My Thoughts on Preorders

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Renovo PPR, Jun 28, 2007.

  1. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    I had to ask myself the other day why preorder? This was in fact the first time that I preordered any item. I boiled it down to a few things that were important to me. It will make sure that I can acquire the engine or rail car that I want to add to my collection. Now let me add that is if in fact they do manufacture that piece. Next it gives me time to plan the purchase so that the family budget doesn’t have to take an unplanned hit.

    By looking at those two reasons preordering made sense for me this year. However I had to realize a few things about preordering. The first was not to get upset if the piece is pulled from production. I could live with that and since I still would have a pool of money saved I would be free to consider other options. The next was not to get set on a release date. That was another issue I can live with since nothing in my layout would stop running without that new addition.

    [FONT=&quot]I understand the train market far better today than I did as a rookie. I clearly understand that most of the manufactures are very small business with sales far under GM, Ford and Toyota. I think of train manufactures as the cable guy that tells you he will be at your house on Tuesday at 11Am but doesn’t come until Friday at 5PM. So I’m willing to give a very small manufacture in a limited marketplace some extra room when it comes to preorders. After all it is just a toy.[/FONT]

    COMBAT Member

    Toy, TOY! ..... its a way of life. It's like water man.... are you kidding....

    LOL :)
  3. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    I understand pre-ordering, but fel that it's the wrong way to buy something. Take the software busiiness as a very good example.

    I want to see it, hold it, inspect it and gather other opinions about it's worth before I shell out the kind of money the manufacturer is usually asking - unless it's an outfit I have a goodd history with. But even then I am leery - even the most solid manufacturers get it wrong occasionally.

    COMBAT Member

    I preordered something once. I have not done it since.
  5. IAIS 604

    IAIS 604 Member

    Most of the makers (BLI, Athearn, Atlas) seem to be going to a "made to order" mode for their high end products, where they produce the number of preorders and little if any others. In fact, BLI has gone to a brass mode of not making the item unless they have enough preorders! They even have a "meter" showing the status (fate) of the item (enough preorders to build, almost enough, not enough).

    E-Bay? What few finally get to e-Bay will have a high price due to the very limited run, IMHO.

    Bottom line: if you really want one of these items, you almost MUST preorder.

    That seems to be life in the MRR hobby.
  6. slekjr

    slekjr Member

    I will preorder when my #1 want list item comes up (HO Baldwin centepede} I've heard no one will build it because of the limited prototype engines sold. Funny that hasn't stopped the PRR T-1 or GG1. If you want a sound f unit everyone is building them. This doesn't make sence to me, you would think the different models with no competition would help the bottom line

  7. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    If it's something I absolutely have to have, I'll pre-order. It's really bad for Canadian Modellers of British trains. On one upcoming item, one dealer told me that he'd been allocated 6 units, had at leat 7 orders, and then was told he wouldn't be getting all 6. Frequently, the allocation for a Canadian dealer is around 3.
    However, this usually only applied to a specific road number/paint scheme. If you're willing to take any version, they'll eventually come in.
  8. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

    I don't necessarily like the idea of pre-ordering, but i find myself doing it quite often:winki: . i hate to say it, but now days its the only way you will get what you really like:frowns: . i wish more people would do it, case in point, i pre-ordered the 3 unit Gas Turbines from Tower55, i have been wanting these for YEARS, and NOW was my chance to get them!:mrgreen: ....sadly not many other people pre-ordered them so Tower55 pulled them from the production schedule:cry: . i know darn well they would have sold enough of them had they made them:winki: , the problem is, if you don't pre-order, you end up missing out on some GREAT items:winki: . like it or not, thats how the market is these days:frowns: .
    :deano: -Deano
  9. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    As I read this thread, I was reminded of a situation with Irv Athearn a few years ago. He was scheduled to come out with the gp40-2 a few years before it actually came out. The dies were done and the locomotive was ready for production. It was common knowledge that they were going to come out. At that time before the internet the biggest complaint of the "brick & mortar" hobby shops was with the big mailorder houses in NYC that would undercut the price on all of the local hobby shops because of the shear volumn that they did. Of course, they all tried to get the jump on the competition by announcing that they had the models in stock early to get people to order from them. Well, what happened was one of the big mail order companies advertised in Model Railroader that they had the gp40-2 in stock now! Problem was, Irv had not put them into production by the time that issue hit the news stand. Irv decided to hold off and produce the gp38-2 first and not do the gp40-2 for a couple of more years just to try to encourage a little "truth in advertising."
  10. avlisk

    avlisk New Member

    I model Australian trains. The pre-ordering of RTR locos and other rolling stock is the way it is, the only way, and we don't know any other way. We are just happy to now have quality RTR locos instead of having to scratch build everything. That is a recent development of the last 5 years or so. I have 2 GM locos pre-ordered in October of 2005. They are due to market (if we get lucky) the first quarter of 2008, which will be 2 years after they were first due. I have an N class, a couple of EL's and and A class, too, all pre-ordered. 4 of these locos are from a manufacturer who has yet to release anything with a motor in it. But, if I want these locos, I roll the dice, hope for the best, and send in my deposit money, typically $50 to $60 per loco. The American market has had it good for a long time. But, we all get used to things, and we either live with things the way they are if we can't change them, or go collect stamps. I'll stick with the trains, thank you. Ken Silva
  11. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    I disagree. Because the manufacturer wants to run the game that way means nothing. $1 million dollars worth of inventory or an expensive manufacturering setup of any sort is worth exactly nothing unless people are buying - if the manufacturer goes to preorders and fails to generate the threshhold number, he is then de facto out of business.

    The seller does not dictate the terms - if the demand is there, someone else will fill it if the preorder guy doesn't want to.
  12. IAIS 604

    IAIS 604 Member

    MM, that argument assumes that there ARE any loco makers that don't use (or not planning on going to) the pre-order system.

    Who would that be ???

    It's not Atlas, Athearn, Walthers, Kato, ..., etc.

    That is to say, all the major players capable of producing a quality product are going to the pre-order system, so who's left to make your model ??

    As far as demand goes, this is a relatively small hobby (compared with many other ones), and seems to be getting smaller. The volume of demand is not there to drive your process, I think.

    Besides, if one company can't get the pre-orders needed to make the model, why would another maker assume that there is any market for it ???

    Model trains aren't the only thing in this type of system. Many high price, low volume items are done the same way.

    Heck - you have to "pre-order" if you want a custom 50cal flint smokepole, pilgrim!

    Watch your top knot, and have a great Fourth!
  13. slekjr

    slekjr Member

    A lot of LHS buys are still made by impulse buyers. If the local stores are not willing to preorder some extra items for stock then this market will dry up and then they will be forced out of business.
    If you want a new automobile exactly the way you want it you preorder it. Why then do Auto dealers have hundreds of new cars in stock that they pay the floor plan interest on? It is simple. People buy what they can hold (or drive). You can't sell what you don't have and most people don't want to wait.
    If by preordering you can get a better deal then I would agree. After all the manufacturer is taking the risk factor out of the process.
    Preordering is in fact their marketing study.
    It never ceases to amaze me that when one manufacturer comes out with a locomotive, they all seem to build the same or a similar model. Why don't they do an internet survey to see what is really wanted by the modelers.
    A lot of new age locomotives are being offered, which is fine but how about the older first generation items for the older modelers who typically have a few more dollars to spend.
    Personally I have enough locomotives that I would never have to buy another, but I will when models that I want become available.
    There are risks to be taken in any business and if you are not willing to take risks you will not survive.
  14. IAIS 604

    IAIS 604 Member

    A good point, Charlie - a lot of the risk has been moved from the manufacturer to the LHS/internet store (if they decide to get "extras" for those impulse buyers) and the buyers who pre-order (who must hope the maker will produce the quality product they want).

    What a deal!

    But this mode sure seems to work for the makers!

    I don't know about others, but Atlas has stated that they do listen to the "wish lists" on their forum, letters/e-mail requests, and also have dealer surveys. 'Course, Atlas doesn't do F7s - maybe there is a reason!
  15. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    About 20 years ago or so MDC, Atlas, & Stewart all came out with models of the Alco Rs3 at the same time. As a result the market for the Rs3 was diluted and each manufacturer got only a small percentage of the sales they would have received if only one of them had come out with the model. I'm sure that because of subsequent production runs of the models by all but Stewart that they have since recovered tooling costs and made a profit. Is there a reason that Atlas doesn't do f-7's? Maybe it is because Athearn has them out in r-t-r (blue box) and Genesis, Bachmann, Intermountain, Stewart, MRC, & BLI all have f7s available or have had them available at one time or another. In addition, Lifelike offered the f-3 in the P1k line. I think the market is pretty well saturated with f-7s. Atlas has the f-9p, the only company producing the extended body pasenger version. If I was a manufacturer who did not have f unit tooling, I wouldn't even think of going to the expense of producing tooling for those models.
  16. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    If they all go to pre-order, someone is going to go out of business - probably the majority of them. The owner of the local MRR shop aarees - he knows for a fact that customers like myself come in to see the locos and stock, handle them ,discuss them and operate them and compare them on his layouts BEFORE laying out the kind of cash required for purchase.

    If the current trend continues, my guess is that China will flood the MRR market with less expensive goods and take it over, using one inexpensive factory to produce the lines formerly produced by all the others combined.

    As for the .50 cal, I already have two of them, pilgrim, plus a Navy Pattern Colt percussion revolver to go along with the ensemble, and I didn't pre-order any of them. :rolleyes:
  17. Bones

    Bones Member

    Pre-ordering special runs makes sense. Pre-ordering standard (common) locos and rolling stock doesn't.
    Regardless of the reasoning, I've had horrible experiences with special orders and pre-orders in other businesses. The MRR industry better enforce very high standards of quality control and contract fulfillment if they want to stay in business. Last but not least.... You better know you can trust the dealer you use.
    Of course, if the industry does go to pre-order only... sales will slump. Companies will be hurting, and they'll return to the old ways. It doesn't hurt them one bit to sell large lots to dealers and let the dealer worry about it sitting on his/her shelves.

    As for pre-ordering and special ordering outside MRRing...
    I've ordered 3 trucks, 2 cars, 2 rifles, and 2 handguns. (Just a few examples) Out of these 9 items, only 1 arrived as ordered.
    All three trucks were shipped to the dealer with the wrong paint and/or options. (2WD arrived - ordered 4WD...etc)
    Both cars arrived with the wrong engine. (more expensive)
    The rifles were never produced. The manufacturer didn't meet his goal to make it profitable to mill the actions. (not his fault. he has to make money to make it worth it)
    One pistol arrived in the wrong caliber, but the other resides happily in its lockbox.

    Some of the problems were caused by the dealers I ordered through. They made a mistake, used the wrong form, or just plain ordered the wrong item in an attempt to extract more cash from my pockets. The others were caused on the assembly line, or lack of customer service. (One of the trucks was a Chevy. They discontinued the paint I wanted [without telling dealers], so they substituted it with a color closest in cost; knowing someone would buy it.)
  18. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I think they ask for preorders to gauge interest in a particular model before investing in the tooling to produce the model. I've not seen it done with rolling stock, just locomotives. I think the problem is that the rules have changed and no one is sure how to deal with it. Many hobby shops are hesitant to order in the quantities that they once did, because of the inroads of internet sales on their business. Many of the internet dealers don't stock anything, but order the items as they receive orders for them. The result is that the manufacturer has difficulty assesing what the demand for a product is going to be.
  19. IAIS 604

    IAIS 604 Member

    MM -

    They all are 'bout there - your dealer is pre-ordering and taking the risk that someone (maybe you) will buy their inventory. But most locos are now made to order.

    That's the way that stick floats.

    Percussion ???!!!

    Them percussions and those cartridge guns are just a passing fad - I'll stick by my custom 50 cal flinters (rifle gun and pistol)!

    But if'n I wanted a new Leman ( leman ), I'd have to pre-order it and wait while they built it (or assembled the kit) - no mass produced TCs or plastic muzzleloaders (shutter!) for THIS child !!!

    Pilgram ??? Nah ... I've wintered in the Hills !!!

    (Black Hills, to be exact - was a High Plains Free Trapper member while we lived in the Hills - and can still make a fire with flint and steel - and charcloth, of couse!)

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