Model Railroad Manufacturing and the Downfall of Society.

Discussion in 'The Inspection Pit' started by PGE-N°2, May 12, 2012.

  1. PGE-N°2

    PGE-N°2 TrainBoard Member

    Yesterday was interesting day first, NASA scientists accused and predicted that Canada's oil production techniques will cause the collapse of civilization. Then I went to the train club meeting to hear more doom and gloom predictions about the incredible hardships model railroad manufacturers are going through, and the incomprehensible fact that people in China want to live like we do which is putting just so much strain on the manufacturer's poor profit margins.

    So, of course, they will have to pass it on to consumer (again). It's always very nice and pleasant to go to a train club meeting and hear the doomsday prophets predict the end of model railroading through price increases, and the collapse of the market for all local hobby stores once the manufacturers go to direct sales to avoid all these online retailers undercutting their MRSP's and selling model train stock at discounted prices. I'm beginning to wonder if some of the train club members aren't top NASA scientists in disguise.

    Of course the two things are related, because manufacturing of model railway products requires a lot of plastic products, some of which have to be petroleum based, which places a greater demand on Canada's oil sands, and will speed up the mining of the oil sands and, hence, hasten society's ultimate destruction. So, there you have it: model railroading will cause the collapse of our civilization.
  2. COverton

    COverton TrainBoard Supporter

    There is only one thing driving demand and the problems associated with it. It is called the human. And it would be one thing if our demand per person were skyrocketing, but when our numbers, themselves, are also rising in a geometric progression, it doesn't take much intelligence to understand that our burgeoning numbers, each person needing goods and energy to survive, is what is going to do us in.

    Keep our numbers down and you keep our wants and needs down. It couldn't be more simple.
  3. PNWR Power

    PNWR Power TrainBoard Member

    I don't quite understand all the concern for model train prices. When I was 8 and a dedicated Lionel fanatic, I was shocked at their prices. I could not conceive of buying a toy for over $1,000! Today, I flip through the Lionel magazines and hardly flinch at $2,200 for a Centipede set. Point being model train prices, especially O gauge, have been expensive for a long, long time. Sure it deters the younger generations from getting into the hobby. But its not really news. Its been this way for awhile. Younger guys like me who love trains are always going to save up and buy that Lionel set, no matter what the cost. But we're few and far between these days. And then the older modelers who actually have jobs and can afford a $2,000 Centipede, they probably won't pack up and quit if Lionel starts charging an extra couple hundred.

    So all this doom-and-gloom prices are gonna skyrocket talk doesn't really concern me. In short, O-gauge trains have been expensive for a long time. Whats another few hundred gonna do? As for HO and other scales, while they are cheaper, they're also much nicer than they were 20, 30 years ago. My Athearn Genesis F3 has all the features my Lionel FT does, and more. Yet it was about $150 compared to my Lionel's $500. And if modelers are willing to put down $500 for an O-gauge, I'm sure they'll put down $500 for an HO, when the only real difference is size (not quality/features). It used to be that I ran O-gauge only because of the sounds, lights, and detail. But these days you can get all that in HO scale (and probably even smaller scales).
  4. Dave Jones

    Dave Jones TrainBoard Supporter

    Probably need to be extra careful on a posting like this before some "foamer" cuts in and tells us to keep it on trains and trains only - d*mn*t! But Coverton has it at least partially right. Ever since production of models and just about everything else moved offshore we've watched an escalation of dire warnings about the "death of model railroading."

    To begin with (remember those P2K GP-7/9s!) the exchange rate between currencies was with us and it was really nice. Bought a "bunch" of those GP-7/9s and didn't even pay the MSRP of $49.95!
    Forget what I paid but I was buying them 2 and 4 at a whack. Athearn was still selling their BB kits at just about double 1960 prices (this in the 1990s) meanwhile the general price level of everything else was about ten times that of the 1960s.

    Then came the Athearn Genesis Fs and P2K GP-30s and yeah the price had escalated but not that much. Three of each on my order - followed by one's and two's for my "secondary" roads. So if you believe that others want to live as comfortably as we do and there are increasingly probably too many of us, you got it just about 3/4s right. The other part which most people refuse to recognize is that whenever the controllers of the currency run the printing presses overtime, your money ain't gonna buy what it used too. That isn't partisan - that's fact.

    Redemption for me is that on one of my previous layouts I had heavily reworked AHM C-424s (not terribly accurate even reworked) Athearn "fat-bodied" geeps working with a bunch of freights cars that had "slippery ridges" for grab irons. And did I enjoy it - you betcha! Do I enjoy it now - read the preceding.

    And for all those who suffer from current pricing - Accurail, Bowser, Bachman, and others sell locos and kits at about 4 to 5 times 1960 prices, not bad when the general price level (currency in circulation) has increased 12 times. Warning tho' - if you can't settle for "slippery ridges" real grab irons are "extra cost."
  5. MisterBeasley

    MisterBeasley TrainBoard Supporter

    Doom and gloom were predicted in the 1800s, too, because we were running out of whales from which to get whale oil to run our lamps.
  6. JNXT 7707

    JNXT 7707 TrainBoard Member

    I agree - when were model railroad supplies ever inexpensive? I remember way back in the late 60's when I had saved my pennies for a HO scale RDC tandem that cost me a whopping $14.00! That was real money then and I bet if you did the math and converted $14.00 back then to what it is now, it would be about the same. But regardless, I can't see being priced out of the hobby any time soon, and I'm definitely in the "on a budget" category. Now, what I AM priced out of is the Genesis-level and higher items - but that doesn't even begin to shut me out of the hobby. I'm scratch-building and painting things that aren't even on the market and some that are - and having a blast doing it.
    I mean honestly, do we really need to have manufacturers get these things 'RTR' with details so minute they can't even be seen, much less handled? Those types of details are playing a big part in driving costs up too.
  7. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Well, I was going to mention here the (Mayan) world end coming this December, but now supposed new discoveries are casting doubt upon that assumption. Guess we'll all just have to keep saving up for the items we feel are necessary...
  8. GTRail

    GTRail Permanently dispatched

    Back to buying brass then....
  9. Mike Sheridan

    Mike Sheridan TrainBoard Member

    I think it's cyclic like most things - for some reason the economy springs to mind :)

    We had an incredible decade or two for model trains, up to say 2005, with a huge choice of steadily improving products at reasonable prices. For whatever reason that's over for now and things will probably be rather boring for a decade or two. It's not the end of modelling or the world; unless your Mayan of course.
  10. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I am surprised that running model trains is causing the collapse of civilization. :wideeyes: I was hoping that running trains would cause my favorite sports team to win. That is why I run a lot of trains. :happy:
  11. HOexplorer

    HOexplorer TrainBoard Supporter

    So basically it is Canada's fault? I don't think so. Obviously buget cutting at NASA has let some of the grognards escape. I completely put the blame on model railroading for the demise of civilization as we know it. OH! Boxcab, since the Mayan calendar was printed on a circle; it has to end sometime. Had they thought about a linear calendar the world wouldn't necessarily have to end this Dec. 21. You know, the more I think about this, I'm thinking maybe Canada is responsible!?!?! Jim:teeth:
  12. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    :rolleyes::headspin:The more I read this thread, the more inclined I am to wear an aluminum-foil hat and go hide in a storm cellar.............

    ................and work on my layout. Gosh darnit, man, I have a railroad to run!
  13. ken G Price

    ken G Price TrainBoard Member

    People, the world does not end in December. The calender cycle ends. Then a new calender cycle starts.
    But I do agree that it is the Canadians fault. All of the oil will be used to make their bank notes.:question:
  14. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    If that was true, with the Pacific Northwest such a hotbed for N scale, magazines, manufacturing and more, the Seahawks would always be at least in playoffs, Mariners in the Series, etc.
  15. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Supporter

    They Mayans didn't have leap years... so the world should have ended already. And quite frankly, I couldn't care any less if the world does end on 12/21/12 or not.

    Back to my trains!
  16. Ike the BN Freak

    Ike the BN Freak TrainBoard Member

    But instead the Seahawks are gonna look all fancy in their new jerseys when they lose again this year
  17. GeorgeV

    GeorgeV TrainBoard Member

    On prices, I'll get back on my hobbyhorse (hmm.. a pun there) and just say to go to the web site, look at prices in the catalogs from, say, 1958, and run those prices through any of the the inflation calculator programs available on the web. Then compare the detail and running quality compared to today's models.

    Of course, if model trains were computers, the track, structures, and rolling stock for a large basement empire would cost about $4.25 today.

    George V.
  18. porkypine52

    porkypine52 TrainBoard Member

    Will make GUARANTEED Predictions For The FUTURE

    I will go out on a limb here and make a few 100% guaranteed predictions for the future of the US of A, the World (this planet, Earth it is called) and the Model Railroading Hobby in general.

    1) The SUN will continue to rise (in the EAST no less) each morning.

    2) There will always be somebody writing, posting, yelling how bad the world is getting and/or the END of said world.

    3) There will always be a group of people expecting the Government to take care of them and fix their self-destructing ways of living.

    4) Model Railroaders will grip about the price of the Hobby, but still build some great models.

    5) Model Railroaders will still be a great group of people, will continue to help other modelers, and be willing to share the Hobby.

    These Guaranteed Predictions were sponsored be the by the INCOME ENHANCEMENT DEPARTMENT of the INDIANA RAILWAY. For a full list of the 100's of Guaranteed Predictions send $100 (in unmarked, non-laser printer produced) bills to: The IE Dept., There's Sucker Born Every Minute Building, Ralph's Off Shore Banking Company, Some Place in the Sun, Caribbean Sea, Bahamas We will eventually get your Prediction list to you, don't call or write us. Don't worry We can be trusted!?!?

    By the way, I have heard from VERY INFORMED SOURCES, that the world ENDED in 2009, but we were all too busy to notice.
  19. NYW&B

    NYW&B Guest

    Not an honest evaluation, or comparison, really. First off, few folks here would have been adults back in the 50's. At best, they were kids or teens with little or no income of their own and thereby quite unable to appreciate true finacial situations from an adult perspective. The various finacial calculators provide only a highly distorted view of what money bought in the distant past and are not truly applicable to the real world. For an adult in the 50's through the early 80's the hobby of model railroading was dirt cheap as long as one stuck with the large manufactures. Likewise, in the 50's even brass was a bargain, very often priced in line with the concurrent die cast engines by Mantua and Bowser.

    It has only been since the influx of a great many adult dabblers the hobby experienced between the early 90's to the early 2000's that one saw pricing skyrocket, largely shifting the hobby's objective from skilled building to one simply about collecting and running...virtually an extension of kids Lionel market demographic of the 50's (from which many of the latest so-called hobbyists appear to have arisen). This less talented hobby segment is, at the same time, more than willing to pay for the skills they lack, a situation that was not lost on the larger manufacturers.

    Attempting to justify prices because of the advances in product quality (which is too often questionable when it comes to a train item's operation today), ignors that the simple advance in technology with time is a constant and evident in every possible product one may care to name, many of which have not changed greatly in relative price for decades. HO locomotives from the late 50's were light-years ahead of those offered twenty years earlier with vastly more quality and detailed AND still sold for less than one-half the price! Look at anything in your home and you will see this reality reflected.

    The long and short of the matter is that the manufacturers saw a segment of the recent market that was for the first time willing to bear most any pricing and shifted their targeting toward those folks. This is not to say that the manufacturers are making vast fortunes from this move as it does involove increased cost for them. However, their per unit profit margins selling RTR as opposed to kits and such has dramatically increased. The downside is that in this decade they will be targeting a dwindling segment of the hobby that with time will is almost sure all but vannish, necessitating ever increasing prices and smaller runs, as was the case with the brass market over the years. Perhaps even as soon as the end of the current decade this could likely render model railroading as no longer a viable hobby for the average person.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 13, 2012
  20. PNWR Power

    PNWR Power TrainBoard Member

    What market are you talking about that will vanish? The non-operator/collector hobbyist?

    As for the prediction that the hobby will no longer be a viable option for the average person, I disagree. There have always been casual operators, collectors, and then the dedicated hobbyist who values his scenery as much as his locomotives. I doubt any of them will go away, no matter what the prices are. Model railroading has been an expensive hobby for a long time. Its hasn't been a casual hobby, nor has it been a youth-oriented hobby, for a long time.

    And honestly as much as price, I think the railroad industry has an equal or greater impact on sales. A century or so ago two million Americans were employed directly or indirectly by a railroad. Today, what, 200,000? Lets face it.. Railroads no longer have the impact they did 50, 100 years ago. I think the best days of American rail are still ahead of us though, so perhaps that will help bring new attention to modelling.

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