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Just another modeller
9,983 Posts
Gary, You said:

<<Really this is a question that only the Hornby cognoscenti can answer.

Had Hornby continued with production in Britain their models may by now have doubled in price to around £160 however they would have had a "Made in Britain" stamp on the bottom and would have used British materials and been assembled by British employees.
Would you have continued to buy Hornby models had this happened? Or would you have switched to buying equivalent Bachmann models retailing at around £80 with the "Made in China" stamp on the bottom? >>

*** First a small correction or two: They may indeed have still been made in UK at double the price but its unlikely either the machinery or materials would be UK sourced... those things too have gone, as made in UK machinery was once exceptional, but was long ago overtaken by lower cost but technically more advanced stuff. I also doubt the employees would truly fit your probably "classic" definition of British....

as to "cogniscenti" - To me, real Hornby for a very long time after they were taken over still had the word Dublo after it, and its only very recently (less than a decade) that "Margate Hornby" have, to me, really earned the right to use the name Hornby - but they have done that now very well and they have at last totally shaken off the shabbyness that was the Triang / Lines Brothers heritage.

Anyway... This is not just a british thing - here in AU most icon brands are also now owned by some anonymous US or asian fund managers, and much of what was good is now made elesewhere - and yes, as a Brit downunder, I'm sad about it from both sides.

However, back to the subject:

As much as it might surprise you to hear, I actually like almost all Hornbys new products very much, I'm delighted they do well as a PLC and have broadened their base. My criticisms all are at their unnecessary failings in regard to quality control specification and project management. I have exactly the same criticism of any brand that fails in that area.

It is NOT because they are Hornby and NOT because the General tooling and design aren't good - In fact they ARE good in most areas that matter to customers at every level, take away predjudice and in fact they are every bit as good as most US stuff, and also several of the EU brands such as Roco for example!

Would I pay lots more for the SAME product made in UK? If there is no comparatively significant advantage accuracy, detail and quality wise, NO.

Would I pay a small premium for nostalgias sake? - possibly... but that could never be the case sadly.

I do think that downplaying quality because of where its made now is wrong for any brand including H ...for a simple example, having had to take the top off many Lilliput loco's recently I can definately say that their more recent chinese tooled / made stuff is far superior to their EU made stuff in both engineering and quality of tooling and detail.

I actually greatly respect the brands such as FL and MK that still make in EU, and mourn every time an "icon" brand is taken over by another offshore Mfr, but that seems the way of the world.... something dictated by national governments and global money, not something we can really do much about.

As a mischievous thought though: Pehaps if Peco moved offshore they might eventually be able to afford new tooling and produce track that was tecnically more competent and looked at least a little bit like that which UK prototypes run on :)


PS: Gary, you are definately a crusader - and there's nothing to be ashamed of in that.

But... the problem with crusades is, fighting one-eyed, one tends to harm more of ones own than ones enemies - study the history of crusades of all types, and you'll see thats true. We all need to keep balance in debate, which is why when you claim sainthood for Hornby, pragmatic people point out the truth that they'd otherwise let lie quietly.

PPS: We seldom agree totally, but you do stimulate lively stuff from time to time.

Just another modeller
9,983 Posts
Gary - you said: I am going to be totally honest and admit that I did think of them in the context of this topic although they do offer a niche unique product and not one that is mass market.

I also thought of Dapol.

Dapol "Made in Britain" 6 wheeled tank wagons = £12.

Hornby "Made in China" 6 wheeled tank wagons = £6.75.

Which 6 wheeled tank wagons are modellers going to buy?

"Made in Britain" or "Made in China"?


ZTC - already more than twice the price it should be, and sadly its slipped very far behind in the competence of its software compared to other brands from EU or US. That is a genuine shame, as the brand is NOT good value at all in any way.

By the way -a positive brand ex UK - Union Mills - Very nice N scale UK prototype loco's, reasonably priced, run very well and a very small UK company that makes in UK.

Slaters is another good example - nice accurate 4mm and 7mm scale stuff - still UK tooled and sourced in the main.


Dapol - really silly error on their chassis redesign, makes it look silly on the track as the tanks way too high. This is in common with most of their wagons, which almost universally have the wrong chassis wheelbase or detail.

Hornby - redesigned the chassis to some degree but kept those terribly "Lima" plastic stays & ladders that are always wobbly looking or gently curved instead of dead straight as anything that holds someting down should be.

I'd buy the Hornby as its far easier to fix the simple percieved fault than replace the chassis - but while the hornby is far better, neither are very good models.

In the case of Wagons, for anything pre modern Era, I think that dapol is always a compromise, Hornby are really overdue to revisit the accuracy of many of ther otherwise well built models & only Bachmann make halfway decently accurate RTR chassis/body combinations.

BTW - of all the brands, one thing hornby do exceptionally well - their new generation wheelsets are very true rolling and have a nicer wheel profile than most - they are usually badly set back to back wise, but thats OK as they are easy to set right too, unlike Bachmanns in many cases!


Just another modeller
9,983 Posts
Hi Ozwarrior - you and Gary both agree that "Toys R <were> Triang" ?

Quote <<Yes and toys won! They still do to some extent today; a fact that's incomprehensible to some. That said, however, I couldn't afford to pay twice as much for British made so Hornby would have taken the Dublo/Wrenn route without question>>

*** You are of course both dead right:

HD / Binns Road made some really nice stuff for its time but it was exxy and they made a lot of bad business errors too. HD gear was far better in many ways and they did it rather well BUT its methods eg its well proportioned metal body castings and rolls royce overall comparative quality were old school approaches that didn't transfer well to mass market and were very expensive to do.

They tried too late to transition with their excellent SD ranges and some lovely but exxy injection moulded plastic bodied stuff but it was too little, too late and still too expensive... and they missed the evolving market direction badly.

They were 100% doomed really once lesser but acceptable and lower cost plastic models arrived, and this in itself probably gives the answer to Garys initial question - can a quality brand survive at a price much higher than a lower quality but "largely acceptable one".
I think the answer is NO no matter where its made.

(remember other brands which also died - there was more than the original Dublo went this way because of price and business planning that didn't properly present the brand as it wanted to be seen....)


Lines Bros picked the market better and won hands down. They were uninspiring for a long while though...

Brave brands such as the airfix and mainline really started the "better fidelity, better quality and better price" thing rolling and they stirred the bigger Bachmann and Hornby into action but they did so with less than successful business planning.

Now B&H are in their stride, they have successfully redefined UK model quality at last and I can't imagine it wil lever slip back. Hornby & Bachmann have gained both quality and value in their newly tooled models (I do diferentiate from re-released old models and new toolings) and will be hard and very high risk/expensive to attack and are unlikely to be beaten other than temporarily in single narrow product areas... and then they will be big and tough enough to fight back if they choose.

Both brands leave their "roots" far behind with current generation product.

There is still room for clever Niche products, but NO amount of appeal to patriotism will gain any brand extra price without extra quality


Gary - re your LMS 10000 comment - Brass and the like will always be Niche.... Never taking anything real from the majors, as it appeals to those who find bespoke local commissions affordable, not to the H&B average man in the hobby.

The success of selected brass does give a great pointer to what will do well in plastic though - a Hornby or Bachmann LMS/BR 10000 would certainly succeed for example!!

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