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If you were starting a new rtr manufacturer...


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1 hour ago, Hal Nail said:

I'm not claiming to be right or wrong here as I don't have the facts, but I got the impression on the Heljan 25 thread that they claimed the cost is mostly in the labour involved with added detail, when refuting someone's suggestion that a motorless should be a fraction of the cost.

 

The addition/removal of a motor and its associated required parts (gears) is indeed a negligible part of the cost - many of the US manufacturers have said the same thing.

 

 

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57 minutes ago, Joseph_Pestell said:

If you are making a large number (rare these days), labour cost is definitely the main element in the final price of the loco. That's why firms outsourced to China. On shorter runs, the development costs / tooling might occasionally outweigh the labour cost.

 

Labour is still a large part of the cost, model trains given the low production run sizes don't allow for a lot of automation that things made in the millions can take advantage of.

 

Whether it be the clipping of parts off of sprues, painting, pad printing (often requiring multiple runs for different colours), and then the final assembly there is a lot of manual labour to make a modern model train.  And then add in the cost of paying workers while switching the various processes between liveries/models (which is why the factories have minimum run for any given livery).

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1 hour ago, Joseph_Pestell said:

It could indeed be that if such a project were to be launched by one, or even a few retailers, they would refuse to supply the smaller outlets. That's exactly why I suggested that a large number of retailers should get together and create an independent commissioning company which they would all have shares in. 

 

Which indirectly brings up the real problem - it's not that Hornby is selling direct, but that Hornby selling to some retailers and not others.

 

Commissioning your own models, dealing with China direct, etc. only go so far when your competition online or nearby can still sell Hornby - and your customers want Hornby and so now buy not just Hornby but also all there other purchases at your competition.

 

 

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16 hours ago, Dunsignalling said:

Retailer groupings work pretty well in generalist fields, like groceries or hardware, but I doubt they would in as specialised a trade as model railways.

 

Let's say you could get (say) a hundred small/medium businesses to join forces to commission models. If they were spread out between John o'Groats and Lands End, I can imagine deciding what to commission would get very interesting and take so long that somebody else would always beat them to market. One way it might work would be for individual commissioners to cross-supply each other, but that's a very different scenario to what you propose.

 

Models that will sell like hot cakes in some areas will gather dust for a decade in others. My "local" retailer retired during lockdown and the shop closed, but his perennial gripe with Hornby had been their keenness to lumber him with loads of LNER stuff. Over many years he'd learned the hard way that his average local demand for such things consisted of two Flying Scotsmen in the twelve days of Christmas, a Mallard on the 29th February and next to nothing else, ever, except to specific order.  I suspect they tried to force-feed northern shops with SR and GWR models in a similar fashion! I would have loved to hear him trying to explain why, of the non-corridor Thompson coaches, he only wanted brake thirds in BR crimson livery.....

 

 John

 

But it wouldn't take 100 small/medium businesses . Two of the largest in the model rail hobby now either don't sell Hornby or don't get any pre order business .   I would have thought thats a fairly dangerous position for Hornby to be in , especially as both already commission models on their own account and Rails diversifying into Point Motors etc (maybe the start of a full Rails offerring).  Hornby has actually created a void that these guys need to fill. They have effectively created a new competitive force .     I think they will continue on , perhaps with renewed vigour and resolve ,more commissions , perhaps in direct competition to Hornby  as Rails and Hattons seek to replace lost revenue . 

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I’m just going to have a peek into my Chrystal ball, say somewhere between five and ten years.

 

Hornby have managed to resolve their financial problems and are producing one new design steam loco per year along with one new/revamped item of D/E alongside all their existing ranges, train sets, track, buildings - the whole range. They have been successfully developing their “Arnold” range of British N gauge as well.

 

Bachmann are continuing to develop their twin scales of 00 and N more or less as today.

 

Todays “new starters” such as Accurascale, Cavalex, Rapido, Revolution et all (apologies to any missed) are making strides of varying degrees although there has been at least one casualty.

 

 The “commissioners” mainly Hattow, Tracks, Kernon etc including “Modelling Rail” have had varying degrees of success.
“Modelling Rail” started to lose ground due to falling circulation, it’s chief modeller retiring and revenues drying up to to a bad commission, finally biting the dust last year.

Kernon and Tracks quite successful with their own products but not expanding much further than currently.

Hattow have started to develop a full range, their success with a range of generic coaching stock being the basis for developing further exciting designs including a range of generic but very British track available for both set track in train sets and as flexible track. They were also convinced to develop a range of specific prototypes in a rotating manner, one year producing an express train for their local LNWR, the next year doing a pickup goods for a neighbouring railway. Their new slogan becomes “the future is the past”!


There were rumours of groupings of various retailers and commissioning people in the early days of the twenty twenties but they didn’t amount to anything due to their disparate ideas.

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An example of what even smaller retailers can do to generate revenue through an exclusive item that doesn't require extensive investment:

 

 

 

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Looking back to the original question I would be minded to think thus-

 

Given a dozen or so million in the "can lose and not blink" pot-

 

1.  Go detailed but not full of tiny add-ons that fall of as soon as you look at them- somewhere above Railroad standard but not full-fat.  Get liveries right.

2.   Get a CAD office and production facility up and running in the UK and keep ownership of CAD and tooling - hence the millions needed.

Major on reliable models that work- and make sure they do.

 

3.  Start with unmotorised- I have in mind something like buffet trailer and TSL trailers for class 101.

4.  Add in a complete multiple unit or two- simpler mechanisms-  a 3/4 car 101 with underfloor power in a DMCL to allow the brake to be in dummy DMBS or TBS, thereby giving flexibility

Find gaps in the latest stuff on the network - not everything has been lined up yet by the big boys

3A/4A alongside this look at gaps in wagon fleets and start fillers, then look at stuff well overdue for replacement.

5.  Add in 0-6-0 steamers- inside cylinders, J21, Maunsell Q, Midland 2F and others of that ilk.  Again, simpler mechanisms (ask Union Mills....).  Then raid the untapped reservoir of inside cylindered 4-4-0 and 4-6-0 types - anyone for a Cardean?

 

Then and only then go for more complex beasties if the millions haven't run out......

 

Just a few thoughts

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  • 2 weeks later...

I personally feel that British model train brand owners are too conservative, stuck in one state and lacking in exploration and courage for model development. Modelers outside of the UK have always felt that OO scale models were not synonymous with rich detail, but fortunately Accurascale has come along and changed some of those outside perceptions. But I don't think it's enough for the smaller brands to survive by making better and newer model trains, rather than continuing to use the same old moulds as Bachmann and Hornby to make products from the 1980s. I have a lot of faith in British model trains, but only if there are more enterprising brands that are familiar with what British modelers really want. If you have any questions about the situation of being made in China, send me a message

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11 hours ago, mike woo said:

I personally feel that British model train brand owners are too conservative, stuck in one state and lacking in exploration and courage for model development. Modelers outside of the UK have always felt that OO scale models were not synonymous with rich detail, but fortunately Accurascale has come along and changed some of those outside perceptions. But I don't think it's enough for the smaller brands to survive by making better and newer model trains, rather than continuing to use the same old moulds as Bachmann and Hornby to make products from the 1980s. I have a lot of faith in British model trains, but only if there are more enterprising brands that are familiar with what British modelers really want. If you have any questions about the situation of being made in China, send me a message

Apart from your post being a sales pitch, what old moulds from the 1980s are Bachmann still making products from?

 

Bachmann have consistently invested heavily in new high detail models and years later in upgrading those to even higher levels. For example, many of the wagon fleet now ride on very recent, high details chassis far removed from the versions of the 1980s & 1990s.

 

Accurascale do indeed produce highly detailed models for the U.K. market, they were not the first however.

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11 hours ago, mike woo said:

 I have a lot of faith in British model trains, but only if there are more enterprising brands that are familiar with what British modelers really want. If you have any questions about the situation of being made in China, send me a message

I agree that we need manufacturers to produce what people are asking for and start filling the gaps in the market, that is DMU & EMU's, from all era's.  They may not be the most exciting items to make but they are an essential part of the railway landscape

 

With the level of detail and variation we demand, we will have to pay a hefty price, but they will sell.

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Even I'd have one of those ^^ ......

 

As an add-on, if you're considering models of an age gone-by, would there be mileage in doing a small range of working trams (or dare I suggest trolleybuses) with operating booms and simple overhead?

 

I realise they probably wouldn't come cheap, but there aren't a lot of small detail parts either.

 

Thinking further along - UK outline buses built around the Faller road system with rechargeable batteries on board?

 

Cheers,

 

Philip

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46 minutes ago, Monkersson said:

I agree that we need manufacturers to produce what people are asking for and start filling the gaps in the market, that is DMU & EMU's, from all era's.  They may not be the most exciting items to make but they are an essential part of the railway landscape

 

With the level of detail and variation we demand, we will have to pay a hefty price, but they will sell.

 

Do they sell though?

 

If they did then I would think Charlie at DC Kits/Realtrack would be a multi-millionaire by now, churning out thousands upon thousands of obscure DMUs and EMUs.

 

The reality is you will sell a few hundred even when it comes to models that are popular such as the Pacers, Sprinters and even the familiar First Generation stock that also appeals to the steam era modellers.

 

Even Bachmann are reluctant to make anything longer than a 2 car set. Anything with more than 3, forget it as people start complaining at paying more than £300 for a unit.

 

Remember when everyone wanted the 4TC. Still plenty in stock at Kernow. Yet for years everyone was telling us they will sell by the bucket load. The RRP of £289 now seems like a bargain, it didn't at the time.

 

Remember the bargain bins full of Bachmann 2EPBs, Hornby 2BILs and 2HALs?

 

Sorry, but I'm afraid I'm a bit sceptic when people say "make this as it'll sell", they never do.

 

 

Jason

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1 hour ago, black and decker boy said:

Apart from your post being a sales pitch, what old moulds from the 1980s are Bachmann still making products from?

 

Bachmann have consistently invested heavily in new high detail models and years later in upgrading those to even higher levels. For example, many of the wagon fleet now ride on very recent, high details chassis far removed from the versions of the 1980s & 1990s.

 

Accurascale do indeed produce highly detailed models for the U.K. market, they were not the first however.

BRT Whisky Blue, the moulds Bachmann use for these actually date back to the 1960s and aren’t even 4mm scale!

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17 minutes ago, Steamport Southport said:

 

Do they sell though?

 

If they did then I would think Charlie at DC Kits/Realtrack would be a multi-millionaire by now, churning out thousands upon thousands of obscure DMUs and EMUs.

 

The reality is you will sell a few hundred even when it comes to models that are popular such as the Pacers, Sprinters and even the familiar First Generation stock that also appeals to the steam era modellers.

 

Even Bachmann are reluctant to make anything longer than a 2 car set. Anything with more than 3, forget it as people start complaining at paying more than £300 for a unit.

 

Remember when everyone wanted the 4TC. Still plenty in stock at Kernow. Yet for years everyone was telling us they will sell by the bucket load. The RRP of £289 now seems like a bargain, it didn't at the time.

 

Remember the bargain bins full of Bachmann 2EPBs, Hornby 2BILs and 2HALs?

 

Sorry, but I'm afraid I'm a bit sceptic when people say "make this as it'll sell", they never do.

 

 

Jason

They do sell, Realtrack's Pacers are very hard to find even 2nd hand now, and their 156's are very popular

 

Charlie used to provide a wide range of kits, they weren't perfect but where a great starting point - but not everyone is comfortable/able to build kits, even plastics ones, and again, not everyone is able to paint a kit to a decent standard.

 

I do remember the bargain bins full of the 3rd rail units - overall, how many people actually model the third rail system compared to the rest of the system (I am a fan of 3rd rail but don't model it)  Over-supply initiated that scenario, especially with the Hornby units.

 

A class 120 DMU, used from the South West of England to the North East of Scotland, 1950's to late 1980s.  Or a class 303 EMU, that could appeal to the immensely popular Scottish modellers - north and south Clyde coasts, north and south suburban Glasgow.  That would cover from the early 60's to the early 2000's and also Cheshire Manchester area to Crewe corridor for the 80s/90s.  

 

Yes we'll have to pay a price, in a way that is our own fault for wanting more and more details/variations, combined with the cost of manufacturing, but I stand by my thoughts in that more MU's would sell.

 

There will be as many people who say 'that wont sell' as there are that say 'that will sell'

 

I don't see the big players making MU's, I could see one of the new entrants having a go

 

 

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2 hours ago, turbos said:

BRT Whisky Blue, the moulds Bachmann use for these actually date back to the 1960s and aren’t even 4mm scale!

They use the old Trix moulds which were made under contract by Liliput in West Germany which is why the ended up with Bachmann. They are 4mm scale though.

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8 minutes ago, andyman7 said:

They use the old Trix moulds which were made under contract by Liliput in West Germany which is why the ended up with Bachmann. They are 4mm scale though.

No they’re not 4mm scale, they’re 3.7mm(ish) length and height, nearer 4mm on there width though.

 

Brian.

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1 hour ago, turbos said:

No they’re not 4mm scale, they’re 3.7mm(ish) length and height, nearer 4mm on there width though.

 

Brian.

There's a whole thread here 

which includes the relative dimensions of the the various RTR offerings of the Bulk Grain Wagon 

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3 hours ago, Monkersson said:

 

I don't see the big players making MU's, I could see one of the new entrants having a go

 

 

 

But they already do. There are about two dozen RTR models of units available.

 

That's the point I'm trying to make, they already make most of the low hanging fruit that will sell. Either at a "Railroad standard" or highly detailed standard such as those made by Realtrack or Rapido.

 

Class 101, 105, 108, 117, 121, 142, 143, 150, 156, 158, etc are easy to sell, as are some SR EMUs. But they've already done those. Likewise the prestigious trains such as APTs, HSTs, Pendos, Voyagers, 800s, etc. You also have the GWR railcars and the railbuses by Heljan.

 

What's left? Not much, but people are mentioning obscure DMUs and EMUs and saying "they'll sell". No they won't or the major manufacturers will already be making them.

 

How many people will really pay £300 for something like a Wickham Class 109? or an LMS 502 or 503? You'll get a few people wanting them. But you need a lot more than a few, you need over a thousand customers coughing up.

 

 

Jason

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59 minutes ago, Steamport Southport said:

 

But they already do. There are about two dozen RTR models of units available.

 

That's the point I'm trying to make, they already make most of the low hanging fruit that will sell. Either at a "Railroad standard" or highly detailed standard such as those made by Realtrack or Rapido.

 

Class 101, 105, 108, 117, 121, 142, 143, 150, 156, 158, etc are easy to sell, as are some SR EMUs. But they've already done those. Likewise the prestigious trains such as APTs, HSTs, Pendos, Voyagers, 800s, etc. You also have the GWR railcars and the railbuses by Heljan.

 

What's left? Not much, but people are mentioning obscure DMUs and EMUs and saying "they'll sell". No they won't or the major manufacturers will already be making them.

 

How many people will really pay £300 for something like a Wickham Class 109? or an LMS 502 or 503? You'll get a few people wanting them. But you need a lot more than a few, you need over a thousand customers coughing up.

 

 

Jason

I agree there have been a lot of MU's available, but there a still a good few that haven't been done that were around in large numbers, for a lot of years - the MU's I've mentioned above certainly weren't obscure.   

 

I would take a good bet that a model of the Electrostar family would sell, and sell well - there are over 650 sets in service - 2000 vehicles.

 

Its true that people baulk at the prices being asked for MU's but they still sell out.  The £300 Bachmann 158 in GWR livery has had 2 runs already.

 

Plenty of people have said that Electric loco's don't sell, but we have the 4mm 85, 86, 87, 90 and soon to be 91 and 92 all tooled to modern standards that sell well.  In N Gauge there is a decent 86 thats sells well and a 92 that has sold very well, and a couple of EMU's that Revolution are offering are getting very good orders.

 

These are just my thoughts, I would just like to see more MU's produced, as I'd like to model the whole railway scene for my chosen sphere of interest.

 

 

 

 

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I do wonder if the reluctance on the part of the manufacturers to expand the range of MUs is maybe because collectors make up the portion of the market that makes it profitable to make a model, and people don't collect MUs. Or, at least, not ones that didn't/don't sport a wide variety of colourful liveries to chase. Hence no obscure 1st Gen stock that only came in green or blue (notwithstanding variations on yellow warning panels). 

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5 hours ago, PatB said:

maybe because collectors make up the portion of the market that makes it profitable to make a model

Could well be a contributory factor - I would have thought that at present, there will always be single unit locos (including upgrades) with more certain appeal and less tooling costs that they choose to do in preference.

 

What is rarely recognised when poeple on here state "we were always told x y z doesn't sell" is that what people want does change over time as a chunk from each generation model what they grew up with. I am more interested in electrics now than I would have been 30 years ago when they seemed very mundane.

 

Kids of the last 10 years are less likely to remember diesels let alone steam and perhaps units such as the ubiquitous Electrostars will become more popular - although I fear it is more likely that demand for models will just shrink.

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I have been waiting for a 120 for years. So are making my own.

 

116 a very odd exclusion. Yet 1.66666 goes at 117.

 

Lots of 2 car DMUs bring done. No use to me as only P480 was 2 car. And that could be bashed from one of the 117 models.

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On 12/06/2021 at 13:16, Monkersson said:

I do remember the bargain bins full of the 3rd rail units - overall, how many people actually model the third rail system compared to the rest of the system (I am a fan of 3rd rail but don't model it)  Over-supply initiated that scenario, especially with the Hornby units.

 

Well, I would guess more than model overhead electric given it is quite a bit easier to model...

 

On 12/06/2021 at 13:16, Monkersson said:

Or a class 303 EMU, that could appeal to the immensely popular Scottish modellers - north and south Clyde coasts, north and south suburban Glasgow.  That would cover from the early 60's to the early 2000's and also Cheshire Manchester area to Crewe corridor for the 80s/90s. 

 

So, above you claim nobody models 3rd rail electrics, yet the immensely more difficult to model overhead electric market - which has no accurate stuff to model the overhead stuff - is apparently a huge untapped market.

 

Can't blame the manufacturers for being unconvinced about that.

 

On 12/06/2021 at 13:16, Monkersson said:

Yes we'll have to pay a price, in a way that is our own fault for wanting more and more details/variations, combined with the cost of manufacturing, but I stand by my thoughts in that more MU's would sell.

 

There will be as many people who say 'that wont sell' as there are that say 'that will sell'

 

I don't see the big players making MU's, I could see one of the new entrants having a go

 

I suspect people are watching Accurscale and their Mk5 sets, as that will give the start of an indication of whether people will pay for longer multiple units.

 

But it is very easy for anyone (including myself) to make statements as to what will or won't sell on an online forum, it is another thing entirely to put up say $200k to tool it up plus the additional money for all the other parts of bringing a product to market.

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On 11/06/2021 at 23:36, mike woo said:

I personally feel that British model train brand owners are too conservative, stuck in one state and lacking in exploration and courage for model development. Modelers outside of the UK have always felt that OO scale models were not synonymous with rich detail, but fortunately Accurascale has come along and changed some of those outside perceptions.

 

I think at least Bachmann and Rapido would have a few things to say about that.

 

On 11/06/2021 at 23:36, mike woo said:

But I don't think it's enough for the smaller brands to survive by making better and newer model trains, rather than continuing to use the same old moulds as Bachmann and Hornby to make products from the 1980s.

 

See, this proves to me that you are totally unaware of the British market - because if you were aware you would know that for at least 10 years each of them has been tooling up multiple brand new items yearly.

 

On 11/06/2021 at 23:36, mike woo said:

I have a lot of faith in British model trains, but only if there are more enterprising brands that are familiar with what British modelers really want.

 

It's like most model train markets - they want niche prototypes in model form for half of what it would cost.

 

Now if you have the contacts in China to make that happen, you can get rich...

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