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I'm not talking about hornby playtrains, i mean actual trains like triang used to make. Thomas is off the table, the new toys are unrecognizable to trains. how is any child supposed to become a railfan when the only things they could get that look like trains cost hundreds and brake in 2 days tops when they try to play? the cry over losing the set, the parents get onto them because of how expensive it is, and the child never thinks about trains again. i just wish someone could start a budget line of simple models that can take a beating. how else can a hobby stay alive?
 

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It's very true that the main drive for manufacturers, seems to be towards selling to the upper end of the market. There remains the Hornby Railroad, which does generally fit the toy robust market. I'm struggling to identify any other manufacturer, which seems very small minded, short term policy. Flashy, detail, products will make profits in the short term, but failure to nurture the beginners will ensure that the hobby will decline, as we oldies shuffle off this mortal coil and less youngsters have been introduced to the hobby.

Julian
 

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Hornby's Railroad range includes items that were kid's trainset material from around 1970 onwards. It's no more fragile now than it was then, and trad trainsets remain available. The set track still on sale was what was in Triang-Hornby trainsets back then and is essentially unchanged over fifty years on

Now admittedly it is a limited selection, but I would assume that Hornby have a handle on what is saleable. But fundamentally other manufacturers would be falling over themselves to supply if there was strong demand: following the money being the name of the game.
 

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I see a generational problem here, as a kid I saw locos like 3F and Jinty etc. simple easy to run and without bogies, pony trucks and the like, system 4 track not very real but again robust and there were few other distractions such as ipads, now the kids that see trains see motor carriages, only used for that particular set, the variety has gone from the railway the track systems are essentially HO, and although steamers are still around all over the place they are hardly everyday everywhere workhorses so the trains have changed almost beyond recognition, Bachmann seem to recognise this as we steamer lovers are dying off and now the middle aged man with a family looks at what he saw as a kid, - diesels, modern image so the 0-6-0's are truly fading from the collective memory - just as my grandparents would recall the liveries before the grouping, my dad the grouping era, I recall dirty late BR steam and my sons if they cared much HST's and the like. Any savvy maker of model trains has to recognise the trends.
 

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I'm not talking about hornby playtrains, i mean actual trains like triang used to make. Thomas is off the table, the new toys are unrecognizable to trains. how is any child supposed to become a railfan when the only things they could get that look like trains cost hundreds and brake in 2 days tops when they try to play? the cry over losing the set, the parents get onto them because of how expensive it is, and the child never thinks about trains again. i just wish someone could start a budget line of simple models that can take a beating. how else can a hobby stay alive?
This is the market segment which Hornby Railroad range is aimed at. Most if the items in the range originate from the 1980's and before, with a significant proportion being former Tri-ang products.

As for other manufacturers producing a 'Railroad' range, one has to remember that none of them (except Lima - now part of Hornby Railroad) started in the toy market - the likes of Bachmann, Airfix, Mainline, Replica, Dapol, Accurascale + many others all started in the 'higher quality' space because that's what the market wants.

As others have already indicated, if there was a sufficient market for 'toys', then I'm sure all manufacturers would have long since been climbing over each other to get in on it.

Having written that, there's no doubt that there is something enjoyable and nostalgic about a 1970's Triang layout and a 1960's Hornby dublo layout, but we have to remember that they represent RTR modelling as it was at the time and that significant progress has been made since.

My observation since the 1970's is that British outline modellers have always been saying 'why can't we have quality models like they get in Europe ?'. Now we do.
 

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Interesting that Hornby seem like the only ones with an eye to future sales...
I would guess this has continued solely because of the brands serving the UK market, Hornby is the only one with a stash of long amortised tooling that can be used in this way: and there were retailers who knew there was demand still prepared to order. Now what with Hornby currently doing its best to disrupt retailer supply, it may well be that this activity is on its last legs.

Now, my opinion is that this is no problem. There will always be a fascination of the steel wheel on steel rail, but it will be an adult pursuit. Other similar hobbies (model boats and aircraft come to mind) are pretty much adult dominated now, whereas in the 1960s it was huge among teens. A current teenager wanting to do something with a practical element, will likely be more interested in building programmable items or operating a drone is my guess.
 

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Some of the problem with today's finely detailed locos is the materials used for some of the small detail parts makes them too fragile to be handled, I'm thinking here of plastic whistles, smoke box darts, lamp irons etc. I have only portable layouts where stock has to be handled regularly and I think only one loco has survived without losing some detail part or other (J70 - no doubt to it's very handling friendly shape)
 

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I have a couple of grandkids who love trains and would like to play with mine, but they are banned as the cost of replacing all that they break (and they would because they are more fragile than they used to be) is ridiculous. I wouldn't be surprised if railway modelling will be gone, just like Meccano in another 20 years as a lot of current enthusiasts will all have snuffed it and the rest won't be economic to support.
When I was a kid I had the triang Princess, no removeable parts, no delicate valve gear, no handrails, metal couplings, brass drive gears, bulletproof motors etc compare it to a current railroad model with thin delicate bodyshells with steps that break off if you as much as look at them, flimsy plug in plastic couplings that 'droop' and the hooks come off, buffers that easily pull off etc
What they need to do is make cheaper robust models similar to the old Triang Hornby items and then sell loads of detail extra bits for modellers to upgrade.
Lego is going the same way, more adult enthiusiasts demanding higher detail and the price has gone beyond what parent can afford.
 

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Really? The 5 year old maniac in our family has a set track layout, Hornby J94 and N2, Bachmann class 25, Bachmann BR mk1 non gangwayed, Hornby wagons mostly, and I think all this kit is still currently available. The newest tooling would be the class 25 which must be near 20 years from introduction, the selection determined by what he has seen on preserved lines. These have crashes and all the rest, he loves it, nothing broken yet.

Well, that's if you except his arm, 'escaping from Loki' by jumping down the stairs in a single bound. See, he has other interests, and when he turns 6 in a couple of months, perhaps model railway will be old hat...

(By the time I was 10 my trainset controller probably got as much use generating hydrogen by electrolysis, as it did for running trains. When you are into war gaming involving shooting at the armoured train (H-D N2) with an air pistol, you need some way of producing 'safe' indoor explosions to contribute to the atmos.)
 

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I struggle to suggest an answer but assume that the manufacturers are following the money and toy trains for young children is not where the money is to be found.
We have just returned from our summer holiday in the Tirol and for the first time I have not brought any model railway items back with me. I had thought I might get some Brenner Pass related container / truck trailer body wagons but there was very little to be found in Gleiss 11 Munich or Rainer in Innsbruck. The biggest shock was finding the excellent Heiss toy shop in Innsbruck had closed down in spring this year. A search on line revealed that the owner had decided to retire but could not find a buyer for the business. One article quoted him saying that his children told him he had no work life balance with the shop.
It seems to me that the hobby has changed to the point where models are effectively made to order. I suspect that Rainer and Gleiss 11 have thriving mail order businesses which is where the new freight traffic wagons I was after had gone.

It wouldn't surprise me if the percentage of people who had a train set as a child, let's say under 14 as that's the age limit Bachmann put on their models, who go on to become model train enthusiasts in later life is small. So perhaps those who buy models today either as collectors or modellers have some innate characteristic that means they would 'find' model railways regardless of whether they had a train set or not?

David
 
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Some of the problem with today's finely detailed locos is the materials used for some of the small detail parts makes them too fragile to be handled
Indeed I have often wondered if there were grounds to challenge Hornby that many of their models are not fit for purpose. The stupid use of highly brittle plastic originated with Airfix and Hornby seem oblivious to the use of more springy plastics and quite why metal is not used for detail parts that both should be metal and are in an exposed position must only be a penny pinching profit making matter,
 

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Sometimes, when I read online fora, I come to the conclusion that there are an awful lot of 'ham-fisted' people in our hobby, evidenced by people describing their inability to handle models carefully or how to lay level track properly. And quite often, the results of the ham-fistedness ends up being the cast-off second hand tat on Hattons' website that no-one will ever buy. Such a waste of good models.

Come on guys, we need to lift our game! If we want high quality models which are comparable to the European market as we have been clamouring for for the last 30+ years, then we have to expect that such models are more fragile, so require handling carefully and will not go round sub-radius 1 trainset curves!
We can't keep holding the hobby back to maintain compatibilty with trainset standards.

For those who can't handle models properly or require sub-radius 1 trainset curves, there is Hornby Railroad which is suitably provisioned with a big stash of long amortised models dating back to the 1960's and 1970's. What? Not good enough? We can't have it both ways!

The fact that the manufacturers are all producing ever higher-spec models indicates to me that this is where the market is otherwise Railroad would be produced by all manufacturers and would be a far bigger market than we see now.
 

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Q.
... I just wish someone could start a budget line of simple models that can take a beating...
A.
... Hornby Railroad which is suitably provisioned with a big stash of long amortised models dating back to the 1960's and 1970's...
Those with opinions aligning with the question, please explain why this is not a solution.

..the cast-off second hand tat on Hattons' website that no-one will ever buy. Such a waste of good models...
Alternative conclusion, a useful supply of salvageable parts at low cost, from a wide range of outlets (that's from the perspective of living in the UK, not so applicable for those elsewhere.)
 

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One of the biggest issues I can see as has been highlighted by earlier posters is the starter trainsets which used to help get new people into the hobby have simply increased in price ludicrously...

I realise that I am a fair degree younger than many other posters, however remember clearly recieving a Hornby GWR Mixed-Traffic in 2004 as a birthday present. This was ~£50 then (now 18 years ago...!). This had in-box a couple of wagons/coach, circle of track and a siding. Some play-value for younger-me to get started.. Using the BoE's inflation calculator, this should be ~£73 in today's money...

Looking at Hornby's current trainset offerings on their website, you're paying ~£160 before you're anything like a comparible set. Most of these are using the awful 0-4-0 mechanism that cannot go below warp-20... That same 0-4-0 tooling was listed for ~£20 when I started, and are now ~£50...

When parents and children are comparing the above to video games that cost £20-£40 once you've bought the console, I'm not surprised that models are increasingly loosing out....

<SNIP>
Those with opinions aligning with the question, please explain why this is not a solution.
<SNIP>
See above costings - Those ancient Lima/Hornby/etc toolings are now more expensive than the 'super-detailed' Mallard/Grange/etc that were released in the early 2000s (~£60/each in 2004)...

I realise that for the above I have been using the new pricing from Hornby.com, but it is worth remembering that whilst many/most on this forum would be quite happy browsing ebay/exhibitions/etc for deals, for that very first 'trainset' purchace, this is normally done by an enthusiastic parent that simply wants to be sure that it will 'just work' for the birthday/christmas/etc present. Even browing the likes of Hattons (new items only) doesn't enlicit much savings...

<SNIP>
The newest tooling would be the class 25 which must be near 20 years from introduction, the selection determined by what he has seen on preserved lines.
<SNIP>
I can definitely say that much of my interest selection in the early days was determined by what was seen on preserved railways.

Regards,

Cameron.
 

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One of the biggest issues I can see as has been highlighted by earlier posters is the starter trainsets which used to help get new people into the hobby have simply increased in price ludicrously...

I realise that I am a fair degree younger than many other posters, however remember clearly receiving a Hornby GWR Mixed-Traffic in 2004 as a birthday present. This was ~£50 then (now 18 years ago...!). This had in-box a couple of wagons/coach, circle of track and a siding. Some play-value for younger-me to get started.. Using the BoE's inflation calculator, this should be ~£73 in today's money...
Now that I can see. The BoE inflation calculator simply doesn't apply to imported consumer goods: effectively the UK and other Western economies were importing deflation on consumer products. This was pretty obvious to me at the time that Bachmann really got going on their Blue Riband product in the late 1990s, and I quickly 'filled my boots' with the items useful to me at that time, knowing this couldn't last. That's all history now, and the prices are what they have to be.
 

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It seems like we have a triangle of conflicting requirements: Versatility vs Accuracy vs Cost.

The problem is that some people want it all ways: Versatility (lack of fragility) but they want it to be Accurate and low Cost. That is never going to fly.
Others are happy with a lack of Versatility (ie they are happy with fragility) because they recognise that it is how they get Accuracy and the they know that comes at a cost.
While others are happy with a lack of versatility because it gives Accuracy but they want it to cost nothing. That won't fly either.

In the circumstances, I think only Hornby are in a position to be able to address this because they are the only manufacturer who have been around sufficiently long to have accumulated a history of long-since amortised models which do provide Versatility. That places them in a unique cost position where they don't have to invest in the models other than for cost of production.

I don't know what other manufacturers do with the tooling for their obsolete models, but they don't produce older models once they have been upgraded to newer models. In some cases, this is probably because the original tooling has been upgraded so it is no longer possible to produce the older model.

Prices normally go up over time due to inflation. We have had an incredibly long period of low inflation. But in the last few years, significant changes have occurred in China where our products are made that have added considerable costs to production over and above average inflation. China is no longer the place it once was to get stuff made cheap.

We are in a different economic era now.
 

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Alternative conclusion, a useful supply of salvageable parts at low cost, from a wide range of outlets (that's from the perspective of living in the UK, not so applicable for those elsewhere.)
Good point, except they aren't usually low cost when one considers the level of damage that some have...
 

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... I think only Hornby are in a position to be able to address this because they are the only manufacturer who have been around sufficiently long to have accumulated a history of long-since amortised models which do provide Versatility. That places them in a unique cost position where they don't have to invest in the models other than for cost of production...
And even that easier starting position isn't currently the advantage it once was, due to restrictions in production capacity, increased production costs, and the competition for the production slots within the range. A lower cost production run for modest profit, or make the latest product which is sold out on release for a larger profit?

There's a simple and obvious answer for a business still climbing out of a lake of red ink. This may mean that in some people's opinion they are neglecting their longer term future potential customer base: but that's a problem for the future: right now it's about recovery to stable profitable trading, so that there can be a future for the business.

Good point, except they aren't usually low cost when one considers the level of damage that some have...
It's fair to say that larger traders with whole page ads in the mags are now rarely the s/h value proposition they once were. I am in the happy position of relatives dotted around the UK, most living in areas where expressions such as 'counting the pennies' , 'careful wi' me brass' and 'deep pockets, short arms' are still heard. This has a most useful effect on pricing in the local bricks and mortar outlets..:cool:.
 

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All manufacturers should never ever have resorted to China production. It will and has come back to bite them!
Keep it within the areas where the product is understood.
 
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