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Dougs reports from Euroland on the German Toy Fair are mindboggling.

The Germans seem to have taken technology to their hearts and if you are not running a layout with the very latest gizmo then as a railway modeller you are yesterdays news.

Contrast this with the British attitude where there is constant questioning of the need for the latest gizmo and concerns about the expense of it all.

The Germans probably have more free money to spend on railway modelling than the British and are prepared to spend spend spend and do whatever it takes to keep up with Herr Flick next door. And it is without a shadow of a doubt Germany's biggest hobby with absolutely none of the stigma that British railway modellers seem to endure.

Even if as a British manufacturer you throw tens of millions into research and development to bring British railway modellers the best model railway technology in the world, the British would not buy it and would continue to question the need for it. Stick a Hornby logo on and ESU console, offer it to the British masses for £400, and it would remain on the shelves at Toys R Us and Argos. Lets face it if the British masses are not comfortable spending Marklin type money on a small loco then they are not going to spend ESU and Zimo type money on a control system.

A lot of this has to do with practicalities and the great proportion of those who are involved in the British model railway scene do genuinely have limited space. And European high tech systems do really seem over specified for the space restricted British.

You do get a sense that the British will only buy technology if the price is right, and that the German manufacturers have the luxury of knowing that whatever they produce, the Germans will buy it!

Am I right or wrong?

And what will it take to change the British mindset?

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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That's an interesting question. I'm probably not typical, because I'm just getting back into the hobby after a gap of more years than I care to remember and in N. However after initially thinking that DCC was probably a bit over the top and still a little problematic for N Gauge, I've done my research and come to the conclusion that I'd be mad to stick to the traditional approach. Anything I spend extra in getting my locos chipped and purchasing a DCC control system is going to pay back big dividends in ease of operation and simple fun value.

I'm surprised that the British scene is so conservative (which does seem to be the case) when access to the internet makes it so easy to see what other nations are getting up to. However British outline is a limited market and an odd scale, so manufacturers can't be blamed for being a little cautious in launching anything aimed at a specifically British market . Perhaps it's a combination of cautious manufacturers and a conservative modellers that hold things back in a sort of self fulfilling prophesy?

Going back to DCC I can't see how anyone in my position, just starting out, could fail to see the benefits and embrace it with enthusiasm, yet I keep reading that Dapol, one of my favourite n Gauge manufacturers consider it to be a fad. Funny old world.

Chris
 

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QUOTE (ChrisA @ 3 Feb 2007, 14:01) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>......yet I keep reading that Dapol, one of my favourite n Gauge manufacturers consider it to be a fad.

Chris
They did until a short while ago.

Now all their new products are coming DCC ready, they even suggest room for sound.
The class 66 and 73 chassis are also being modified to allow for decoders too.
All new releases are DCC ready.
How long before they offer DCC fitted locos?

It seems Dapol think the N gauge future is a DCC one?
What a turn around!

 

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You've got to remember that until recently DCC was 25-30% more expensive in the UK than in Germany, while UK locos were half the going price in Germany.

Added to which were difficulties of supply, lack of info , the need to hard wire everything.

But I think the tendancy to spend spend to keep up with Herr Flick may be a general German trait not necessarily confined to model railways

The love of action accessories is quite marked certainly - I went round the big perminant model railway on the Hamburg waterfront a few months ago , and almost every second scene seemed to feature a gaggle of fire engines or police cars with their blue lights all flashing (It also featured a very impressive Hamburg scene with a whole series of major landmarks which must have been scratchbuilt - and very well done)

The British scene seems more into ingenious adaptions and (dare I say it) finescale and rivet counting. You can spend very large sums on a loco - if you are paying someone to build a kit for you , or detail up a diesel - or respray it . These things don't come cheap and there are surprising numbers of folk doing it as a living

And O gauge costs lots.

But the people willing to spend seem to be the ones who want to build things from scratch - and then they definitely do demand very high quality. It's just technology isn't what pushes their buttons.

When this sector of the market starts to take an interest in DCC , and there are signs it's happening - I suspect they will be very much interested in decoders from the likes of Zimo
 

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QUOTE You do get a sense that the British will only buy technology if the price is right, and that the German manufacturers have the luxury of knowing that whatever they produce, the Germans will buy it It was the whole technology thing that got me into Continental modelling. Like pretty much everyone else I started out with Hornby. Like most of you when I first seen the price of Continental models I thought they were having a laugh. It was only once I had bought one and seen and heard the difference I really understood what I was paying more for. Once I looked into the technology offered by ESU, Viessmann and the like I was hooked. I pretty much dropped UK outline except for the occaisional purchase despite it being my main interest.

I reckon cost is the limiting factor for many Brits. People in the UK are used to low cost models are generally happy with them. Some British people like the technology like me and are prepared to pay for it although it would be fair to say that most wouldn't. As someone else said The British don't really like change. Maybe Germans are more into technology I don't really know. Maybe British people have less disposable income although I wouldn't have thought that was right. My cousin works in Munich and he gets taxed at about 50%.

QUOTE A lot of this has to do with practicalities and the great proportion of those who are involved in the British model railway scene do genuinely have limited space. And European high tech systems do really seem over specified for the space restricted British Your average German would have no more space than your average Brit. Houses are pretty similar. It's the yanks that have huge space available.

It could be lack of awareness of what's on offer. When Doug started a thread on what direction model rail would take in the future and people started to list what was currently available in the Maerklin and Viessman catalogues it made me aware of the people in the UK didn't know what was possible or currently available elsewhere in the world.

Maybe we want different things from model rail? Some want to recreate the past and if so technology would be of little or no benefit to these. Some want entertainment and I guess it is this group which is into technology with features like digital sound, flashing lights, digital cranes blue electrical sparks from catenary, auto switching through occupancy detectors and so on.

QUOTE And it is without a shadow of a doubt Germany's biggest hobby with absolutely none of the stigma that British railway modellers seem to endure.

One thing I have noted from my layout is that the stuff that gets the youngsters interested is the technology. The sound and lights are what gets the interest. The finescale exact prototype replica is of no interest to kids, work of art though it may be. I guess if we are looking at the future of model rail it has to be what gets the kids interested that we should be looking at if we want to see the hobby continue against competition from games consoles and the like. Being rivet counting fuddy duddies will not do the image of the hobby any favours. It is very off putting to those considering taking up the hobby.
 

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I don't think space is the reason because German homes are not that much bigger than English ones and both are much smaller than US homes. I also don't think incomes are the reason either as I don't think there is that much of a difference anymore. There is the expectation in England of spending less on a hobby than in Germany, something that I feel is often to your detriment. German manufactures have more room to play with technology but as can be seen in recent troubles this has caused a problem itself with the ever increasing cost of manufacturing.

I think it's quite obvious that each countries vision of the hobby is quite different. The British vision seems to me to be more based on nostalgia where an over reliance on electronics is seen as an intrusion. The Germans are much more welcoming of technology as can be seen in their cars, etc. With their model railroads they just pile it on.

Could it be that their recent past is not quite so pleasant that they have turned to technology? Or is this just a German trait? I also collect stamps and even in that hobby the Germans love to introduce technology with their scopes, magnifiers, etc.

You would be amazed at the smaller firms that are not even mentioned in Doug's reports that just feed upon model railroad technology. It would be a real eye opener if some of you could visit the Toy Fair. Gary you must try to go next year so that we can get a "real" Englishman's point of view.


I find much to enjoy in both visions.
 

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i think part of it is that model railways in germany are more expensive full stop.
for us alot of money on a loco is £100. so for us spending £400 on a gizmo would be a very special purchase indeed.
whereas in germany thats only a little more than the cost of a loco.

also i think the brittish are far less inclined to spend shed loads of money on something we really dont need.

that panel computer on dougs report got me thinking. is that a model railway run buy a computer or a computer with a model railway periphiral. i would welcome the first but feircly oppose the latter.

Peter

"I also collect stamps and even in that hobby the Germans love to introduce technology with their scopes, magnifiers, etc. "
I have a Signoscope! its fantastic. its finally sorted out that stack of wildings i had lying around for years!
 

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"You sound like a man of many interests, most of them useless."

the trouble is i do things just long enough to get good at them and then move onto something else!
Model railways is my main hoby and its the one i always come back to.
Others include
Stamp collecting
Mosaics
Stained glass.
Marquetry

I am an engineer for the beeb from 5.30am untill 2.30 in the afternoon when i go home and become a CAD designer and model maker. i also help out alot of other people with various other interests.

I trained as a propper engineer before going into marine technology and finally ending up in film and media technology via graphic design.

Quite a colourfull life really!

Peter
 

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I always tell my wife that unless it's a total waste of money then it's not a proper hobby. it's more like a pursuit or God forbid ... work.


I was in Chinatown, Singapore taking some photographs, another one of my hobbies and saw some small figurines that would go well with a diorama of Old Hong Kong made up of King & Country Toy Soldiers! It never ends my friend.
Oh and here's a picture I took of this little celebration held a couple of days ago.



Ok, now back to the topic.

I find the differences in modelling amongst the UK, Germany and the US very interesting. The way that DCC is taken for granted in the US is in marked contrast to England. Here it is thought as a necessity for added realism and operatability rather than a way to add "action" to a layout. So it's the rivet counters in the US who have embraced it. Could it be that magazines like Model Railroader are big promoters of DCC as is the NMRA? Could certain British magazines as well as clubs actually be behind this laggardly approach to DCC?
 

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i think the UK mags are pretty awfull at promoting anything. the reviews are unreliable and the how-to's are just toooooo simple. how many "you take the body off, you put a decoder in, to put the body on" do we really need?

i want something that challenges me. thats why i got into the CAD work.
They dont need to push it too far. just a little bit.

I wish we had some more challenging articles.

Mabye some on micro's?
a couple on logic based signelling systems?

Peter
 

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QUOTE i think the UK mags are pretty awfull at promoting anything. the reviews are unreliable and the how-to's are just toooooo simple. how many "you take the body off, you put a decoder in, to put the body on" do we really need? That's true, most of the how to articles are aimed at such a basic level it's not worth including them. The reviews are so intent on not offending the manufacturer that all they do is repaet what the manufacturer has said.

QUOTE Oh and here's a picture I took of this little celebration held a couple of days ago. I didn't know you were into fishing David? You got a whopper that day.
 

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QUOTE The way that DCC is taken for granted in the US is in marked contrast to England.

DCC in the USA is cheap and accessories are cheap. Would DCC be as popular in the USA if the Americans had been paying UK prices (double USA prices)? In America a lot of kit can be bought for the price of one American loco.

In Germany a £400 DCC console is the price of one Marklin loco!

Its only literally in 2007 that the UK may at last be getting something reasonable that is priced the same as one British loco.

The perception of relative values to local market conditions will definitely increase digital interest in the UK in 2007.

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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QUOTE (neil_s_wood @ 4 Feb 2007, 00:29) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>One thing I have noted from my layout is that the stuff that gets the youngsters interested is the technology. The sound and lights are what gets the interest. The finescale exact prototype replica is of no interest to kids, work of art though it may be. I guess if we are looking at the future of model rail it has to be what gets the kids interested that we should be looking at if we want to see the hobby continue against competition from games consoles and the like. Being rivet counting fuddy duddies will not do the image of the hobby any favours. It is very off putting to those considering taking up the hobby.

I quite agree with this Neil, last year I attended the Folkestone show here in Kent. One of the Layouts there was called St.Lauren, this layout had a complete road resurfacing as opposed to a man digging a hole, fire engine rescuing something from a tree and a police car attending an RTA - all of which were fully equipped with working lights, additionally there was a hose with a working sexy scene (adult viewing only) and a taxi with working lights and an illuminated sign. Needless to say you couldn't get near it as it was totally surronded by children. Incidentally it's a continental HO layout.

Regards

John
 

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QUOTE DCC in the USA is cheap and accessories are cheap. Would DCC be as popular in the USA if the Americans had been paying UK prices (double USA prices)? In America a lot of kit can be bought for the price of one American loco.
Thats because they have locally designed and made mass produced DCC systems. Until recently the only UK system was ZTC which was a cottage industry product at an outrageous price.

QUOTE In Germany a £400 DCC console is the price of one Marklin loco!

There aren't many Maerklin locos that go for 400 quid. The average one including DCC sound, metal body and directional lights would be 200 quid.
 

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QUOTE (Gary @ 5 Feb 2007, 09:24) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>DCC in the USA is cheap and accessories are cheap. Would DCC be as popular in the USA if the Americans had been paying UK prices (double USA prices)?

I think this has to be a valid point, I've decided to go the DCC route, but it's with a certain amount of resentment that I'll be paying twice as much for a system as people in the US. Unless I import one, but then what if something goes wrong? Good grief, is there any wonder DCC is slow to take off!?
 

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QUOTE (ChrisA @ 6 Feb 2007, 09:34) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I think this has to be a valid point, I've decided to go the DCC route, but it's with a certain amount of resentment that I'll be paying twice as much for a system as people in the US. Unless I import one, but then what if something goes wrong? Good grief, is there any wonder DCC is slow to take off!?

Bear in mind that most things are cheaper in the USA than they are in Europe. Whether it's clothes food, petrol or model trains, Europe pays more. Why is debatable, is it the EU or local taxes? It could be because it's a bigger market and they will sell a lot more of any one given item.
 

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50% of British income goes in tax. If you earn £20000 then £10000 of that goes in tax. Tax is income tax, spending tax, duty, local council tax and national insurance and all ways that your earnings are removed from you by statute. Then you have interest payments on a very expensive home loan out of what is left.

Compare this with the average free income of an American.

And then think of a Digitrax Zephyr being $99 or £50 in the UK relative the very much larger American disposable income.

Would the British more readily embrace DCC given half the price and 50% more disposable income?

For the average American DCC is pocket money. For the average Brit it is serious money.

Happy modelling
Gary
 
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