Hornby in the news today

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luckymucklebackit
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Re: Hornby in the news today

Postby luckymucklebackit » Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:19 am

I found an interesting newspaper article this morning which rather puts things into perspective. Have a read at it and note the date!!

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/hornbys-not-yet-at-the-end-of-the-line-in-the-third-of-a-series-on-company-survival-nigel-cope-looks-1432205.html

This article was published 24 years ago in 1994, but the story seems as fresh today as it was then, it also gives a potted history of the financial history of Hornby and it is a story of survival against the odds. Looking right back to the 1960s, the companies that have been associated with the Hornby brand have perennially struggled
1964 - Mecanno go out of business
1971 - Hornby's parent company, Lines Brothers ceased trading leading to receivership
1980 - Dunbee Combex Marx went under.
1990s - Profits grind to a halt
2000s - still struggling along

Hornby is still here, and despite the sniping from many quarters is providing us (along with Bachmann, Dapol and Heljan) with a range of RTR models that we could only have dreamed about in the early 1970s - you moan about the standard of the Jinty and Railroad 08 shunter - those were the standard offerings back then. I really wish some of the younger modellers would take a look at the catalogues from the 1970s to see how awful it was to be a RTR modeller back then, especially if you wanted to model a specific region. There were practically no mid range steam locomotives, a very poor and badly made range of diesels and almost no electric outline or DMUs.

The Hornby brand will outlive most of use, like it or not, if you don't like what they are selling, simples - don't buy them! You have never had it so good - fact! So stop moaning and get modelling :D

Jim
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Re: Hornby in the news today

Postby Bigglesof266 » Fri Apr 06, 2018 12:28 pm

luckymucklebackit wrote:if you don't like what they are selling, simples - don't buy them!

Sounds like a line Hornby marketing could have written. How's that working out for them right now? :roll:

You have never had it so good

Definitely stole that trite cliche from Hornby management. :lol:

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Re: Hornby in the news today

Postby luckymucklebackit » Fri Apr 06, 2018 12:35 pm

Bigglesof266 wrote:
luckymucklebackit wrote:if you don't like what they are selling, simples - don't buy them!

Sounds like a line Hornby marketing could have written. How's that working out for them right now? :roll:

You have never had it so good

Definitely stole that trite cliche from Hornby management. :lol:


1) If you read the article I linked to, - the answer is "much the same as before, just surviving"

2) Nope! - stole that one from Harold McMillan, (1959 - clearly also before your time - look it up :D )
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Re: Hornby in the news today

Postby Bigglesof266 » Fri Apr 06, 2018 12:51 pm

1. You presume things will continue as the have previously. Gibson did too. As did Meccano. While we're bandying cliches about, methinks you presume too much.

2. Familiar with Harold's infamous line, but thank you all the same. How'd that go down with the public for him? Same as it will for Hornby one might reasonably expect.

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Re: Hornby in the news today

Postby luckymucklebackit » Fri Apr 06, 2018 1:24 pm

You seem to have the come to the opinion that I am an entrenched Hornby supporter, I can assure you that I am not, I buy what I can afford and what is appropriate for my layout, don't care who makes it.

My post simply sets out two indisputable facts - firstly that Hornby (and many other model/toy companies) have struggled throughout their existence, and will probably continue to struggle, secondly that that what is available to the buyer is immensely superior in both range and quality than in the past, but many still complain that it is not good enough/too expensive etc.

"You presume things will continue as the have previously" - Yes I do - perhaps I did not make myself clear enough - Yes, Hornby will continue to struggle, indeed there is a better than even chance that as before the operating company may go out of business - but the brand will survive. The two examples you have given are in a similar vein - Meccano still exists as a brand and still sells, and I would expect the Gibson brand to survive, it has sufficient prestige to be a marketable asset.

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Re: Hornby in the news today

Postby trainlover23 » Fri Apr 06, 2018 2:10 pm

The article in the link in the first post is total and utter rubbish. The Hornby company of today uses the old Hornby name from the past and is not connected to them . It was not founded by Frank Hornby at all. The Hornby business was sold in the Sixties to the Lines Brothers

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Re: Hornby in the news today

Postby b308 » Fri Apr 06, 2018 2:57 pm

Trainlover, there are very few companies where the original owner of a mass market brand still runs it after 100 years, even family owned. Most have been sold on from time to time. However in this case the current company can trace their linage back to the Hornby Trains of the 30s, through several takeovers, and still sell model trains just as the original company did.

luckymucklebackit wrote:My post simply sets out two indisputable facts - firstly that Hornby (and many other model/toy companies) have struggled throughout their existence, and will probably continue to struggle, secondly that that what is available to the buyer is immensely superior in both range and quality than in the past, but many still complain that it is not good enough/too expensive etc.


Agreed, as one who lived through the 60s as a child who bought the stuff available at that time (Triang, Hornby and Playcraft) the stuff we have now is light years ahead and, compared to other parts of the world is pretty inexpensive, which in my view is part of the issue, or at least the reluctance of the buying public to pay a reasonable price which would keep the company afloat, is...
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Re: Hornby in the news today

Postby D605Eagle » Fri Apr 06, 2018 6:55 pm

Perhaps Hornby should have two ranges now. One called Rivet Whingers which cost £400 a pop and are scale perfect to the nth degree and the other Price Whingers which would basically be the railroad range but without any dcc or sound to keep costs down. I think that would stop the arguments? :D

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Re: Hornby in the news today

Postby b308 » Fri Apr 06, 2018 7:06 pm

They could always reissue the Triang range from the 60s, plastic handrails, XO4 motor, steamroller wheels and Super 4 track... ;) :)

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Re: Hornby in the news today

Postby Bigglesof266 » Fri Apr 06, 2018 10:39 pm

luckymucklebackit wrote:indeed there is a better than even chance that as before the operating company may go out of business - but the brand will survive.

Not necessarily. Equally plentiful examples exist illustrating that across many brands, e.g. Mettoy and Tri-ang to name but two toymakers, before inclusion of the many much larger, more prominent and significant businesses outside the toy industry.

e.g. Ansett a major domestic airline which operated previously as Ansett-ANA Airlines in AU for 66 years, once protected by a two airline policy went into liquidation in 2001 and the brand has not resurfaced in the nearly two decades since. Quite literally every-man thought it was to simply too big and established a commercial entity to be permitted to fail without rescue. Ask Millennials what Ansett means to them today, and I can guarantee more than 50% would answer you with "Who?".

What's in a name?

The Meccano brand, now owned by a Canadian Company after French ownership and production for more than three decades, is pretty much little more than a shadow of the once lauded brand and product Frank Hornby created. If anything it serves as an example of what the Hornby brand might become. An utterly confused product which as lost focus. Meccano certainly ain't what it was in its long, long, long ago heyday, utterly dwarfed into an also ran by the the super successful Danish LEGO behemoth.

And as if we needed a timely reminder of where Hornby and perhaps the whole Airfix, Corgi, Scalextric brands group are headed with their current policies in conjunction with the shift in demographics away from hobby interests from another epoch generally. This from the monolithic Tower Hobbies just in in my email inbox moments ago, literally illustrating the fragility and volatility of the current hobby market. After all these years, whoever would have thought?

As you may be aware, Tower Hobbies' parent company, Hobbico, declared bankruptcy in January 2018 and has initiated a sale process.

Whether Horizon absorb or continue operating the brands or even the Tower Hobbies business remains to be seen.

Ultimately, reiterating my points re current Hornby policies and management, neither complacence nor arrogance are well received by the contemporary consumer who makes the choice to buy, or not to buy.

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Re: Hornby in the news today

Postby Mountain » Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:37 pm

Bigglesof266 wrote:
Mountain wrote:Anyone who thinks these little 0-4-0 shunters can't run slow and smoothly clearly has not bought one in the last few years as their running qualitiess have really improved.

You'd have to define "the last few years" otherwise my hand is up Mountain. I bought a couple of Railroad class 0-6-0s in a Hornby digital train set in 2009, and they are indisputably abject dogs at slow or low speed, and cartoonish Roadrunner starters and stoppers. Try the newer Hornby versions with flywheel, decent gearing, motor and mech and it immediately evidences itself just how atrociously bad those Railroad ones are. And that's before even considering scale accuracy or detail visuals.

Similarly, of all the locos I've bought, mostly I'm pleased with running of the later detailed ones, even the Duchess, Coronations & rebuilt West Country moulds dating circa 2000. Pretty much those I'm displeased with in terms of their running hail from an earlier period, and are now categorised Railroad. e.g. Dapol Castle and the ilk, classic stallers on Insulfrog points.

Sure there are issues with recent detail versions too, the shameful T9 fiasco springs to mind, and Hornby sure could have done better with their M7 considering its price point. But their problems are addressable, and they do look splendid. The venerable old Jinty and Class 08 aren't. Sorry I ever bought that Digital Train Set. I should have sold it off as I never used anything from it for other than five minutes into the return to the hobby. It was a learning experience though. It along with another two sets I purchased taught me not to buy train sets and not to buy Railroad junk. e.g. Hornby's previous incarnation dreadful Period III Stanier coaches, Mk 1s (not quite as bad but still pretty awful), and utterly horrible Colletts. They were still flogging those off in Train Packs and Sets only five or six years ago.

Now I believe most modellers who can no longer afford the high prices will buy a slightly less detailed model at a more attractive price if it still has a decent drive mechanism.

That's what I was referring to in my previous post with "Design Clever", Hornby's own foray into doing just that. Problem was, they were't interested in lower pricing when they tried that, just higher margins for Hornby. The 2-BIL looks great and runs well into the bargain, but no lighting?! C'mon. Maybe that's why there were so many 2-BIL sets remaindered?

despite our moans, we love Hornby.

We do?

Hornby's spare parts supply and support, or dearth thereof, is an abject disgrace. They don't give a toss about their customers other than their next spend and how best to gouge them for the shareholder. Hornby's management aren't a group of model rail enthusiasts sitting around concerned with how they can make the hobby better for us any more than computer games are written by enthusiasts for enthusiasts any more. It's all about the money.

I couldn't give a toss about the red box or name. If Oxford wanted to call themselves Jiminy Cricket and could do it better and for the right price, guess where I'll go. Gibson has just folded because they refused to embrace change and just wanted to trade off the legend of their name. Even segmenting with another once famous name Epiphone couldn't save them. Very few are prepared to $2.5 to $3k for a guitar that should be priced at no more than $1k regardless the status of the name. And you don't need to. It's not looking great for Fender either. Guess how many electric and acoustic guitars I own and have bought in the past 6 months, and none of them are are either Fender or Gibson nor are they what you'd consider entry level. Nor are my amps Fender, Vox, Marshall or Orange. Blackstar Amplification (two thumbs up, a UK firm with creativity and initiative) is a relatively new player in town, and do it damned well at a better price point. They got my money. Twice. About to score it a third time.

I feel the same way about both Hornby and Bachmann where a new player can and has the will to do better. Bring it on. They are now too dear. I think we both agree upon that. They need to find a way to sell for less at the current or better standard. If they cut the standard or maintain the price, I will migrate elsewhere with my wallet where there is a viable alternative, or where there isn't an I consider it poor value, not buy at all.

Where the latter contingency plan is executed, I'll content myself 'playing trains' on my layout with what I have and build more plastic models instead for hobby enjoyment.


The newer 0-4-0's can really crawl smoothly and slowly. (I'm talking about the Smokey Joe type). They also have a much reduced top speed. Looking at the design alterations, the pickups are thinner so dont drag so much. I'm not sure how they limit the top speed, but they are like different locos even though they look the same. Some of the other locos like the ones you've mentioned have had issues. There have been some references to these issues on forums like this in the past. One person wanted to solve it with DCC stay alive.

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Re: Hornby in the news today

Postby Bigglesof266 » Sat Apr 07, 2018 12:06 am

immensely superior in both range and quality than in the past

Remove the adverb "immensely" and perhaps it almost = true, conditionally.

Examining the hobby from a more objective comparative perspective of one not locked into myopic vision by a single hobby interest, OO gauge model railway has lagged far behind almost every other hobby I have been or am involved in in terms of general overall advancement in quality and technology for a myriad of complex mainly social and commercially driven rather than technical limitation reasons. e.g. the fact that we're still using the bastardry that is "OO gauge" for British outline for a start.

Truth is, the aware consumer not obstinately choosing to remain stuck in the past or myopic 'logic' encumbered "simply" doesn't care about how it once was "in a time long, long ago", or as the cliché equates in the case of model railway, just a decade ago. When I look at R/C, plastics modelling, et al, BR outline model railway is still in the dark ages. It's long past time for it to embrace its renaissance.

many still complain that it is not good enough/too expensive etc

Speaking plainly and truthfully, A. it isn't "good enough", when compared with standards currently commercially achieved in comparative hobbies. B. As the examples given a post or so ago back illustrate, locos and coaches have doubled in price within less than a single decade, and rolling stock doubled to tripled for the more elaborate wagons. Undeniably it is now comparatively expensive relative to other contemporary hobby products, and more importantly, surplus incomes along with that all important affordability factor. Price gouging through desirability can only be manipulated so far with segmentation, exclusivity driven demand and polished advertising.

In terms of technology, the past is the past, and should remain there. It was what it was. Like DC's stuck in the muds, DCC is finally THE long overdue finally established embraced operating standard now - like it or not, refuse to acknowledge it or not.

In a similar vein, plastic slide moulding is here, and has been for some years. Given the logistics mentioned in a previous post in this thread, there is absolutely no reason Hornby can't be producing utterly stunning slide moulded models of equivalent incredible moulded in detail at a lower production cost than the laborious gluing on of a dozen separate poorly painted fiddly bits with gobs of misting frequently misplaced rubbish superglue by unskilled low cost almost child labour metaphorically if not literally chained to a table pushed to fulfill a daily churn quota for the paltry pay in RMB which converted to GBP wouldn't buy a Cheeseburger from the menu at any UK McDonalds.

I mean for goodness sake Hornby's manufacturer contracted for the job couldn't even set the jig to ensure the the holes drilled on the air smoothing casing of their flagship release unrebuilt Merchant Navy "Royal Mail" were right so that the "Southern" nameplate on the left side of its tender wasn't positioned crooked on the model at its price point! That is a problem with production skill, factory QC, and lastly a disgrace that Hornby sales, marketing or ultimately management, would consider that acceptable to sell through to the consumer aware of that glaringly obvious cosmetic fault. It's not the consumers' job to fix it. Completely avoidable technically as well as unacceptable -now here's the really important part, to the consumer in 2018, a fact exacerbated by Hornby's usurious demand model pricing. It may well have passed muster in 1968, but that was 50 years ago! I know that in 1965, very few would have considered the candle or horse and cart acceptable substitutes for the incandescent electric light globe or motor car!

And don't even get me started on Hornby's precedental mendacity regarding their remaindering of T9 Train Packs instead of withdrawing them and issuing a general recall given the impossible not to know of Mazak manufacturing impurity issue signaled by the numerous mech failures attibutable to that manufacturing fault. Hornby just didn't want to wear it. I'll wear that with "you get what you pay for' shrug of the shoulders resignation approaching indifference at GBP£1.99 but not at GBP£199! I've neither forgotten, nor forgiven.
Last edited by Bigglesof266 on Sat Apr 07, 2018 12:42 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Hornby in the news today

Postby PanzerJohn » Sat Apr 07, 2018 12:28 am

Bigglesof266, I feel that may well be post of the year, and it's only April!

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Re: Hornby in the news today

Postby Bigglesof266 » Sat Apr 07, 2018 12:37 am

Mountain wrote:Some of the other locos like the ones you've mentioned have had issues. There have been some references to these issues on forums like this in the past. One person wanted to solve it with DCC stay alive.

Mountain IME pretty much all the ancient short wheelbase Hornby mechs have 'issues' to the point one would consider it ubiquitous to the brand prior to the introduction of recent (this decade) completely new model Gronk. Yes I know it's 0-6-0 not 0-4-0 = even worse.

The eventual solution in the case of their previous Class 08, was a long overdue necessary new redesigned mechanism along with a scale fidelity higher detailed model. Despite the the new flywheel and worm drive being noisy in operation, a commendable job nevertheless.

But at a price.

However, dear as it was at initial release, that pales into insignificance against today's price pitch of a whopping SRP of GBP£140.99 for it -sans decoder! The price for nothing more than a contemporary standard model is the primary gripe of the consumer majority today as I perceive it.

To keep the record straight, I had already credited the mech superiority and scale fidelity of Hornby's latest incarnation of their newer "High Detail" Class 08 over its predecessor in a previous post here. Saliently, up until a mere half a decade ago, it was a choice from Hornby of only their Class 08 dinosaur mould and mech from the '60s (?), or nothing. Of course, the interim solution was to buy Bachmann's decent enough unit instead. Hornby ' 'management'. :roll:

I have the old and new of Hornby's for a hands on basis of comparison BTW.

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Re: Hornby in the news today

Postby Notanyware » Sat Apr 07, 2018 1:01 am

Hornby are a lot less relevant today because of models being released by DJ, Oxford and Hattons, all releasing models that people have been pleading with Hornby to make for years, maybe Hornby have made one or two many Mallards and Flying Scotsman locos which seem to have been the main stay of Hornby for generations, 99 Quid is not a bad price to pay for something that Hornby refused to build so if Hornby bite the dust in the future they only have themselves to blame, sorry but I think they have had a pig headed approach to the hobby for long enough.
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