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How healthy is our hobby? (check the stuff that's healthy)

  • Locomotives

    Votes: 14 41.2%
  • Rolling stock

    Votes: 14 41.2%
  • Structures

    Votes: 9 26.5%
  • Track & Switches

    Votes: 11 32.4%
  • Electronics

    Votes: 19 55.9%
  • Manufacturing means

    Votes: 7 20.6%
  • Literature / info

    Votes: 12 35.3%
  • Community / communications

    Votes: 21 61.8%
  • Tools

    Votes: 16 47.1%
  • Materials

    Votes: 14 41.2%
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Premium Member
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4,187 Posts
I have no problem running my LGB MTS trains on my zimo system, in fact I find it very easy to modify/change the decoder parameters and have found many thast work on 28 speed steps and newer ones on 128 speed steps. Knowing this I would expect most other systems to be able to run the MTS equipped locos as long as they do not have the Lenz serial only 55020 decoders, Zimo and Massoth will do serial operations and there may be others.
 

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620 Posts
Dennis,

I'd say - speaking for myself personally - that I'd need to see new items at 20% under the big internet dealers, and that is assuming the seller appears to be a professional business and takes credit cards.
It's that kind of buying attitude that'll drive this hobby into extinction.

The way I see the market heading is the manufacturers following Lionels lead with BTO only. BTO is Build To Order and only with enough pre-orders will anything new be made...in other words put your money where your mouth is.

Seems Accucraft/ AML is already at this stage and yes I do have products on pre-order with them.

The recent USA Trains product survey is geared towards BTO.

I firmly believe the days of large mail order product blowout is over.
 

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Premium Member
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4,235 Posts
BRO

If you want trains at less than 20% of Internet store prices good luck. A few years ago a friend of mine who sold new equipment directly from a manufacturer, told my wife to order directly, for the item I wanted for Christmas. The difference between wholesale and retail was so small that it would have cost her more to get it from him.

I have occasionally gotten used equipment at swap meets and from friends at below retail, but they had been used and I know the individual or if it is a car I can inspect.

The other Chuck
 

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1,060 Posts
For me, a seller who isn't a dealer needs to be under the cost I'd pay to a dealer. A dealer generally accepts returns of a defective or broken product, may have better access to the manufacturer's service and warranty functions - and if that fails, reason to want satisfied customers (word of mouth, repeat business, etc.)

As a piece of advice to Dennis, my suggestion is that he should plan on being able to price the merchandise attractively enough that buyers choose his despite the advantages of authorized dealers, and induce buyers to jump on an opportunity that may not come again. My personal thought is that is at least in the range of 20% - however the little experience I have in trying to clear inventory rapidly, is that the deal needs to be a lot better than that (mine is not train hobby experience, though.)
 

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Premium Member
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BRO

The times I've had a problem with with a "new" product, from a web store, that came defective they said "don't bother us, send it to...". This happened at least twice. Service after the sale is not something I expect, unless it is a store I can walk into. They know me and I know them.

Chuck
 

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3,246 Posts
Discussion Starter · #26 ·
For myself, I tend to invest in new tools, new controls products, new track, new raw materials, and used trains. At least, that's been my purchase history, in trying to balance what I can afford with current priorities. I figure that I can fix a car or loco, not so easily the other stuff.

I'd LOVE to get a new (live steam) loco, and some new Accucraft cars. But that's just not in the cards, at least for the foreseeable future. But as David L. and Kormsen said, I'm quite happy with the hobby, judging from all the fun projects I already have the materials and parts for, yet can't yet find the time to get to!

As far as the hobby goes though, as an industry, I find that I either don't buy, or can't afford, new items being mass-produced specifically for the hobby at this present time (except for a controls item here and there).

Having said that, I believe that present technologies, such as 3D printing and 2D laser-cutting, are really changing things up, bringing micro-manufacturers up to a significant degree. For example, as I produce a kit for myself, it's comparatively easy to make the kit available to others. At least, easier than it was before 3D printing.

On the other hand, some believe that the adherents of this hobby are tending to age-out, that there isn't the volume of young folks taking their place. That the virtual hobbies are taking over, and tangible-tactile ones are going south. I suppose that, percentage-wise, that's the case.

But I think that there will always be kids that need the hands-on. I hosted a little train meet last weekend for neighbors, and it was so fun seeing about 10 kids (under 10) run around chasing the train, completely enthralled. One mother said to me that maybe it's just innate; kids love trains. Well, I don't know what it is; but they did. And with the experience of 1:1 trains becoming a thing of the past (for a lot of folks), I hope that it is an innate thing, and that it won't be hard to turn a kid on to the hobby, even without major 1:1 train experience.

If none of this bodes well for the manufacturers, that's sad. So many by the wayside. Sometimes I feel like the guy who's shown up at the dance just when the lights were being turned out.

But overall, this seems to me like a time of immense innovation, information, and opportunity. And I'm having a ball!

Ramblin' too much...
Cliff
 

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I just wish AML would bring the GP60 project to full production. Between myself and a friend, they will have atleast 3 NS units sold. I agree with USA prototype items being flatline right now. USA seems to be not doing much, Aristo is gone, Polks Nextgen saddled with product that is really not wanted by anyone, even Hartland isnt doing much and I have heard Bachmann has put large scale production on hold. I am happy with my hobby, NWSL with thier gears will get my 2 truck shay running again and my old Aristo FA-1 just keeps running. I have refocused my indoor modeling with O scale 3 rail. Mike
 

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A bright light is Scott Polk, he seems to be determined, and I wish him luck. If he can unload all the "revenge" inventory from Sanda Kan, then I'm sure he will survive to sell the stuff that people are really wanting.

My NCE system never had an LGB loco it could not run either, although hitting the F0 button (I think it was f0) 7 times for F7 was a pain, but it worked.

My new Zimo system can do anything, although it takes some learning. The touchscreen for turnouts and the throttle synchronization when taking over a loco are pretty cool.

Greg
 

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I think the hobby will always be there for the modeler--the person who sees what he/she wants, then has the ability to use whatever resources are available to build it. I think if the mainstream manufacturing were to completely dry up tomorrow, there is enough old stock out on the market to keep those folks well-supplied with the core materials for quite some time to come. The emergence of 3D printing and CNC machining will make it easier for those folks to fabricate complex pieces, also.

Having said that, I don't foresee mainstream manufacturing drying up any time soon, but I do see a shift in how things get produced. We are, to an extent, a victim of our own success. I model 3' narrow gauge, set c. 1910. I have a pretty decent array of models which allow me to model that without so much as lifting a screwdriver. Forty years ago, that wasn't the case. (Heck, even 30 years ago, we only had two true "US" prototype locomotives; Kalamazoo's 4-4-0 and LGB's mogul.) The hobby has grown tremendously in those 40 years, but at the same time, it's become segmented, so the number of people modeling any one given genre/era of railroading is probably on par with what it was as a whole all those years ago. So while we might look at something like the ubiquitous LGB mogul or Bachmann 4-6-0 and say "Gee, they sold hundreds of thousands of those," they came out at a time when there wasn't much else to choose from. We bought them because they were something different. Now, we choose what we buy based on our specific interests, so the potential for volume sales isn't there as it used to be.

I think the days of 100K production runs of locomotives with street prices of $200 are well behind us, at least in terms of new models. Those locomotives for which the tooling already exists will still continue to hit the market at those lower prices (which we definitely need), but I think the production costs and smaller market share for any given prototype will mean we're going to see smaller runs at higher prices, and far less frequently to boot.

I don't necessarily see that as a bad thing, though. I think manufacturers know the prices will be higher, and while people will pay it, they're going to expect there to be considerable value for the dollar, so we will end up with better product. (I'm writing this sitting next to my Bachmann C-19, which I think embodies this sentiment well.)

One other thing this does is it invites people to look at other aspects of the hobby besides just buying fleets of locomotives and rolling stock. I've heard many people tell me they don't bother with sound systems in their locos because they'd rather just buy another loco. Fair enough when $200 will buy you another loco. When you're spending $700 for a locomotive, you're less inclined to buy two, but you may be more inclined to install a sound system in the one you do buy. As has been said by others, aftermarket control and sound electronics I don't think has even begun to peak yet. There are just so many possibilities out there. When you combine the price of a new locomotive with the notion that most manufacturers are making it increasingly simple to install these electronics in the locomotives, I think that's ultimately a good thing for the hobby. When you factor in the sheer amount of space it takes to store our toys, "quality over quantity" might not be a bad mantra to adopt.

Later,

K
 
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