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Where is British outline model railway manufacturing heading?


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54 minutes ago, Paddy said:


Sounds interesting - do you have a link at all?  I checked GM's website but could not see any mention of these new kits.

 

 

I just googled 'gaugemaster super detailed building' and got this:

 

https://modelrailwaysolutions.co.uk/shop/gaugemaster/gaugemaster-gmkd1008-brewery-factory-stores-2-n

 

The text reads: Part of the new super detailed kits from Kestrel, these N scale buildings are typical of breweries or factories built from the industrial revolution onwards and still survive today. Buildings of this type were seen all over the country so can be used on layouts based on any region and in any area. This model represents two machine shops or stores buildings and can be used with GMKD1006 and GMKD1007 to create an impressive brewery or factory complex. Dimensions: 92 x 68 x 50mm (2). This building kit contains: 90 single parts in 3 colours, 1 paper mask and full instructions.

 

No doubt you could find the others - they're listed in the Gaugemaster advert.

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5 hours ago, Nearholmer said:

I tend to agree with most of that.

 

00 train sets are poor toys for the pre-schoolers who might be interested, being far too fiddly; poor toys for the <9yo because they are again too fiddly and are too small to be used in much imaginative play; and, poor toys above that age because, unless parents really guide the scenic angle, too lacking in functionality.

 

Bigger toy trains, and I’m a playmobil fan, work far better for kids.
 

In the case of most kids, only a misguided grandad would buy them a 00 train set.

 

Not really. I would say most train sets are now supermarket/department store/Argos purchases. Or bought online from somewhere like Amazon.

 

Kid wants a train set. It's either getting a wooden one, plastic one or Hornby one.

 

I put train set into Google. John Lewis comes up first hit. Next hit is Argos. The Amazon.

 

Take your pick.

 

https://www.johnlewis.com/search?search-term=train sets&s_ppc=1dx43700056455619453&tmad=c&tmcampid=1&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIp-DKg7Lk6wIVT-vtCh1U_QkqEAAYASAAEgIKNfD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

 

Future looks bright if they are getting train sets in places like John Lewis.

 

 

 

Jason

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Awful lot of misguided grandads shop at John Lewis, especially in the run-up to Christmas.

 

The Brio ones are excellent though - a properly thought through toy that appeals strongly to the age group that its pitched at and, because it isn't too fiddly, can actually be played with by them.

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As I said, there is no doubt these train sets sell but it does not change my point about “play value”.  I fear most of these will end up being 5 minute wonders.  Of course, that does not mean they are bad business for Hornby!
 

:)

 

Kind regards 

 

Paddy

 

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3 hours ago, MAURICE040947 said:

Paddy wrote

Creating an N gauge range would be a big investment and there is already significant competition in that market.  Hornby's finances would need to improve to justify such a risk.

It has not stopped them investing in the Arnold brand where there is also a lot of competition see https://www.Hornby.com/uk-en/shop/brands/arnold-n-1-160/page/15.html? and scroll seemingly endlessly and note all the items marked new tooling. Granted in Europe there is a bigger market for N but some new models are very country specific. Interestingly they are mixing scales so called 1/148 scale Oxford Diecast vehicles as loads onto 1/160 scale wagons.

Interesting times!

 


Wow impressive stuff Maurice.

 

Who knows then, maybe 2021 will see Hornby announce a range of British N gauge!
 

Kind regards 

 

Paddy

 

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3 hours ago, johnofwessex said:

My oldest sons grandfather made an interesting point that there are a lot fewer 'skilled' people these days - engineers, mechanics etc who might want a hobby that utilises their skills while my brothers who are both into 'General Aviation' - light aircraft say that numbers active in that field are a fraction of previous years.

I'm not sure if this really washes. Whilst it's always dangerous to extrapolate the general from the particular, the majority of the prominent modellers of the past were not from the engineering fields. Clergymen, insurance professionals, a sheet music salesman, an academic librarian are all roles that spring to mind. There's one trained draughtsman in my mental catalogue, but that's about it. I don't know if this truly translates to the general modelling population, but the money, space and leisure time needed to indulge in a model railway are more readily found on a white collar salary than otherwise. 

Having said that, I am, or was, a professional engineer, but the career choice came from a preexisting interest and amateur indulgence in mechanical things, rather than otherwise. 

 

I suspect the GA situation has other causal factors, such as the staggering cost of maintaining any kind of flying machine and, I suspect, increasingly onerous regulatory requirements, making the whole exercise less fun than it might otherwise be. 

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17 hours ago, WM183 said:

Frankly as home sizes and disposable incomes continue to shrink I wager more people will enter hobbies that offer a lot of return time for investment. Model railroading is one of those hobbies. I expect to see smaller scales gain more ground, though for the life of me cannot explain the surge in popularity of O gauge by any of the above. Hmm.

 

Regardless I feel confident that rtr stuff in 4mm will come in blue and red boxes for a long time yet. 

The surge in O gauge is easily explained . Prices of O have come down while OO has gone up . People who have the space have converted . 

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2 hours ago, Nearholmer said:

Awful lot of misguided grandads shop at John Lewis, especially in the run-up to Christmas.

 

The Brio ones are excellent though - a properly thought through toy that appeals strongly to the age group that its pitched at and, because it isn't too fiddly, can actually be played with by them.

Agree. My almost 4 year old grandson wants more brio track for his birthday, he is very good at building very involved layouts, he can do it himself and just loves it.

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2 hours ago, Legend said:

The surge in O gauge is easily explained . Prices of O have come down while OO has gone up . People who have the space have converted . 

 

There's also ageing eyesight and dexterity and retirement pension pots.....

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10 hours ago, railroadbill said:

Agree. My almost 4 year old grandson wants more brio track for his birthday, he is very good at building very involved layouts, he can do it himself and just loves it.


Our grandson is exactly the same Railroadbill.  Some of his layouts are magnificent and he spends hours pushing his trains  around.

 

Kind regards 

 

Paddy

 

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My 4 year old grandson has pretty much abandoned Brio. He loves the Brio app though where he creates some great layouts.  I don’t have any 00 which is described as “too fiddly “ but he can control speed, direction and stopping gently at stations on my N gauge layout. He can select the road he wants in the storage siding and we are now getting to grips with the points in the station. He can re rail wagons but hasn’t progressed to coaches yet. He is starting to understand about models compared to the real thing which is good but he can’t distinguish different classes of diesel yet despite my efforts. Maybe next year. I think the real value of a model railway with this age group is that it provides a platform to spend quality time together. We talk about things and have (fairly primitive) discussions . I think this is very important. To be completely accurate it usually ends up in finding which loco is the fastest but hey, he is only four.

 

it is up to us to invest time in explaining what the hobby is all about to youngsters. This may help to give them an interest. The will lose it when the find the girls exist but may well come back to it later.


Here is the little chap winding down With a running session after his second day at school.

 

 

8BDC5A24-823B-4F84-8ED3-3CDF3952A890.jpeg

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Sorry about drifting off on one above. It’s good to see these small manufacturers emerging as they will keep the larger companies on their toes. They can of course do great damage to the hobby if things go wrong eg DJM but overall it is a good thing. Many of these smaller businesses are “second string” income for the owners and this helps to keep their overheads very low. 

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Where is UK manufacturing going? Where it now now for a while probably - the old, formerly dominant big boys no longer leading the pack as many small, dynamic, but probably short lived start ups take a bigger combined chunk of the market.

 

By short lived I mean 10 or 20 or so years as their proprietors commission/manufacture models. These firms are disrupting the market in a very welcome way, but long term, Hornby and Bachmann will still be here in 40 years time, long after the smaller ones have gone.

 

Not because they fail, but because they are the work of specific individuals rather than large companies. For example (not presuming to know anything about their plans), will Revolution or Cavalex continue once the talented people behind them eventually retire?

 

I see a slow shifting carousel of these small disrupters continuing for decades, all the while the big names carry on as now.

 

David

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16 hours ago, Nearholmer said:

Awful lot of misguided grandads shop at John Lewis, especially in the run-up to Christmas.

 

The Brio ones are excellent though - a properly thought through toy that appeals strongly to the age group that its pitched at and, because it isn't too fiddly, can actually be played with by them.

 

Yes. But if I was an eight year old and a relative bought me Brio I would be calling social services.... 

 

My main point was proper train sets are getting into the major retailers again whereas a few years ago many of those retailers wouldn't touch train sets. Or Airfix, Scalextric, etc.

 

 

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With regards to 3D printing the initial cost of resin printers is now under £200 for a very capable machine, in other hobbies it is becoming more popular for people to sell files and finished product than just printed items.
This could be a great way for small manufacturers to recover some of the CAD costs and reach more people.

More Brio and mainstream trainset sales will help bring more people into the market for model railways later. I don’t care if Hornby stops making them, I don’t think most current buyers of trainsets associate them with that brand specifically.

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29 minutes ago, bmthtrains - David said:

Where is UK manufacturing going? Where it now now for a while probably - the old, formerly dominant big boys no longer leading the pack as many small, dynamic, but probably short lived start ups take a bigger combined chunk of the market.

 

By short lived I mean 10 or 20 or so years as their proprietors commission/manufacture models. These firms are disrupting the market in a very welcome way, but long term, Hornby and Bachmann will still be here in 40 years time, long after the smaller ones have gone.

 

Not because they fail, but because they are the work of specific individuals rather than large companies. For example (not presuming to know anything about their plans), will Revolution or Cavalex continue once the talented people behind them eventually retire?

 

I see a slow shifting carousel of these small disrupters continuing for decades, all the while the big names carry on as now.

 

David

Good point,  I also agree with you because both Hornby and Bachmann produce complete ranges of equipment to build a layout, track controllers, rolling stock, buildings etc. etc. all with their brand name on. So coming from outside you can buy everything you need (for the new generation who may or may not be the railway modellers of the future) just from one company.  For harassed relatives looking for a trusted brand to follow, that may well be their answer.

 

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24 minutes ago, devondynosoar118 said:

With regards to 3D printing the initial cost of resin printers is now under £200 for a very capable machine, in other hobbies it is becoming more popular for people to sell files and finished product than just printed items.
This could be a great way for small manufacturers to recover some of the CAD costs and reach more people.

More Brio and mainstream trainset sales will help bring more people into the market for model railways later. I don’t care if Hornby stops making them, I don’t think most current buyers of trainsets associate them with that brand specifically.

 

Oh they do.

 

I know many people who call the whole hobby Hornby* (sometimes even Hornby Dublo even though that brand hasn't existed for decades). Like playing with bricks is called Lego. Many also call all computer game consoles Playstations even though it's an X Box.

 

 

 

*As in "Jason's into Hornby". Heard that all my life even when I was modelling in 7mm finescale

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3D printing seems to be the only logical way forward. The technology will be refined until it matches and then exceeds injection moulding in resolution,  volume and profit margin.

I don't know very much at all about model train manufacturing but from what I read on here it seems crazy that tooling is a considerable expense both in the capital costs of the machinery and the materials for the dies; ownership often appears to remain with the tooling company,  they have a limited lifespan  they cost money to store and if you have a fall out with the tooling company they can ruin you.

After all that if you make a poor design you may end up with a model that the market rejects.

All of these problems can by bypassed by producing your own CADS and sending them straight to the printer. Producing volumes to order.

Class variants will be a lesser problem to correct with CAD modifications rather than dies, same applies to errors in design.

Taken together 3D printing is the only technology which has the potential to increase detail, maintain the quality in detail the market expects, save production costs, offer better profit margins and get models to market sooner, especially if they did not have to be imported.

 

There is no doubt 3D printing will and can meet the challenges. Much of the increase in resolution is being driven by the need to 3D print artifical organs.

 

Provided the motors and liveries can maintain their current quality and price be driven down, I am sure current modellers will keep coming back. 

Whether future generations will continue to be drawn into the hobby is perhaps the biggest problem.

 

 

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16 minutes ago, Steamport Southport said:

 

Oh they do.

 

I know many people who call the whole hobby Hornby* (sometimes even Hornby Dublo even though that brand hasn't existed for decades). Like playing with bricks is called Lego. Many also call all computer game consoles Playstations even though it's an X Box.

 

 

 

*As in "Jason's into Hornby". Heard that all my life even when I was modelling in 7mm finescale

 

Have to agree there.  In the UK, Hornby is "toy trains" - and to most non-modellers they are all toy trains. 

 

How many of us still hoover the house even though we may have a Dyson, Shark, RAM etc. vacuum cleaner. :rolleyes: 

 

Kind regards

 

Paddy

 

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21 minutes ago, letterspider said:

3D printing seems to be the only logical way forward. The technology will be refined until it matches and then exceeds injection moulding in resolution,  volume and profit margin.

I don't know very much at all about model train manufacturing but from what I read on here it seems crazy that tooling is a considerable expense both in the capital costs of the machinery and the materials for the dies; ownership often appears to remain with the tooling company,  they have a limited lifespan  they cost money to store and if you have a fall out with the tooling company they can ruin you.

After all that if you make a poor design you may end up with a model that the market rejects.

All of these problems can by bypassed by producing your own CADS and sending them straight to the printer. Producing volumes to order.

Class variants will be a lesser problem to correct with CAD modifications rather than dies, same applies to errors in design.

Taken together 3D printing is the only technology which has the potential to increase detail, maintain the quality in detail the market expects, save production costs, offer better profit margins and get models to market sooner, especially if they did not have to be imported.

 

There is no doubt 3D printing will and can meet the challenges. Much of the increase in resolution is being driven by the need to 3D print artifical organs.

 

Provided the motors and liveries can maintain their current quality and price be driven down, I am sure current modellers will keep coming back. 

Whether future generations will continue to be drawn into the hobby is perhaps the biggest problem.

 

 

 

Have to agree here letterspider in terms of your thought process.  It would seem very logical for 3D printing (especially if/when they get to the point where colour/liveries could be included) to replace more traditional methods.  I suppose one benefit molds have is that you can produce significant quantities quickly whereas you would need loads of 3D printers to scale.  Of course, none of this is impossible as technology almost always exceeds our expectations.  Also, if model railway volumes drop below a certain point then 3D printing could become even more beneficial.

 

Mind you, model railways do seem to be quite a conservative market where change can be measured in decades rather than months.  To me the idea of the power coming from the track and all the associated wiring seems archaic.  Logic would seem to suggest that the models should be self powered and everything controlled without wires.  I suspect the technology to do this already exists but will it ever replace traditional DC/DCC?

 

Kind regards

 

Paddy

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23 minutes ago, Paddy said:

...model railways do seem to be quite a conservative market where change can be measured in decades rather than months.  To me the idea of the power coming from the track and all the associated wiring seems archaic.  Logic would seem to suggest that the models should be self powered and everything controlled without wires.  I suspect the technology to do this already exists but will it ever replace traditional DC/DCC?...

This is economic inertia at work. The basis of railway in model form is two carefully arranged parallel wires for the vehicles to run on. From there it was a relatively small step to use them to conduct the electrical power to the traction. Simce when steady improvement in technique has driven the cost of this down, and the performance up; which constitutes a barrier to entry to  the introduction of alternative entirely practical methods such as that you suggest.

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3D printing is unlikely to see widespread use in RTR products. The polymers used in 3D printing do not age at all well, and the technology is rarely affordable when scaled to industrial mass-production scales. Injection moulding remains the most likely option for the foreseeable future. 

 

David 

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Good question posed by Mike .

 

to see where we are going I think we have to look in the recent past and I see three significant factors:
 

1. Hornby transferring manufacturing to China around 2000 . In effect turning from a manufacturer to a commissioner. To some extent the mystique of manufacturing was blown apart and , although Hornby didn’t realise it at the time , it paved the way to others doing the same and commissioning their own models .

 

2. The Sanda Kan implosion . Starved Hornby of production because Frank Martin had all Hornbys eggs in the one basket.  As Kader took Sanda Kan over it also had an effect on Kader profitability expectations and new releases through Bachmann slowed. Result , some larger retailers starved of new product to sell , started commissioning their own models 
 

3. The Internet . It’s now possible for commissioners to communicate and sell directly to their customers .  This is hugely significant as it allows commissioners to retain their and retailers margins .

 

Despite what some people would have you think , with cries of labour cost increases in China, it is still possible to make money in model railways . That’s why we have new entrants Rapido, Cavalex, Revolution , KR , Hattons, Rails , Kernow . 
 

I had hoped that after a few years of great release programs that Hornby would have turned the corner and become profitable . It’s on the right track but still not got there . One of the issues is it still has large overheads and costs  even though it is a relatively small company.  Opening a red box was always a thrill to me since childhood, so I really hope they make it but it’s far from certain. They are defending their turf vigorously though , Rails Terrier, Dapol Prairie etc 

 

Bachmann are vulnerable .  They are charging top prices , it’s taking them 3-4 years to get models to market . OO and N . I can see others picking off their models . It’s already happening Hattons 66 , Accurascale Deltic and 37 . Having skirted about the versions of 37 available sooner or later Accurascale will compete directly .  Do Kader have the resolve to fight their corner or will they find it more profitable to channel resources into more lucrative markets ? The start of EFE rail is intriguing . Could they commission models from factories other than Kader long term ?  I still think an EFE Rail Hymek is truly mystifying although I can see bringing the old DJM J94 And the EFE tube train to market may make sense 
 

So I don’t think it’s in anyway guaranteed that the big 2 will continue as they are . The names may live on but it could be on drastically restructured companies . The future seems to be with the more nimble competitors Accurascale, Cavalex  etc .   What it means is more direct selling , model rail retail cannot be an easy business . I think models will become more niche , probably available in limited numbers . You’ll need to buy it when it’s announced or miss out . 
 

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1 hour ago, Paddy said:

 

Have to agree here letterspider in terms of your thought process.  It would seem very logical for 3D printing (especially if/when they get to the point where colour/liveries could be included) to replace more traditional methods.  I suppose one benefit molds have is that you can produce significant quantities quickly whereas you would need loads of 3D printers to scale.  Of course, none of this is impossible as technology almost always exceeds our expectations.  Also, if model railway volumes drop below a certain point then 3D printing could become even more beneficial.

 

Mind you, model railways do seem to be quite a conservative market where change can be measured in decades rather than months.  To me the idea of the power coming from the track and all the associated wiring seems archaic.  Logic would seem to suggest that the models should be self powered and everything controlled without wires.  I suspect the technology to do this already exists but will it ever replace traditional DC/DCC?

 

Kind regards

 

Paddy

 

Let's deal with one problem at a time!

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