Author Topic: China syndrome  (Read 11052 times)

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Mark5

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Re: China syndrome
« Reply #15 on: May 26, 2011, 12:32:07 PM »
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That's very interesting about the tooling, as other industries have a much more significant amount of capital "at risk". For example, VW makes cars in China, and is now investing in a new factory (Yizheng, Jiansu province) that will help increase production capacity to 3 million vehicles annually.

That's a lot of tooling to potentially "leave on the table".


asarge

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Re: China syndrome
« Reply #16 on: May 26, 2011, 02:17:51 PM »
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I get the price increase to a point, but atlas stuff has had a price increase for each release for the last ?? years?  It hasnt been little ones either.  Do you think people will bail on model railroading or will it just be a Rich Man's hobby?  I might just have to play with what I have now and stop entertaining thoughts of getting more stuff.


The bigger question becomes how much disposable income will people have to spend on hobbies going forward and are they willing to keep spending that disposable income on model railroading. It becomes a question of what value each modeller puts on a specific product now. If he doesn't really "have to have" or need it. He may not "impulse' buy. If he does really want it, he'll pay.



Quote
That's very interesting about the tooling, as other industries have a much more significant amount of capital "at risk". For example, VW makes cars in China, and is now investing in a new factory (Yizheng, Jiansu province) that will help increase production capacity to 3 million vehicles annually.

That's a lot of tooling to potentially "leave on the table".

Well, there is a difference there. VW has a corporate presence in China and their own manufacturing facility. Not just an agent and someone to produce the product for them. Automobile manufacturers don't just invest for the short term. VW expects to be in China permanently even when they will no longer be the fastest growing economy.

up1950s

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Re: China syndrome
« Reply #17 on: May 26, 2011, 02:57:58 PM »
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China and others can price themselves out of the market causing previously owned trains to increase in value . There is a point of diminishing returns providing one wants the business , and moreover the hobby to continue . In that vein the hobby will self regulate IMO . Expendable cash is being taken from us by no cost of living increases on an even 1 for 1 , and increased cost of things that are of more importance . We have at stake a higher priced fewer choices hobby smörgåsbord , they have their businesses to fold .

sirenwerks

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Re: China syndrome
« Reply #18 on: May 26, 2011, 03:57:53 PM »
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China is getting like Japan used to be when they were the top dog on this stuff

I'm not sure that's a fair comparison. Japan's edge lay primarily in electronics, especially in the development of technological and cutesy marketing edge - Japan is capable of creating tech advances and bringing them to market very swiftly, as well as keeping all those Japanese school girls happy with the latest gitchigamee, or whatever it's called now. And Japan lost its edge years ago to S. Korea - while it still creates the trends, Korea has a lower COL and is capable of less expensive production than Japan now.

China has little innovative muscle, it just has slave labor pouring in from the countryside, flooding cities because the social experiment is starting to crumble at the fray. But city living's becoming expensive as Western living ideals penetrate the population centers and the hype of US-type status-based identity seeps in (mistaken as innovation). Not to mention that there is still a great deal of graft going on everywhere the party reaches out - just look at China's highspeed rail system.

China's bound to crumble (again) and when it does it's commercial edge will whither. There are plenty of other Asian and Eastern European countries in the waiting, and just look at all the unemployed in Arab countries. Now there's a labor market waiting for tapping, if you can get through the cultural differences, violence, and lack of production resources.
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AlkemScaleModels

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Re: China syndrome
« Reply #19 on: May 26, 2011, 09:05:58 PM »
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When I was investigating having an injection molded car made, the problem wasn't getting tooling made in the US. The problem was assembly, there was no assembly capability for model kits in the US. To quote the manufacturer I was working with, "for $10 an hour a US worker would rather drive a forklift, than assemble models."

 

jmlaboda

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Re: China syndrome
« Reply #20 on: May 27, 2011, 10:36:39 AM »
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"To quote the manufacturer I was working with, 'for $10 an hour a US worker would rather drive a forklift, than assemble models.'"

Makes me wonder about why kits aren't being made any more...

FrankCampagna

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Re: China syndrome
« Reply #21 on: May 27, 2011, 10:52:17 AM »
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Makes me wonder about why kits aren't being made any more...

Because model railroaders would rather drive a forklift than assemble a kit.

Frank
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Philip H

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Re: China syndrome
« Reply #22 on: May 27, 2011, 11:08:47 AM »
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Because model railroaders would rather drive a forklift than assemble a kit.

Frank
No, because Americans seem to have challenges with low wage jobs.  Yes, I know its a POTENTIALLY POLITICAL statement, but one of the many economic arguments for this sort of manufacturing being done in China is that there is not a labor pool in the US that is willing to do these jobs at a rate that makes a sufficient profit for a company.  I'm not, mind you, commenting on that proposition, just issuing a friendly reminder of one of the many reasons we're at this cross roads.
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Ian MacMillan

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Re: China syndrome
« Reply #23 on: May 27, 2011, 01:25:46 PM »
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Because model railroaders would rather drive a forklift than assemble a kit.

Frank

I would ...come on, I like builimg kits...but its a forklift for crying out loud. You can pick things up and put them down all day. Same reason why I want a mini excavator to dig holes in the backyard all day.
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Craig Martyn

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Re: China syndrome
« Reply #24 on: May 27, 2011, 02:48:45 PM »
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Exactly Mike's point here:

Craig Martyn
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FrankCampagna

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Re: China syndrome
« Reply #25 on: May 27, 2011, 04:00:23 PM »
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For the record, I work at one of those low wage, low pay, dangerous jobs. It's not that people don't want to work, it's hard to do a job that can get you killed or seriously injured for low pay. My debt level is low enough I can do better than most. Amusing to see Congress bring in an actor to discuss them. I've also built kits. Loved the Fine N scale kits. The Intermountain boxcars as they first came out were more trouble than they were worth. They did improve them. Liked the tank cars, but finances were low at the time, and they had gone RTR by the time I was able to afford more.

Frank 
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sirenwerks

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Re: China syndrome
« Reply #26 on: May 27, 2011, 04:33:30 PM »
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Two points...

One touching on what Frank states above. Kits have gone the way of the dodo for precisely the reason manufacturers suspect they don't sell well - instant gratification. Manufacturers believe customers want instant gratification so they buy something they can take out of the box and fondle. Manufacturers want that same immediate gratification in terms of sales, so they're unable to sit on their hands and allow the pace of sales to build. I've been where Frank was, unable to buy something at a moment and watching it disappear. I miss the days of the blue box, even if that really wasn't a kit, It spent enough time on the shelf, so it seemed, that I could scratch together my allowance over a few weeks to buy it. We're not all made of disposable income and it would be nice if manufacturers appreciated that.

Second, one could say that American workers don't want to sit and assemble small objects, they'd rather drive a forklift; but that's way oversimplifying the situation. Assembly line positions, aside from the auto industry, are largely unprotected now. In the day where it was a reality to enter employment at an early age, move up in the company, and retire from the same company menial labor was a safe bet, a way in and even if you didn't move up you still kept working. If companies would put some effort into job and workplace stability there would be greater worker commitment.

If anyone's interested, there's a Mexican film that deals with the future of menial labor in a very interesting way, called Sleep Dealer. If you speak Spanish or can stand subtitles, I highly recommend it on its intellectual value.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2011, 04:35:09 PM by sirenwerks »
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Shipsure

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Re: China syndrome
« Reply #27 on: May 28, 2011, 08:35:25 AM »
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I can only speak for my corner of the world, but there is huge push back from customers for anything that requires assembly.  I just think it's an N scale thing to be honest.  Not sure if it's our personalitiy or conditioning, but on the few occasions we included parts too costly for us to apply, the mail hit the fan.  Understandable.

Also, these days, it's death to a small company to sit on product longer than 60 days because the interest wains as new product comes to market.  It's one of the reasons I started weathering cars, figure out a way to move it, or get rid of it.  It's been our experience that after 60 days, even hobby shops don't want the product even at a discount.  Stuff just cant sit because if you don't have a quick return on investment, you start falling behind on payroll and bill paying...and so the domino's go.  I personally would love to be able to come back a year later and get that car that I'm interested in I saw at the hobby shop.  Kits can sit longer because the hand work is so limited and your financial exposure is much less.  That's why you can continue to buy that Monogram P-51 you saw in the  hobbyshop last year, next year.

I agree with you Mike on all counts, what we would like to see may not be possible in this economy.  I cut my teeth on Blue Boxes (thought $15.00 for a GP-35 was a rip off!!) and wish we could have product like that.  Again, I think it's just the RTR mentality of N scale, more than other that make doing pre painted, un assembled product a difficult sale.  I would love to see that...a little sweat on my part saves a few bucks in my pocket.

Joe



Two points...

One touching on what Frank states above. Kits have gone the way of the dodo for precisely the reason manufacturers suspect they don't sell well - instant gratification. Manufacturers believe customers want instant gratification so they buy something they can take out of the box and fondle. Manufacturers want that same immediate gratification in terms of sales, so they're unable to sit on their hands and allow the pace of sales to build. I've been where Frank was, unable to buy something at a moment and watching it disappear. I miss the days of the blue box, even if that really wasn't a kit, It spent enough time on the shelf, so it seemed, that I could scratch together my allowance over a few weeks to buy it. We're not all made of disposable income and it would be nice if manufacturers appreciated that.

Second, one could say that American workers don't want to sit and assemble small objects, they'd rather drive a forklift; but that's way oversimplifying the situation. Assembly line positions, aside from the auto industry, are largely unprotected now. In the day where it was a reality to enter employment at an early age, move up in the company, and retire from the same company menial labor was a safe bet, a way in and even if you didn't move up you still kept working. If companies would put some effort into job and workplace stability there would be greater worker commitment.

If anyone's interested, there's a Mexican film that deals with the future of menial labor in a very interesting way, called Sleep Dealer. If you speak Spanish or can stand subtitles, I highly recommend it on its intellectual value.

asarge

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Re: China syndrome
« Reply #28 on: May 28, 2011, 09:48:51 AM »
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From  a brick and mortar perspective. Joe is right. But you do end up with stuff sitting no matter what. You would love our store Joe. There is a very good selection of stuff that sit's around longer than 60 days. And even better...or worse....stuff that we've sold and comes back awhile later used or not. We tend to overstock on local flavors and rods we know our customers model. We also stock some of the stuff we know we can sell...especially colorful stuff and stuff the younger ones andspouse might like. We don't speculate too much, especially on loco's. Luckily, we've been right more than wrong.

The move to RTR has allowed alot of people to actually start on or build a layout who may not have done it if they actually had to build everything. That does not make them lazy, a non modeller or non kit builder because when you get right down to it, building a layout is basically building a large kit. The RTR/Pre Built market allows them to accomplish their goals for a layout in less time. But that's not what this thread is about.

It's not just about getting people to work assembling small parts for $10 bucks an hour. It's keeping trained, motivated people and replacing the majority of those same people when they move on. In todays labor market, that might be a little easier than it was before 2007. Then it was darn near impossible. Constantly training new people adds alot to the cost because you spend alot of resources to hire and train them and productivity suffers until they are up too speed, thereby driving up costs further. MTL seems to have figured it out somewhat and I commend them for it.

daniel_leavitt2000

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Re: China syndrome
« Reply #29 on: May 28, 2011, 10:15:27 AM »
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Joe, if anything good has come from all of this its that MTL is in a much better position than any other n scale company. I have been buying more MTL products lately because the price is about the same as everyone else and they ae available when everyone else has delays. The CSX 50 box from last year is a perfect example.

I think some of the frustration you see from modelers towards MTL is that is not only represents n scale, but what's left of American industry. We see serious prototypes from China and president cars from our only American supplier.

I really like the new hopper and I can't wait for the CR OCS observation when it eventually comes. i think MTL is finally going the right direction. now how about them 19k corn tanks or pd5k hoppers?

Eh, I have to stop using my phone to type.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2011, 02:23:41 PM by daniel_leavitt2000 »
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