A rant and a proposal...

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Canopus, Mar 30, 2006.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Canopus

    Canopus Member

    Manufacturers of model railroad equipment these days, especially locomotives, keep pushing the envelope in terms of sophistication, and I for one find this to be repulsive. They keep on getting more and more expensive, more and more complete, you have to do less and less to them to make them look good, the handrails and grab irons and lift rings are thinner and more detailed. Basically, they look so amazing and cost so much that you're afraid to weather them, they're so delicate that simply handling them is a baffling ordeal, and they've got so many detail parts, and require such little modification, that they just aren't FUN to own.

    Not only that, but to top it all, they've started putting in that corny "sound on board" crap, I HATE locos with sound, but I HATE it even more when the only option available is to buy the loco WITH the sound, and pay the extortionate price for something that you're only going to rip out later when it bugs the heck out of you. I don't WANT sound, I don't WANT my locos to be super detailed already, I don't WANT to have to pay so much money for something that is no fun to own.

    Why aren't there manufacturers who concentrate on making the drive work really smoothly, and getting the bodyshell to the exact dimensions, with all the right detail in the right place, crisply moulded? And before you say "Stewart Hobbies", let me say "user friendly please"! Forget all the detail parts (although, handrails are a must, I think), I want the basic core of a locomotive so that I can modify it to my own road's specifications with aftermarket detail parts, so that I end up with something that I can actually call my OWN, something that's MINE, my effort gone into it, my enjoyment, not the enjoyment (or lack thereof) of some grossly underpaid chinese slave labourer, fettering away the better years of his or her life installing a million and one grab irons and lift rings!

    I love Athearn's kit range for these very reasons, and I only deviate from sprucing up their locos when I want something that's either not in their range, or is in their range but the shell is so inaccurate that it's not worth buying. Like the F7 for instance. Could somebody PLEASE make an F7 and not have it with the detail level of a brass locomotive and a price tag to match? If I wanted that I'd buy a brass model!

    The solution? The "Buy the bodyshell as a spare part" society! Avoid the cost, riff raff, useless bits (like on board sound), and lack of fun of premium ready to run locos, while still getting the accuracy! We don't need your preprepared runs-like-perfect-out-the-box chassis, we'll use a remotored Athearn chassis. We'll buy our favourite details west, detail associates, and cannon parts, and have fun putting it all together. Haha! Your attempt to ruin our hobby isn't looking so successful now is it mr RTR manufacturer? :D

    So who wants to join?
  2. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    Your rant makes clear your interest in building locomotives to your satisfaction.
    Your proposal may have some supporters who enjoy this part of the hobby the way you do.
    Many people, however, quite like sound boards and appreciate RTR fine scale products. Some modelers aren't as into constructing accurate epuipment with their own hands but they may instead be masters at scenary, or signalling effects, or one of the other myriad aspects this great hobby has to offer. Good luck in enjoying your hobby the way you want to . That is the main point of a hobby afterall.
  3. Canopus

    Canopus Member

    Oh indeed, and I'm all for those people who just want really top notch quality locos to run on their nicely scenicked layout. What gets to me is the fact that while these people are well provided for, look at us. Do we get absolutely accurate body shells? Nope. Do we get super smooth running chassis? Nope. We've got to put up with unfixable errors, useless motors, and all sorts of other nasties.

    I think that's the core of my rant, the lack of catering for people who enjoy the hobby in this way. But you're quite right, it does highlight my interest in doing the detail myself.
  4. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    I don't know. I can't say i agree. the RTR stuff is great. There is always room for improvement. its the price that kills me. I personally would like sound (you can just turn it off if you don't like it).

    I mean, i have an Atlas U34CH. that thing needs plenty of add on details and work to make it look like the real deal, not just a U36C in NJT colors. While It does make me nervous as heck to weather or drill holes in my expensive locomotives, the end result is usually worth it. Right now i'm working on the nose marker. There is just so much that can be done to most locos. When i find out how to modify my AEM-7 acting like an ALP44 to have the right cab profile, i'll go for that to.

    And please, someone give me a list of GG-1 details. I have an NJDOT gg-1 from IHC, that with extra details could rival the BLI products for below half price.

    Look at Bachmann Spectrum's SD45, or any other maunfacturer's for that matter. i don't see any with horn in the right spot to show a former EL unit. on mine, i just took the horn right off, painted over that spot in flat black, and glued it right where it was supposed to be.

    While the standard stuff is all ready there, there is much work that can be done on even the most well detailed RTR locomotive.

    seems to me that motor quality is also fine, and i feel that ususually its my fault for not taking correct care of my locomotives than the motor's fault.

    On the other hand, i do agree that kits allowing you to build the locomotive the way you want it and paint and decal it the way you like it, would be an awesome idea.

    As long as it doesn't turn into a model airplane. Anyone who has built an model airplane and a model locomotive know what i'm talking about. Airplanes are endless kits of anger and "special words", although lately the product is coming out ok for me. as long as the kits aren't to outragously complex

    For example, there are many, many parts of model aircraft, that could easily have been molded in one piece, but are made instead out of many different parts that won't hold for much longer after the model is built. the other problem with airplanes is that parts ( most annoying ly the fuselague) never ever stay together, and you will always see this line going up and down the airplane. Thats one of the reasons i went to trains. model trains stay together and build up easier!
  5. Canopus

    Canopus Member

    I know exactly what you mean here. About a million parts just to make something hollow that could've been one piece. They think they're making a saving on plastic but they end up using so much sprue that I doubt it makes any difference. I built a model of a Hind gunship once, and it was like I needed aero engineer experience and gunship blueprints just to build the thing, because it was almost as though it was seperated down to scale replicas of each individual component!

    So, yes, hopefully it won't ever get to that. Simplicity is the order of the day here. Although those Details Associates cab kits are a bit on the fiddly side...
  6. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    Well, i don't care much for the sound, either. But a lot of people do. I'm probably behind the times, but do they really offer locomotives these days where sound is standard?

    lately, i have been into HOn3. There is almost no RTR HOn3, but that is about to change with a line of Microtrains cars, and locomotives and cars by blackstone models. the cars will probably run about 30 bucks a piece - but considering a kit of the same car costs 15 bucks, a set of truck 5 bucks, and couplers 2 bucks, plus paint and other things - and the RTR cars seem like a bargain. Blackstone's K-27 2-8-2 will sell for about 200 dollars without sound, which i think is a reasonable price (Although I cannot currently afford one). Of course, when I finish school and finances permit, some of these items may find their way into my posession.

    But what I really enjoy is kitbashing and scratchbuilding my rolling stock. HOn3 cars are easy, and quite fun to scratchbuild. I think I would have the skill to scratchbuild a locomotive, but finding drivers is dificult. What I would REALLY like, is someone to produce some basic 2-8-0 and 2-6-0 chasis, and various boilers and cabs that can fit on them, so that scratchbuilders can mix and match and come up with their own creations. The old MDC 2-8-0s werent bad for that, except they took work to get to run well, and the domes were not easily moved or changed.

    For a real eye opener, go over to the trains.com forums. People over there seem to be more into the RTR and DCC/sound than they are here. I was kinda out of the hobby when these recent trends began, so it is suprising to me to see some of the topics that are posted over there.

  7. Canopus

    Canopus Member

    Yeah atlas and whatnot are literally producing models that you cannot buy without having sound on board. I think it's rediculous personally, an unnecessary expense and waste for all those who don't want it.
  8. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    IHC has some rather nice running steam locos, that could use just about any level of detailing. Bowser kits are still available, and are excellent candidates for superdetailing.
    Don't hate, "those who make you angry, control you". You have options. When I can't find what I want from the "usual suspects", I don't get mad, I scratchbuild.
  9. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    one word economics there just arn't enough sales for the max profit co's to make them.
  10. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    A few years ago I spoke to one of the Athearn owners at a show before Horizon bought them. He told me at that time that the problem with kits is that parts come up missing and everytime they had to send something to replace the parts they lost all of the profit they made on that kit. In addition Athearn had so many complaints from customers about the handrails on their diesels, that they decided to drop all locomotive kits. It just wasn't worth the grief to offer locomotive kits. Freight car kits are still available, but they will be in limited supply compared to r-t-r.
  11. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    I just built a B-29. the thing had a full intirior that wouldn't fit for the life of it. How did you MI-24 turn out?
  12. trainnut65

    trainnut65 Member

    You know i think if i did not wont sound i would not buy a loco with it. and if i wonted to detail the loco my way i would just get it with out all the detail. you know there are a lot of cheper makers on the market you dont have to buy a 200.00 loco.
  13. Canopus

    Canopus Member

    Haha, isn't that always the story. Those Hi Tech Details cabs are annoying too because they're sooo thin... one slip, you've screwed the whole thing. Still nice to have the doors open on my hi hood U23b though! Even if I did go through about a bajillion GE cab kits in the process. :p

    The hind turned out really sweet looking, with about half of the parts still on the sprue, that I just simply couldn't figure out where to put! The usual story with these is they end up detail parts for the Warhammer models I make. :thumb:

    This is down to the competance of their warehouse team, not the viability of kit form rolling stock and locos. Many other manufacturers manage kit form without missing parts, so it seems that in their attempt to go super budget Athearn hired super budget staff!

    And my local model shop is still full of blue box kits, so I don't know about them cutting down the range. Over the many years that I've been keeping tabs on their range of products, I've never seen any evidence to show that they're cutting down the kit range in any significant way. They've discontinued a few items, but barely enough to count as a sign that they're phasing the whole thing out.
  14. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    For years, model railroaders had to deal with "Toy" like quality that some manufactures were putting out. They had to detail, scratchbuild, cut, grind, drill, strip, re-gear, re-motor, to get it to the locos to look like thier favorite prototypes, since most were generic with prototype paint jobs. They all demanded, and still do, prototypical details to match. Hence the small little bags of losable parts you get today. Plus the way that injection molding had progressed down through the years, finer, more accurate details can be made.
    Take Athearns GP-35 for instance. The old Blue Box was chunky, rough molded on details and oversized hood. You could get one for 30 dollars. Then you had to deal with the handrails. Metal, unpainted, and those who have them know...a pain to put together. Heaven forbid you had a stanchion missing! With the new RTR...Pull out of the box, and put into service. Yeah..Its a little bit pricey, but with the detail, smoother running drive train, DCC ready, its worth every penny. Thats what people want today. Thats why manufacturers are making more RTR, than kits. You can still get some undecs, but with the way paint technology has progressed, it is getting harder to find.
    As far as the sound. Another modeler demand. But I have yet seen a manufacturer release a sound only model. Like DCC, you can get with or without. If the guy at your LHS tells you different......
    I'm stepping off the soap box now..........
  15. Canopus

    Canopus Member

    But that's not what I want. Admittedly that is nice in terms of drive an accurate shell, but I enjoy assembling, sprucing up, modifying, and working on the model, ending up with something that beats the RTR stuff hands down, cost me a fraction of the money, and as a result I'm not afraid to weather it so I end up being much calmer with the weathering and getting a professional quality result.

    What's the fun in taking it out of the box and putting it straight on the layout to use immediately? Where's the challenge, skill, talent, sense of achievement, and reward in spending a large sum of money and then nothing more?

    Just about the only hole in my argument here is that you can weather these models to look absolutely superb if you can pluck up the courage to weather it without getting all shakey, nervous, and panicky. You might as well be making an F unit out of 10 dollar bill paper mache for the feeling that weathering a $250 dollar locomotive invokes.

    Lol, sorry but was that supposed to sound like a good thing? That sounds pretty bad to me. In fact it just outlines the facistic nature of main manufacturers at the moment. It's fine for them to cater to the audience that wants this RTR stuff that only needs maybe an aftermarket horn replacement at most, but why are they ignoring those of us who actually enjoy building, modifying, etc?

    We're constantly forced to resort to using toylike products to get our share of modelling enjoyment. This is good, it's a challenge, but only good sometimes - it can get tiresome, so sometimes you just want a bodyshell that doesn't need any major cutting up and gluing back together with fillers and brass etched grilles to replace horribly moulded originals. Just a good shell to act as a base for conversions and super detail projects would be wonderful. Why on earth can't we have this stuff? Our way of enjoying the hobby is not "wrong" or "obsolete" because manufacturers don't like to cater to it for some reason. Why do some people buy model power locos and convert them into superb models with grab irons and metal handrails, when they can buy Atlas or P2k versions of the same thing? The reason is not because "it was the only model of that prototype available at the time". It's because we enjoy it. Just like RTR lovers enjoy whatever it is they do with their locos... stare at it I suppose? :rolleyes:

    Oh really?

    Atlas B23-7, only availalbe with sound and DCC: http://www.atlasrr.com/HOLoco/hob237.htm
  16. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    I’m finding myself in the same camp as Kevin…Since getting into narrow gauge, (Hon30) I’m having to build everything
    If I’m luckt, I’ll find a good running N scale loco chassis, & then I have to fashion the rest of it myself…same deal with rolling stock…
    Back when I was modeling in Standard gauge (both HO & N) I was always glad to see better R-T-R models coming out…
  17. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    When I first got into this hobby, it was a scratchbuilder's hobby. There weren't many RTR, and kits were "craftsman" type that required time and skill to put together. The Hobby experienced a boom in population, and manufacturers started producing more easily assembled kits, and RTR to satisfy the majority.
    As we are beginning to see, the average age of the hobby is increasing, and the numbers are decreasing. I see a time when Model railroading returns to a scratchbuilders hobby, because we will be too few to support the current manufacturing levels.
    Part of my enjoyment of the hobby is the lack of being catered to. I would prefer to have "different" things, which is why I usually modify everything. I guess, in the long run, I'm more interested in the building, rather than the having.
    Besides, when I grow tired of trains, I still have ship models to build and rig. There is real satisfaction in putting an eye splice in the end of a 1/87, 1/96 scale line, and shackling it to a ring bolt, or block. Worm, turn, parcel, and serve!
  18. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Guys,One must wonder who is still buying the Bowser steam locomotive kits and Hobbytown of Boston(Bear Locomotive Works)kits? So there still is a market for these old kits thats been around since the 50s or they would be long gone by now.
    I fully agree that today's highly detail engines are very fragile to handle especially during routine maintenance or wheel cleaning..
    The question that remains is do we want engines to gawk at behind a glass show case or do we want working models with minimum detail? If so the the old standby Athearn,Hobbytown,Bowser,IHC and other like companies is the modeler's choice and only he/she can make that choice.
  19. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Ready-to-run is a pretty subjective term. You might be surprised at the number of people that can't (lack of time, lack of skill), or won't (lack of confidence, lack of interest) be bothered with models unless they're r-t-r. For the rest of us, while we might prefer kits of basic models as fodder for honing our modelling skills, current r-t-r is only so if you accept it as such. I picked up a half dozen Proto1000 Fowler boxcars (actually, just the bodies, which were on sale for less than $2.00, due to a lettering discrepancy). I couldn't afford to buy the complete cars at $39.95 each and not just because of the cost. They all had separate plastic grab irons and steps that, in my opinion, were grossly oversize. The body shells, essentially a r-t-r car that needed a floor and trucks allowed me to get a car that I really wanted, at a price that I could afford, and also allow me the enjoyment of upgrading the detail.
    Here are two of those cars: after doing six of them (remove all of the grab irons, fill all of the holes, drill new holes for wire grabs, make wire grabs and then install - 36 grabirons per car, plus new roofwalks and roofwalk grabs, 6 dropsteps per car, along with new scratchbuilt underbodies with detailed brake gear) r-t-r almost looked like an attractive option. If the car had been offered with wire grabs, etc., I might have purchased only one, because of the price. I still would have renumbered it (mine were all repainted and relettered) and weathered it, so even if it met my standards, I wouldn't have considered it ready-to-run.


    This is a similar car, one of four that I scratchbuilt when the Proto cars were first offered, with their disappointing detail and high price.

    My point is, what one person considers r-t-r is to someone else the start of a project to improve a manufacturer's offering. Many of us would barely consider an Athearn kit to even qualify as a kit, since they're so easy to build. For others, building one is an accomplishment. There's lots to interest all levels of skill, kits or r-t-r, and if we're lucky, they'll all continue to be available, one way or another, at a cost that most can afford.

  20. MCL_RDG

    MCL_RDG Member

    I just wanted...

    ...to let you know that I really enjoyed your rant canopus!

    Thank you.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page