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Author Topic: What's the future of Bachmann 1:20.3 scale?  (Read 33849 times)
CCSG


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« on: April 28, 2014, 04:48:02 AM »

I've been thinking about what might be coming out next. It seems to me that a lot models are being discontinued or not listed in the online catalog: Rail truck, Davenport, K-27, side dump gondola, EBT hopper, flat car to name the recent. The older models that come to mind are the connie and 45 ton diesel. The models I mentioned all seem like they were well received a and the fact they are sold out says something.

Tooling seems like the major investment, why stop producing? Is producing models in 1:20.3 scale for a limited time a marketing strategy? Once dies are made and paid for, it seems like the profit margin should increase.

I hope to see some new releases in 1:20.3 scale from July's NMRA convention. I'd love to see some passenger equipment.

Thoughts..... Wishes.......

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Patrick Kramer
Loco Bill Canelos

Model railroading since 1947


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« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2014, 10:43:54 AM »

Patrick,

While what you say is basically true, there still needs to be enough buyers at a cost effective price point to make even a small production run profitable.  There is also the issue of some redesign to eliminate problems or lessons learned during the initial production run.  Lets say that the product sells for $700 and the margin is $420 and costs are $340 including shipping from China and US distribution and salary costs, operation of repair service, cost of catalogs etc.  This would equate to $80 profit per item or $40000 for the run assuming there were buyers, and few problems with the product.

In my own mind, it seems that buyers are getting harder to find.  Our hobby seems to be failing to bring in new younger buyers, and many of the younger folks in our hobby are leaning toward those doggone diesels and 1/29th size products.  The hobby also seems to be flooded with used products at very low prices.  There are currently over 12500 G Scale items on Evil bay some new some used.  Bachmann Trains sets sell from $50 to about $130, some new in box. Rolling stock can be had for $30 or less with steel wheels even.  Other Brands have a similar problem.  The market is still glutted with other brands products as well.  Just got a nice covered hopper for $42.50, one that in the past would have sold for $110.  It was in near perfect condition and the right price for me since I wanted to repaint it.

1:20.3 is a very small niche product line compared to other scales in Large Scale.   

Even in my own case I am about bought out.   I have seven projects on my to do list and have all the parts, RC and Sound stuff to put in them. Over the years I have bought mostly rolling stock and locomotives I will probably never use.  My shelves are full and my buying is slowing down.

As the middle class struggles, sales of RR hobby items will most likely continue to lag.  Many without space buy R/C aircraft and autos which require no tracks or extensive investment in buildings, sound systems, figures, and the maintenance required especially in operating an outdoor layout.

All of the above is speculation on my part, but talking to others I feel is is at least somewhat near to the condition of the hobby as things stand today.   

I remain hopeful for the future, but.....................

Bill
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Loco Bill,  Roundhouse Foreman
Colorado & Kansas Railway Missouri Western Railway
Semi Official Historian; Bachmann Large Scale
There are no dumb or stupid questions, just questions!
armorsmith


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« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2014, 02:39:38 PM »

.....and add to that, dies wear out and need to be replaced. There is a tipping point where the market will not support the investment in new tooling. Otherwise I think Bill pretty much hit the nail squarely on the head.

Bob C.
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tac

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« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2014, 06:21:31 AM »

Many without space buy R/C aircraft and autos which require no tracks or extensive investment in buildings, sound systems, figures, and the maintenance required especially in operating an outdoor layout.

True, all they need do is to totally replace the tangled wreckage every time one of these expensive toys falls to that nice hard ground that they get for free.  That's the great thing about r/c trains - when the batteries go futz, the loco and train doesn't hit the ground at a hundred miles an hour.

tac
Ottawa Valley GRS
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Chastity

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« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2014, 01:16:46 AM »

All good points. I must say that narrow guage has always been a niche.  In garden size
trains somewhat tighter curves due to space makes it attractive.   I think that was
the inital reasoning of a certain Geman company.

I started with the usual starter, added a few more cars, decided to take a look at 1:29,
but a bi- level car on 11ft radius still looks tight.

Went back to Fn3 and started all over pretty much.  This time ther than one electric
outline went live steam.  Not denigrate Bachmann's fine products, but watching aShay or
Mikado in clouds of steam on a cool day....just is lovely.

Most of the few bits of rolling stock are all brass because the weight going over the track
joints has that wnderful clickity sound. 

So maybe call it for me a maturing of the hobby. 
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CCSG


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« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2014, 05:11:47 AM »

Bachmann continues to produce fine locomotives. It seems like each new one is better than the last. Why stop producing rolling stock to go behind it?  I can't imagine molds are worn out already.

Judging by Garden Railways magazine it seems like 1:20th scale has a good following and is a quite popular garden scale.

I started this thread so we could speculate what might be released next and to give Bachmann some feedback to what we want.

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Patrick Kramer
Mike M

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« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2014, 11:11:27 AM »

Patrick you mentioned one engine the 45 ton diesel. That was sold out because Backmann dumped them cheap because they did not sell I bought one when they first came out for $200 several years latter I got 2 more for $60 each So being sold out does not mean it was a good seller.
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CCSG


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« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2014, 12:27:41 PM »

I know they didn't sell well but wish I would of picked a couple up. Would of been great kitbashing projects.
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Patrick Kramer
Loco Bill Canelos

Model railroading since 1947


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« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2014, 01:36:21 PM »

The 45 tonner was a great loco except for the springs that carried power to the trucks. All to often the spring would fry during a short caused by a derailment.  I hardwired mine avoiding the spring system of transferring power.  When hardwired or battery powered they run like a sewing machine and pull great.

I did have the good fortune to get a couple of these.  I converted one to a box cab and battery and sound.  It is one of my best runners.  I used a Soundtrax Sierra Alco sound board and it is perfect for the loco.

Here is a picture of the conversion.  I lowered the frame, built a new shell out of styrene sheets, reused the grills and doors and horns, made roof details and such.  All in all it was a fun project.  It is the only Diesel I use on my indoor 1905 to 1945 era layout.  I use it outdoors as well on my 1945 to 1965 era layout.



This view shows the end doors:


Having fun for sure!

Bill
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Loco Bill,  Roundhouse Foreman
Colorado & Kansas Railway Missouri Western Railway
Semi Official Historian; Bachmann Large Scale
There are no dumb or stupid questions, just questions!
Kevin Strong


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« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2014, 02:35:18 PM »

My only "gripe" with the center cab was that it was just too darned big! Yes, it was prototypical, but we tend to be a hobby driven by a sense of aesthetics that doesn't necessarily exist in the prototype world. I cut mine down considerably to bring it more in line with the Whitcomb and Plymouth center cabs that were built specifically for narrow gauge locos.



I still need to get some pics of it out on the railroad, but it no longer dwarfs my rolling stock--a far better aesthetic to my eyes.

As for the future, I would expect that we're going to see locomotives come out once every few years, especially if they're as complex as we've seen lately. These take time to develop and get right. If all future offerings are as good as the C-19, I think they'll be worth the wait.

As for rolling stock, I really don't have a feel for what's available and what's not, as I don't buy all that much rolling stock lately. The stuff takes up space! LOTS of space! I tried an experiment the other day to see if I could take two locomotives and 10 cars to a train show. My wagon looked like something out of the Beverly Hillbillies! I'd love to run a 15-car hopper car train behind my EBT mikado, but there's no way I could transport 15 hopper cars anywhere, let alone find room to store them here.

I would love to see some more EBT steel rolling stock produced commercially. I think their steel box car would do well, or their steel flat car. Maybe a ET&WNC wood hopper? At this point in my buying, I think if I'm going to be enticed to buy another piece of rolling stock, it would have to be something new. I've got all the "old" stuff I want at the moment. I really don't need another wood box car or flat car. (I did pick up a tank car the other day. Didn't need one of those, either, but the price was great.)

Later,

K
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Bruce Chandler


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« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2014, 03:30:16 PM »

You have to love that locomotive as it just called out for bashing.   I went along with Bill and did my own version.   It was so much fun building and it pulls better than most of mine.

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Bruce
CCSG


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« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2014, 06:05:50 PM »

Bill, Kevin and Bruce,

All very inspiring models! Kudos to your visions and completing them to fruition. I kick myself for not buying one when they were on closeout but am continuing to look on Ebay.
I think I would do a conversion similar to Kevin's. This makes me question why Bachmann didn't produce a center cab diesel that was modeled after what the EBT and D&SNG operate instead of the generic standard gauge/narrow gauge version. Making a similar model in On30 and HO may have something to do with it. I Kader has a relationship with Blackstone/Soundtrax and often the Bachmann 1:20th releases seem to coincide with what Blackstone is releasing. Blackstone is currently working on K-28s and K-36s which I think is smart because lots of people have seen these operating in person and ridden behind them. I don't think Bachmann needs any bigger locos, per recent posts, people still consider the Connie there favorite.
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Patrick Kramer
CCSG


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« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2014, 11:35:44 AM »

Any announcements yet from the NMRA convention?
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Patrick Kramer
Chastity

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« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2014, 03:05:56 PM »

Personally I would not mind seeing a rerun of the K-27 but with an updated drive train like the C-19 complete with the fan and speaker ready in the tender.  These are still very popular locomotives.  As far as something really new, I just do not see it in 1:20.3.

I think the cars were great but there is a finite limit of how many you can sell before saturation and against another company which also seems to have not remade certain items (like stock and refrigerator cars).

The German company has been primarily and now almost all European meter gauge but then the lines there are still extent and or lasted longer.  Narrow gauge in America was probably put paid by the beginning of the twentieth century as being viable and dwindled down from there.

I note that a certain high end manufacturer of live steam and brass models (starts with an A), has very few new 1:20.3 projects on its list.  A 28t Shay, a Heisler and a Class 70 Consolidation.  As far as rolling stock in 1:20.3 nothing new.

However, this same company is now making a lot more 1:32 items in live steam and moving into 1:29.  The later offerings are as I see it filling the niches that other 1:29 manufacturers have not hit.  I am sure Bachmann in its large scale has to look at what is selling and what not and it is possible that 1:20.3 has pretty much as others stated saturated out.

Now given that Bachmann did quite successfully move into a niche in the start of primarily logging prototypes with the Peter Witt, I can not but hope that perhaps a small niche of traction models might be made.  Probably not, but a good steeple cab and or box cab motor would probably find many homes.

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Loco Bill Canelos

Model railroading since 1947


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« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2014, 09:05:40 AM »

The convention starts on JUly 18th, but I am not sure when announcements will be made. 
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Loco Bill,  Roundhouse Foreman
Colorado & Kansas Railway Missouri Western Railway
Semi Official Historian; Bachmann Large Scale
There are no dumb or stupid questions, just questions!
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