Author Topic: Athearn N Scale Survey  (Read 3945 times)

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sirenwerks

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Re: Athearn N Scale Survey
« Reply #75 on: March 16, 2022, 07:06:09 PM »
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So what would you pay for a an A-B-B-A set of LL undec C-Liners?
Emergency Manager (Noun)

1. A person who solves problems you can't.

2. One who does precision guesswork based on unreliable data provided by those of questionable knowledge.

See also: wizard, magician, miracle worker

Maletrain

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Re: Athearn N Scale Survey
« Reply #76 on: March 17, 2022, 09:44:05 AM »
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Quote
I think the apparent neglect is only in the eyes of the modelers pining from some specific model which has not been re-released.  They are probably a very small subset of the overall model market.  While I'm sure some poor planning, mistakes, or oversights are made by the marketing departments of model companies, I think generally they know what they're doing.

I don't want to be argumentative, but I am not seeing the logic that supports the idea that they generally know what they are doing with respect to satisfying what modelers, actually all potential purchasers, really want.

This thread sprang from a manufacturer asking modelers what they want, but it was already limited to a small set of possible responses that several posters say don't include things that they do want.

When I see a manufacturer ask that question in a more general way, then I will agree that they are actually looking for real info about what models want.  But, this "survey" comes across more as asking "Which of these specific things that we have decided we want to consider making would you consider buying?"

And, don't get me started on the fallacies of estimating demand by asking for pre-orders.  To many manufacturers have poisoned that well by (1) delivering promised products many years late, and even never, (2) delivering products that have serious flaws that become known as soon as they are delivered to the first few customers, and (3) delivering too few of the products to satisfy pre-production orders.  A lot of modelers are simply not going to preorder any more, so that is no longer a method for estimating demand.  Even trying to estimate a ratio for total buyers per pre-order won't work well, because that ratio is constantly changing as more people get disgruntled with that process.

Maybe what we should do is start a thread that asks what products people want to see produced that they think would sell well, and let others vote for them, similar to a poll, but with the ability to vote for as many as you think you would actually buy.  Some manufacturer might actually take note.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2022, 12:16:21 PM by Maletrain »

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: Athearn N Scale Survey
« Reply #77 on: March 17, 2022, 12:24:04 PM »
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This thread sprang from a manufacturer asking modelers what they want, but it was already limited to a small set of possible responses that several posters say don't include things that they do want.

When I see a manufacturer ask that question in a more general way, then I will agree that they are actually looking for real info about what models want.  But, this "survey" comes across more as asking "Which of these specific things that we have decided we want to consider making would you consider buying?"

I mean, that's almost certainly what it was.

"We need to decide and want another data point."

It's far from a terrible idea.

Maletrain

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Re: Athearn N Scale Survey
« Reply #78 on: March 17, 2022, 12:54:06 PM »
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It's far from a terrible idea. [the survey]

Not a "terrible" idea.  But, isn't it subject to all the other criticisms in this thread about asking modelers what they want?  Just seems to me they might consider asking the question more generally.  They can still factor-in whatever other considerations they used when they make a final decision.

bbussey

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Re: Athearn N Scale Survey
« Reply #79 on: March 17, 2022, 01:19:45 PM »
+1
Unfortunately the reservation method is here to stay.  It works extremely well in HO scale from the standpoint that the manufacturer doesn't underproduce what's needed to meet demand, thereby disappointing a large percentage of modelers as well as leaving revenue on the table.  In N, the reverse is true in that you don't want to get burned.  For our HO XIH, the reservations matched the production run despite the higher pricepoint and limited advertising.  We are making a slight overrun to cover those who will want the cars after they hit the market.  Conversely, we just produce to minimum on N scale production.  It never sells out, it may break even in a couple of months if we're lucky.  It all moves eventually but not at a pace that you could base cash-flow on.  So with N, we've started planning for subsequent runs when stock dwindles, which is why the next two N releases will be the return of the G26 gondola (with new G26A and G26C variations and metal wheels) and the return of the GSC well car (with new trucks and wheels).  There has been a run on both over the past year-plus so they warrant reissue.  The exception in N has been the two wheels products, which we've had to replenish twice from the factory outside of the planned schedule since we've introduced them.  It's been a pleasant surprise.

Regarding getting a subsequent run produced after an unexpected blowout run, it's difficult because for most of the manufacturers the work is contracted, so you have to wait for an open slot.  That's compounded by whether or not the product has components produced by other manufacturers, such as couplers and wheels.  The startup costs would be cheaper if the artwork remains the same, but it still would take however many weeks to manufacture (assuming there is an opening in the contractor's schedule) and another month to ship.  So it's not feasible to expect a quick turnaround on an unexpected emergency production run.  Given that there are minimum quantity requirements that must be met, my personal preference would be to alter the road numbers and issue new item/UPC numbers so that some of those fortunate to acquire the first run also would buy the second run.   Fortunately, our wheels are machined with no start-up costs, and no molding other than the clamshell packaging, so the lead time and manufacturing time is only 10 weeks plus another week for air freight and customs.  So we monitor weeks-supply on the wheels and place a production order when we get down to three months supply.

Regarding the polling in question, is Athearn really going to collect enough results in a general wide-open poll where they are trying to determine a standout product to make? By limiting the choices, the hope is that one of them will garner enough interest to warrant a production run.  A thousand responses on a couple hundred suggestions isn't going to help identify a definitive option.  I would have done the same thing, a poll with a handful of items and hope there are enough results to determine a clear choice.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2022, 01:23:32 PM by bbussey »
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Rossford Yard

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Re: Athearn N Scale Survey
« Reply #80 on: March 17, 2022, 01:27:19 PM »
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I don't want to be argumentative, but I am not seeing the logic that supports the idea that they generally know what they are doing with respect to satisfying what modelers, actually all potential purchasers, really want.

This thread sprang from a manufacturer asking modelers what they want, but it was already limited to a small set of possible responses that several posters say don't include things that they do want.


1 - Hasn't Athearn been in business about 75 years?  They must know something about what modeler's want.

2 - I have to believe the N Scale production options they want to take advantage of pre-existing work in HO to keep costs reasonable for us.  Yeah, there are a million things they might produce, but if scaling down to N at lower costs works, why not start there if inflation is raging?  That is better than spending more on a product that might not sell, despite getting rave reviews from a bunch of N scalers who might buy 1-2 of whatever they produce. 

And sometimes (see the U18 IM debacle) even stated preferences don't translate to pre-orders.  I would be willing to bet mfgs. aren't confident in all about internet sponsored free form surveys.  Not to mention what BBussey says, a million choices will probably yield a few of each, whereas limited choices may serve to get a better handle.

3 - At least they are asking and considering more N scale new product.  Take the win and go home, LOL.

mu26aeh

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Re: Athearn N Scale Survey
« Reply #81 on: March 17, 2022, 01:58:02 PM »
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They posted the HO version of the acid tanks on their FB page this week.  I asked them to give them the shrink ray technique and bring to N scale.  Then I remembered they were on the survey, so I copied the link and posted that in the comments for other N scale commenters to see and hopefully follow thru

bbussey

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Re: Athearn N Scale Survey
« Reply #82 on: March 17, 2022, 02:24:17 PM »
+1
The only advantage to having the HO model first and then introducing the N scale model is a savings on artwork, which is a fraction of the cost.  I suppose savings are on the initial research of the prototype as well.  But there is nothing from the HO model that can be retooled at 54% as-is and work for the N scale model.  The N scale model must be designed from scratch, just as is necessary going in the other direction from N to HO.
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peteski

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Re: Athearn N Scale Survey
« Reply #83 on: March 17, 2022, 09:37:58 PM »
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I don't want to be argumentative, but I am not seeing the logic that supports the idea that they generally know what they are doing with respect to satisfying what modelers, actually all potential purchasers, really want.
That's fine.

Maybe I was not specific enough.  I don't think model manufacturers' main goal is to satisfy some potential customers. IMO, the main goal is to make profits.   As I see things, models are manufactured for general consumption, not targeting some small but vocal group of modelers. Sometimes things work out in a way that a new model does satisfy that small vocal group, but only if the model will also appeal to majority of the potential customers.
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nkalanaga

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Re: Athearn N Scale Survey
« Reply #84 on: March 18, 2022, 02:13:27 AM »
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"So with N, we've started planning for subsequent runs when stock dwindles, which is why the next two N releases will be the return of the G26 gondola (with new G26A and G26C variations and metal wheels) and the return of the GSC well car (with new trucks and wheels). "

That's what Athearn used to do, back in the "blue box" era.  The couldn't make everything at the same time, so they'd run a batch of this, then a batch of that, and so on, until everything was run.  Then they'd go back and run another batch of whatever had sold out, until everything had been restocked.  Stuff was often out of stock, but dealers knew that it would be rerun reasonably quickly.
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Jim Costello

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Re: Athearn N Scale Survey
« Reply #85 on: March 18, 2022, 03:29:49 AM »
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Yes, that was in the days when everything was made in house in  the USA and not at some contractor's factory overseas.

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bbussey

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Re: Athearn N Scale Survey
« Reply #86 on: March 18, 2022, 08:59:24 AM »
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Yes, much easier when everything was in-house. But it’s easy enough in current times to monitor the weeks-supply for steadily-moving unchanging product (such as wheels) and keep them perpetually in stock.
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bbussey

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Re: Athearn N Scale Survey
« Reply #87 on: March 18, 2022, 09:07:57 AM »
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Also, artwork doesn’t scale well most of the time either, not in regard to hardcore adherence to prototype at least. We had to redraw the HO XIH artwork and couldn’t use the N artwork. And I don’t think we will scale down the HO artwork for whenever those schemes are revisited in N.
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JMaurer1

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Re: Athearn N Scale Survey
« Reply #88 on: March 18, 2022, 11:09:11 AM »
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Even to this day I don't like to 'reserve' anything...I HAVE reserved a few items in the past: Concor turbines (first 'new run' announced in 2010 and until a couple of years ago was still on their website as 'coming soon') and IM Chateau Martin reefers (that after 5+ years, they finally said that they weren't going to do them...although they did come out with some of the other roads but I never saw those released either). However I have been burned once or twice because of this:

Atlas: The SP 'daylight' PCT TOFC flat cars appeared to be an item that they only made enough to fulfill pre-orders and sold out instantly...since they did sell out so fast, how about a second run? I'll take 10.
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