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Hornby goes Steampunk in 2020


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3 hours ago, HonestTom said:

 

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.

They did get Modiphus Entertainment to make a wargame for use with 1/72 Airfix figures in 2016, but nothing further came of it - apparently Hornby primarily saw it as a marketing tool, and so presumably it failed to drive Airfix sales to the degree that they'd hoped. A model railway range would seem to be even worse for wargaming.

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53 minutes ago, eldomtom2 said:

They did get Modiphus Entertainment to make a wargame for use with 1/72 Airfix figures in 2016, but nothing further came of it - apparently Hornby primarily saw it as a marketing tool, and so presumably it failed to drive Airfix sales to the degree that they'd hoped. A model railway range would seem to be even worse for wargaming.

 

Airfix has this strange inability to introduce new 1/72nd figures.  I was one of those waiting eagerly for the announced WWI sets that never happened. IIRC, the only new set since the takeover was a rather lack-lustre set of WW2 British infantry. 

 

They can introduce new tooled kits just fine, so quite what the problem with figures is I've no idea.

 

Some interesting ideas posted.

 

Warlord - who, so far as I know, make hard plastic 28mm wargames figures - don't seem particularly relevant to what Hornby is up to with the BL range.

 

More generally, I don't see Steampunk/Sci-Fi/Fantasy wargamers as a natural customer base for the BL range.  For them a train is part of static terrain - which they are quite capable of building and adapting for themselves; wargaming isn't like railway modelling, where a significant part of the market expects just to have to unbox something. An operational railway is unlikely to form part of game-play.  

 

If you wanted a model locomotive, say, as a steampunk artifact, I'm guessing that you'd need to produce a high-end model with lots of detail and shiny brass, so I don't think the BL range is likely to appeal to those wanting display items. 

 

So who is the range for?

 

In response to the suggestions that it might not appeal to railway modellers, it's been said a few times that the range isn't directed at us. One indication that BL's Steampunk range is not really intended to have anything to do with us is the decision to produce figures for it to a different scale.  

 

So who?

 

I'm left with kids or perhaps older hobbyists coming new to railways.  The number of people who would only be attracted to railway modelling where it has a steampunk theme must, I should have thought, be limited. 

 

I can see it as a novelty themed train set in a big toy/hobby store.  Perhaps that is where it would sell. 

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Having read through umpteen hundred and frozenty death posts on this I'm going to stick my oar in.

 

It isn't something I'll be buying - or at least not for myself.  It might be another matter when it comes to a pair of great nephews but time will tell on this one.

 

I think it is a brilliant idea, and the fact it is cheaply carried out is to me a plus point- it is a small investment to see it will open a new niche market.  Hornby are still not the wealthiest company on the planet and in this day and age any company that doesn't grow, dies.  Railway modelling is in itself a niche market, and growing from niche markets isn't easy.

 

I can live with using Basset Lowke as the brand as it removes confusion with mainstream Hornby.  In any case the choice wasn't mine to make.  It  is interesting to read posts here that simultaneously imply Hornby should be using their own brand and decry it being sullied with distractions.

 

OK, so it is subjective what steampunk actually is.  So what?  These items are a basis to start a collection/layout and develop it if one feels inclined.  If it isn't for you, ignore it and let those who are interested get on with it.  But please don't knock it.

 

Ranting hat back to peg.

Les

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, AlexHolt said:

 

Having just read it, I'd say its anything but positive. :laugh:

These are the people that are supposed to be the target audience and they're just bashing it. Really doesn't look good for Hornby if both their target audience and railway modellers think its a junk that belongs in the bin. 

 

Do you really believe that serious steampunk aficionados are the target market for this? However poor anyone's opinion of Hornby might be, they are not that daft! That is no more their target market than (most) of the members on this forum are.

 

Surely the market is the thousands (as I understand the figures) who flock to Laurie Calvert's (Hornby's design expert for these models) Cato Pass model railway at every show it's at; and those who were stunned by the imagination behind his entry into the Great British Model Railway Challenge. This is a straightforward attempt to cash in on what might well be a completely new market. People who might be tempted by toy trains, but more so if they are 'different, fun, and "out there". You won't find them here, and you won't find them among existing steampunk groups. Most are probably not even modellers, yet.

 

Of course it's a gamble, and hence some caution by Hornby in setting Laurie some pretty tight parameters for his design See his comment here: 

 

I hope it goes really well for them, despite all the 'expert' opinions being thrown needlessly around various forums.  Top marks to Hornby and Laurie for giving this a go.

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9 hours ago, Kiwi said:

 

Do you really believe that serious steampunk aficionados are the target market for this? However poor anyone's opinion of Hornby might be, they are not that daft! That is no more their target market than (most) of the members on this forum are.

 

Surely the market is the thousands (as I understand the figures) who flock to Laurie Calvert's (Hornby's design expert for these models) Cato Pass model railway at every show it's at; and those who were stunned by the imagination behind his entry into the Great British Model Railway Challenge. This is a straightforward attempt to cash in on what might well be a completely new market. People who might be tempted by toy trains, but more so if they are 'different, fun, and "out there". You won't find them here, and you won't find them among existing steampunk groups. Most are probably not even modellers, yet.

 

I'm a bit confused as to what the target market is.

 

On the one hand the models have a science-fiction/fantasy "Mad Max" look, on the other hand the backstories for the rolling stock seem much more steampunk, never mind the cog wheels on buildings etc.

 

Then again, Cato Pass itself seems to be something of a mix; steampunk on a moon of Saturn. So maybe it all works.

 

We will see.

 

9 hours ago, Kiwi said:

I hope it goes really well for them, despite all the 'expert' opinions being thrown needlessly around various forums.  Top marks to Hornby and Laurie for giving this a go.

 

Indeed - full marks to them for trying, whether it's a success or not.

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15 hours ago, AlexHolt said:

 

Having just read it, I'd say its anything but positive. :laugh:

These are the people that are supposed to be the target audience and they're just bashing it. Really doesn't look good for Hornby if both their target audience and railway modellers think its a junk that belongs in the bin. 

Au contraire, as a recent big event last month showed, social media is not reality :lol: It can be totally wrong.

 

Increasingly it seems that social media is the polar opposite of what happens in reality. Good news for Hornby.

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15 hours ago, Kiwi said:

Surely the market is the thousands (as I understand the figures) who flock to Laurie Calvert's (Hornby's design expert for these models) Cato Pass model railway at every show it's at; and those who were stunned by the imagination behind his entry into the Great British Model Railway Challenge. This is a straightforward attempt to cash in on what might well be a completely new market. People who might be tempted by toy trains, but more so if they are 'different, fun, and "out there". You won't find them here, and you won't find them among existing steampunk groups. Most are probably not even modellers, yet.

Which brings us back to the question of why didn't they call it Hornby...

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3 hours ago, ruggedpeak said:

Au contraire, as a recent big event last month showed, social media is not reality :lol: It can be totally wrong.

 

Increasingly it seems that social media is the polar opposite of what happens in reality. Good news for Hornby.

 

As I'm reading those words on social media, should I assume in fact the opposite is true? :rolleyes:

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1 hour ago, Coryton said:

 

As I'm reading those words on social media, should I assume in fact the opposite is true? :rolleyes:

No, you are supposed to take to Twitter and express your outrage!! Even if you have no idea why you are outraged, express it anyway!

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1 hour ago, Coryton said:

 

As I'm reading those words on social media, should I assume in fact the opposite is true? :rolleyes:

No, you are supposed to take to Twitter and express your outrage!! Even if you have no idea why you are outraged, express it anyway!

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3 hours ago, eldomtom2 said:

Which brings us back to the question of why didn't they call it Hornby...

No, it doesn't. In fact, IMHO, it explains why they did use B-L and not Hornby.

 

I'm sure this has been explained before, as this is the most 'roundy roundy' topic I think I've ever read, but I'll have one more go at it.

 

As I suggested above, the brief for this development, it seems, was to target a new market; make it fun, "out there", and different; and, prudently, keep the at-risk expenditure as low as reasonably possible.

 

So:

Hornby is not new, and it is not different. It would not serve to differentiate the current from this new market exercise.

B-L, is new (to most people), and certainly to most if not all of the new target market, and it is definitely different.

The name "Basset Lowke has a distinctly "Victorian" feel to it, so is eminently suitable for these products.

Creating a totally new brand, registering it, protecting it, etc., etc., as very expensive. But the Hornby Co. already own B-L, so, surely, it becomes a no-brainer to just use what you have.  A "two-for-one" deal: a new brand, at minimal cost, fully differentiated from the existing, and a great fit with the stated goals.

 

There is still, of course, some benefit from the reputation that the Hornby brand carries, in terms of distribution networks, product quality (I know - I'm going to regret that one :-) ) and so forth. Hence, if you check the images of the B-L branded advertising material on Andy's first post in this topic, the Hornby name, logo, address, etc. DOES still appear, but B-L is clearly the more prominent focus. It is a sub-brand in fact, a common and very useful marketing concept.

 

This is all just basic marketing principles. It can be found in any basic marketing text book. It really isn't that hard to figure out, surely? 

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3 minutes ago, Kiwi said:

Hornby is not new, and it is not different. It would not serve to differentiate the current from this new market exercise.

The question is why they have to be differentated in the first place. And even if they are, why does the Hornby name need to be ditched entirely?

Quote

There is still, of course, some benefit from the reputation that the Hornby brand carries, in terms of distribution networks, product quality (I know - I'm going to regret that one :-) ) and so forth. Hence, if you check the images of the B-L branded advertising material on Andy's first post in this topic, the Hornby name, logo, address, etc. DOES still appear, but B-L is clearly the more prominent focus. It is a sub-brand in fact, a common and very useful marketing concept.

It does not appear at all outside of the small print, and does not seem to be there for marketing purposes.

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The Hornby association’s will help it sell to retailers at the toy fair, it will give confidence to the supply line. The public sales branding is a totally different entity and Bassett Lowke is perfect for that. 
To be honest the tinplate recreations scaled down and using the smokey joe chassis would probably have made pretty cool desk models for a steampunk enthusiast. Something different again from trying to model a full size Steampunk loco that better fits the chassis? The industrial 0-4-0 body slightly shortened to look like the classic 0-4-0 with a glossy paint job? In tinplate would be even better but maybe a diecast body tooled by the Corgi part of Hornby would have worked best for that? ;) 

 

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9 hours ago, eldomtom2 said:

The question is why they have to be differentated in the first place. And even if they are, why does the Hornby name need to be ditched entirely?

It does not appear at all outside of the small print, and does not seem to be there for marketing purposes.

 

OK. I give up. No point replying further. Some people just get it, some don't. Such is life. 

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24 minutes ago, Ian Morgan said:

I saw more dinosaurs than steampunk on the layouts. Did Hornby back the wrong horse?

I thought Dinosaurs were related to chickens not horses? :lol:

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36 minutes ago, PaulRhB said:

I thought Dinosaurs were related to chickens not horses? :lol:


No, they’re a sub-species of the genus “rm-webber” 

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16 hours ago, eldomtom2 said:

The question is why they have to be differentated in the first place. And even if they are, why does the Hornby name need to be ditched entirely?

 

Possible reasons given already on this thread:

- To maintain the Bassett-Lowke trade mark

- Because using the Hornby name might be seen as indicating the range is purely for railway modellers, and Hornby seeks new markets

- Like Corgi, Airfix, Humbrol, Scalextric etc, it's not quite the same arena as Hornby's model railways, though there is crossover.

- Because they fear diluting the Hornby name by attaching it to something not aimed at the traditional market

 

I don't really know what else to say, and unless someone from Hornby comes forward and gives the actual reason, I don't know where we go from here with this question. I feel like you won't be satisfied with anything other than "You're right, there is no reason, it's stupid and Hornby should fire their marketing department forthwith."

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17 hours ago, eldomtom2 said:

The question is why they have to be differentated in the first place. And even if they are, why does the Hornby name need to be ditched entirely?

It does not appear at all outside of the small print, and does not seem to be there for marketing purposes.

I think this is called Brand Management, and is part of the science of marketing. Hornby will continue to brand mainstream model goods, but BL will be used as a Hornby subsidiary to sell this quite alternative take on models. Obviously Hornby hopes it will take off and develop a following, which Hornby will then seek to satisfy according to intelligence about what is and is not selling. But BL is the brand name, and mention of Hornby is only to identify the bona-fides of the brand owner, differentiating it from being a new start-up from an unknown company. 

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3 hours ago, Phil Parker said:

A sneak preview of the Bassett-Lowke stand at the London Toy Fair this week.

 

Steampunk.jpg

Certainly looks pretty classy and comfortable for a Gentleman's Activity Bunker. :good:

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7 hours ago, HonestTom said:

Possible reasons given already on this thread:

- To maintain the Bassett-Lowke trade mark

- Because using the Hornby name might be seen as indicating the range is purely for railway modellers, and Hornby seeks new markets

- Like Corgi, Airfix, Humbrol, Scalextric etc, it's not quite the same arena as Hornby's model railways, though there is crossover.

- Because they fear diluting the Hornby name by attaching it to something not aimed at the traditional market

 

I don't really know what else to say, and unless someone from Hornby comes forward and gives the actual reason, I don't know where we go from here with this question. I feel like you won't be satisfied with anything other than "You're right, there is no reason, it's stupid and Hornby should fire their marketing department forthwith."

 

I'm not Simon Kohler and I can't speak for Hornby, but I'd very strongly suspect that its an attempt to create the entry point which everybody is agreed is necessary to sustain the hobby before we old farts all drop off our collective perches.

 

In the past there has been Thomas the Tank Engine but I've never been convinced that a significant number of Thomas runners will keep going long enough to discuss the finer points of Peckett W4s and tell the difference between a Stanier and a Fairbairn tank. There's Harry Potter of course, but the range and the scope are a bit, shall we say, limited...

 

Steam Punk [and the "quaint" Basset-Lowke name] seems to me to bridge the gap between the small kids' railway and the grown-ups' railway. Its a chance to have a go without being child-like, and exercise a proper bit of imagination without getting bogged down in counting rivets. And maybe move on from there, or maybe not, but I think it offers more chance than taking that leap from Thomas

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