Author Topic: Are manufacturers deserting a sinking ship?  (Read 5273 times)

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3rdrail

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Are manufacturers deserting a sinking ship?
« on: January 17, 2007, 01:49:30 PM »
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It seems to me lately that the "craftsman kit" and parts manufacturers are deserting N scale like rats deserting a sinking ship. First, we hear of Sunrise Enterprises quitting the parts business. Then, a topic on Atlas brings up JAKS Industries, and a check of its website reveals that they are now strictly HO, dropping the Period Miniatures line of craftsman building kits, as well as both the PM and Alloy Forms line of detail parts. A while back, Alan Curtis quit selling N scale flatcars to concentrate on HO. Although Detail Associates hasn't formally quit, just try to get most of its parts! I could go on, and on, and on...

Back when I got into model railroading, as opposed to running my American Flyer toy trains, absolutely nothing came "ready to run" in "scale" model railroading. When I first started, in the early 1950's, you didn't just "shake the box" either. At the very least, some painting, gluing, and filing were required.

The line has now blurred, and it appears it is "ready to run" or nothing, as even MicroScale is cutting back on decal availability. You don't s'pose the couple of hundred participants in this forum are the only N scale modelers (as opposed to runners) left, do ya? Scary thought.  :o

KelNScale

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Re: Are manufacturers deserting a sinking ship?
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2007, 02:08:08 PM »
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JAKS was trying to sell the Period line, but I'm not sure if they sold it or not. If I had the cash, I would have thought about it myself! Sunrise has dropped the cast metal parts, for the time being (!) but he may get back at some point. He still does everything else..

Then there's Craig and myself. We're still here.. Sorry to say, I'm looking at Z stuff to see what can be made.. :) But I'm not done with N scale yet...

Kel

lock4244

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Re: Are manufacturers deserting a sinking ship?
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2007, 02:13:05 PM »
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As some exit the business, others enter it. Alot of these operations are small "cottage industry" operations and the owners get tired to the business after a while or retire. It happens.

Craig at BLMA, on the other hand, keeps adding new products to his line-up. Maybe he will pick up where some of these companies leave off? He certainly seems to have alot of drive and I have heard nothing but praise from forumers regarding his products. I've seen some of his stuff at my LHS (locomotive fans and drop grabs) abd they look freakin' sweet.
Welcome to Ontario... we've got a tax for that.
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Sokramiketes

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Re: Are manufacturers deserting a sinking ship?
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2007, 02:18:06 PM »
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There will still be stuff for me to buy and too many projects on my workbench, so I'm not too worried about it.

Sunrise is out but BLMA is in.  Jaks is out, but AMB, GC Laser, Branchline have appeared since Period Miniatures fell from it's peak. Alan Curtis dropped American stuff to concentrate on foreign stuff (I don't think it was anything to do with HO vs N)  Microscale may be scaling back, but Oddballs and other small run manufacturers are making use of technology and running smaller batches.  

It's funny though.  I was just searching the Freight Car List archives from 2000, and ran across a post you made there bemoaning the shift away from scratchbuilt freight cars and how the sky was falling then too.  6 years later and you're still at it.   :D  The hobby is still here.  Prototype Modeler's Meets are flourishing.

I know one thing... those 14 year old Chinese girls (and whoever else is on the assembly crew) are better modelers than I am.  There is no way you or I can match the painting and lettering of an Athearn Genesis F-unit with an airbrush and decals.

Mike

www.modutrak.com
Better modeling through peer pressure...

lock4244

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Re: Are manufacturers deserting a sinking ship?
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2007, 02:19:27 PM »
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Kel, sad to hear you've dropped the pipe loads. I grabbed what I could at FFTS in August, they're pretty damn nice.
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KelNScale

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Re: Are manufacturers deserting a sinking ship?
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2007, 04:21:07 PM »
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Kel, sad to hear you've dropped the pipe loads. I grabbed what I could at FFTS in August, they're pretty damn nice.

They're nice, but too much labor! And no Chinese sweat shops in Bakersfield!  :D ;)

Kel

keystonecrossings

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Re: Are manufacturers deserting a sinking ship?
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2007, 04:40:05 PM »
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Gregg:

Two of your statements are erroneous...

First, Sunrise Enterprises did not exit the parts business. They suspended their white metal castings business, but they continue to promote and expand their etched details business.

Second, Alan Curtis did not abandon the N scale market for HO. He exited the American prototypes market in favor of European prototypes.

Now, my comments on the above...

Sunrise has a very limited product line in etched parts. They'll need to ramp up more products quickly as companies like BLMA have established themselves and are growing their lines.

As for Alan Curtis, he had his niche, at one time. But model after model after model, his wonderful pewter kits were being pushed aside by new ready-to-run releases by deLuxe Innovations and Kato. These companies used to have limited releases, but now deLuxe is ramping up all the variations of intermodal. Alan's marketability really shrunk. Sure am glad I stocked up on those Pennsy flats... not much chance of them coming out from anyone else any time soon!!!
Jerry Britton, PRRT&HS #6111
PRR Middle Division in HO Scale - http://jbritton.pennsyrr.com
Keystone Crossings - http://pennsyrr.com

ljudice

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Re: Are manufacturers deserting a sinking ship?
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2007, 05:06:52 PM »
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Kel, not until you totally exhaust the world of MOW equipment!!!


ljudice

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Re: Are manufacturers deserting a sinking ship?
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2007, 05:09:53 PM »
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As Skibbe said, no way I can match the skills of those folks in China!

What I think should be focused on are simple "enhancements" like what Kel is doing with
trucks. Other possibilities about - different doors for boxcars, paintout decals for
freight cars, etc...  Things that can "enhance" a RTR model, not require a whole major
effort which will end in grief anyway for lack of decals!


KelNScale

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Re: Are manufacturers deserting a sinking ship?
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2007, 05:38:01 PM »
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Kel, not until you totally exhaust the world of MOW equipment!!!

Gonna be awhile. BNSF has a track blitz going on that I plan to spend a day catching on film. Probably next week.

Then there's the entire UP track gang on flats that I took pictures of a few months back. Something like 300+ pictures.

Kel

KelNScale

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Re: Are manufacturers deserting a sinking ship?
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2007, 05:44:27 PM »
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As for Alan Curtis, he had his niche, at one time. But model after model after model, his wonderful pewter kits were being pushed aside by new ready-to-run releases by deLuxe Innovations and Kato. These companies used to have limited releases, but now deLuxe is ramping up all the variations of intermodal. Alan's marketability really shrunk. Sure am glad I stocked up on those Pennsy flats... not much chance of them coming out from anyone else any time soon!!!

Hey Jerry, not to pick nits with you  ;) :D... Alan's line will take awhile for Kato and Deluxe to match. Alan had several cars that neither company has show any interest in making. Deluxe is in for 3 cars, Kato 1. Alan had, what, 20? That's a huge difference. And not all intermodal. I doubt anyone else will do drop center flats or Flexi-Vans or Pennsy flats or the other neat stuff. 89 ft flatcars might as well be hand gernades dipped in AIDS for all the big manufactures care. Be nice to see somemore action in terms of cars!

Kel

Robbman

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Re: Are manufacturers deserting a sinking ship?
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2007, 06:29:29 PM »
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Message deleted
« Last Edit: January 27, 2008, 01:24:15 AM by Robbman »

TiVoPrince

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Re: Are manufacturers deserting a sinking ship?
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2007, 07:59:13 PM »
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Most glue blobs
seem to be attempts to cover for poorly thought out designs.  The incredibly well made stuff from Atlas, Mark4, Mocalova and BLMA are unfortunately the exception and not the rule...

There are several candidates to take the 'Cannon & Company' position in N but there is a very high bar to clear to be that good...

Thanks guys, thanksfor your incredible efforts contributing to my enjoyment...
Support fine modeling

Chris333

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Re: Are manufacturers deserting a sinking ship?
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2007, 08:30:44 PM »
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Kind of like global warming.  I hope the details are around as long as I'm alive.

Iain

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Re: Are manufacturers deserting a sinking ship?
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2007, 10:07:08 PM »
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Well, how about this for a problem:  I can do A&EC and B&M in N once Randy gets done with the Whitcombs.  And my layout is just some track tacked to some foam, thus making it relatively easy to redo everything.

Viking roofs from Des Plaines plus IM forty foot boxcars equal an exact match for much of Norfolk Southern's box car fleet.

NS's Boylan Tower that once stood in Raleigh is being done in N as a laser cut wood kit.

Really, for me, things are looking up.  I'm not very worried at all, and in fact hope things continue.
Thanks much,
Mairi Dulaney, RHCE
Member, Free Software Foundation and Norfolk Southern Historical Society

http://jdulaney.com