CNJ999 wrote:Otto, I understand that you desire to promote the hobby, not reveal its current serious flaws.
I think you and I disagree on what a "flaw" is.
In the past manufacturers kept most of their models in production for many months if not years - today's models are almost without exception examples of just individual one-time “runs" with a relatively limited number of actual items. Once these sell out - and today more than a few do so even before the models have reached U.S. shores - they're gone and the manufacturer quickly moves on to his next model.
That's a difference in manufacturing and market demand. For instance, Athearn could make a decent GP38, paint it for a variety of owners real and imagined, and flood the market with thousands of them. They had to keep the tooling active for years to pay off the cost of production. A GP38 was a common diesel, owned by many railroads, needed by many modelers, so it made sense to take the plunge and produce the model.
The result has been today's pre-order mania.
I'm not a fan of pre-ordering, but I think this makes sense when you look at the very specific new models coming out that are attractive for a specific hobbyist. The manufacturer needs to guarantee a certain amount of sales before they commit to producing the models. I don't think every new model is this way, but you are right, a lot of new introductions are by "pre-order only." However, my experience has been that even the "limited pre-order" models end up on the secondary market often for far less than the original MSRP. It all comes down to "need" versus "want." I recently decided I "wanted" two of the Rapido New Haven 8600-series coaches they are coming out with. I don't model the New Haven, I don't even have a layout right now. But I decided they will look nice running down at the club. So I bit the bullet and ordered two. I could have waited around and hoped they show up on the secondary market later, but I decided not to. If I had a New Haven-themed layout and "needed" 6 coaches to represent passenger service for my time period, then goshdarnit, I'm gonna plunk down and make my pre-order. So what I'm talking about here is the hobbyist's perception of value. If you don't see the value in plunking down $90 for a coach, you're not gonna do it.
For Walthers and its great “bible” of hobby products you may have perhaps a 40% shot at finding the products listed therein as currently available – unless it happened to be a poor selling piece and now needs unloading. Another name for the Walthers Co. these days is "Back-order USA".
Does anyone really know what Walthers is doing these days? The problem is two-fold. Walthers is keeping less stuff in warehouse. Where they might keep 200 Plasticville water tanks in stock, they might only now keep 10 at a time in stock. Also let's not forget that the majority of products in the catalog are produced by small home businesses who are batch producers. They don't work in the volume of Atlas, Bachmann, and so on. Not to mention the overseas suppliers like Noch, Heljan, Kibri, and so on, who sometimes make their product hard to get as well due to how they produce and distribute.
Escalating prices? Athearn and MDC were the modeler’s go-to for bottom dollar cars of any reasonable quality in the past. Look at them now. Athearn freightcars (if you can get them) mostly range $25.00 to $30.00. Yes, they have more detail than years back, but these thin plastic pieces are mostly too fragile to stand regular layout handling.
Oh I agree, I don't care much for the $30-40 freight car market... You're paying more because there's a market for ready-to-run equipment with finer detail. I balk at the prices, but people are buying them. Someone's buying them or else they wouldn't make them.
Looking for budget and value? Bowser and Accurail continue to make very nice kits that are reasonably priced, have crisp decoration, and good detail. I'm sure there are others.
Is it the best of times? Not from where I stand thank you. --CNJ999
You're entitled to your opinion
I don't like everything going on in the hobby, but we are very far removed from the WSJ article bemoaning the end of the hobby because they interviewed a few grayhairs.