Author Topic: Where is the tipping point?  (Read 1994 times)

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Rossford Yard

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Re: Where is the tipping point?
« Reply #30 on: December 29, 2014, 06:14:37 PM »
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Most of the examples listed of how to make spending decisions resonate with me.

Not sure if there is a similar current example, but 25 years ago, I wanted Auto Racks, and Con Cor made them, not great, but available and I bought about 40 to make two trains.  5-10 years ago, MT, RC, Atlas and Athearn all came out with improved racks and I sold off what I could, and bought new, but ran mixed for a long time, until someone here offered up their collection of MT and RC for well below typical retail, and Doug and I bought the lot and split them.

So, for just that one car type, we had several buying sprees, a selling effort, many mfgs, buying because I needed them (and truth be told, I was happy to run the Con Cor), buying because of higher quality, etc.

Similar story with the 89 TOFC from Con Cor to Mt, but I haven't rushed to upgrade that fleet as much, perhaps because Well Cars took their place.

Similar with grain trains, where I did buy the 5600 from IM, but kept all my old 4740's from IM, and they co-exist sitting side by side at grain elevators, or often passing on the main. I don't think any of the Bethgons on the market are super detailed, but no one complains much about those. Maybe the longer the unit train, the less detail we need? 

Have also added to, but kept, my coil car fleet, which my IHB layout runs in bulk.  As to tank cars, the original MDC ones had flaws, were not really a prototype, but we bought them.  Atlas and Athearn have come out with more realistic, slightly better detailed ones, which I think have sold well, although I have seen some of the Atlas tankers on close out at train shows. Athearn, I think, has re-issued some of the old MDC tooling.

We probably drive the mfgs crazy, but our experiences show the complexity of the question, and how budget, quality, train and layout type, etc. all influence what level of detail we seek and actually buy.

In retrospect, I would bet that the availability of a needed car type drives the personal decision to buy the most. Road names in the era we want is probably second.  Attractive cars probably sell better than generic BCR or Gray ones with lettering only. 

We might grumble about certain things, details, delicacy, road names, etc., but we probably buy a tank car in appropriate era and road name if we need one (or three dozen....)  We probably buy across the spectrum based on those factors.  If that is the case, the tipping point probably comes when everything that there would ever be a demand for has been made at least twice - once with average detail and once with higher detail for those who want to upgrade. 

And that point will be that the only new products they can offer are ones that appeal to a very limited segment of the market (like us IHB or EJE modelers) which drives up the prices due to lower quantities more than 3D printing or other tech can offset to keep prices in line with inflation and expectations.

bbussey

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Re: Where is the tipping point?
« Reply #31 on: December 29, 2014, 06:51:57 PM »
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Keep in mind that your auto-rack upgrade took place over the course of a 25 year period.  I don't think it's unreasonable to, say, purchase Atlas "Master" PS-1 boxcars to upgrade Micro-Trains boxcars first released 40 years ago, which in turn were an upgrade over the Atlas/Trix/AHM 40' boxcar models of the time period.

Yes, models get upgraded.  But it's not as if upgrades are coming to market a year or two after the established version.  Almost all of the current "quality upgrade" models released in the last few years have supplanted models made close to a quarter-century ago.  Some examples:
  • Atlas PS-1 boxcars have supplanted MTL 40' boxcars
  • The upgraded Athearn/MDC 50' PS-1 boxcars over the MTL 50' boxcars
  • Athearn 40' Airslides over the Atlas now-Trainman version
  • Athearn two-bay Centerflows over the Atlas version
  • Micro-Trains Appliance boxcar over the Bachmann version
  • Micro-Trains Greenville 60' boxcar over the Con-Cor version
  • Atlas ACF TOFCs over MTL version
  • MTL and RC enclosed racks over Con-Cor version
  • MTL open racks over Roco and Arnold versions
  • Trainworx and Bluford auto parts boxcars over Roco and Arnold versions
  • Micro-Trains 100-ton hopper over Atlas "Trainman" version
  • Bachmann NE caboose over Life-Like version
  • Micro-Trains composite twin hopper over AHM version
  • Atlas offset twin hopper over Micro-Trains version
  • BLMA and Prairie Shadows gondolas over Micro-Trains version
  • ESM X58 boxcar over AHM/Con-Cor version
  • Athearn Challengers and Big-Boys over Con-Cor/RivaRossi versions
  • Atlas GP38-2 over Kato version
  • Kato F3 over Con-Cor version
  • Kato E8A over Atlas/RivaRossi version
  • Kato GG1 over Arnold version
... and the list goes on.  But in the overwhelming number of these upgrades, the gap is at least 15-20 years if not more.

Bryan Busséy
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NSE #1117
www.bbussey.net


jpwisc

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Re: Where is the tipping point?
« Reply #32 on: January 03, 2015, 12:02:27 PM »
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I model, I like details, but I also operate, and I've learned my thresholds, or more appropriately "how to make things survive visitors".

I love the detail level that Exactrail, Trainworx and BLMA are hitting on their freight cars. Closer to scale coupler boxes (scale couplers would be nice too), printing on the trucks, finely molded brake wheels and ladders. I don't mind paying for a car if it's worth it. I also have a very small fleet of rolling stock (less than 200 pieces). I have cars that I run at shows that are my "tough cars" (i.e. Atlas Thrall hoppers, MT 2 Bay Sand Hoppers) and I have my detailed cars for at home (IM Trinitys, Athearn Tank Cars). If a tough car gets derailed, no big whoop. The funny thing I've learned is that when I build a train, car detail tends to not be noticed. I found that when I build a show train, people notice the engines, the first 2-3 cars, the last 2-3 cars and the DPU or Fred car. The middle cars go unnoticed for the most part. I could weather a Bachmann car, toss it in and no one will ever notice. People see the train, not the cars. If the layout scene is detailed, they notice the train even less.

Engines are another story. I admit I have to detail and paint those myself, as I don't think I'd want to pay for that level of detail from the factory, and besides, I don't want one just like everyone else does.

All in all I think the manufacturers are doing a great job of covering the spectrum. We have good looking "tough cars" and the detailed ones alike. Do I want more details, heck yea! Bring it on. When they get to expensive, we'll let you know, because we'll stop buying them. I just don't see that happening. People will pay for quality. I built an N Scale Kits Depressed center flat car and a modeler bought it from me for $120. If you build it, there is a market for it out there.
Karl
CEO of the Skally Line, an Eastern MN Shortline.

sirenwerks

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Re: Where is the tipping point?
« Reply #33 on: January 03, 2015, 12:25:31 PM »
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The DCC sound issue is a matter of design.  If the manufacturers of DCC sound would design a system that incorporates the sound into the throttle units rather than the locomotive the cost for modelers would be greatly reduced and it would be more accessible to more modelers because of that.  Of course, that would drastically reduce the profit margin of decoder and speaker manufacturers, since installing in individual locomotives means more decoder and speaker sales.  But for N scalers the amount of hassle would be drastically decreased and the sound quality issue could be dealt with.

Further DCC systems are far too complicated.  The amount of memory expended to remember which function key or combination of function keys produces what result takes away from a lot of the fun of operating a train.  I recently came a across a new manufacturer (the name of which escapes me) of an RC system that, although its only available for HO, it had an amazingly simple GUI that made using it so simple that it blew my mind.
Now seeking Pacific NW N scalers to create a Modutrak-style modular club featuring NP's shared mainline between Seattle and Portland. PM me if interested.

sirenwerks

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Re: Where is the tipping point?
« Reply #34 on: January 03, 2015, 12:30:15 PM »
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... and the list goes on.  But in the overwhelming number of these upgrades, the gap is at least 15-20 years if not more.

Not in all cases.  IMRC v. Kato F units is one example.  Operating characteristics aside, having to redetail Kato units with see-through screens scares the hell out of me, so I will opt for IMRC if they ever release the paint schemes I want at a time when I have the cash to buy them in the quantity I want them in (or offers undecs for me to paint).
Now seeking Pacific NW N scalers to create a Modutrak-style modular club featuring NP's shared mainline between Seattle and Portland. PM me if interested.

Iain

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Re: Where is the tipping point?
« Reply #35 on: January 03, 2015, 02:39:34 PM »
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My favorite aspect of the hobby is detailing, so if the factory takes that away from me, it does slightly diminishes the hobby for me.  There are some things that are a pain in the rear, like lowering some cars, that I don't mind being done at the factory (Does prototypical ride hight cost more?  Body mounted couplers?).  However, things like adding windshield wipers, cut levers, etc are enjoyable to me.  If the major dimensions and details like rib count are correct or close enough (that's a whole new discussion), then I'm good.  In other words, I'm fine with a good, solid starting point.

Take, for instance, my NS GP18 project.  It was a relatively easy build, based on a solid model put out by Life Like.  It allowed me to do all the things that interest me without having to deal with the things I dislike doing.  I don't mind that no one has put out a low nose GP18 in N scale, because it gave me an enjoyable project.  Now, if I could just get the handrails etched so I can finish it.

As far as DCC, I like the control it gives me, and I like the way it lets me add things to my locomotives (and now, cabooses, I just added my first decoder to a caboose).  I don't care about sound, and don't own a single sound locomotive.
Thanks much,
Mairi Dulaney, RHCE
Member, Free Software Foundation and Norfolk Southern Historical Society

http://jdulaney.com