Horizon Hobby Distributors, the Death of Athearn

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by marc gast, Jan 10, 2004.

  1. marc gast

    marc gast Member


    For those whom haven't heard the sad news, Horizon Hobby Distributors (the RC guys) have purchased Athearn. Their policy now is not to sell to any other distributor and all hobby shops must have a storefront operation to be able to purchase Athearn items. Just another way to shut down the small shops. This is another move by the big disributors to turn hobby shops into showcase stores which have nothing in stock and everything needs to be ordered. This policy "Stinks". I would use other adjectives, however, this is a family webpage.

    Read this quote from small Hobby Shop:

    You may have already heard the news that Athearn has been sold to Horizon Hobby Distributors, a Chicago area hobby distributor. Unfortunately, this has significant impact. Horizon has chosen to be the sole distributor of Athearn. Beginning March 1, 2004, they will stop selling to other distributors. Horizon requires that all of their dealers have a storefront operation, so I will not be allowed to buy Athearn products
    from them.This situation does not make me happy. I think it's bad for the hobby, and it's bad for my customers. I believe that it will lead to higher list prices, higher "street" prices, and decreased availability. I wish that there were something I could do to change it, but there isn't.

    Enough is enough!!!!! Everyone get with your hobby shops, your clubs, etc. and bring to light the issue and let's all as model railroaders make an issue of this! Horizon needs to know that this policy of theirs is not heathly for the hobby. At least Walther's sells many brands. Horizon will not sell to Walther's either.

    Am I upset! YES, even though I don't do much in HO anymore, I have in the past been a strong purchaser of Athearn products.

    I have another spelling of Horizon because of this situation. Once again, this is a family webpage, however, I think you get the jest of my other spelling!


  2. Flangehead

    Flangehead Member

    Although they state they will keep operations in the USA, I suspect I will see "Made in somewhere else" on Athearn products in the future. I heard Levi's jeans is closing their last US factory and all products will be made overseas.

    I forgot, what do Americans make? Oh yeah, fast food.
  3. Mastiffdog

    Mastiffdog Member

    This topic has been abused on the other train forum. I say Athearn, Shmathearn.

    Athearn sold the company and Horizon bought it. They own it now and can do whatever they want to do with it. The Athearn brand name is now controlled by Horizon who has its own policy and terms of doing business with the hobby industry.

    Did you ever think why Horizon wants to sell to bonafide retail stores that hold either valid leases or ownership of their buildings? Or why they want photographs of the inside of the store? Because they want real retailers selling their brands.

    Maybe when Horizon bought out Athearn they had a crap load of bad receivables from so-called retailers (back room or basement "mail order guys"? Maybe Horizon wants to sell to only bonafide retailers so they have quality receivables on their books?
    If true, can you blame them? Horizon is sucessful for a reason, I would guess that they are good business people and they seem to make money. In the long run, Horizon did the modelers a good deed by buying Athearn, the brand will continue to live on and who knows, they will likely throw some more capital at the brand to make it better.

    And yes, I agree they will likely go overseas to make some of the items - novel idea. How about Kato, Atlas, P2K and many others, where is their stuff made? DUH!

    Don't like it? Don't buy it. But don't cry over it.


    P.S. I have zero affiliation with Horizon or Athearn, it is just my views, opinions and observations
  4. Catt

    Catt Guest

    Athearn went overseas when they brought out their first steamer.All new releases since then are Asian except for the bluebox line.

    Athearn and Horizon have both allready stated if you want Athearn the only place your going to get it is from Horizon.

    Good or bad it is a done deal.
  5. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    It's a shame when you want something and it becomes unavailable. But these things tend to work themselves out in a free enterprise system. New Athern will satisfy it customers, or it will change to satisfy, or it will be no more. It was bought by businessmen, so the last option is unlikely. As a consumer, the best thing you can do si stick to your principals when you buy. Look at each dollar as a vote, and don't vote for bad guys. Spend more elsewhere, find a different solution, or do without. I have a grocery store 1/2 mile from my home which I haven't been in for ten years, cuz they got my goat. My wife can't understand this, but if I spend money there, I'm saying there service is swell. Money talks.
  6. billk

    billk Active Member

    I agree with Jon-M.

    It's easy for us to forget that the manufacturers are in the business primarily to make money, and love of the hobby is secondary, or lower, or not at all (at least the big boys, not necessarily the guy selling lost wax castings made in his garage).
  7. Flangehead

    Flangehead Member

    In defense of my remarks about the Athearn products, of course I know that almost everthing else comes from overseas. Most of my locos were made there. I just thought the announcement claiming to keep "operations" in the USA was a little deceptive.
  8. marc gast

    marc gast Member

    Small Shops Dis-allowed Distribution

    I disagree with the statement about "Bonified" hobby shops.

    There are a lot of small Mom and Pop shops out there whl sell legitmately our of their garages, etc. For Horizon to ignore this segment of the market is not in the best interets of the hobby.
    Ya, Ya, Ya, the only reason it to make money. What that mentality does, is eliminated many purchasers, turn people off whom want to get into the hobby, etc. The "MBA" greed mentality of the 80's/90's has ruined many a business, etc. The addage of supplying a good product at a fair prices at a resonable profit had gone out the window. Horizon only bought Athearn to have a little nitch of model railroads in their RC world.
    If they had any interest in selling model railroad items, they would have bought into the market years ago.
    By the way, Horizon has been know to have a poor fill rate. Many back orders.

    We all have our views, etc. however, for the most part, most hobby shops are nothing more than a showcase. Very few know much about the hobby, many state "if its not in the Walther's catalog, we won't order it, etc." I see the same thing now happening with the Horizon issue.

    We are not bashing Horizon, we are stating the facts and how deceptive this is becoming. Oh, by the way, from the last investigation, Athearn diesel frames are still being casted in Gardena, CA.

    I stated my viewpoint on this. Enough said.

  9. Alan Bickley

    Alan Bickley Member

    It's been like that in the UK for some years now. All the famous British names now being produced in China, to "reduce costs" claim the companies. Boost profits more like!
    I used to work for a swiss electronics company that have their UK headquarters in my home town. I worked in their electro-plating plant. That went to China. I then moved onto one of the production lines assembling mobile telephone base-station modules. You guessed it, went to China. Still, I can't see any protests or boycotts taking place. Not enough solidarity in this country. I bet it would be a different story in France!
  10. Mastiffdog

    Mastiffdog Member


    Selling out of a garage is not a bonafide hobby store. A bonafide hobby store is where an owner made a commitment to maintain store hours and an inventory to be displayed. A bonafide hobby store is staffed to assist folks with their questions.

    These folks have made an investment and it's their livelihood. They are entitled to make a profit - that's what retail is all about. No one says you must patronize the store and pay retail prices, but I would say that Horizon's decision to sell to true commited retailers only is smart.

    Maybe the Athearn brand will become even more respected when sold through this marketing channel instead of the past where the brand is whored all over the internet and backyard sellers.

    If you want Athearn, you likely pay more now to get it. Like I have said before, Horizon's potential to improve the product
    is likely.

    Again, if you want it, buy it. If you don't buy soemthing else. Let the market fall where it may. The market will utimately dictate if Horizon's marketing strategy will succeed.

  11. marc gast

    marc gast Member

    Small Shops


    I totally disagree with you on the "Bonified" shops. There are alot of small shops which operate from garages, etc. taxes paid and also keep open hours. This is also an investment for these people, as it is their income. So what if they don't want to build in a shopping center, etc. I know of several whom took the route to go "Store Front" and unfortunately, couldn't survive because of the increasing leases, etc. Nothing wrong with the small shops. They sell just as much, possibley even more then the Store Fronts. Of the hobby shops here in Grand Rapids, selection is only Wather's stock, and that is sad. The home shops have better selections and are of what a hobby shop used to be. Come on in, chat, have a cup of coffee, exchange stories, tips, etc. Now days, everyone wants to run you out of the shop, no advice, etc. Caboose Hobbies is a perfect example of this. Used to be, one could spend all day at the "Old" Caboose, they would take apart new engines, display the improvements, etc. Not anymore, its nothing but a shopping center. I'll take the small mom and pop shops over these new metalities.


  12. rdivizio

    rdivizio Member

    I gotta say I just spoke with a Horizon Rep the day after
    Athearn was sold.

    My interest in Horizon was to become an online dealer of

    As you guys know I weather cars and I would like to buy them wholesale, weather them and resell them.

    I explained to the man that I could sign a form saying that
    I won't sell the cars un-weathered because I understood that
    it would take away business from the local shops.

    He only said that I could become a OEM dealer and get
    parts wholesale, but whether regular HO stock would fall under that catagory was still up in the air at this time.

    I look at it as I won't be hurting anyone's storefront business because I won't be selling a clean car.

    I do not know of any TRAIN STORE that has Weathered cars for sale. I guess this is where I come in.

    I may now have to work out a deal with a local shop and throw
    him a car or two every week.

    I really wanted to have my own business and you can't deny
    the side cash a weathered car brings in.


    Or....The price of Custom cars goes up if Athearn's Product goes up.


    Attached Files:

  13. rdivizio

    rdivizio Member

    car 2

    Attached Files:

  14. rdivizio

    rdivizio Member

    Attached Files:

  15. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    OK now, somebody's takin' pix of real boxcars and
    pasting in HO rails under 'em :D :D :D :D :D

    Just like those diamonds on JAG last night,
    they are too perfect........:eek: :eek: :eek:

    I need weatherin' lessons....
  16. Cinnibar

    Cinnibar Member



    I have been in the “headhunting” business going on 14 years now and have watched all types of manufacturing move from small U.S. towns to Mexico and now the flood to China, nothing will stop the exodus. I think we are all sad to see Athearn become a “Fallen Flag” of sorts but it is the sign of the changing times. If one company moves their assembly operations to China, all must follow to remain competitive. One thing I must say is I don’t think we can cry too loud - never has there been such wonderful products at reasonable prices available to model railroaders and like it or not we owe all of that to the folks in China. As far as the Horizon/Athearn deal - they will make good products at reasonable prices and get them out to the model railroaders OR they will sell the tooling to someone who can OR (and I find this hard to believe) the Athearn line will disappear. Dig through your magazines from the 60's and see how many model railroad companies are still around. I can’t get too shocked - it’s just the way things go.
  17. Mastiffdog

    Mastiffdog Member

    Okay Rich,

    Everyone loves your weathered cars including myself. However, I think your self promotion on the forum is getting out of hand ad nauseum.

    Enough already - we all get the idea...

  18. rdivizio

    rdivizio Member

    Hey Mastiffdog,

    You see that little button that says
    Attach file:
    Maximum size: 70000 bytes

    That is for you and me.

    This is a Train Website.

    I 'm sorry your a little sick of it but those cars are not only for self promotion.

    They happen to be pics that a lot of model train railroaders
    like to see and actually appreciate that their posted.
    I'm also sure they would agree with me.

    They see them and get inspired, They go to there bench and
    start weathering, They study these pics and get ideas.
    Our hobby stays strong! We share tips and how to's.

    I know!!! Because I was inspired the same way from someone elses cars.

    I'm not posting the pics so that I can get sales of my cars.
    I have a following and it is growing because I am honest and
    provide a good product.

    I don't go around telling fellow train friends that I'm sick of seeing their stuff.

    That is what immature railroad hobbiest do.

    Now I know you don't want to be looked at by your fellow forum
    pals like that.

    So take it easy, We all inspire each other.

  19. rdivizio

    rdivizio Member

    Hey Cid,

    Thanks for the nice words.

    Do you weather your cars?

    That RAILBOX CAR was done with some products from




    and QUICK AGE

    There stuff is in the Walthers Book.

  20. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    Hi Rich,
    So far I've been rather conservative with
    weathering, but will be more aggressive
    in the future! :thumb:
    My whole project is progressing at a snails pace
    due mainly to time constraints (and other excuses)
    but I'm still happily pluggin' away!!
    Thanx for the tips on colors! :) :)

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