Having now seen the article.....
The Hobby Co paint their relationship with Vi-Trains almost in the terms you might expect of someone like Eureka Models, Austrains or Auscision or on a grander scale , Hornby : ie commissioning their own models from the factory . Or for that matter like Bachmann Europe vis a vis Kadar. But - unlike Eureka , Austrains or Hornby , they use Vi-Trains brand, not their own, The Hobby Co.
QUOTE The impression I got from the interview, re ViTrain's public face was that The Hobby Co's relationship with the manufacturer was one which Vitrains were repeating throughout Europe..or at least, those countries they were making models for....ie, each country would have it's own ''Hobbyco''.........not the company, but you get my drift?
Therefore, each individual ''agency'', for want of a better description, would bid with the ViTrains factory for their own prototypes?
Yes , but - all the HO stuff is on display on Vi-Trains website, and the British stuff isn't. Whereas the Belgian items are on the website. I assume Vi-Trains are going direct in Italy? Certainly it seems Vi-Trains themselves decided what they would make for Italy , whereas it is presented as the Hobby Co's choice what is made for Britain. And the same is indicated for Lima - even though at the time RIKO and the Hobby Co simply described themselves as the UK importer
A key thing seemed to be the continuity between the old Lima/RIKO relationship and the current Vi-Trains/Hobby Co relationship. Effectively each side has gone bust and personnel from each have set up a "son of" company to carry on the relationship in the old way :
QUOTE From the ashes of Riko came The Hobby Co which continued to research and commission OO models from Lima until the Italians ceased production
This might well explain why the British Lima range was apparently to a substantially lower spec than Lima and Rivarossi : Lima would presumably have made what Riko told them to make to Riko's specification.
But - Hornby do not describe themselves as "the importer of Sandakan" , Eureka, Austrains and Auscision trade under their own brand , and bachmann Europe is a 100% subsiduary of Kadar
QUOTE Maybe Heljan have more money to spend on promotion, after all they have been established for many years. Warley, is not the be all & end all - Vi could be saving their expenses money for Nurnberg (which will give them far greater exposure than Warley & the British Toy Fair put together.)
The thing is, Lima were similarly remote and they had a much larger British range. This "armslength" phenomenon is not new with these people. While Nuremburg is clearly very much larger, just how much would it cost Vi-Trains to put 2 people on a cheap flight to Birmingham with hotel accomodation for 2 nights? £750?? The Hobby Co have a stand at Warley - the cost of Vi-Trains putting a couple of their people on it for the weekend would be small in comparison to the project. Listing on the Vi-Trains website would cost nothing
It is not clear from the interview who actually does the development. Research is said to be Hobby Co
This aside , having read the interview , two things stand out. They are producing new 2 versions of the 37/4 each month. A limited edition is 800-1000 pieces, standard versions , more. At a conservative estimate they are putting out 1,600 37/4s a month - that's 19,200 per year, minimum. I can't see how the market can sustain this. Its not as if they have the market to themselves , with a better model of the same loco from Bachmann having just come out, plus the old , basic Hornby model. There's no pent up demand - we are now on the 3rd version of the Bachmann 37/4 since 2000 . I'm struggling to see the collector who is going to buy 24x 37/4s a year for several years No wonder if the price on the street is down to £36. Second hand Lima is going for under £25 . There is no bottom to this price if product continues pour onto a saturated market
Their next model will offer no relief - its a 37/0 . Bachmann did a modern generation 37/0 a few years back, and a revised one is due any month. Again there are rivals, probably better rivals , and no pent up demand
The other thing is the emphasis on collectors. Gary suggested the collectors market is huge compared to that for scale modellers. But if a limited edition is 800-1000 pieces , then if collectors buy one of each release there must be no more than 800-1000 collectors out there. By comparison, the current membership of DEMU, a largely 4mm society, is over 800 and there are plenty of finescale 4mm D+E modellers who are not members of DEMU .
Just how many 37/4s per year is anyone going to buy? The Hobby Co speak of "motivating people to start collecting" as if Vi-Trains is diecast buses or Franklin Mint collectables. The reality of diecast buses is that I've just bought two de-certified "limited editions" for £6 and £8 respectively from Hattons , market down from an RRP of about £35. That's routine, and many folk simply wait for the bargains. There used to be a local shop that specialised in diecast. These days less than 25% of the shop is diecast - the rest is soft toys dolls, and what have you.