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From time to time I have bored you by bemoaning the fact that Mike's Models of water columns, yard cranes and buffer stops, etc. were no longer available. They were first introduced in the 1970s and were an authentic range of simple cast white metal kits of most of the pre-grouping and big four company's characteristic designs, which would give your a steam age model railway the true company atmosphere, but in recent years supplies have dried up.

Well, I am pleased to say that Holt Model Railways of Swansea are re-introducing the range and some are already available. They have advertised in the July edition of Model Rail. For example NER, GCR and L&Y water column are now back in stock.
I have no links with Holts,

Colombo
 

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QUOTE (pedromorgan @ 27 Jun 2007, 15:39) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Some good news indeed.
Long live the small independents! Although alas they seem to go through regenerations like Doctor Who...

Does anyone have an idea of whether independent niche fillers are thriving? I think that interest in the hobby may have reduced over the last decade or two (but this may be totally unfounded...how do exhibition numbers and demographics look?) but the internet and ease of setting up shop on eBay etc. must allow people to dabble in niche-filling product lines without it having to be a full time commitment...and of course the baby-boomers that are into model trains will no doubt be spending on filling their niches! Swings and roundabouts if I can squeeze another annoying expression in!

There is I suppose a continual tug-of-war acting on people to devote their time between model building, model railways, cars, boats, planes, wargaming, outdoor pursuits etc. (probably losing out given the weather at the moment!)

My main experience of independents is in the healthy activity of the news section at 1zu160 which is for European N scale and there always seems to be someone announcing the making of new detailing parts or a novel baseboard system etc. I wonder upon the outlook of the situation in the UK for OO and N gauge?

Goedel
 

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QUOTE (goedel @ 27 Jun 2007, 16:44) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Long live the small independents! Although alas they seem to go through regenerations like Doctor Who...

Does anyone have an idea of whether independent niche fillers are thriving?

It's good to see these models becoming available again - even I can find uses for some of the range.

I think the niche market is still very much a thriving area, especially in the area of scenic and electrical accessories. Unfortunately the small firms that made detailing parts for diesel outline models seem to be dissappearing with the ever finer detailing being added to rtr stock. However the manufacturers of resin bodies for the oddities like electric and steam stock do seem to be on the up and up!

Regards

John
 

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Any idea whether the buffer stops are available again? They used to do a whole range and an MR /LMS /GC/GN buffer stop would make a nice change from Peco

Attendences at the big exhibitions seem to have been rising modestly year on year for some years. Whether that is reflected across the board is difficult to say. I've heard of shows folding because of venue problems (eg Woking, or Ipswich a few years back) or because the organising club got too small/old to mount it. I don't recall shows disappearing for lack of attendance. Most vistors tend to be over 50, but DEMU Showcase has a much younger demographic and that's growing steadily too

Go back 25 years and the Railway Modeller alone sold over 100,000 copies . Today it's under half that but it has a lot more competition. Whether the hobby has been contracting in the last 5 years I don't know,- I tend to think it may not have been, actually

The specialist traders are a slightly complex one. We seem to have an alarming spate of closures - not because of lack of demand , but because a whole generation of specialist traders who started in the 1980s are well into their 60s and calling it a day. We've lost D&S Models (Danny Pinnock retired) Alan Gibson is calling it a day , but will keep the wheel side going on a part time basis as nobody has made an offer for the business; Andy Mullins has just announced Branchlines is closing because he's retiring after Warley, Andersley Models is calling it a day on age grounds, etc

A1 Models seems to have taken a step back for personal reasons though they are still around, but Shawplan is stepping into the breach

There are plenty of new items being announced in 4mm and probably N. Parkside's range gets ever larger, I don't know how long 51L Models have been with us but it can't be too long. Street Level Models and Scalescenes have both emerged in the last 5 years and are still expanding their ranges.

Whitemetal locos may be a waning area but resin cast seems to be a hot new medium - look at Silver Fox, Dean Sidings , Smallbrook Studios and that Southern biased company whose name escapes me (Golden Arrow??)
 

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The small traders are definatly a mixed bag both in their products and in their fortunes.

The ones that seem to fold tend to do so not because of lack of interest in their product but more to do with the enthusiasm of the people who run it waning.

The trouble is that people think the hobby is the same hobby year after year. they dont milk their products enough. in some cases the products and packaging have not changed for decades. is it any wonder that people wont buy them?

But often what happens os that an old company will be purchased buy someone with the enthusiasm and devotion to update the products and repackage them and generally reinvigorate the brand.

For example the old 3mm GEM kits were off the market for many years but have recently been relaunched with decent chassis and REALLY good packaging. (i know some people dont like the bubble packaging and would rather have a box you can put your loco into but on the stand they look fantastic.)

The internet is a very good point for small traders. in my opinion a web site carries far more weight than a catalouge. ***BUT*** it has to be a GOOD website and kept up to date. the small traders that have shunned the web or complain that their website does not produce the results they want are the very same ones that have the worst web sites on the web. they tend to be unbelieveably drab, over complicated, or never updated.
How dificult really is it to produce a website with at least 1 picture of the product so people can actually see what they are getting?
Many of the small traders tend to have a huge range of products for sale and so a web site can become unweildy and difficult to use (this has been recognised by fox transfers and i look forward to their new site) or never updated, i know of 1 trader who still has a message posted as a "recent update" that was posted in april 2005!

Another poor one in my opinion is branchlines (i dont want a blog, i just want to find out what you sell!!) trying a different format is fine but it has lost the fundimental requirement of the site which is to advertise the range!

The subject of shows disapearing is another big issue. but i dont think it has anything to do with the traders. i still think many of them are too cheap. for a big show or a specialised show i dont think people would mind paying £15 to get into say warley or scaleforum.

Peter
 

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QUOTE (Ravenser @ 27 Jun 2007, 23:32) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>and that Southern biased company whose name escapes me (Golden Arrow??)

That's the name, they've probably got a Southern bias as that's where they come from!


Seriously Golden Arrow do some very good models, and I always have a chat when I see them at shows.

Regards

John
 

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The really important question is whether the Mikes Models Tibetan range are going to appear again!


60134
 

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QUOTE (Makemineadouble @ 29 Jun 2007, 15:28) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>would that be the Yeti or the Yak !



The yeti would be outside the loading gauge!


Regards

John
 
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