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Where are the Hornby models?


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Having seen the 3,5mm scale Kato model above I cannot help but agree those cab handrails would hardly look better as bits of wire. It all depends on the relief or daylight behind the real detail. The daylight behind a 4mm scale British locomotive boiler handrail or smoke deflector handrail is enough to make modellers want wire and handrail knobs. Smokebox door darts are another area where moulded-on looks as tacky as 1950s bamboo wallpaper. I don't believe Hornby has given up on the serious market. I do believe it lost its way and that all those design clever ideas will actually hit the shops to design not stupid...... :smoke: .

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Whatever the future holds, there are some remarkable bargains out there now. There is a bit of a glut of unsold Hawksworths meaning that they can be obtained for £25 or less depending on the version - this is a super detailed coach that 20 years ago would have been the preserve of master kit builders, notwithstanding any minor niggles about printed curtains etc. I have a feeling that in 10 years when this back stock has long been cleared, good examples will fetch a tidy price s/h. It's all about perceived value - because there are quite a lot of bargain superdetail coaches around, the 'list' price of £40 or whatever is seen as excessive

 

As 6959 so ably illustrates, when the stuff is gone from sale the market can quickly re-evaluate. The HD E3002 model, crude as it was, could be bought at bargain prices in the mid 60s as stock was cleared - there is a painfully ironic article in a 1967 issue of Model Railway Constructor demonstrating how it can be converted into an equally crude class 73. Nowadays, you'd be hard pressed to find one for under 400 notes..... 

 

Of course the first time someone manages to sell a Hawksworth coach for £50 on ebay there will be cries of 'profiteer!' and outraged posts that the 'true' value is £25 because that's what they were on sale for in the shops  :no:

 

Further to this, Modelfair are currently doing some crazy prices in a big clearout - £9.22 for a Hornby Maunsell! Albeit the undesirable Southern malachite 1st corridor, but for £9.22! That's a mere fiver more than the Hachette MK1! Unbelievable. Someone in Margate obviously got the sales forecasts seriously wrong back in 2008. What Hornby would give for such a production run now for new and in-demand items... 

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  • RMweb Gold

Ian, Hornby's deafness is probably close in severity as Beethovens was, except his output was great to the end, whereas Hornby's is going steadily downhill

Edited by 7013
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Ian, Hornby's deafness is probably close in severity as Beethovens was, except his output was great to the end, whereas Hornby's is going steadily downhill

Bravo....encore! His music,although wonderful,got steadily discordant towards the end....e.g. some of the late string quartets....bit like our postings on Hornby,really....

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thread drift but the sound of a Gresley A3 on medium cut-off and wide open regulator was something worth listening too, or so some say. Especialy when the magicans at Doncaster set the conjugated valves spot-on. 

 

As to some here saying they cannot tell by the 'set' of the valve gear and how it shows forwards and reverse and so on, it's no shame if you don't know. It's a pet thing of mine though, for pictures. The longitudinal rod above the slide bars is approximately horizontal when in neutral gear, is dropped at the rear by about 15 degrees in full forward gear, and about 5 degrees from horizontal for general running at 12-15-20 degrees cut-off. It is raised at the rear, above horizontal, for reverse gear. Easier to show in real life than to explain in words.  Cut-off is the period of each piston stroke where steam passes though the piston valves above the main driving cylinders. 50 or more percent cut-off for starting, 10-20 percent for general running, maybe 30 percent for very hard climbing.  Sort of, probably some one else could say it better.

 

Anyway, it is, after all, a fine Hornby model. Oh, and I don't even know if it's still in production.  This one 60067 'Ladas' was mostly a Doncaster engine in BR days I think.

 

post-7929-0-61565200-1379991304.jpg

Edited by robmcg
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I'm all for the introduction of a bit of yer culture into these forums. Would it be appropriate to compare Bachmann's recent and promised exciting output of high quality work with that of Mozart?

 

Belated clarification: question diffident, not rhetorical.

Edited by bluebottle
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Why not ? Mozart was the more prolific composer....626,according to the Kochel catalogue,as compared to Beethoven's 135 ( I think )

Thus,Bachmann may equate to Mozart ( at the moment ) and Hornby to Beethoven ( selectively deaf )

 

Both composed to order....Mozart had big problems with ' delivery dates' with commissions regularly. Beethoven extremely cantankerous and subject to hissy fits e.g.switched dedication of Eroica symphony due to sulks over Napoleon's. behaviour......bit like Hornby trawling the Far East for an alternative sweatshop.....sorry,manufacturer.

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Of course people expected steady improvements when war ended...... They lived and worked in conditions that would scare the hell out of younger folk but its your turn to fight for things now. The movers and shakers have been working hard to lower your expectations and it looks like it has been working.

 

Well said Larry.

 

On the model railway front for decades we had to put up with stuff that bore only a passing resemblance to the real thing and when taking into account the well detailed models manufactured in Europe for the continental modellers we were viewed as mugs with that low standard of output.

 

Bachmann started things off with the advent of the Blue Riband standard after which Hornby had to decide whether to take them on or continue with the low quality of model. Fortunately Hornby, thanks to Simon Kohler, decided that was the way to go and introduced their Super Detail range from which we all benefited with both manufacturers raising the standards on a continuing basis. It is incredible to think that from the late 40s when Hornby Dublo first made the A4 and a decade or so later when Triang made the A3 that it took until 2004/5 for LNER modellers to have models of A3s and A4s with the correct types of tenders rather than the preceding "one type fits all" approach!

 

Hopefully Hornby will realise that their Super Detail market is not only a large, profitable one which has proved a hit with the modellers but that there is a continuing demand for it, We do not wish to turn the clock back to Triang Railways, if that happens Bachmann will think Christmas has come early.

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I think that Christmas this year and almost certainly Warley will belong to Bachmann with a number of offerings due soon. If Hornby can release the Star (big if and it will have to be very good) and the DOG

(not sure when that is due) then they may have a half decent Xmas period, I hope so.

I have ordered the Beyer Garratt and if it appears it will steal the show. After that I have an Orifginal Warship and Polybulk on order from Kernow, plus a J 94 from DJM, I will be looking at Bachmann locos as a 'spur of the moment' buy; so Hornby do not really figure in my plans for the foreseeable future which is a great shame.

The traditional Xmas announcements by Hornby could either be a sign of a recovery or an embarrassment, let's hope it is the former.

Edited by 7013
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It's all getting very embarrassing now. For a company so large as Hornby to be failing so badly at delivering it is really disappointing, in most businesses such failure would result in P45's.

 

It is also really hurting the local model shops who are really in need of new stock. It was noted at a show I attended at the weekend. All secondhand rubbish for sale, that basically nobody wants anymore. I believe this could be damaging for the hobby if the failures continue, especially if we start loosing local model shops as they fail to receive new stock throught the business. At least Bachmann are starting to get thier act together a bit. Warley this year could be a cheap trip!

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Hi,

 

I have been following the debate regarding Hornby’s shortcomings with interest.   I don’t want to go over the same old ground again or to enter into the minutiae of the supply chain failures as I missed out on the SR Bogie B Luggage Van in Olive Green Livery and am still quite het up about that.

 

In summary my thoughts are much the same as many others;

 

  • The supply chain is a huge mess due to the factory closing and other issues.
  • The same old lame excuses have to stop and the issues have to be addressed and solutions put in place.
  • Hornby have to start to communicate the issues openly and honestly to gain credibility with the retailers and customers.   
  • Hornby are not in tune with their customer base and (With some exceptions) are not producing (or promising to produce) the high quality models that the demanding adult customers would buy in droves.
  • Prices are an issue for some customers and Hornby must remain competitive on pricing by monitoring and matching the competition.
  • Hornby need to focus on who they want to sell to; demanding adult modellers or do they want to make toys for children.  I think that they cannot continue trying to do both and being all things to all men.  This issue goes to the heart of the matter and has never been thoroughly addressed.
  • Hornby are not capitalizing on additional liveries of existing models.  There appears to be a large number of options open in this area where quick profits could be made.
  • Hornby only produce models in very small numbers causing unacceptable market shortages, this irritates both the retailers and the potential customers.
  • Hornby do not produce re-runs of popular models quickly enough so do not make the maximum profit from the investment.
  • Hornby still produce very old models at high prices IE the Class 47 diesel locomotive in Northern Belle livery.    Why o why did they do this?  It was madness in today’s market.
  • Hornby don’t seem to recognise that most of their customers are serious and demanding adult modellers who create fantastic layouts and are not Mum and Dad buying a train set for their child.  These days are long gone.  I guess that the niche market of the Thomas The Tank Engine range is the exception here.
  • Hornby seem to have little or no idea about how the real railway works or appear to seek to learn from knowledgeable experts who I think would happily  advise them without requiring payment if they thought that they were being listened to.
  • The high end products must continue to be manufactured in either China or elsewhere overseas as it cannot a good financial move to manufacture these products in the UK or EU.   I do however support the  return of Humbrol paint and Airfix kits to the UK where specialist manufacturing skills are not an imperative.
  • Hornby have put major investment into advances into DCC control systems and I suggest that this is a low priority for most potential customers.

 

Frankly none of the above is rocket science and much of it is achievable but it does require a cultural change from within the company.

 

I am not an business expert but I have tried to put my “Man in the Street” views down in writing, but I very much doubt whether any-one from the company will be taking note and I sadly expect that they will carry on in the same old way until the money runs out.

 

I think that Frank Martin knew very little about the real railway or had much interest in model railways and I hope the new management team addresses these serious issues.     

 

I am in the adult modeller category and I have not bought anything from Hornby for a while as what I want from the Hornby range is simply not available to buy, which is a sad reflection on the present state of the company.  

 

Finally here is an idea – For two seasons stop producing new locomotives and concentrate on rolling stock and accessories, this will be less investment cost leading to quick sales and a return to a satisfactory bank balance.

 

More in sadness rather than in anger;   Stephen Dimmock.

 

 

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Excellent summary Stephen which brings together many of the themes that have been running through this thread. I would be interested to hear from those who have disagreed with your summary and what they think should be done differently

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There are some valid observations here, and clearly Hornby are not satisfying you and several other people here, but I remain concerned with stating opinion as if it were fact, i.e:

  • 'Hornby only produce models in very small numbers causing unacceptable market shortages, this irritates both the retailers and the potential customers' - many models have been produced in adequate numbers - some haven't. Ditto with Bachmann and the SECR C class. To say that they 'only' make models in small numbers is a sweeping generalisation.
  • 'Hornby do not produce re-runs of popular models quickly enough so do not make the maximum profit from the investment.' Again subjective - the 2 BIL supply issues in the end were not as drastic as portrayed and the model has been re-run since. 
  • 'Hornby still produce very old models at high prices IE the Class 47 diesel locomotive in Northern Belle livery. Why did they do this?  It was madness in today’s market'. Do you have access to the sales figures for the Northern Belle 47? I wouldn't buy it either but this statement is an opinion, not a fact, and they may be making a perfectly good return on that model.
  • 'Hornby don’t seem to recognise that most of their customers are serious and demanding adult modellers who create fantastic layouts and are not Mum and Dad buying a train set for their child.  These days are long gone.  I guess that the niche market of the Thomas The Tank Engine range is the exception here.' I really don't consider that I or anyone on here can decide who Hornby's entire customer base consists of. You are at liberty to say that they aren't meeting your needs, but that doesn't mean that their entire output is misguided. 
  • 'Hornby seem to have little or no idea about how the real railway works or appear to seek to learn from knowledgeable experts who I think would happily advise them without requiring payment if they thought that they were being listened to.'  Or they may have followed Dapol's thread on the Western and decided that whatever they need to do to sort out their business, they 'll steer clear of internet forums...
Edited by andyman7
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  • Hornby do not produce re-runs of popular models quickly enough so do not make the maximum profit from the investment.
  • Hornby still produce very old models at high prices IE the Class 47 diesel locomotive in Northern Belle livery.    Why o why did they do this?  It was madness in today’s market.

 

7013 asked for views from those who disagreed with you but andyman7 has beaten me to the meat of the matter. To gild his lily, I'd highlight the contrast between the two statements you made above. In the first bullet point you seem to be demanding re-runs of popular models to maximise Hornby's profit; and in the next bullet point you are criticising them for doing a re-run of what I can only assume is a popular model while also lambasting them for their "high prices".

 

So do you want them to maximise their profits or do you want them to produce cheap ("affordable") products?

 

Do you want them to do re-runs, or do you want them to scrap all their "old" models and just produce new stuff?

 

Like andyman7 (and, I suspect, you), I have no access to Hornby's sales figures and I have no idea whether or not the 47 is a "popular" model. But the fact that it keeps reappearing in the catalogue in various guises suggests that it might be.

 

You also wrote that:

  • The supply chain is a huge mess ...
  • The same old lame excuses have to stop and the issues have to be addressed and solutions put in place.

Do you honestly think that Hornby don't know that? Do you think they've sat around for, what, years now, thinking "ooh, this is all a mess, but let's not try to do anything about it and hope it all goes away"?

 

Sometimes situations are complicated and trying to sort them out is a nightmare. Sometimes lame old excuses are, in fact, reasons rather than excuses. Being able to state a problem simply does not mean that the solution is necessarily simple; or that there is, in fact, any solution which meets the requirements of all the interested parties.

 

None of this is to say that someone at Hornby hasn't screwed up. Most of us have at one time or another (though when I'm thinking about myself I prefer to describe those situations as "valuable learning experiences" rather than my own cock-ups). But I remain hugely grateful to Hornby (and Bachmann) for producing models that continue to give me real pleasure. 

 

Paul

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It could just be that the British highly detailed model train market at a very low price just is not a viable business model for them .They can produce continental models to sell at twice the price and sell  basic toy trains ,their core market I suspect, and make a good profit  perhaps .Not over sure we are relevant to their business plan .They dont own their own factories so are paying Bachmann through the nose probably   for highly detailed models  that probably dont make as much money as "toy trains" .They may be called Hornby but with their complex   intermingling of  various activities and finances  they can only make so much in various factories and may well concentrate on the more  profitable .Those factories are probably making huge amounts of US trains for Athearn ,Atlas et al so everyone has to share  their available output.No idea if this correct but I suspect it is .They may also be training up their sub contractors in China and other places to produce better quality models .It all takes time and production of lower quality models . Hornbys remit is to their shareholders who like good authentic accurate money ,not toy trains.

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I am in the adult modeller category and I have not bought anything from Hornby for a while as what I want from the Hornby range is simply not available to buy, which is a sad reflection on the present state of the company.  

 

Finally here is an idea – For two seasons stop producing new locomotives and concentrate on rolling stock and accessories, this will be less investment cost leading to quick sales and a return to a satisfactory bank balance.

 

More in sadness rather than in anger;   Stephen Dimmock.

I will  pick up on that 'idea' although like others I find some of the other comments rather inconsistent.  

 

But back to the 'idea'  - having said prices are an issue you now want them to concentrate, in part, on rolling stock.  Well apart from a 40% mark up on a £40 coach being considerably less than 40% on £120 loco are you seriously suggesting they should divert a goodly part of their energy into coming to market with lots of coaches at around the £35-50 mark.  While we know that Hornby do some excellent coaches could they seriously survive on the return that coaches provide, let alone the even smaller return on wagons selling at around £9-15 each - or are you suggest they go for more specialised wagons retailing at much higher prices? 

 

Look at new entrant DJ Models and look where they are starting -ploughing a loan against the house not into rolling stock but into a loco; simple reason, like it or not, is that locos don't cost much more to properly research or develop than coaches but they provide a bigger, usually quicker, return.  And if you're in business what you need is return on investment - even with today's cheap money sloshing about in the system.

 

Then 'accessories' - well Hornby are putting a lot into their development of control systems - might not suit all the punters (me included) and indeed probably won't suit a lot of 'serious adult modellers' but clearly they seem to think it's a way to go (often with electronic kit which is fairly easy to source, dirt cheap to make, and can give a good profit level/return).  Right - they're doing that already so what else do you want, not forgetting that it must bring in the same sort of return as locos in order to justify investment if the only other things they are knocking out are coaches and wagons.

 

Picking up another point you say 'they only produce models in small numbers' - I'm not really sure that they do.  Clearly at times they don't produce enough to satisfy demand while also they seem to be producing some things in dribs & drabs - occasional spurts and then nothing - but they have offered an explanation for that and it makes some sense.  But what exactly are 'small numbers' and why aren't they correct - one principle of business is to leave your customer wanting more while another is the law of supply and demand - surely it's better from their viewpoint to have not made enough rather than finish up with a warehouse full of unsaleable items which no one wants?  My grouse in this area is that they do not - at times - produce enough to meet their pre-orders and that I think is a genuine shortcoming as it is unfair on both retailers and customers - but that's a rather different thing from saying 'they only produce in small numbers'.

 

BTW you seem to have missed the fact that the new management have put someone in place specifically to tackle their supply chain problems and that they have also changed and diversified their manufacturing contracts for the same reason - and they have explained that, and some of the consequences, quite openly.  But clearly their ongoing wider communication is not as good as it should be and they are, in effect, not reporting on the degree of success, or otherwise, these measures are achieving - but we do then get involved in matters of commercial confidence where they might not be able to say as much as they would like.

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Thank you gentlemen for making your observations clearer. Of course a lot of what we write is subjective, occasionally sweeping and frequently generalist, however making those observations add to the debate and are one individuals take on the situation.

Of course anything we write is not based in fact unless we have those facts to hand. I personally believe Stephen has made a lot of pertinent observations which as I stated have brought things mentioned on this thread together. If any of his observations turn out to be wrong then...Cest la vie.

Until we get a clearer indication of what is happening at Hornby people will continue to speculate.

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An excellent set of points, Stephen; the only that really jumped out at me was:

 

Hornby don’t seem to recognise that most of their customers are serious and demanding adult modellers who create fantastic layouts and are not Mum and Dad buying a train set for their child.

Try spending a few weeks in the average model shop, and I think that perception would broaden. Many Hornby customers are undemanding on accuracy, very demanding on price, and sometimes frightened about the delicacy of the detail. (Bent valve gear and rods tend to be the number one problem on return visits - "The dog got hold of my West Country and dropped it on the floor...") Children dragging their parents in for an extra coach or wagon or bits of track remain key customers, and the Christmas trainset market remains an important one.

 

RMwebbers are vociferous, articulate and demanding, but I'm far from convinced they are representative of the average model shop punter.

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 vociferous, articulate and demanding,

 

I don't know about the average model shop punter but that sounds like my missus.OT I know sorry. ;)

 

True though, Miss P

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Average model shop ? Where are they,then ? I suspect the average child would have to be dragged into one by the proverbial wild horse,these days......that is...if you can find one. The one I know is not exactly child-friendly,anyway

 

Kids these days have,I'm afraid,different distractions to divert them.Going digital has a different meaning for them.

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I would like to point out that Hornby have during the last 10 years or so been very aware of the complexity of their prototypes, and it is source of amazement and pleasure to me that such as various cabs, domes, and tenders have been modelled so extremely well in 00 steam engines at least, in what must quite small and hard-to-manage tooling/packaging production slots. Black 5s, N15s, Britannias, A3s and more I forget.

 

Thank you Simon Kohler.

 

Rob  (who continues to buy second-hand in the relative absence of new super-detail models)

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