Carriage prices are nuts!

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TimberSurf
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Carriage prices are nuts!

Postby TimberSurf » Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:38 pm

A. I can't believe how much the RTR manufacturers want for Carriages - I have not bought one new, ever, nor wagons for that matter. I have bought new engines. I understand that quality (intricate detail) has gone up over the years, I guess on carriages as well as engines, but the current level of price seems excessive. Given that there is a base cost to manufacturing/packaging/distribution/reseller, the actual box contents makes only a small difference. So a carriage at £40 is twice as much plastic/same number of parts except maybe for two bogies, but a wagon is only £15?
B. When carriages were £25 and pullmans with lights were £40, it kind of made sense. But now plain carriages are £42, or £34, but I cant see the difference and none have lights. Pullman with lights is £60. Yet I can buy a TTS loco with motor, DCC, lights, and sound for £100?
C. How can a carriage be £40, but a 4 wheel passenger van also be £40?
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Bufferstop
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Re: Carriage prices are nuts!

Postby Bufferstop » Mon Jan 08, 2018 9:25 pm

No one is going to give you a clear answer to this, but we have just gone through a period in which the purchasing power of the pound has fallen dramatically. China prices it's exports in US dollars so UK pound prices are bound to rise, plus their workers are realising what people outside of the country get paid and they want their share. Another price that may surprise you, which goes towards creating the £40 coach, I'm in the process of scratch building a W&U tramway coach and I needed 10mm diameter wheel sets, four of them. Best price I managed to get £24.60 had I wanted 12mm or 14mm they would have cost me about £6 except I wouldn't have been paying I have both sizes in my spares box.
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Mountain
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Re: Carriage prices are nuts!

Postby Mountain » Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:48 pm

I'm glad I bought some 10.5mm wheels about 15-20 years ago, and the prices were the same for 10.5 as they were for 12.5 and 14mm wheels.
The reason why 10.5 are expensive is because they can charge more.
I didnt realize how high the prices were compared to the possible cost untill a few years back in newsagents, some lovely coaches were to be seen on one of those collector series where one would end up with a complete layout if one continued. At first I thought they had made a mistake by selling them at less then cost price to entice people in, and they had assumed that enough people would take up the collecting, and I know us modellers, who are a bit more independent, and we would buy up the coaches and not collect...
However, about a year later they did the same again... I realised that to do this they had to be selling this first edition without taking a loss at all. OK, they may not be making a profit, but they would be stupid to sell a second batch at a loss. The coaches were made in China and had close coupling. Contrary to the looks, they actually had nice running metal 14mm wheels. After doing some research, I found that if one collected the series, after buying their loco separately (As it cost a bit much to be part of the weekly series but was offered at a good price), that the final cost was similar to if one started with a trainset and had then added items to build something similar.
The coaches in the packs, which were bogie coaches (Mk1) and they included a piece of track and sheets of information which one would collect to fill a file... The first in the series was less then £5. (I seem to remember £3.99) and they included the retailers side of the profits along with the wholesalers profits into the price, so one is looking at £2 or less for the cost of production and importing them along with the track and printed sheets of information along with a corner of a base sheet of a layout, so the coach itself would be less then £1.50 or thereabouts?

At this time cheaper coaches in 00 gauge were sold new for around £25 and complete toy battery trainsets with impressive detail even if they were not based on an actual prototype, were to be found at around £5 to £8. They were close to EM gauge rather then 00.

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Bigglesof266
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Re: Carriage prices are nuts!

Postby Bigglesof266 » Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:54 pm

I don't like current carriage pricing much either. But applying reality,....as I see it, a detailed model is a detailed model. It's no less more expensive to make a contemporary slide mould for a detailed carriage than it is a detailed diesel or electric loco. OTOH tooling for a steam loco plus separate tender -being two model moulds, arguably might be justified as having a higher production cost.

Gone are the days when coaches came in just two flavours of simpler stand-off scale BO or CO permitting large production runs per mould. Add to this the labour if adding considerable finicky coach detailing by hand during rather than slide moulded, and one can see expect to see the compounding cost reflected in the price of a coach. Personally, as a pragmatic compromise to my play rather than display purpose, I prefer clever use of modern slide moulds which make it possible to achieve a level of detail close to glued on, but which is so much more robust suited to handing and operation. Much as I detest gimmicky euphemisms, Hornby came close with their foray of "Design Clever" which should have contained producton cost, but was used to increase their margin instead, no doubt its real raison détre in their corporate mind.

To my mind, the additional cost impost of a pretty ordinary PRC 'quality' brushed motor installed in any loco is insignificant. It's not like they are Mabuchi quality, nor requiring high power brushless. Sure, locos have a Mazak <gasp> chassis and working drivetrain. But even if factoring all this in as perhaps doubling real production cost per unit, as I see it, I still it difficult to justify why locos should fetch up to three, and at times four times the SRP of detailed carriages of various configurations and types demanded in a representative rake by railway -other than demand pricing made possible through customer perception just that carriages should be cheap(er).

Cheap coaches are still available as "Railroad" or the venerable edition moulds from Dapol for those who want them prepared to accept the value compromise.

For me, and I should qualify that by saying I'm not titillated by novelty nor new necessarily being "better" just because it is, I have to say as a plastic model builder since Airfix's heyday, what was once acceptable to me as a child or because of the restricted availability and accepted standard doesn't really do it for me today in the day of accurate scale, attention to detail slide moulded excellence, but which undeniably comes at a price. Compromise is still available if not wanting that state of the art level of detail, finesse and accuracy.

Tamiya is an example. They charge significantly more for their newest mould kits than venerable classics. Often emanating from the '70's and '80s at a much lower pricepoint generally, the latter still look great on display once presented in their warpaint, but miss all the finesse. The lay observer's eye won't notice the difference, but the type afficionado will. For armour, Dragon sets the standard in my book. Missing internal detail, but their slide moulding and inclusions are just right, and slide moulded in Zimmerit is ...well, if you've ever built a German AFV requiring it, you'll understand. Not as keen on their new single piece DS tracks preferring their previous individual Magic Track, but understand why they've gone there with many modellers rejecting their product due massive parts counts. Recent innovations in slide moulding has also addressed this along with overall fidelity.

New players in the market such as MENG product have incredible detail including internals, e.g. 1/35 A7V, but at a price, and don't always get it right either e.g. 1/48 Me 410, which they should for what they charge or at least correct the mould in subsequent runs offering the errant part as a MENG service FOC replacement. But I digress, but you can see the parallel I hope. As Millennials don't build models any more than they are interested in model railway either, and that there are so many plastic kit manufacturers competing for business in any genre versus just a few contenders in OO, I don't see production run scale being a significant factor in costings. Perhaps it is. I don't have the figures to make a quantitative appraisal.

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Re: Carriage prices are nuts!

Postby Richard Lee » Tue Jan 09, 2018 7:23 am

One of the reasons that I went for an SR branch line was that trains could legitimately be short. One side effect is that I don't need lots of expensive coaches. (Many SR coaches are a bit dear.) Must admit that I would love a set of the Bachmann Branchline SR Birdcage stock, but at about £55 per coach with 3 coaches in a set I am hesitant.

On the other hand, last year I bought a Bachmann Branchline Thames-Clyde Express train set for about £150. As well as an oval of track and controller suitable for running-in new locomotives, it had a Midland Compound 4-4-0 tender locomotive, and three LMS Period 1 coaches. I already had 2 almost identical coaches purchased second hand, manufactured by Mainline, with different numbers. (I added metal wheels to them.) When I do the new, 3-seasons layout in the outbuilding, I will be able to run all 5 coaches behind the loco, and still fit the train into the stations. From what I have seen, LMS is a far better option than SR for running longer trains. Others have already mentioned the cheap LMS coaches available from Dapol in both ready-to-run and kit form.

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alex3410
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Re: Carriage prices are nuts!

Postby alex3410 » Tue Jan 09, 2018 8:10 am

Richard Lee wrote:t dear.) Must admit that I would love a set of the Bachmann Branchline SR Birdcage stock, but at about £55 per coach with 3 coaches in a set I am hesitant.


when they announced them in SECR livery i was really excited & really wanted a set to run with my C class but i just can't face the cost of creating the set. I am not fussed about historical accuracy so instead have been converting other coaches across into something close enough i am happy with it.

mind you, it does not stop me looking at them everytime they pop up on eBay :lol: the next issue will be by the time i decide to give in and collect a set they will probably be sold out and be even more expensive second hand :roll:

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Re: Carriage prices are nuts!

Postby luckymucklebackit » Tue Jan 09, 2018 8:28 am

I agree that coaches have inflated in price by a much higher rate than locomotives, I carried out a quick search and found that in 1973 the basic Hornby R.626 B.R. CK Corridor Composite in B.R. Crimson & Cream livery would set you back the princely sum of £1.25. Using an online inflation calculator that price works out equivalent to around £12-£15 depending on what site you use, so yes coaches cost an awful lot more now than then. But you do now get a much more sophisticated model, with flush glazing and a much higher spec. I still run Lima MK1 coaches from the 1980s and think they look OK until you marshal the equivalent Bachmann offering beside it.

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dubdee1000
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Re: Carriage prices are nuts!

Postby dubdee1000 » Tue Jan 09, 2018 9:02 am

Could be worse. You could be wanting to buy a blue pullman

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Re: Carriage prices are nuts!

Postby Dad-1 » Tue Jan 09, 2018 9:12 am

When I see moans about prices I usually think -"So What ?"
Improved quality, offshore production affected by currency swings Small
world wide demand, particularly for some esoteric stock.

For once though I agree, coach prices have gone silly and this potentially
reduces demand even further. Certainly I'm pleased I'm into freight first &
foremost as I simply couldn't justify a decent length rake of carriages. Here
comes the rub, if demand falls then don't expect many new highly detailed
products.

Luckily I have the inclination & perhaps skill to build wagon kits, but this is
one way forward for those who have to live within limited means, plus being
prepared to survive without super detail.

I made a set of 3 Dapol coach kits, including a wheel set change for little
over £36. The new Bachmann twin silo wagon is pre-advertised as going to be
close to £40, but the Dapol wagon kit is around £6. Certainly I'm not going to
buy much new stock, I shall have to be VERY selective.

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Re: Carriage prices are nuts!

Postby Bigmet » Tue Jan 09, 2018 9:19 am

Couple of other factors which also 'blur' the picture on understanding the price.

One is the volume that can be sold from a set of tooling. Pretty clear to see with Bachmann's mk1 coaches and 16T minerals. When those arrived in 2000/2001, they left the shelves like the dew off the grass in midsummer. They weren't cheap, but they represented the best RTR rolling stock then seen in OO, a good match for a skilled kit build. The really common versions of the mk1s like the SK and SO quickly went through batches of versions with an incrementing letter, (I recall a 'J' after about ten years on sale) so those moulds were amortising their tooling cost very fast and then performing as cash cows thanks to the demand. That generated cash that spawned toolings for the less common mk1 variants, which have doubtless sold healthily enough, but not in the same volume compared to the common items, perhaps getting to a B version after ten years on sale. Basically they got a volume of sales on the common items unlikely to be later repeated by other similar products for that period, as the market is now somewhat saturated. That drives prices up, because the 'cash cow' effect isn't present to anything like the same extent.

And so we come to the second factor: despite clear evidence of very different sales volumes in that mk1 coach range, the RRP was resolutely the same for all of them except I think the Royal Mail vehicles, even though you can clearly see that some of the unusual types are more complex to tool and assemble. What is happening there is cross-subsidy, the manufacturer knows that the unusual types 'sell' the rest of the range because they enable more complete train formations to be made. So they used the cash cows in the range to subsidise the price of the unusual items. In fact this goes on more broadly yet, right across the range, but it isn't possible to appreciate the detail of the cross-subsidy mechanism. This has to be managed for the whole business, which has always used earnings from the past successes to fund the tooling for (hopefully) further successes.

Or in short, you pay a bit more for the items that are cheaper to manufacture and sell in greater volume, in order to get the more expensive lower volume of sales items tooled up and on sale for somewhat less than a 'one size fits all' pricing model based purely on what the investment and production costs of each individual model might suggest.

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Re: Carriage prices are nuts!

Postby Mountain » Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:17 am

When Bachmann first came out with their Mk1 coaches I had a decent income back then, so I rushed out and bought a rake of eight of them. They really look good though not cheap back in those days at £18.95 each (Double a Lima example). Then I tried them on my layout. OK, I did have one corner of first radius curves, but the things didnt even like the more eased sections of the layout. The only way to get them to run (As I'd reworked one or two to make them tackle sharper curves) with the horrible close coupling design were to buy new bogies, which added £4.55 per coach in those days! I quickly sold the lot for £14 each rather then spend about £23 per coach... Today it would be over double that price.
For me the Lima coaches and similar Triang (Though they need heavier wheels to run well) coaches will do fine. They run on everything they need to run. It is the running qualities that I appreciate far more then fine detail as what good is detail when one has to continually call out ones model break down crew! :lol:
While we all love fine detail, there has to come a compromise.

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Re: Carriage prices are nuts!

Postby b308 » Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:31 am

TBH you are lucky that you model stuff that can be sold in large numbers and so benefit from economies of scale... I expect to pay £40/50+ for an RTR coach in HOe... Luckily most NG trains are short!

From what I can see the extra cost is down to the demand from OO RTR modellers for more and more detail, which costs the manufacturer, and, more importantly, it's labour intensive to assemble (even when some of the detail is left for you to put one there's still a lot that is "factory fitted")...

So have you actually asked for "railroad" and "super detailed" versions of them? Or is this just a "moan" thread?! ;)

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Mountain
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Re: Carriage prices are nuts!

Postby Mountain » Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:59 am

I dont think that like society at large, today's customers do have differing tastes and requirements. In the past, most of us who wanted more would be willing to take a fairly standard model and work on it further. Prices of coaches were usually reasonable.
Then came the likes of Mainline with their fine detail, which took the others by surprise. The thing which caused a big stir back in those days was that they did their models at no increased cost compared to the competition. Such models are still being made under the guise of Hornby Railroad which I must say are not cheap. They started off at reasonable prices and zoomed up from there.
Today's modeller in general no longer super details their items themselves and demands ready made super detailed models, and I believe it is for two reasons. One is they were spoilt with an example of what could be done through Airfix and Mainline, and the second is that if one now tries to buy an older model and detail it, so high are today's standards, that most of us couldn't reach that level so we dont try. This is a big shame as far as modelling is concerned, and is why I like to promote 0-16.5, because as yet, there are hardly any ready built models (Which is a blessing as small kit manufacturers can survive), and yet many of the kits are actually simple to build for the average person to get reasonable results. It has been a Godsend for me to model in this scale and gauge and have some traditional modelling fun, sometimes at extreme budget prices. While I can scratchbuild a waggon for around 50p, I do prefer better wheels so it works out at about £2. (I'm not including time taken in the equation).

I do believe though, that unless both those hoping for increased super detail and dont mind the cost, and those who prefer budget are both catered for, then the RTR manufacturers are going to find an ever decreasing customer base. Budget modellers dont mind a lack of detail, but manufacturers using budget drive mechanisms which done pull a rake of coaches or wagons just isn't on.

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Re: Carriage prices are nuts!

Postby stuartp » Tue Jan 09, 2018 12:08 pm

b308 wrote:From what I can see the extra cost is down to the demand from OO RTR modellers for more and more detail, which costs the manufacturer, and, more importantly, it's labour intensive to assemble


That. What he said.

Bachmann's new Thompsons are around the £50 mark but that's still more cost effective* than building the Comet kits and certainly quicker. Almost all the visible detail is separately applied, which is why they aren't £18 like the old "clip together and add two screws" versions were. The older but still complex coaches (Hornby Staniers etc) will also continue to rise as labour costs continue to rise.

There's also a certain amount of market pricing going on - we expect to pay £100+ for a loco so even the small ones are approaching that, but that works both ways too - I suspect that now the tooling costs are fully (?) amortised Bachmann's Mk1s are having their prices held somewhat lower than would otherwise be the case because that's what the market expects.

(* Accepted that for a lot of modellers the pleasure is in the building rather than the running so your definition of 'cost effective' might not be mine).
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luckymucklebackit
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Re: Carriage prices are nuts!

Postby luckymucklebackit » Tue Jan 09, 2018 12:30 pm

Personally I but second hand where possible, Bachmann coaches can be found for about £25 boxed and £18 unboxed, which represents truly great value for money. For some reason the Ayr exhibition is the best - I have picked up 4 at this venue!

Jim
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