Author Topic: Good manufacturing-themed thread in YahooGroup NScaleKitbashing  (Read 2857 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

bbussey

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 7009
  • Gender: Male
  • Respect: +996
    • www.bbussey.net
As a counter-argument to the position that manufacturers don't listen to the consumer base and produce highly-detailed models at affordable prices, or provide full service history of the prototype a model is based on, read this thread in the NScaleKitbashing group on Yahoo.  These people model (as the group name implies), so they also are in the minority as far as N scale is concerned, but they offer a different point of view than some of the ones posted here in recent weeks.  Here is the link.  You don't have to be a member of the group to read the thread.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nscalekitbashing/message/834
Bryan Busséy
NHRHTA #2246
NSE #1117
www.bbussey.net


Philip H

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 7328
  • Gender: Male
  • Respect: +442
    • Layout Progress Blog
Re: Good manufacturing-themed thread in YahooGroup NScaleKitbashing
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2010, 12:16:35 PM »
0
Here here!  I've largely stayed out of the "Bash the Manufacturer of the Day" threads precisely because I agree with this guy's reasoning.  Even if every Railwire-ian bought a single copy of a product that we demanded, that would amount to what, 1300 or so sales?  That's probably just at the margin for an Atlas to even consider, and as your own recent gondola experience shows,even good sales of prior production runs won't necessarily keep a good model going.

What I don't understand, and this really is a legitimate question, is why all the detail maunfacturers keep going belly up and then not selling off their tooling.  Seems to me that Craig could and should pick-up Cal freight, Sunrise, and N Scale of Nevada tooling and add it to his line.  He got production, he's got distribution, he's got CAD, he's go charisma for cryin' out loud.  Yest I hear that many of these folks just won't sell, even when they have no intention of continuing production.  Drives me nuts.

Rant over.
Philip H.
Chief Everything Officer
Baton Rouge Southern RR - Mount Rainier Division.

"Yes there are somethings that are "off;" but hey, so what." ~ Wyatt

"I'm trying to have less cranial rectal inversion with this." - Ed K.

"There's more to MRR life than the Wheezy & Nowheresville." C855B

John

  • Administrator
  • Crew
  • *****
  • Posts: 10692
  • Gender: Male
  • Respect: +432
Re: Good manufacturing-themed thread in YahooGroup NScaleKitbashing
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2010, 12:36:44 PM »
0
Even if every Railwire-ian bought a single copy of a product that we demanded, that would amount to what, 1300 or so sales? 

It would be closer to 30-50

Denver Road Doug

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 2120
  • Respect: +27
    • Mockingbird Industrial
Re: Good manufacturing-themed thread in YahooGroup NScaleKitbashing
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2010, 01:52:21 PM »
0
What I don't understand, and this really is a legitimate question, is why all the detail maunfacturers keep going belly up and then not selling off their tooling.  Seems to me that Craig could and should pick-up Cal freight, Sunrise, and N Scale of Nevada tooling and add it to his line.  He got production, he's got distribution, he's got CAD, he's go charisma for cryin' out loud.  Yest I hear that many of these folks just won't sell, even when they have no intention of continuing production.  Drives me nuts.

Yes, this is a frustrating phenomenon, but I'm not sure it's different in other industries either.   First, their return on investement probably didn't quite pan out like they'd hoped and their expectation of the value of the tooling is probably a little skewed also.  Second, and more importantly, people get attached to their tooling, which is very much an art.  So when they're done they think the value should match up with their emotional attachment and it seldom does.  When it doesn't seem worth selling the tooling in case "someday" you decide to try again, that's when it sits.  I think sometimes money is still owed on tooling which prevents it from being passed on as well.  I remember seeing some records regarding E&C/LBF/Huberts whereby a state "stimulus loan" had not been repayed and I think a lien was placed on some tooling or machinery....not real clear on recalling the details but the point is that can derail things real quick too.

But, it certainly would be nice to see Sunrise again. (pun intended)   ;)

Reminds me of a local LHS that sells retail or *maybe* 5-10% in some cases.  The gist of the story is that the proprietor had over-ordered some particular HO freight car by a pretty good margin and someone suggested he put them on sale for 25% off.  "I'd rather pile them up, set them on fire, and piss on them" was his response.  I think that might be the attitude in a lot of these situations.
NOTE: I'm no longer active on this forum.   If you need to contact me, use the e-mail address (or visit the website link) attached to this username.  Thanks.

inkaneer

  • Guest
Re: Good manufacturing-themed thread in YahooGroup NScaleKitbashing
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2010, 02:03:57 PM »
0
This is not intended as a rebuttal -but [no pun intended] I have to think that the pre-order system this hobby is currently embracing has a lot more to do with the probability that a model does not get made than what is obvious.  Capitalism has a long history among us and one of the basic tenets of capitalism is that the rewards received are commensurate with the risk taken.  People will assume that a manufactutrer has done his homework and will take on the the risk fully expecting the rewards to follow. But people see the pre-order system as a means to eliminate a large part, if not all, of the risk but not affect the other side of the equation.  Essentially they see the pre-order system, at best, as a lazy man's way to conduct market research or at worst an attempt to have a free lunch.  In essence the perceived notion is that manufacturers hold a particular car captive until the desired ransom is paid.  So they choose to not pre-order even if they would want the intended model.  This essentially is telling the manufacturers what they can do with their proposed product. This perception is reinforced by the "wait and see" philosophy directed toward a few manufacturers like Bachmann whose reputation for past products has been less than stellar.  All of this results in a lower demand as perceived by the manufacturers and if enough people opt out then the announced model is cancelled.  This becomes a lose/lose proposition for both manufacturer and customer with the manufacturer, at best, with egg on his faceand at worst a black eye and people, both those that did, as well as, did not pre-order are left with a sour taste in their mouth.  A manufacturer could do this one time without any major customer backlash but each successive time only increases the customers lack of faith in the manufactutrer's credibility. An excellent example is PCM's on again, off again, announcements, especially the PRR M1.

Another issue inherent in today's model manufacturers and bearing on the problem is that, for the most part, they are essentially a cottage industry operation with its incumbent lack of adequate capitalization.  They can't afford to invest money in a product that is not going to provide sufficient returns to pay the bills.  Even a well capitalized business could not withstand a series of failed attempts.  But that is the risk one takes to earn the reward.  It would be nice if manufacturers could function as do insurance companies where the customers pay first and then receive the product.  That is sort of the way the pre-order system works without the prepayment feature. But manufacturing, by tradition, does not operate that way and that tradition is hard to break.  

In addition how much desireability is there amongst the general customer base for upteen different styles of 40 foot boxcars?  Is the percentage of those hard core modelers who can tell the difference between a PS1 from any other 40 foot boxcar a sufficient base to justify taking the risk to manufactue it?  I, for one do not think that we, in N Guage, have reached that critical mass whereby such justification exists.  We are a diverse group.  A large percentage of us are in Ntrak where generally the opportunity to run long trains is not easily coupled to individual highly detailed cars that may cost 3 times or more than the cost of an Atlas Trainman/i] car. Then there is the seasonal modeler who puts up a train around the Christmas tree for the kids or whatever but who is not interested in rivet counting and those handrails maybe prototypically too thick but what the heck.  So we essentially have a quantity vs quality split that affects the critical mass needed to sustain production of a high quality/limited appeal product.  I suspect that what we are seeing in the N Gauge market place is that there are a lot less people  wanting the highly detailed model than others who want a car but not at the price of an arm and a leg.  So what is ultimately needed is a change in the percentages or growth in the number of people in N Scale to achieve that critical mass necessary. But I don't see the pre-order system as helpful in doing either of these.

That's my $.02 worth or in the case of those wanting the highly detailed expensive stuff, my $.25.  Just joking about the last bit!  [or was it two bits?]

bbussey

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 7009
  • Gender: Male
  • Respect: +996
    • www.bbussey.net
Re: Good manufacturing-themed thread in YahooGroup NScaleKitbashing
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2010, 02:33:40 PM »
0
... What I don't understand, and this really is a legitimate question, is why all the detail maunfacturers keep going belly up and then not selling off their tooling.  Seems to me that Craig could and should pick-up Cal freight, Sunrise, and N Scale of Nevada tooling and add it to his line.  He got production, he's got distribution, he's got CAD, he's go charisma for cryin' out loud.  Yest I hear that many of these folks just won't sell, even when they have no intention of continuing production.  Drives me nuts.

That's a tough one to answer.  You would think one factor might be that the asking price, that to recoup expenses the price would be higher than a buyer is willing to pay.  But there never are even whispers of any offers being tendered/declined, so that isn't it.
Bryan Busséy
NHRHTA #2246
NSE #1117
www.bbussey.net


Denver Road Doug

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 2120
  • Respect: +27
    • Mockingbird Industrial
Re: Good manufacturing-themed thread in YahooGroup NScaleKitbashing
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2010, 02:45:16 PM »
0
I just don't think there is some grand "model railroading market research" consortium out there.  Yes I'm sure there's bits here and there, but by-and-large it's not so much the lazy man's way as it is....the only way.  The part that really sucks about this m.o. is that once a model is "market research announced" it kills any other manufacturer from moving forward with said model.  So, you get the PRR M1, spine cars, coil cars, etc. sitting in PURGATORY forever.  (finally, the spine cars have seen the light)

I'm not so sure that the manufacturers are catering so much to the rivet counters in your 40ft PS1 example.  It's a matter of....the ubiquitous nature of a 40ft boxcar means that it's a good cash cow for a mfg. (like western coal cars and PA's)   Making a slightly different version just differentiates your product enough to attract the rivet counters but lets the mfg plaster 100 different road names on them and keep churning them out.  Rivet counters can feel good, mfgs make money, and J.Q. Public gets his 500th boxcar to add to the collection.  That's why you see the FVM's and Exactrail's of the world jumping in with boxcars right off the bat, and multiple mfg's making more bethgons, more covered hoppers, etc...
NOTE: I'm no longer active on this forum.   If you need to contact me, use the e-mail address (or visit the website link) attached to this username.  Thanks.

bbussey

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 7009
  • Gender: Male
  • Respect: +996
    • www.bbussey.net
Re: Good manufacturing-themed thread in YahooGroup NScaleKitbashing
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2010, 03:06:03 PM »
0
This is not intended as a rebuttal -but [no pun intended] I have to think that the pre-order system this hobby is currently embracing has a lot more to do with the probability that a model does not get made than what is obvious.  Capitalism has a long history among us and one of the basic tenets of capitalism is that the rewards received are commensurate with the risk taken.  People will assume that a manufactutrer has done his homework and will take on the the risk fully expecting the rewards to follow. But people see the pre-order system as a means to eliminate a large part, if not all, of the risk but not affect the other side of the equation.  Essentially they see the pre-order system, at best, as a lazy man's way to conduct market research or at worst an attempt to have a free lunch.  In essence the perceived notion is that manufacturers hold a particular car captive until the desired ransom is paid.  So they choose to not pre-order even if they would want the intended model.  This essentially is telling the manufacturers what they can do with their proposed product. This perception is reinforced by the "wait and see" philosophy directed toward a few manufacturers like Bachmann whose reputation for past products has been less than stellar.  All of this results in a lower demand as perceived by the manufacturers and if enough people opt out then the announced model is cancelled.  This becomes a lose/lose proposition for both manufacturer and customer with the manufacturer, at best, with egg on his faceand at worst a black eye and people, both those that did, as well as, did not pre-order are left with a sour taste in their mouth.  A manufacturer could do this one time without any major customer backlash but each successive time only increases the customers lack of faith in the manufactutrer's credibility. An excellent example is PCM's on again, off again, announcements, especially the PRR M1.

I totally disagree with you on the pre-order assessment.  The pros far outweigh the cons.  Turnover of product means more diversity of product, and the production of more esoteric products.  I guarantee you for example that if the old method of make-to-stock instead of make-to-order was still in effect, the IMRC Long Island sleeper never would have even been considered as a viable product let alone released outright.  Look at all of the shortline motive power and rolling stock that Atlas has done over the last decade.  The one and only downside is that if you want an item, you have to buy it when it is released.  And, in most cases, you still have time to pick up an item from one of the online stores if you didn't reserve ahead of time since they always order extra quantities.

Another issue inherent in today's model manufacturers and bearing on the problem is that, for the most part, they are essentially a cottage industry operation with its incumbent lack of adequate capitalization.  They can't afford to invest money in a product that is not going to provide sufficient returns to pay the bills.  Even a well capitalized business could not withstand a series of failed attempts.  But that is the risk one takes to earn the reward.  It would be nice if manufacturers could function as do insurance companies where the customers pay first and then receive the product.  That is sort of the way the pre-order system works without the prepayment feature. But manufacturing, by tradition, does not operate that way and that tradition is hard to break.  

Now here, we are in agreement.  Even the larger manufacturers don't have excess capital to tie up in slow-moving stock, especially when you're tying up $30k and upwards for 9+ months to bring a new product to market.  These aren't subsidiaries of multi-corporate conglomerates.  Most of them, even the larger ones, are family-owned businesses.

In addition how much desireability is there amongst the general customer base for upteen different styles of 40 foot boxcars?  Is the percentage of those hard core modelers who can tell the difference between a PS1 from any other 40 foot boxcar a sufficient base to justify taking the risk to manufactue it?  I, for one do not think that we, in N Guage, have reached that critical mass whereby such justification exists.  We are a diverse group.  A large percentage of us are in Ntrak where generally the opportunity to run long trains is not easily coupled to individual highly detailed cars that may cost 3 times or more than the cost of an Atlas Trainman/i] car. Then there is the seasonal modeler who puts up a train around the Christmas tree for the kids or whatever but who is not interested in rivet counting and those handrails maybe prototypically too thick but what the heck.  So we essentially have a quantity vs quality split that affects the critical mass needed to sustain production of a high quality/limited appeal product.  I suspect that what we are seeing in the N Gauge market place is that there are a lot less people  wanting the highly detailed model than others who want a car but not at the price of an arm and a leg.  So what is ultimately needed is a change in the percentages or growth in the number of people in N Scale to achieve that critical mass necessary. But I don't see the pre-order system as helpful in doing either of these.

Again, this speaks to the last back-and-forth regarding intricate free-standing detail and including a model's prototypical service history in the advertising literature.  You're right in that most people don't know the difference between a PS-1 and an AAR boxcar.  But it makes little sense for a manufacturer to duplicate something that already is successful on the market even if it "needs" to offer in general a boxcar, a hopper, etcetera ... so you choose a different prototype to fit the bill.  N scale has been around for over 40 years.  If you go with the premise that there are enough models already in existence to cover all the generic bodystyles, then nothing new will ever be manufactured and the hobby will stagnate.  I prefer the diversity we have today than what we had even as recently as the 1990s.  Look at how much diversity in passenger equipment there is now compared to just ten years ago, and that's not even taking into account the next Kato consist and the rest of the MTL heavyweights that are on the horizon.  Regarding the increasing levels of detail - that is the direction the hobby is moving, so you're going to continue to see more of that as it becomes less costly to manufacture.  There still are plenty of options at the entry level, but with fewer and fewer people actually building, kitbashing and scratchbuilding models today, you need high-end RTR to satisfy those who wish to expand their attention to fidelity of the prototype in the hobby.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2010, 05:55:17 PM by bbussey »
Bryan Busséy
NHRHTA #2246
NSE #1117
www.bbussey.net


asarge

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 1638
  • Respect: +19
Re: Good manufacturing-themed thread in YahooGroup NScaleKitbashing
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2010, 03:33:36 PM »
0
The replies to this topic show that people still don't get it.

Philip H

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 7328
  • Gender: Male
  • Respect: +442
    • Layout Progress Blog
Re: Good manufacturing-themed thread in YahooGroup NScaleKitbashing
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2010, 03:40:32 PM »
0
Sorry to be a pain, but how does agreeing withthe thread that was linked to "not getting it?"
Philip H.
Chief Everything Officer
Baton Rouge Southern RR - Mount Rainier Division.

"Yes there are somethings that are "off;" but hey, so what." ~ Wyatt

"I'm trying to have less cranial rectal inversion with this." - Ed K.

"There's more to MRR life than the Wheezy & Nowheresville." C855B

Denver Road Doug

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 2120
  • Respect: +27
    • Mockingbird Industrial
Re: Good manufacturing-themed thread in YahooGroup NScaleKitbashing
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2010, 03:50:23 PM »
0
Sorry to be a pain, but how does agreeing withthe thread that was linked to "not getting it?"

Yes, do tell....
NOTE: I'm no longer active on this forum.   If you need to contact me, use the e-mail address (or visit the website link) attached to this username.  Thanks.

Chris333

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 13077
  • Respect: +2430
Re: Good manufacturing-themed thread in YahooGroup NScaleKitbashing
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2010, 04:05:29 PM »
0
Who is Gordon Andrews?

lock4244

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 3391
  • Ontario - tax, tax, tax, tax, tax, tax, tax, tax
  • Respect: +57
    • My train pics
Re: Good manufacturing-themed thread in YahooGroup NScaleKitbashing
« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2010, 04:53:10 PM »
0
This is me flogging my dead horse. Atlas needs to do the GP40-2W in N scale. I don't want a home built car or a one-off from a road that went away 40 years ago, just what the HO'ers are getting. How is it an SD26 is a safe bet in N, but a GP40-2W is not? If IM can do an SD40-2W in N, Atlas can sure as heck do the GP40-2W in N. That is all I have to add.

Can someone more enlightened than I answer that?
Welcome to Ontario... we've got a tax for that.
My train pics:
http://tinyurl.com/62uk24
More here:
http://www.railpictures.ca/author/lock4244

lock4244

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 3391
  • Ontario - tax, tax, tax, tax, tax, tax, tax, tax
  • Respect: +57
    • My train pics
Welcome to Ontario... we've got a tax for that.
My train pics:
http://tinyurl.com/62uk24
More here:
http://www.railpictures.ca/author/lock4244

Robbman

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 3007
  • Respect: +16
Re: Good manufacturing-themed thread in YahooGroup NScaleKitbashing
« Reply #14 on: May 25, 2010, 05:09:42 PM »
0
How is it an SD26 is a safe bet in N, but a GP40-2W is not?

Can someone more enlightened than I answer that?


It was certainly less expensive to do... the SD26 was an offshoot of the SD24... i.e, designed at the same time, so it was nothing more than slides in the dies of the bodyshell.