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Hornby goes Steampunk in 2020

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If they're attempting to grow the market, why are they not doing it under the name of the brand nationally recognized as the model railway company?

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40 minutes ago, eldomtom2 said:

If they're attempting to grow the market, why are they not doing it under the name of the brand nationally recognized as the model railway company?

 

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.

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1 hour ago, HonestTom said:

I actually think the idea is a sensible one. Much like Harry Potter and Thomas the Tank Engine, it aims at a market that might otherwise have no interest in model railways.

 

Without the fat licensing fees attached to those two things.

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43 minutes ago, MarkSG said:

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).

Does it really? Does the average member of the general public really draw a line between freelance and scale model trains? And even then, ditching the Hornby name seems unadvisable - call it something like "Hornby Bassett-Lowke" if you must, but leaving "Hornby" off entirely would, I suspect, turn the public off or at least not consider it as seriously.

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1 minute ago, eldomtom2 said:

Does it really? Does the average member of the general public really draw a line between freelance and scale model trains? And even then, ditching the Hornby name seems unadvisable - call it something like "Hornby Bassett-Lowke" if you must, but leaving "Hornby" off entirely would, I suspect, turn the public off or at least not consider it as seriously.

 

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.

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Again, that's assuming they have a specific definition of what Hornby produces that solely includes realistic models, which I'm not sure is actually the case.

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18 hours ago, Phil Parker said:

 

I understand that this has been in train for a couple of years and isn't just someone's pet project. As has been said it's not aimed at us. Hornby are trying different things aimed at different markets (see the re-packaged paint aimed at crafters) to grow the overall market. This stuff appeals to someone, most towns have a Games Workshop for instance and have done for many years. As a low-priced toe in the water, I can see the logic.

 

Anyway, I'll try to find out more next week. I understand the Bassett-Lowke stand at the Toy Fair isn't part of the Hornby one, so they see it as a stand-alone brand.

 

See, I would actually say that visually, these are a pretty decent match for Games Workshop's aesthetic. Certainly the locomotives look quite Warhammer 40K (in my admittedly limited understanding).

 

14 hours ago, eldomtom2 said:

Again, that's assuming they have a specific definition of what Hornby produces that solely includes realistic models, which I'm not sure is actually the case.

 

Based on my conversations with non-modellers, the impression they have is that Hornby is the best, simply because it's the one they've heard of. Obviously we as modellers know they produce a lot of entry-level models that are basically toys, but does your average consumer know that? Could a non-modeller with no knowledge of railways really tell that a Caledonian Pug is a kids' loco?

 

One point about the Bassett Lowke name that no one seems to have brought up so far is that it sounds Victorian.

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2 minutes ago, HonestTom said:

I would actually say that visually, these are a pretty decent match for Games Workshop's aesthetic. Certainly the locomotives look quite Warhammer 40K (in my admittedly limited understanding).


Oddly enough, I’ve always thought of GW as more sci-fi/fantasy than steampunk. :huh:

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1 minute ago, truffy said:


Oddly enough, I’ve always thought of GW as more sci-fi/fantasy than steampunk. :huh:

It is, although they did get a little bit steampunky in their fantasy range.

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19 minutes ago, HonestTom said:

 

One point about the Bassett Lowke name that no one seems to have brought up so far is that it sounds Victorian.


way back on p5 ;) 

 

Bassett Lowke certainly sounds better when you immerse yourself in the style, much like Farrow & Ball sounds more antique in the same context than Dulux :) 

F&B has less original heritage for Victorian paints than the B&L brand as it’s origins are 1946. Savvy marketing though in the ‘Retro hungry’ age with their products. 

Edited by PaulRhB
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While watching a recent hattons video & 2 names caught my attention "Lovelace" & "difference engine" with regard to 2 items in the steampunk range

 

The Difference Engine Factory Coach

difference engine created by Charles Babbage is an automatic mechanical calculator 

 

SteamPunk 'Lady Triphenia Lovelace' 10cm figure

Ada Lovelace, Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace was an English mathematician and writer known for her work on Charles Babbage's proposed mechanical general-purpose computer

 

Is this a coincidence or did someone in Hornby do it deliberately 

 

John

 

PS Lovelace appeared in a recent Dr Who

 

 

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38 minutes ago, HonestTom said:

Based on my conversations with non-modellers, the impression they have is that Hornby is the best, simply because it's the one they've heard of.

Yes, so why are they giving up that brand recognition?

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1 minute ago, John ks said:

Is this a coincidence or did someone in Hornby do it deliberately

 

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.

 

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15 minutes ago, eldomtom2 said:

Yes, so why are they giving up that brand recognition?

 

I'm only speculating here, but I can think of two possibilities.

 

1. This is not purely a model railway range, and is not aimed purely at railway modellers. To non-modellers, "Hornby" and "model railways" are synonymous - I've even heard "Hornby" used as a generic term for the hobby. Possibly Hornby feel that putting their brand front and centre will put off the wider public, who might automatically think "this isn't for me," because they see it as a train set.

 

2. Hornby don't want to dilute their main brand. The strength of their core brand is that it's considered, rightly or wrongly, to be a premium model railway range. This steampunk range includes figures, paints and other non-railway items, and in general it's more playful than their model railways, so it's not really a strong fit for the main range (much like Airfix, Humbrol and Corgi - all owned by Hornby, all having some level of compatibility with model railways, all marketed separately).

Edited by HonestTom
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Quote

Oddly enough, I’ve always thought of GW as more sci-fi/fantasy than steampunk

 

And I'd be VERY surprised if this range ever appears in a Games Workshop, which is what comes to mind when people think of 'wargaming shop'.  GW are very into their own, exclusive Intellectual Property, and have been for a while.  Not knocking them, my eldest is into GW stuff and I buy the odd kit from them, as well as the novels and especially their paint range.  But I cannot see them stocking this new Hornby range, as there isn't really a compatible scale for the main ranges, and it wouldn't fit in with their established games or visual imagery.

 

Quote

The Difference Engine Factory Coach

difference engine created by Charles Babbage is an automatic mechanical calculator 

 

SteamPunk 'Lady Triphenia Lovelace' 10cm figure

Ada Lovelace, Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace was an English mathematician and writer known for her work on Charles Babbage's proposed mechanical general-purpose computer

 

Is this a coincidence or did someone in Hornby do it deliberately 

 

Can I recommend "The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage" by Sydney Padua? 

 

http://sydneypadua.com/2dgoggles/

 

Its a deliberately tongue-in-cheek, funny recasting of their lives in an alternate reality Britain where they manage to cobble-together a working computer, and Queen Victoria thus demands they (somehow) use the machine to fight crime and have thrilling adventures.  The graphic novel is crammed full of actual historical fact and footnotes which mention real events which are lampooned in the story, and loads of genuine historical information at the end of each chapter. 

 

And for a railway connection, Brunel himself (with bulging muscles, roguish sideburns ,massive cigar and a ridiculously tall top hat) appears as a frequent supporting character, particularly in the chapter "Lovelace and Babbage vs The Economic Model", where an out-of-control steam-driven computer ends up being chased by Brunel and Lovelace on a road-going Broad Gauge steam locomotive towards the bank of England... It makes sense in context.

 

http://sydneypadua.com/2dgoggles/lovelace-and-babbage-vs-the-economy/

 

Edited by Ben B
Inserting a link to the online versio of the comic
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19 minutes ago, eldomtom2 said:

Yes, so why are they giving up that brand recognition?

They aren’t, they are selling a brand name which better evokes the Steampunk theme without it being toy trains, Bassett Lowke sounds more evocative to people into brass telescopes, wooden chests etc. It’s purely about what image that name conjours up to the target group. 
Hornby announced it to the model press because there is a crossover as Laurie has proved. 
No doubt they have targeted Steampunk Facebook groups etc too. There’s a reason it was announced here under the Hornby banner because that brand is stronger in model railways, they are creating a new one for the other market using a retired brand they own. 

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10 minutes ago, PaulRhB said:

They aren’t, they are selling a brand name which better evokes the Steampunk theme without it being toy trains, Bassett Lowke sounds more evocative to people into brass telescopes, wooden chests etc. It’s purely about what image that name conjours up to the target group. 
Hornby announced it to the model press because there is a crossover as Laurie has proved. 
No doubt they have targeted Steampunk Facebook groups etc too. There’s a reason it was announced here under the Hornby banner because that brand is stronger in model railways, they are creating a new one for the other market using a retired brand they own. 

 

I was thinking of just clicking on the 'agree' icon but I think your reasoning is sooooo correct that I need to actually to make post just to say - you are 100% correct and I am sure that anyone with a background in brand management would agree as well.

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40 minutes ago, Ben B said:

 

And I'd be VERY surprised if this range ever appears in a Games Workshop, which is what comes to mind when people think of 'wargaming shop'.  GW are very into their own, exclusive Intellectual Property, and have been for a while.  Not knocking them, my eldest is into GW stuff and I buy the odd kit from them, as well as the novels and especially their paint range.  But I cannot see them stocking this new Hornby range, as there isn't really a compatible scale for the main ranges, and it wouldn't fit in with their established games or visual imagery.

 

 

Can I recommend "The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage" by Sydney Padua? 

 

http://sydneypadua.com/2dgoggles/

 

Its a deliberately tongue-in-cheek, funny recasting of their lives in an alternate reality Britain where they manage to cobble-together a working computer, and Queen Victoria thus demands they (somehow) use the machine to fight crime and have thrilling adventures.  The graphic novel is crammed full of actual historical fact and footnotes which mention real events which are lampooned in the story, and loads of genuine historical information at the end of each chapter. 

 

And for a railway connection, Brunel himself (with bulging muscles, roguish sideburns ,massive cigar and a ridiculously tall top hat) appears as a frequent supporting character, particularly in the chapter "Lovelace and Babbage vs The Economic Model", where an out-of-control steam-driven computer ends up being chased by Brunel and Lovelace on a road-going Broad Gauge steam locomotive towards the bank of England... It makes sense in context.

 

http://sydneypadua.com/2dgoggles/lovelace-and-babbage-vs-the-economy/

 

 

I wasn't sure whether to click 'agree', for the first part, or 'thanks' or 'information' for the second part.

 

As it is, I've just ordered the book; the online abstract looked just right! It might even appeal to my youngest, who loves stories of girls doing derring-do.

Edited by truffy

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7 minutes ago, truffy said:

As it is, I've just ordered the book; the online abstract looked just right! It might even appeal to my youngest, who loves stories of girls doing derring-do.

 

I bought a copy as a Birthday present for a mate who's an illustrator... read a bit of it whilst in the queue for the till, then immediately went and got myself a copy too :)

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1 hour ago, Ben B said:

 

And I'd be VERY surprised if this range ever appears in a Games Workshop, which is what comes to mind when people think of 'wargaming shop'.  GW are very into their own, exclusive Intellectual Property, and have been for a while.  Not knocking them, my eldest is into GW stuff and I buy the odd kit from them, as well as the novels and especially their paint range.  But I cannot see them stocking this new Hornby range, as there isn't really a compatible scale for the main ranges, and it wouldn't fit in with their established games or visual imagery.

 

 

Can I recommend "The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage" by Sydney Padua? 

 

http://sydneypadua.com/2dgoggles/

 

Its a deliberately tongue-in-cheek, funny recasting of their lives in an alternate reality Britain where they manage to cobble-together a working computer, and Queen Victoria thus demands they (somehow) use the machine to fight crime and have thrilling adventures.  The graphic novel is crammed full of actual historical fact and footnotes which mention real events which are lampooned in the story, and loads of genuine historical information at the end of each chapter. 

 

And for a railway connection, Brunel himself (with bulging muscles, roguish sideburns ,massive cigar and a ridiculously tall top hat) appears as a frequent supporting character, particularly in the chapter "Lovelace and Babbage vs The Economic Model", where an out-of-control steam-driven computer ends up being chased by Brunel and Lovelace on a road-going Broad Gauge steam locomotive towards the bank of England... It makes sense in context.

 

http://sydneypadua.com/2dgoggles/lovelace-and-babbage-vs-the-economy/

 

When I was at the Hornby press day I noticed, among the logos on the wall in reception, a Warlord Games logo. When the Steampunk range was announced I asked about that logo and was told that Hornby already has marketing links with that organisation. (CJL)

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20 hours ago, eldomtom2 said:

If they're attempting to grow the market, why are they not doing it under the name of the brand nationally recognized as the model railway company?

They can sell to a different market without the buyer having to be a Hornby dealer or indeed upsetting Hornby dealers.

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There are shops, other than Games Workshop's own dedicated outlets, that sell GW products, so these might take them.  One locally is also a Hornby dealer.

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54 minutes ago, petethemole said:

There are shops, other than Games Workshop's own dedicated outlets, that sell GW products, so these might take them.  One locally is also a Hornby dealer.

 

And there are plenty of games that aren't Games Workshop. Board and roleplaying games in general seem to have become more mainstream in recent years, so I think it's definitely a market worth exploring. Given the aforementioned tie-in with Warlord Games, it could be something they're planning to look into seriously.

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22 hours ago, MarkSG said:

 

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.

 

Assuming they associate anything with the Hornby name. Ask a group of school children what Hornby means to them and you'll probably get blank looks.

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