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Fellow Large Scalers

In reading some of the other posts I tought we should open a general disscusion on " The State of The Hobby".

Many of you may or may not have noticed the overall decline in new products being released by all of the Large Scale MFG's. I'm not saying there have been no new realeases just that they have been in decline over the last two years.

Contributing factors have been the K line Bankruptcy, which cut off the industry credit with chinese factorys. That forced Companies to find funding outside to produce within China. Not an easy thing to do. That was the first major slow down in Production. Next was the Earthquake, followed by the Olympics. Not major obsticles but definately slowed the industry. Now we have an economic meltdown worldwide and the credit markets are terrible.

You could argue that the prelude to slow down was a savior to over production and over stock of G scale equipment. I think this Hobby is fueled by the introduction of new products and when new realeases are reduced so is the overall enthusiasum of the Hobby at large. Part of this is the evolution of a new scale's rush to fill the market with known best selling products not yet produced. Part of the slow down is consumer saturation after a buying spree to complete collections and maturation of the scale. Large scale is also more elastic to the cost of raw materials due to the much greater amount of plastic, metal and such required to produce and ship our trains.

As always we vote with our dollars, the argument before this was what scale do you support. It Might very well be what company do you want to survive. That includes you local train store! I know money is tight for everyone but keep in mind that with economic evolution comes exstinction. It may be your producer or your local shop. If you want what they provide you have to support them, especially when they are hurting. They are hurting bad!

Vote early and Often! Vote with your Dollars!

Pete
 
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i think, we all tend to overlook an important fact.
model railroaders tend to be elderly persons.
if a young person gets tired of a hobby, toys might be stowed away.
if a person dies, toys get sold.
so manufacturers have to compete with an ever growing second hand market.

korm
 

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I wonder what the ratio is of large scalers that are on line on the forums , as compared to large scalers that are not on line and have never visted the LS forums ?

Have the mfrs produced products based on the most vocal on line LSers , which has resulted in products that the Non on line LSers have not purchased , which resulted in the mfrs , asking what the hey ?


I sometimes really wonder what the sales figures are for say the AC 2-8-8-2 , against the centercabs or FA-1s ? We will never know I suppose .
But the Bachmann 4-6-0s have been produced and sold in really high numbers , wonder how many of the new little Davenports will be sold in the next few years ?
 

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I don't see any slowdown in what the large scale manufacturers are offering...USA Trains is coming out with a B6 and just this year released what..speeders, ore cars, an SD70 and have more in the works.

MTH just released a GG-1 and have the Triplex, F-7's, VO1000's, PA's and some nice smoothside passenger cars coming out in the next couple of months.

Accucraft has it's B6?, GP60, Alleghany, cabooses, Bethgon's, Boxcars and who knows what else coming out shortly.

Bachman has a big loco coming out shortly.

Aristo did a GP40 and whatever else they produce.

I think that people spend more on hobbies during rough times because it's easier to buy a 1,500.00 locomotive than a 46,000.00 pickup truck.
 

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As I do not know many LScalers here I guess my comments are possibly unscientific.

However of the seven that I do know only three are KNOWN Forum visitors. I highlight 'known' as all Fora have their guests. There are also Groups of modelers such as those on Yahoo Groups. So rather like guessing the correct lottery numbers this may be a rather hit and miss affair.


Suggestion was made of manufacturers basing their production of Fora posts. Highly unlikely in my opinion: many large scale manufacturers seem to "live and breathe" railroads and whilst they are very much in tune with their customers aspirations they do have the realities of a business to run.


Chuck mentions the new releases being made. Lewis Polk, in a recent post, said that their current production schedule was based on a very successful 2007. I'm sure we all have read about the lead-in times needed for large scale. Let us hope that LS doesn't get hit too hard - maybe Ford and GM should start selling LS. lol
 

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A friend that manages a decent sized hobby shop has said in his area (Ohio) large scale has all but died but 3 rail O has taken off like wildfire?
 

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You will not see price reduction in the hobby much like cars. Prices increase that's a given. Most of us folks here are older and when we get hit with the economy guess what we cut back. I will wait to just see what comes along as promised by the various manufactures. They can promise but,can they still give us what they say they are going to produce in 09. We shall see. Later RJD
 

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I think large scale is still the only 'growth' segment of the hobby. I attended three big shows this summer and our club (HO/G) hosted another. The large scale modular layouts, and there were many, drew the largest crowds and evoked the most questions from 'future fans'.

If there is anything slowing down the growth it's the poor selection of products being introduced by one of the largest manufactures. Aristocraft continues to disappoint IMHO. We're a few weeks from 2009 and everything they offer is 30 to 70 years old.

Video games are a real big thing now. What manufacturer would reintroduce 'Pong" with a different coloured ball?
 

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In my (maybe no so) humble opinion, what's strangling the large scale hobby is the same thing that's hurting every scale of model railroading, and it has nothing to do with the economy.

As far as I can tell, "modelers" on every scale are moving away from model building, and into empire building. The influx of new ready-to-run equipment is great for all of us, but there's a cost. Lower priced, less detailed models are collecting dust on shelves. Kits are all but forgotten. Smaller, less popular prototypes are being ignored in favor of the big names. Limited run manufacturers (who by and large produce the craftsmen kits which become museum quality models) face competition from the larger manufacturers. The "I want it now" mentality and certian major hobby publishers drives new modelers to expect a basement or backyard sized railroad with tens of locomotives and thousands of cars, the sort of thing that used to be the exclusive territory of model railroad clubs.

A typical RTR HO or N scale loco might cost $100 to $200, and a top quality car that would have won awards at shows 20 years ago is $25-$30. Compare that to large scale, where that money buys you a Big Hauler on sale, a Hartland Mack, or somebody's second hand stuff on ebay. To get the same quality, you're looking at roughly 4 times the price, without 4 times the empire building fun. Large scale has always been a niche, where things like trains in the garden, live steam, scratchbuilding, and whimsy could flourish. There's no way to compete with the smaller scales at their own game, because the odds are far too stacked against us. Unfortunately, the things that large scale trains are uniquely suited to are, by and large, time consuming pursuits, devoid of instant gratification. While the hobby at large suffers, large scale takes an even bigger hit because of this.

When you add to this the factors outside the hobby, such as the dreadful state of the economy and competition from video games, women, and other distractions for young men, things look bleak.

With that said, I beleive it's all too common for people in any hobby to say and feel that their particular diversion is a dying art. I've read the same sentiments in hobby magizines 50 years ago, and I have no doubt that it will be said about large scale 50 years from now. So, yes, large scale is feeling a pinch from factors both internal and external to our hobby, but I believe it will survive as long as there are people who enjoy it. I for one, intend to keep on modeling no matter what everyone else does, and I'll share my hobby with anyone, young or old, who wants to join in.
 

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Dave
Reflecting on hobbies in general and re-introduction of the past; most of us are into hobbies due to our past experiences and the desire to return to the memories:


Cars
Planes

Trains
Stamps

Boats

All have history that we identify with.


Collectibles items have to have some story and uniqueness to have value that keep people interested. Steam engines and video games do share common properties: hands on, imagination, adventure and many hours of fun!

So, it will always be "Back to the Future..."
 

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Good point Charles
I never think of the 'reminiscing' segment of the hobby. I started in 'trains' as a wonderful hands on hobby because I got real tired of planes and cars and I had a lot of time on my hands up north in January. It was 1975 so I model 1975 but it's still basically 'new' to me. Research includes field trips, books and magazines, just to find out what was there and then. And then building it which is a joy in itself.

Still, when I see what manufactures can and are doing in HO scale it makes me shake my head at the crude models we get in 1/29th scale. Google Rapido for example. Every under body detail is correct for every car. Amazing. And at a pretty good price too.

Dave
 

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Also complicating production in China is the consolidating of the factories. This causes issues such as complicating production schedukling and the line employees having to learn how to buid product they might haven't built before.
LAO
 

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I see several factors in play.
Things that drive up the final price to us,
The very size of our models require more details and that the details be more accurate for the model to look good.
Small runs of a given product, everyone wants a particular engine or car, they want it "correct" so it most times is more then just paint, AS LONG AS the manufacturer takes the cheep way out and uses as few individual parts (fewer molds to make)as possible,they have to re-tool the whole thing to change one small detail. If they looked a little further down the tracks they could make more parts to make up the first one, a few different parts that would create a new model. (Thinking about the way people kit bash projects)
Material costs and shipping are up, With all the automation today I wonder haw much the cheap china labor is saving us? What would the end product cost if produced here in the US, UK, and OZ, just thinking here about how much that would increase the price. Would we be willing to pay 20% more? I'm not thinking here about the $500.00+ passenger cars, for those with unlimited disposable income, there are those out there that will build you anything you want. I am thinking about freight that are currently $60-$120 and passenger cars that are under $200.00
The down side to this is we would have less variety (but better quality) to choose from, would this turn off those just getting into the hobby? From looking at the beginner sets I would nay not.
We pay a heavy price for insisting that a case of 6 cars all have a different number that a string of passenger coaches all the correct type and number or cars (yes it is nice) and everything is RTR right out of the box. Let them produce the car with a given road name but leave the number off, throw a set of decals or dry transfers in the box. Many opt to change out the couplers and /or wheel sets already, why not apply a few detail parts too.
The next problem is the way WE look at our hobby. The only common thread is GAUGE ONE TRACK. Aside from that we are actually several different groups. 1:32, 1:29, 1:22.5, 1:20.3, just to name 4, then throw in the other half dozen and no one scale is all that big. Which one has the biggest potential ?? what will sell and to who? with s tight economy for the next 6 to 24+ months, which group has the most disposable income?
I wish I had the ability to scratch build the stuff I like, but I would not even know where to begin making a passenger coach, never mind a Reading T-1 in live steam...
This just scratches the surface, of" State of the Hobby" but you asked and thats my 2 cents.
Jeff
 

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Posted By Dennis Paulson on 11/08/2008 11:47 AM
I wonder what the ratio is of large scalers that are on line on the forums , as compared to large scalers that are not on line and have never visted the LS forums ?





Im a member of a Rochester, NY garden RR club,
and I know members of Syracuse, Buffalo and Southern Tier NY clubs as well..

based on that sampling, I would would say about 1 out of 50 "large scalers" (2%) are active on the internet discussion forums..


I also have not seen any "slow down" in the hobby..

I have been actively involved in LS about 7 years now, and in that time there had been a huge boom in offerings!

In fact, I would say the amount of available locomotives and rolling stock has at least doubled in those 7 years..


Scot
 

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In response to the original post, I want all the companies to survive!.

So far, most of the major manufacturers have been careful to not overlap products. Bachmann is pretty much NG 1:20.3, USAT, Aristo, and now AML are 1:29, and MTH, the old MDC, and Marklin are/were 1:32.

In 1:29, the only overlap is both Aristo and USAT make box cars, pretty much no other significant overlap.


I've seen some disturbing trends in some manufacturers, cutting costs in assembly and other components. Since most people do not care if the loco costs $200 or $205, leaving out weights, wiring shortcuts, etc. are not really welcome.


I understand that with increasing costs, the manufacturers don't want to raise prices and lose their competitive advantage, and notwithstanding the fact that I have very few locos that did not need some "tweaking", any reduction in quality, in my perspective, reduces any competitive advantage on price.

Of course the economy is not helping things, but I think that the manufacturers need to do more work on what people want and what will cause enough excitement for us to part with our precious dollars.


When I read seemingly endless posts about how much it costs to make a loco, how much the molds cost, etc. etc., and then get a trolley car instead of something people have requested over and over, I wonder how much manufacturers are listening or analyzing what people buy.

There's a discussion on how new locomotives need to take sharper curves, but no information on how much of certain radii track have been sold.


I just think a better job could be done by many.

Regards, Greg
 
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