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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Has anyone else seen the objectionable email in Model Rail? " Snobby mugs get ripped off" is the heading on P19 of the mag.

I really wonder why this email has been published as it is objectionable and frankly you don't usually see emails of this type in Model Rail. The editor asks " what do readers think of Mr Stansfields views". Now in model railway forums this would be described as trolling. I'm not sure what the equivalent is in railway mags. I suspect this is an attempt at sensationalism and to get a bulging mailbag for the next issue.

However despite being so objectionable there is an underlying argument in Mr Stanfields email which should be discussed. Unfortunately the way he has gone about it will tend to make people rubbish the content without due consideration.

His central point is complaining about the cost of new models and accusing "journos" (I take it he means the Model Railway Press) of being in the manufacturers pocket. " Why don't you look into how much models cost to make" he further asserts. I disassociate myself with the "in their pockets "comment , but I do feel manufacturers get an easy ride on their pricing. It seems that if people complain there is a stigma involved, you are an underclass because you dare to question why a model should be £50 more - can you not afford to pay for more detail? I think manufacturers exploit this position amongst enthusiasts.

I have long thought that there is a cosy relationship between the manufacturers and railway press in this country. Most are on first name terms. Maybe this stems from the old Triang days when we were just so happy to get any type of model ,even if it was on a generic chassis. We became so thankfull for the odd crumb or morcel from our manufacturers. Quite often the mags toe the manufacturers line, simply trotting out their press releases without any attempt to investigate or enquire into the background, despite the fact the mags are given some time before information is released to the public, in the case of Hornby. But times have changed . There is more competition for our hard earned cash than ever before. There is new information on line. If you look at a Digital Camera magazines or websites you will see very critical reviews, quite often along the lines of "not worth the money". You will look in vain for any such review in our press. Perhaps Rail Express comes closeset to real reviews, but even there you get the feeling that its wrong to quibble about paying more for more detail.

Why is this important? Well as time goes on this hobby is becoming progressively more expensive to the new entrant. Increasingly this cost will put people off and they will go and do something else instead. Ultimately a declining market will be bad for us all as prices will increase and so begins the vicious cycle.Yes ,there are welcome developments like "Railroad" but this is still a relatively small part of the market. Questions do need to be asked. Exactly why does track cost so much? Why is ViTrains able to produce a chassis drive diesel for £50, but Hornby do it for £100 (yes I know there are differences in detail - but are they really worth £50?). Why do some coaches retail at £17 but others £25-£30. Now there maybe reasons for this, but the question remains unasked in our media. Unchecked , all that will happen is that prices will go up and up.

I do wish one of our mags would take a more active stand on the question of price, rather than just accepting increases without question.

Russell
 

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Comparing cameras made by big mutinational companies to model railway products isn't going to work as the scale of business is completely different. Remember camera models are sold in millions on a global market, even if they are given slightly different model numbers and colour finishes for different retailers.
Remember even the 'Big' model manufacturers would be considered a cottage industry by even the smallest camera manufacturer.

Costs of raw materials have gone throught the roof recently in all industries not just models. Production of certain models is still down to a fair amount of personal choice in the companies and at the end of the day it's their money they are risking.

The model press partly rely on early test models to review to get us to buy them so yes they don't want to upset the manufacturers too much. BUT they know that they can influence them this way, Rail Express have moderated their tone somewhat recently to constructive criticisim and the manufacturers have responded, I know Bachmann found them irritating at first but know are producing special editions with them. You can say what's wrong with a model and still not hammer the manufacturer. Most magazines after hailing Hornbys recent models but they have said about the poor shape of the chimney on the new LMS loco.

Accept model railways are a small business in the overall scale of things and yes they recognise that it's getting expensive which is why the Railroad and Junior ranges have been started by the two BIG names.
 

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Russell,

I feel that you have written a very good response to a poorly written email with some valid points. I don't think I can add anything to it other than to say that it would be worth submitting it to model rail and see if they publish it. I would be interested to hear what Chris Leigh's response would be to it. It would be much harder to hide behind that Mr Stansfield's attempt.

Rob
 

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QUOTE (PaulRhB @ 30 Mar 2008, 21:13) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Comparing cameras made by big mutinational companies to model railway products isn't going to work as the scale of business is completely different. Remember camera models are sold in millions on a global market, even if they are given slightly different model numbers and colour finishes for different retailers.
Remember even the 'Big' model manufacturers would be considered a cottage industry by even the smallest camera manufacturer.

Costs of raw materials have gone throught the roof recently in all industries not just models. Production of certain models is still down to a fair amount of personal choice in the companies and at the end of the day it's their money they are risking.

The model press partly rely on early test models to review to get us to buy them so yes they don't want to upset the manufacturers too much. BUT they know that they can influence them this way, Rail Express have moderated their tone somewhat recently to constructive criticisim and the manufacturers have responded, I know Bachmann found them irritating at first but know are producing special editions with them. You can say what's wrong with a model and still not hammer the manufacturer. Most magazines after hailing Hornbys recent models but they have said about the poor shape of the chimney on the new LMS loco.

Accept model railways are a small business in the overall scale of things and yes they recognise that it's getting expensive which is why the Railroad and Junior ranges have been started by the two BIG names.

I don't think any manufacturer can justifiably hide behind rising material costs as a single reason for the difference in costs between now and ten years ago. Yes they have risen, but the amount of material used in each model is so small that it becomes almost irrelevant. More to the point would be the cost of the manufacturing processes used to make the models. However, even with this taken into account, along with greater levels of detail, I would be very interested to see how much profit the companies are making per item now compared to ten years ago. The classic example is peco track. It has not moved on technically, the manufacturing processes are similar if not the same yet it still costs considerable more than it did in the past. Material and oil price rises cannot account for the total price increase. Even if the material costs were to quadruple, at a rough guess from my industrial knowledge, the sale price would increase by approximately 25%.

What do others think about this?

Rob
 

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erm...if the WHOLE of Model Rail had been read, folk would have seen the editor's response to that email........right below it....as usual?

in which Chris Leigh also explains why he bothered to actually publish it?

a case of 'being fair to one and all?'

flames arising???
 

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It's not just material costs though, even the Chinese workers have discovered that they are poorly paid and are demanding more.
I'm sure we'd all like to know what the profit margins are for Hornby and Bachmann but they aren't going to tell us as it's sensitive info that their competitors would like to know too.
I'm afraid that all the extra details having to be stuck on also increases the price. There may be small amounts of material in each model but remember they are produced in batches of around 5000. Again we are talking relatively small amounts by camera manufacturers standards so they don't get big discounts on their materials either.
I'm afraid that if you want a model of that quality then you have to pay the price they ask as there are plenty of others willing to do so as the Deltic proved at £100. If you look at some of the German engines you are paying £150 for a loco of similar detail to the latest Hornby offerings, a few years ago we all complained about why our models were so poor in quality compared to the continental offerings. A Bachmann 66 with sound cost £125 last year while the American equivalent cost £140 so we are we really being ripped off?
I'm sure people will question the comment about UK versus German quality above but it still stands that a similar model can be 50% more from SOME other foreign manufacturers.
I know it's painful when we get sudden unexplained rises but have you seen the price of bread recently and don't start me on diesel!
 

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QUOTE (80class @ 30 Mar 2008, 21:24) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I don't think any manufacturer can justifiably hide behind rising material costs as a single reason for the difference in costs between now and ten years ago.
Labour costs, marketing including stands at many shows which is much more common now than 10 years ago, transport in the UK alone.
These all need to be added on to that writers alledged £55 actual cost and they have all gone up too.
Please laso remember 10 years ago we might get one or two new models a year, now we might get 2 totally new toolings and lots of retoolings for push pull, different cabs, bufferbeams, exhaust ports etc.
 

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QUOTE (rb277170 @ 30 Mar 2008, 20:23) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I do wish one of our mags would take a more active stand on the question of price, rather than just accepting increases without question.

Russell

That will never happen - the magazines depend on the advertising revenue too much. Of course, they could always turn away the advertising & charge a tenner or so for the mag ?
 

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But look here on page 12 - reviews of Golden Age 00 Pullmans at a mere 295 quid a throw. Mr Stansfield does have a point imho, although it could have been put a little more succinctly and politely. April Fool or what?

Don't think that Chris Leigh should have published both because letter writers don't get two bites of the cherry, and unsure about the editor's comments, too.

Anyway, sun's shining brightly here in Edinburgh, and work beckons...
 

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Mike Wild's Editorial in the April edition of the Hornby Mag tackles this problem of 'Reviews not being nasty' and is worth a read. In brief summary he points out that they have been criticised for being 'too soft', that the manufacturers are producing models of greater detail, and that when they (ie Hornby Mag) do find a fault they prefer to express the criticism without being uneccessarily rude about it. Mike is concerned that too harsh a review can put off many people, including the maker. He prefers to be positive.

He goes on to ask for views about reviews in the new Hornby forums set up in this Forum.

Regards,
John Webb
 

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I dislike the "reviewing as a spectator bloodsport" school of review , not least because of the wider acrimony it generates . I should emphasise this kind of reviewing isn't featured in the 4 major monthly magazines

Another pet hate of mine is when the rerelease of an existing model in a new livery results in a full page of "review" being wasted on it, generally rehashing the original review. Railway Modeller manages to dispatch such things in a quarter of a page , which is better , though personally I reckon 3 column inches is about all it's worth . However I'm afraid I buy magazines for the feature articles not for their product reviews
 

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I've just received my copy of the April Model Rail Mag and, quite frankly, wonder what this guys real problem is. One can only assume that he is a modeller, or why else would he be writing to a model rail magazine, in which case he must have had some pretty bad experiences to make him so bitter and twisted. In some ways I feel sorry for him because while thousands of others are enjoying the hobby he is clearly not. If, on the other hand, he's not a modeller then he must be some sort of attention seeking misfit who gets a kick out of knocking the efforts of others and the pleasure it gives them. Sad really !!!

Rising prices are, unfortunately, a fact of life in these times of rising world inflation and financial uncertainty and it's not just the cost of raw materials which are increasing. Construction costs are rising at a staggering rate which means that any factory expansions or even new machinery and tooling are costing considerably more and have to be paid for somehow. Add to that the rising labour and overhead costs (staff salaries, electricity, even printing costs) and it is not difficult to see how this translates into significant price increases to the end user (you and I).

At the end of the day manufacturers have to balance cost against sales and it is not in their interest to push prices up so far as to make them uncompetitive and hence kill demand. This would simply result in them going out of business and losing their own source of income. Not much economic sense in that !

The best advice I think I can offer to Mr. Stanfield, if he is indeed a railway modeller, is "if he can't stand the heat, then he should seriously think about getting out of the kitchen".

Expat.
 

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QUOTE erm...if the WHOLE of Model Rail had been read, folk would have seen the editor's response to that email........right below it....as usual?

in which Chris Leigh also explains why he bothered to actually publish it?

a case of 'being fair to one and all?'

flames arising??? Per AlastairG

I have read most of Model Rail and certainly all of the letters page , I can't find anywhere where the editor gives his reason for publishing , other than the two lines at the bottom of the email inviting readers for their comments.

Have I missed something?

Yes , I fully accept that prices are going up across the world. Oil, Chinese labour rates, power. However my concern is that other hobbies question how much and why when it comes to price increases, while in railway modelling we just accept them. Actually I know companies who prefer the current climate of price inflation to stability because its much easier to go out and get price increases. Even though costs maybe only up 2% they can get 5% in the current climate. Problem is none of our media will hold the manufacturers to account or even quibble with the cost. Certainly not Model Rail. £295 for a Pullman coach- are these guys for real?

Russell
 

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However my concern is that other hobbies question how much and why when it comes to price increases, while in railway modelling we just accept them.

Well off you go and produce Russ's cheaper model railways, we'll all buy them if they're good enough. Funny being into motorcycling, photography, and other modelling types, I don't see lots of comments about price increases.

Problem is none of our media will hold the manufacturers to account or even quibble with the cost. Certainly not Model Rail.
Well they are not the costings experts are they?

£295 for a Pullman coach- are these guys for real?

Seems quite cheap to me in relative terms for what it is. What price should they be?
 

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What does 'relative terms' mean? You can buy a 19" HD ready LCD TV for £199.00 or a complete Dual Core PC System for £298.99.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
QUOTE Well off you go and produce Russ's cheaper model railways, we'll all buy them if they're good enough. Funny being into motorcycling, photography, and other modelling types, I don't see lots of comments about price increases.

I don't need to Vi Trains already produce locos £50 cheaper. Oh yes I can hear the howls of protest from the purists "its ViTrains no use to me " . But actually it looks like a 37 to me and more significantly it proves a chassis drive diesel can be sold for £50 earning them a reasonable return. Hornby are at it themselves with the Railroad range - they are introducing a loco drive (new chassis) 9F this year. So if they can produce a new loco drive 9F for £60, how come an M7 0-4-4 is £105?

I don't do motorcyling but on photography and video photography I think you will find that newer models typically come in at a lower cost. Technology is moving on , as is assembly in the far east- but it doesn't apply to model railways apparently, even though thats now where most of them are made!

Hope you have fun with your £295 Pullmans. Personally instead of buying a rake of 4 - I've decided to go on a cruise on Royal Carribean for 2 weeks (including airfare). See everything is relative!

Russell
 

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QUOTE Hope you have fun with your £295 Pullmans. Personally instead of buying a rake of 4 - I've decided to go on a cruise on Royal Carribean for 2 weeks (including airfare). See everything is relative!

You see that's where you and I are different. I'd rather have the Pullmans than a two week cruise.


David
 

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What does 'relative terms' mean?

Well for a start looking at TV's built in their hundreds of thousands, in a production line isn't a logical comparison.

You're paying for something thats in essence handbuilt and takes a lot of time and effort. At £295 for a coach of that quality it's pretty good value, for high quality OO coaches built from a kit for example I've seen prices as high as £5-600. To do a coach to such high standards requires similar effort to building a locomotive from a kit.

I think you will find that newer models typically come in at a lower cost.
Again it all depends on what you're buying I certainly haven't seen that in the cameras I've bought, with each new variation on DSLR's for example the price goes up, without fail.

So if they can produce a new loco drive 9F for £60, how come an M7 0-4-4 is £105?
They haven't produced a completely new loco in the 9F though have they?


I've no requirements for pullmans or Vi-trains 37's, but I do understand some of the economics behind them. If the Vi-trains 37's are so good, why are they charging so much for what is basically a Lima body with a few minor modifications and a new chassis? How much would they have charged had they tooled a good body? Surely you're being ripped off?
See everything is relative!
 

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I re-read the article just to make sure. It says the coaches are hand assembled. not hand built. Having seen photo's of several model railway production lines I notice that all the models are hand assembled. Can you explain why the mostly plastic Hornby switches cost £6.35 each when you can buy metal switches of better quality with LED's in them as well for £2.29 (maybe there are millions of people who build their own electronics projects. Why you can buy Bachmann HO scale DCC equiped American loco's for £34.25 ? Or why you can buy 59ml bottles of acrylic paint for 99p but when it's sold for model making the price suddenly jumps to £1.25 for 12ml?
I thought I read that the ViTrains class 37 had nothing at all to do with the old Lima model.
 

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QUOTE (poliss @ 3 Apr 2008, 02:38) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Can you explain why the mostly plastic Hornby switches cost £6.35 each when you can buy metal switches of better quality with LED's in them as well for £2.29 (maybe there are millions of people who build their own electronics projects.
Hornby make theirs in hundreds, the electronic ones are manufactured in millions.

QUOTE (poliss @ 3 Apr 2008, 02:38) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Why you can buy Bachmann HO scale DCC equiped American loco's for £34.25 ?
Because like the Railroad range they are old and in this case pretty poor models with heavy handrails and crude mouldings. The original Bachmann US stuff had worse detail then their UK counterparts, such as the mainline 45's and the same style mechanisims which is why most Americans bought Athearn stuff and stuck the metal handrails on.

If you look at other areas of the model trade where production levels are similar to model railways then you see similar price rises, It's not just Hornby and Bachmann in the railway market either, everyone on the G scale forums is complaining that LGB has resurfaced with a 25-35% price hike.
A constant demand for improvement in detail is good and we will see more inbuilt electronics in the next few years. Consider that lights were a novelty and marketed as a big extra years ago!
Also now all our major manufacturers are parts of big global orginisations profit margins are more important than ever before, Hornby was resurected a few years back by being taken over and they paid for the investment in higher detail now they are protecting that investment as the financial market squeezes them so it may be the price hike that stops them going under again!
 
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