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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Following on from Rail-Riders strongly held views on catalogues in the Simon Kohler topic in the news section, it has to be worth having further discussion about this.

QUOTE In my view, train catalogues are far too expensive and, in addition to the enormous cost of producing them, the cost of shipping, whether in bulk to dealers or direct to individual customers, is prohibitive in itself. Paper is heavy!

Now I do have a very traditional view of model railway catalogues in that they are informative, easy to browse through, have a nice look and feel, are collectable, and represent very good value for money.

However, I do see Rail-Rider's point of view also in terms of the inflexibility that they offer throughout the year. And of course more people (non modellers especially) would be more likely to have a look at a catalogue if it was free! Every outlet could hand them out to every customer that comes in. This could draw more people into the hobby.

Now there may be grounds for producing 2 catalogues. A quality one that has lots of nice pictures and provides modelling ideas and includes feature articles helping modellers to make a start. This would be tremendous value.

And then a low cost version with a selection of the products available that are likely to appeal to the family who purchase a train set and a few accessories. Yes, there is a page included with each trainset but you have to buy a train set to get one. Something like the 16 page Mainline catalogues of the 1980's would do. Go into Toys R Us and a lot of hobby shops with a small selection of the Hornby range and visitors simply do not appreciate what is available (Hornby have in excess of 1000 products apparently!)

This could all be supported by the other ideas that Rail-Rider has for internet catalogues. Although I am not too sure if shopkeepers could cope with some of the ideas put forward here. How many hobby shop owners have room for major hi-tech equipment in their shop and how many would be able to use it?

Basically, I still want to see a traditional full blown catalogue to add to my collection and I am sure a lot of people feel the same way. And catalogues do have value over time. You only have to look at a certain site to appreciate this.

Its not as if it a promotion catalogue which has products in that are here to day gone tomorrow. The model railway catalogue contains a lot of information about the range for a particular year and somebody coming back into the hobby now might need information about past locomotives going forward as they are for the most part only ever produced once by the manufacturers. Historical catalogues help here and it is useful to build up a collection as an archive.

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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I understand the view of the collector and one day I really must try to check the value of some of my pretty old continental catalogues. I am sure I have some from the 1960s . . .


The surprising thing is, that although there has been some retooling since then, the Continental products (incl catalogues) were so innately good (and EXPENSIVE!) that many of them are still illustrated near the same today as then! A prime example is how often do track pieces change? Which strongly supports the proposal that the need is only to add or insert to existing catalogues, rather than sinking substantial quantities of money into constantly reissuing much of the same material, year after year, subject to a few additions and omissions.

Although the catalogue collector/investor exists, I most seriously doubt that he/she is a major reason for the existence of catalogues. They are primarily to promote and sell product. I would also seriously doubt whether the income from new catalogue sales alone makes any kind of significant contribution to the manufacturers profit. As a marketing tool, sure, but not as an profitable product in its own right. If it is, then I would disapprove rather strongly!

Free?
I have often thought this. After all,how many people would pay for a mail order catalogue from, say, Argos or feel happy to be charged money for a Ford or Nissan catalogue?

A newcomer to the hobby probably wants a whole bunch of catalogues at the start and a good variety of them could easily cost him the price of a small locomotive! That tends to pi . . . . . . . . er, depress him!


Shopkeepers and technology?
Small computers have been around for nearly thirty years now and are commonplace everywhere. A PC and printer require minimal space and they have a lot more uses than printing catalogues. - stocks and accounts, anyone?
In addition, now that this subject is open beyond the narrow confines of a Hornby base, just a bit of common sense would see ALL the manufacturers taking advantage of the technology, thus multiplying the positive advantages many times over - to the benefit of all manufacturers, retailers and customers.
The principle just makes too much good sense to be delayed for much longer

"I see that train acomin' . . . "
Or should that be 'acumen'?
 

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QUOTE would also seriously doubt whether the income from new catalogue sales alone makes any kind of significant contribution to the manufacturers profit

I suspect that a loss is actually incurred even at £6 a throw!

How can Marklin produce their glorious hardback catalogues for under £10 each?

Totally impossible.

Hornby had to charge £30 for theirs when they produced a 50th anniverary hardback collectors edition.

If they were given away free as part of the Argos catalogue then I wonder how many more youngsters (and parents) would take up playing with trains? (or Scalextric!
)

Although it would make the Argos catalogue even thicker than it already is.

The other point to make though is that if every Argos customer decided to start playing with trains as a result, then could Hornby and others cope with the demand?

Think about how the Harry Potter train set dissapeared off the shelves a few years ago when it first came out. If the product is right then parents do dive in.

There would simply not be enough to go around and then where would we be?


By charging for catalogues it does at least put a choke on the growth of the hobby.

And who would pay for all this technology that shopkeepers are being asked to install?

It hardly seems fair for one company to cover it and then for every company to use it!

I can just imagine what my local shopkeeper will say when I tell him he has to install the "Patented Rail-Rider Catalogue Production Module" at a cost of ££££!


Happy modelling
Gary

PS however it is a neat idea!


Just one thought though. I operate a colour laser printer and printing on glossy paper is expensive at the best of times. How much is it going to cost to print off 128 pages of catalogue with the glossy presentation that manufacturers want to offer from this machine? And who pays for that?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
One other thought (or two possibly?)

A catalogue helps a lot of modellers with planning. I have seen literally hundreds of used catalogues in my time and the great majority have ticks and crosses in or are marked in some way.

It is only the perfect catalogues that are genuinely collectable. This is why they are collectable!

Is there a better way of working things out than a catalogue?

I suppose you could argue that there is a lot of software around these days that does this job but even then it is very difficult to browse and I still suspect that folk refer to a catalogue at the same time as working with software on a PC.

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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Notwithstanding all this it still points to the fact that no matter how its presented, and the form that it takes, manufacturers want people to look at something. Maybe a special "green" edition on recycled paper would encourage those of a certain disposition to take up modelling.

So have they got it right?

And is an online presentation an acceptable alternative or does it supplement the catalogue?

What about issuing a catalogue in the form of a ring binder that we could update as and when new pages are available to be printed off from the manufacturers website?

I have an old Beatties catalogue and its full of those sticky pictures that youngsters collect and stick in football albums. Thats how Beatties did it then. Folk would pop into the Beatties store and collect the latest set of stickers to add to the catalogue.

Or are we simply content with things as they stand and happy to accept whatever the manufacturers offer us?

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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This should probably be my last contribution here, though you never can tell . . .

If we accept that the catalogues cost more to produce than the manufacturer receives in return, and I am absolutely sure that is correct, then it follows that the profit on hardware products MUST be used to subsidise the true catalogue costs. In turn, then it follows that every item you buy MUST actually cost more than it would if there were no paper catalogues to subsidise from its sale. Maybe you can see where this is now headed . . . catalogue collectors are being subsidised by the hardware customers. Seems to me that it would be much fairer if the catalogue collectors were expected to pay the true price of their collective acquisitiveness and not expect anyone else to subsidise it. But of course, a downloadable version would deal very effectively with this anomaly. Then we come to the question,
QUOTE How much is it going to cost to print off 128 pages of catalogue with the glossy presentation that manufacturers want to offer from this machine (a colour laser)? And who pays for that?
The answer is that the owner of the printer must pay for it of course. If the owner is you and you can't afford to actually print with your expensive machine, that's hardly a concern for other customers or for the train manufacturer! You pay a fair price that reflects the actual cost - or, as is much more likely, you wangle your way to doing it in the office and get it for free! A wise wangler would print only a couple of pages at a time, preferably in the middle of a legitimate run - much less likely to be rumbled.
 

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My local toyshop (and I mean toy, not model shop) has fold out Hornby range overviews which are free. They're not as nicely presented as the catalogues, and the pictures are much smaller. Apparantly they also come with trainsets and trackmats. I doubt many of us buy train sets seeing as we're established modellers, but surely this fits the criteria we're discussing here? It gives the beginner with his/her first train set an impression of what's out there for them to expand with.

Also, I find the catalogue section of Hornby's website very easy to browse. This surely helps.

Rich
 

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I certainly would support a manufacturers online catalogue, much quicker to access and find the model of interest, as you could say a "Press of a Button".
The original online catalogue will be costly to produce, there after to add or to amend entries, costs being reduced considerably.
Heljan for one has at present a reduced form of catalogue, with limited number of locomotive photographs displayed.
I think most catalogues of the future will take up the new technology of producing this form of advertising, saving in the meantime thousands of tonnes of paper and ink products.
 

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Just another little revisit to this subject

In practice, most of the manufacturers already have their own web sites.
Probably all do, but I don't want to assume too much!

So, it's only a question of improving them to the best possible level over a period of time.

I can't claim to have visited them all and I also can't claim to have comprehensively reviewed those that I have visited. But I do see an improvement over the years. I am mightily impressed by Fleischmann's English Language site, where much effort has been expended in making it easy to navigate and quite thorough. It took a little time before I discovered that, although there are tiny thumbnail pictures listed eight on each page, each individual one of which will expand a little when clicked on, together with revealing more description, if you click one more time on that expansion, you are then presented with a very good, big pic of the individual item, not a blown out pixellated zoom into the thumbnail.

Fleischmann's contribution to an electronic catalogue is a praiseworthy effort indeed - I have yet to see better. It can still be improved though. The next stage I would like to see would be nice big photographs of trains on actual layouts and a little more description and illustration, expecially with regard to 'special' aspects such as close coupling, electronics, digital control, automatics etc. Later on, I would then like to see good quality streaming or downloadable video covering similar subjects. The marketing potential is so obvious that I am sure it will come, in time.

Seriously, even if you have NO interest in HO or in Continental trains, their site is well worth a visit to see how well a web site can be presented.

Flesichmann - English
 

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I just noticed, on surfing their HO section, that Fleischmann do have a catalogue on CD ROM as well and it includes a video.
QUOTE "The FLEISCHMANN products interactive - available at the click of the mouse: catalogue-information in both H0 gauge and N «piccolo», the new releases for 2005, the history of the FLEISCHMANN Company, and a Video Clip "The «Bavarian Queen» - a top model from FLEISCHMANN". Minimum System Requirements: Web browser (Internet Explorer version 5.5 or later). (In English language)."
 

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The Fleischmann CD ROM is excellent. The website was upgraded about four months ago and lost a very useful question and answer section on DCC - shame!

60134
 

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I had a look at Fleischmann's web site and it is not bad at all - certainly better than most and it would be hard not to be well impressed! It still has some way to go to if it is to compete with printed copy, but it seems to be headed in the right direction.

It would seem logical that this must be the way of the future - hard copy is just SO expensive to prepare, produce and distribute, especially outside of the country of production. Also a good point that you can never seem to get one just when you most need it! Even CD ROMs, as a 'real world', hard product still can suffer from similar difficulties, although obviously the sheer size and weight is greatly reduced over paper versions and they still need to be shipped around the world, albeit more cheaply than paper.
 

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Worth pointing out to HO modellers that Fleischmann do this Warship and one other in green:-



and these Bulleid coaches with variations:-



The Fleischmann website has simple navigation and is basic with no bells and whistles.

I would agree with earlier comments regarding lack of content over and beyond that of showcasing the model range.

The Fleischmann site is still not a replacement for a catalogue.

What websites need are something that points visitors in the direction of coaches and wagons and locomotives given that they favour a certain locomotive or period. They all fail on this count and yet it is the primary consideration for modellers!

The Hornby catalogue for example.

Rather than putting all the locomotives in one section and all the coaches in another, why not put all the BR Blue period locomotives and rolling stock in one section, all the LNER locomotives and rolling stock in another, and so on?


Yes, there might be duplication, but so what!

This presentation would make it very clear to folk like Rail-Rider and others what is available when they are thinking about modelling a certain period.

Now the Hornby website actually does this to a degree.

Enter "LNER" or "LMS" into the search and see what comes up.

The issue is that I don't want to see BR locomotives in the search result!


And when I do a search for "BR" I get Thomas the Tank Engine stuff appearing. There are some who would say this is appropriate!


Happy modelling
Gary
 

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It is quite hard to ensure that products can be classified to the "n"th degree but most websites should allow a search by classes such as BR, steam locos, etc. Breaking this down into eras for the UK would require something like the German epoch coding - then you'd be laughing!

60134
 

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I had a wander around today and visited a model shop to see what was on offer.

Pretty well as expected, a Hornby catalogue was not available and the conversation about that situation more or less fitted with what I expected too. It seems the shops get their (Hornby) catalogues in January and must buy them in batches of 25. This small shop takes in just the bare minimum of 25 and sometimes he is left with as many as 10 when the new one is issued - so that's money straight down the toilet for him. Other times, as today, the 25 have all been snapped up by October and no way is he going to get another 25 so close to the next issue period - perfectly understandable. It really does confirm the risky nature of expensive printed paper.

While he missed one low priced sale today, probably many other shops could be in the same position. But it's also a fair bet that there are many other shops who will be dumping their excess, obsolete copies in two months time!

I imagine similar things happen to Hornby themselves, sometimes running out, other times left with hundreds of them.
 
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