there seems to be far less enthusiasm for P87 than there is for P4/S4 here. That's possibly because standards like NMRA RP25 are "good enough" for most scale modellers. I'd be interested to know how much Setrack Peco, regarded there as a premium brand, sell into the N. American market. I suspect the answer is not that much.

 

I know nothing about the NA market, but here in France, one thing that strikes you (in the few model shops still open) is the extraordinary exposure and good stocks of Peco track, in most of its forms, in almost all of them. (And this is not down to low turnover, as the ever-changing stock levels in my nearest model shop, near Bordeaux, demonstrates.) This is despite enormous continental competition, in theory. It is also pushed in MR mag adverts by retailers, and most layouts in those mags use Peco, whether in HO, N or narrow gauge. Fleischmann, Roco and to a lesser extent, Tillig, have their brands exposed equally, but with far less stock held (apart from at the couple of huge Hatton equivalents in Paris).

 

So the answer may well be "availability"? A lesson Hornby has learned and is now acting upon.

 

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1 minute ago, Joseph_Pestell said:

I also posted Bassett Lowke but the post has not registered.

 

Well done for MKD, one that I, of all people, should certainly have thought of. I have history with MKD!

 

So that gives us 15. I don't think that Skaledale would count as a separate brand.

 

I don’t believe that Railroad should be counted as a brand either, it is sold under the Hornby name. 

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7 minutes ago, rockershovel said:

 

I don’t believe that Railroad should be counted as a brand either, it is sold under the Hornby name. 

 

Yes, indeed. That highlights the problem. Hornby do not really know what each brand signifies.

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I enjoyed the programme; I like Captain Slow and the snapshot of Hornby in operation at nuts and bolts level was illuminating.  But there were one or two glitches; the 'teenager' remark was clumsy at best, but the worst moment for me was within a few seconds of the start, when it was inferred that the company has been going since Frank Hornby founded it in 1901.  May knows full well that this is nonsense, and should not have allowed his voice to be associated with it; Hornby as we now know and sometimes love it is the old Triang, and nothing to do with Frank Hornby's Hornby Dublo beyond the bought out rights to use the name.

 

If such mendacity can be voiced within the first 30 seconds of the broadcast, how can I trust information from the rest of it?  Hornby = Rovex/Triang, Hornby Dublo = defunct manufacturer withs some products continued by Wrenn.  It is important to stress this as the general populace still equate Hornby with the old Hornby Dublo, not Triang.

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15 hours ago, newbryford said:

 

I await the time when folks look fondly back on the 800 IEPs...........

'Patience is a virtue'.

 

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5 minutes ago, The Johnster said:

 It is important to stress this as the general populace still equate Hornby with the old Hornby Dublo, not Triang.

 

I doubt the general population knows the difference!

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34 minutes ago, Legend said:

With a kit its an individual buy , apart from glue and paint nothing else required. 

 

Many 'serious' aircraft modellers nowadays no longer build a kit as it comes (OTB - Out of The Box, as it's known) as there are numerous after-market detailing parts available, much in resin: cockpit interiors, wheel wells, intakes, jet-pipes, flap interiors, weapon bay interiors, metal pitots and aerials, bang seats, instrument panels, undercarriage/wheels and finally stores loads... and that's even before you get into the realms of conversion parts and kits.

 

And then there are after-market decals (which to be fair we also have)

 

For a recent Sea Harrier 1 purchase of mine (c£10 for the basic kit) I also got resin intakes (with drooped auxiliary doors), resin bang seat, resin cockpit tub, resin nozzles, AIM9 Sidewinders and rails (resin/etch) and an aftermarket decal sheet, all of which pushed the price to around £30 (and that's before paint/glue)

 

 

 

 

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@CloggyDog should I be concerned that all those extras were resin apart from the AIM9 Sidewinders - they aren't operational are they?

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All this talk of plastic kits martlet vs rtr Hornby yet we have plastic, etch, resin and multimedia 3D print kits ;) 

many of us participating in both markets as consumers. The latest iteration of Hornby are taking advantage of this to do a bit of PR for investors as well as potential customers. Mr K isn’t going to say anything much about his time with the decline because the media would focus on the negative, much like the promised skirmish in ep2 ;) 

All that matters is have they learnt and now taken the bull by the horns and got a good future plan! Evidence so far is promising so let them have a bit of help from the media rather than being another disaster story :)

I think any James May fan dropping in because of his name will know it’s self deprecating humour with his comments, he opened the programme stating he’s an enthusiast. 

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2 hours ago, south_tyne said:

 

Nail, head..... 

There is room for every approach in this hobby. One is not more virtuous, worthwhile or better than any other. 

And, of course, there are those who are 'finescale P4 modellers', who also like (or yearn for like the idea of) train sets.

 

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13 minutes ago, The Johnster said:

I enjoyed the programme; I like Captain Slow and the snapshot of Hornby in operation at nuts and bolts level was illuminating.  But there were one or two glitches; the 'teenager' remark was clumsy at best, but the worst moment for me was within a few seconds of the start, when it was inferred that the company has been going since Frank Hornby founded it in 1901.  May knows full well that this is nonsense, and should not have allowed his voice to be associated with it; Hornby as we now know and sometimes love it is the old Triang, and nothing to do with Frank Hornby's Hornby Dublo beyond the bought out rights to use the name.

 

That's a  very simplistic view of how corporations evolve through their various takeovers, mergers and divergements. The current Hornby plc is a direct descendent of Frank Hornby's company, albeit having had many different owners in the intervening years. While May's comment that the company has been going since the days of FH, implying a single entity throughout, is also simplistic, it's certainly not false in the way you suggest.

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Posted (edited)
30 minutes ago, Tony Teague said:

  7 minutes ago, The Johnster said:

 It is important to stress this as the general populace still equate Hornby with the old Hornby Dublo, not Triang

I doubt the general population knows the difference!

That's not really the point. The general population does have the right to expect any programme shown on the BBC to be truthful and accurate and it would have been fairly easy to write the opening script to achieve that by referring to the name rather than the company. You can't just write what you think is true, you have to check that it is true.

 

My analogy with the First group's Great Western Railway and the one that had Brunel as its engineer still holds. They may run on the same routes but there's no continuity between them.

 

In answer to MarkSG I'd say that the same is true of the Hornby brand. When Lines Brothers bought Meccano Ltd. the only thing they kept of Hornby railways-  a brand not a company-  was the name. That had a better brand value than Tri-ang so when  Lines  Brothers collapsed and was bought by Dunbee-Combex-Marx. Hornby-Tri-ang, which was in product and manufacturing terms Tri-ang was rebranded in 1972 as Hornby. In the opening narration May got it right at first by saying that the company he created (Meccano Ltd.) was associated with....." but then says very clearly "For the First Time in its 118 year history the company has granted access...." This is simply wrong, the Hornby brand name for toy trains/model railways has about a hundred year history but there quite simply is  no company with such a  corporate history.

 

In the late 1990s I made several films for the British Toy and Hobby Association that told parts of these stories (including Airfix and DCM) so had to get my head round all this. Writing simple scripts that get this sort of complexity right is not easy but that's what producers get paid for. Unfortunately, though I enjoy James May's programmes, the sloppy script for this, confusing brand with company, does make me doubt the factual content of his other programmes.

Edited by Pacific231G
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2 hours ago, Legend said:

 

But here we had references to no woman , faces of young people blanked out so as not to affect their chances of getting a girlfriend in the future. Really that's quite insulting , but because its James May he seems to get away with it .

 

I don't think I'm atypical of many model railway enthusiasts of my age and generation (retired person), but both my wife and I found that particular comment laugh-out-very-loud hilarious.

 

Isn't that the point - the comment is only being said on the programme, precisely because it's James May that's saying it?

 

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5 minutes ago, Captain Kernow said:

I don't think I'm atypical of many model railway enthusiasts of my age and generation (retired person), but both my wife and I found that particular comment laugh-out-very-loud hilarious.

 

Isn't that the point - the comment is only being said on the programme, precisely because it's James May that's saying it?

 

 

I agree Captain - as a young person myself of the same generation as those young folk and as someone who may well have been blurred to improve my chances of finding a lovely lady, I had a good laugh at it. ;)

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6 minutes ago, Captain Kernow said:

I don't think I'm atypical of many model railway enthusiasts of my age and generation (retired person), but both my wife and I found that particular comment laugh-out-very-loud hilarious.

 

Isn't that the point - the comment is only being said on the programme, precisely because it's James May that's saying it?

 

It's like any sentence that is said, the context of how it is used determines the ultimate meaning.

 

If you simply hear the words and get insulted without taking account of the wider context then you're just afflicted/conditioned like most of the world now that any comment has to be taken in the strict sense of the words used and you then need t tell the whole world how insulted/upset/emotionally distressed you are about it.

 

Taking the simple word 'Fatty'

1, Used to describe a stranger - it's an insult

2. Used to describe your mate who's just eaten a load of chocolate cake it's a joke and no-one is upset.

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24 minutes ago, CloggyDog said:

 

Many 'serious' aircraft modellers nowadays no longer build a kit as it comes (OTB - Out of The Box, as it's known) as there are numerous after-market detailing parts available, much in resin: cockpit interiors, wheel wells, intakes, jet-pipes, flap interiors, weapon bay interiors, metal pitots and aerials, bang seats, instrument panels, undercarriage/wheels and finally stores loads... and that's even before you get into the realms of conversion parts and kits.

 

And then there are after-market decals (which to be fair we also have)

 

I agree, I have a friend who has been doing this with his aircraft and other military models (and he has a stash of unmade kits equally as large as the chap on the show).

 

Whilst I accept that aircraft and military modelling etc. uses other media, such as resin casting, 3-D printing etc., to what extent is etched brass or nickel silver used, apart from their use as detailing items? In other words, do these branches of the hobby have their equivalent of Finney or High Level etched loco kits?

 

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2 hours ago, Corbs said:

I really enjoyed it and looking forward to part 2.

Others have mentioned this, and I understand if you don't agree with me, but I find it hard to feel sad about the scrapping of the old tooling. A lot of it was just junk and it staggers me a little that Hornby are still selling (and promoting) stuff like the inside framed 08 with its cake mould body. IMO this adds nothing to the range and brings it down - the image of 'still churning out the same old stuff as we were 25 years ago'. 

R1075Class08_1014784_Qty1_2.JPG

The counter-argument to this is, of course, that they need cheap and robust models to sell to entry-level people like parents of young kids. My response to this is that Hornby are capable of doing the same thing with newer, better, entry-level models, and have proved this with new tooling like the Bagnall 4 wheel diesel which at least looks like it's from this century whilst still being cheap and cheerful.

R3283_3004797_Qty1_1.jpg 

 

Another example is Bachmann with the Junior range, which originally used the Thomas moulds and managed to supply starter-level models that had things like outside motion. 

30-905-U_3195146_Qty1_1.jpg

 

I think and hope that Hornby are on the right path now. The detailed new models they are producing are amazing and IMO still great value for money. 

 

TL:DR for the above - I think that instead of re-releasing old outdated tooling for starter sets, they need to continue with developing new starter sets, so I am not sad the old tooling was scrapped.

 

Like the original Bachmann Junior locomotives, the Bagnall is a refugee from the Thomas Range, isn't it?

 

I haven't seen any Bachmann Junior locomotives for a while, so maybe the idea didn't work so well for them...

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