Author Topic: Atlas’s Walthers tooling Dec 18 edition.  (Read 4946 times)

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Ike the BN Freak

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Re: Atlas’s Walthers tooling Dec 18 edition.
« Reply #30 on: December 18, 2018, 01:46:11 AM »
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Well, I'm as much of an N scale fan as anyone, but I think it boils down to dollars spent, not the number of modelers or cars and number of  engines sold.

On this, I think Walther's shot themselves in the foot. When Life-Like did the GP20, and within a couple months of release, the locos were being sold at firesale prices. Then as soon as they bought the tooling, they redo the same loco, and many of us are just waiting for them to do another firesale as that is what we all figured they would do. And they came through, which I'm sure helps their ideas of N scale doesn't sell...unless deeply discounted.

Rossford Yard

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Re: Atlas’s Walthers tooling Dec 18 edition.
« Reply #31 on: December 18, 2018, 11:03:45 AM »
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Well, I'm as much of an N scale fan as anyone, but I think it boils down to dollars spent, not the number of modelers or cars and number of  engines sold. I would  think that as individual N scalers, we'd buy more cars than the typical HO modeler, particularly hoppers and other cars that tend to run in multiple numbers, hence Trainworx etc. But there are a substantial number of guys that spend crazy money on a handful of HO items, and that tends to sway the manufacturers preferences. Rather than looking at statistics of how many modelers are in each scale, I'd like to see a pie chart showing $ spent on each scale today... it takes a lot of N scale hoppers to equal a $2,500 HO brass engine :P
Still, we never had it so good, so I'm happy with what we got today... 8)
Otto K.

Otto, this is exactly what I was going to post.  More mfgs doesn't necessarily mean more market, especially since most get in as a labor of love.  And, they continue to build outlet stores and shopping malls, albeit at a lesser rate, despite it being fairly clear on line shopping is the way to go, so not all business activities are completely rational. :o

The HIAA used to do an annual report every November. Not sure if its just not out yet for this year, or they stop releasing them when sales numbers dropped.  Last one I recall showed MR sales (at the wholesale level) going from $488M to just over $500M, or a growth about 3% that year.  Of course, we have to extrapolate those numbers and nothing tells us how much is in N vs. HO or others.  But, 3% is roughly inflation, meaning sales are essentially flat.  And, I have heard folks extrapolate that the expensive stuff including sound in locos, name trains from Kato, etc. are all attempts to sell more to long established, older and presumably wealthier customers.  That, and nearly every other one off example we use here probably don't capture the real sense of the market. 

I also spent my pre coffee time doing an internet search, and any articles I found were vintage 2011 or earlier, so no new data there, and even back then, it was mostly estimates, which varied from 300K to 1M by hobbyists like ourselves.  In 1999, the Chicago Trib, interviewing someone from the National Train Show put HO at 87% of the market, higher than we assumed.  But, IIRC, the recession of 2000 was the start of the internet reservation systems, as mfgs got concerned about over production.  In the 1990's you had to scramble to get a new Kato loco, as many LHS were shorted badly.  Now, its only a problem for those of us who don't pre-order, back then, it was a problem even if you pre-ordered. 

I have always been interested in the business side of the hobby, although I don't know why, as I don't want to make my hobby my business (already did that in golf!) :D



Rossford Yard

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Re: Atlas’s Walthers tooling Dec 18 edition.
« Reply #32 on: December 18, 2018, 11:08:56 AM »
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By the way, that same article mentioned MR had circulation of 210,000.  I remember it being as high as 225,000 in the 1990's.  I checked the current issue (January) which has the circulation numbers for the last year.  It has been dropping at least 10,000 per year, and last year, readership was down to 98,000, the first time I have seen under 100,000.  Checked N Scale and NSR, and their readership has dropped from 11,000 ten years ago to 5,000+ last year.

Of course, this probably reflects the general decline of print as much as hobby participation, and I am not proclaiming Model Railroading as a hobby is dead or dying.  Just throwing it out there, even though its a far cry from the OP noting Atlas' December catalog.

peteski

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Re: Atlas’s Walthers tooling Dec 18 edition.
« Reply #33 on: December 18, 2018, 04:08:18 PM »
+2
Rossford Yard, I have no doubt in my mind that the entire model RR hobby is shrinking (because older modelers are dying and younger people are not as interested).  But this is not just N scale - it is the model R hobby in general. We often have this gloom-and-doom type of discussion started in online forums.    The printed magazine circulation is shrinking because of that, but even more because printed media in general is in decline.  There are now other ways to acquire information and to connect with other hobbyists.

Yes, with all that we still have new manufacturers and new technologies producing more and more variety of high quality models for those who are remaining int the hobby.

I really don't think it is a fair assessment to say that there is a decline in N scale hobby. Sure, if you strictly go by the monetary values, or even by quantities of items sold, the numbers will be lower now than in the past, but we still are living in the best of times for N scale modeling.

And as for Walthers, nobody really knows what goes through their management's mind and do we really care?  They are an anachronism in today's model RR world. At least as far as N scale is concerned. 
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dougnelson

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Re: Atlas’s Walthers tooling Dec 18 edition.
« Reply #34 on: December 18, 2018, 04:21:05 PM »
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I assume that the FA LL shells will fit the Atlas mechanism so I can swap already-detailed and weathered shells.  Same for the C-Liners and Erie-builts for that matter.

Rossford Yard

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Re: Atlas’s Walthers tooling Dec 18 edition.
« Reply #35 on: December 18, 2018, 05:53:09 PM »
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Rossford Yard, I have no doubt in my mind that the entire model RR hobby is shrinking (because older modelers are dying and younger people are not as interested).  But this is not just N scale - it is the model R hobby in general. We often have this gloom-and-doom type of discussion started in online forums.    The printed magazine circulation is shrinking because of that, but even more because printed media in general is in decline.  There are now other ways to acquire information and to connect with other hobbyists.

Yes, with all that we still have new manufacturers and new technologies producing more and more variety of high quality models for those who are remaining int the hobby.

I really don't think it is a fair assessment to say that there is a decline in N scale hobby. Sure, if you strictly go by the monetary values, or even by quantities of items sold, the numbers will be lower now than in the past, but we still are living in the best of times for N scale modeling.

And as for Walthers, nobody really knows what goes through their management's mind and do we really care?  They are an anachronism in today's model RR world. At least as far as N scale is concerned.


I like your first line - youth not as interested vs. no one is getting into the hobby, which I think we tend to think, in more black and white terms.  Very astute observation.


As to Walthers and N scale, I guess we don't really care, but I just by into the idea of cold hard business rationale (we don't make as much money) over some desire to ignore N scale.  That said, there have been some reports of reps at train shows being somewhat dismissive of N scalers, so maybe they get as angry at us as customers as much as some of us get angry at them for suppliers. (or at least some of them and some of us.....)


Lastly, I may not have worded it exactly right, but my impression was we felt N scale was going to keep increasing as a proportion of the scales, not suggesting decline of it or any or all scales.  Back when I got into N in 1990, thanks to the quality of Kato and Atlas, signs showed N scale going from perhaps 15% in the late 80's, to 20% in the early 90's, and maybe even eventually getting close to an even share of the market with HO. 


My point was that I believe N scale is still sub 20% of the market with HO still near 70%, but again, its just some general impressions.  Despite that, if true, like others, I am happy both with the amount of new N offerings, and to some degree, happy my collection is mostly complete, given how much prices have gone up.  I probably rode the N scale wave perfectly, getting in right when it got good, and not "needing" much any more, but one of those they target - willing to upgrade locos with sound (albeit with fewer locos for my downsized layout) and freight cars I need, but not needing to break the bank.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2018, 05:56:35 PM by Rossford Yard »

Rich_S

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Re: Atlas’s Walthers tooling Dec 18 edition.
« Reply #36 on: December 18, 2018, 08:49:30 PM »
+1

(Note: yes, I am a bit of a shill for John's stuff, but only because I really like them)


You can add my name to that list to Ed. I really like John's DVD's, especially the ones Big Mike narrates.

unittrain

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Re: Atlas’s Walthers tooling Dec 18 edition.
« Reply #37 on: December 19, 2018, 07:27:40 AM »
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Was talking to an HO guy and he said in regards to the new Tangent coal hoppers that the average HO scaler buys 50 cars  :o I bought 2 in N but I don't model UP either. I'm not sure where he got his data on the sales

DKS

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Re: Atlas’s Walthers tooling Dec 18 edition.
« Reply #38 on: December 19, 2018, 07:43:18 AM »
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Rossford Yard, I have no doubt in my mind that the entire model RR hobby is shrinking (because older modelers are dying and younger people are not as interested).  But this is not just N scale - it is the model R hobby in general. We often have this gloom-and-doom type of discussion started in online forums.    The printed magazine circulation is shrinking because of that, but even more because printed media in general is in decline.  There are now other ways to acquire information and to connect with other hobbyists.

Yes, with all that we still have new manufacturers and new technologies producing more and more variety of high quality models for those who are remaining int the hobby.

I really don't think it is a fair assessment to say that there is a decline in N scale hobby. Sure, if you strictly go by the monetary values, or even by quantities of items sold, the numbers will be lower now than in the past, but we still are living in the best of times for N scale modeling.

And as for Walthers, nobody really knows what goes through their management's mind and do we really care?  They are an anachronism in today's model RR world. At least as far as N scale is concerned.

This. Very much this. The back-and-forth over the doom-and-gloom argument has been ongoing for almost as long as I've been in the hobby (which is over 50 years). Back in the 60s I'd read an analysis of hobbies in general that found all indoor hobbies (from stamp collecting to model railroading) were in decline, with no signs of recovery. Based on the evident boom in N Scale we're witnessing these days, it would appear otherwise; however, I believe this is a function of who is involved in the hobby and when: we have hoards of boomers retiring at record pace, many of them are flush with expendable income, and I believe the industry is capitalizing on this very phenomenon, consciously or otherwise. Plus, technological advances and dirt cheap overseas labor help fuel the boom.

As for what will happen next, I have some thoughts, but I keep them to myself because a) it would only give rise to significant, needless bickering, and b) it's out of my hands anyway. Let's all just enjoy the ride while we can.
“Everyone leaves unfinished business. That's what dying is.” —Amos, The Expanse

sundowner

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Re: Atlas’s Walthers tooling Dec 18 edition.
« Reply #39 on: December 19, 2018, 09:06:59 AM »
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Was talking to an HO guy and he said in regards to the new Tangent coal hoppers that the average HO scaler buys 50 cars  :o I bought 2 in N but I don't model UP either. I'm not sure where he got his data on the sales

I don’t know of the average N scale UP modelers but I got 28 of the available 36 number of the run, plus 5, 100 wheel packs. I did buy my cars six to eight at a time as the budget allow, same for the wheels.
Which ever side of the track I am on is the right side.

Rossford Yard

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Re: Atlas’s Walthers tooling Dec 18 edition.
« Reply #40 on: December 19, 2018, 01:43:41 PM »
+1
I don’t know of the average N scale UP modelers but I got 28 of the available 36 number of the run, plus 5, 100 wheel packs. I did buy my cars six to eight at a time as the budget allow, same for the wheels.


About 5 years ago, Frank from IM came to the Plano Train Show to give a presentation.  Unlike most mfgs.,, he shared production numbers. I recall that covered hoppers were one of their biggest sellers, and N sold 225K of them to 250K for HO.  In other words, with a quarter to third of the number of modelers, sales were nearly equal.  I suspect that applies to coal and other typical unit trains as well.  The typical guess is that N scalers buy unit trains for long runs on N TRAK modules that HO guys rarely have, as well as the general ability to run longer trains on home layouts.


The other stat I recall is that their then newish N scale 60 foot flats, which a few of us were really waiting for, and which sold only 8,000 copies at that time (I think their have been some reruns since).  That alone keeps me from complaining about mfgs.  If you think about it, 8K times 40% of the retail price of $22 means IM grossed only $176,000 to bring a middling selling model to market.  If their Chinese sub contract costs were 50% of the gross, and general overhead another $20,000, and if there are 3  employees, even making minimum wage, they would cost over, $50K, so Frank and family made only $18K for the year on that. 

Obviously, I am making some assumptions here, but no one in the MRR industry gets rich and they certainly need to hit homeruns somewhere like covered hoppers to offset any duds.  I can certainly understand any company looking at long wanted (by some) but low volume projects twice.  Granted, some do, and I am grateful, like most here, for that!

thomasjmdavis

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Re: Atlas’s Walthers tooling Dec 18 edition.
« Reply #41 on: December 19, 2018, 04:34:23 PM »
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Was talking to an HO guy and he said in regards to the new Tangent coal hoppers that the average HO scaler buys 50 cars  :o I bought 2 in N but I don't model UP either. I'm not sure where he got his data on the sales
Surely what he actually meant was that their average factory direct sale was in lots of 50.  If the 100,000 HO modelers out there bought 50 each on average, that would be 5 million cars with a retail total of $150,000,000.  I don't think they did that well.

Tom D.

Cajonpassfan

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Re: Atlas’s Walthers tooling Dec 18 edition.
« Reply #42 on: December 19, 2018, 07:25:28 PM »
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....
As for what will happen next, I have some thoughts, but I keep them to myself because a) it would only give rise to significant, needless bickering, and b) it's out of my hands anyway. Let's all just enjoy the ride while we can.

This. Very much this :D
We've never had it so good...
Otto K.

CodyO

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Re: Atlas’s Walthers tooling Dec 18 edition.
« Reply #43 on: December 19, 2018, 07:28:02 PM »
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This. Very much this. The back-and-forth over the doom-and-gloom argument has been ongoing for almost as long as I've been in the hobby (which is over 50 years). Back in the 60s I'd read an analysis of hobbies in general that found all indoor hobbies (from stamp collecting to model railroading) were in decline, with no signs of recovery. Based on the evident boom in N Scale we're witnessing these days, it would appear otherwise; however, I believe this is a function of who is involved in the hobby and when: we have hoards of boomers retiring at record pace, many of them are flush with expendable income, and I believe the industry is capitalizing on this very phenomenon, consciously or otherwise. Plus, technological advances and dirt cheap overseas labor help fuel the boom.

As for what will happen next, I have some thoughts, but I keep them to myself because a) it would only give rise to significant, needless bickering, and b) it's out of my hands anyway. Let's all just enjoy the ride while we can.

I think expendable income/time has a lot to do with this.

Most guys my age don’t have the money and some the time, but I’ve been fortunate and over the last 2 years I’ve been able to greatly increase what I can spend on the hobby.
Modeling the Pennsylvania Middle Division in late 1954
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OldEastRR

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Re: Atlas’s Walthers tooling Dec 18 edition.
« Reply #44 on: December 20, 2018, 01:48:44 AM »
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... it takes a lot of N scale hoppers to equal a $2,500 HO brass engine :P
Still, we never had it so good, so I'm happy with what we got today... 8)
Otto K.

Except Walthers doesn't sell brass locos, so there has to be some anti-N bias at Walthers. From my dealings with their management and what others have reported from their reps at train shows, Walthers basically thinks N scale is a toy, a fad, nothing worth investing in. This blindness keeps them from seeing all the profit they could make doing N versions of their HO buildings.