Rant: Outrageous Pre-order Lead Times

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by riverotter, Aug 28, 2007.

  1. riverotter

    riverotter Midwest Alliance Rail Sys

    I got a little computerized message when I logged into one of these forums chiding me for not posting message for “a while now”, practically begging me to post something of interest to the membership. Well, I just happen to have something I’d like to share. . .

    Don’t let me get off on a rant here, but what’s the deal with the outrageous lead time on model train pre-order items?

    Back in September of 2006 (that’s a year ago for the calendarly-challenged) I reserved a PCM Great Northern S-2 4-8-4 steam locomotive and several Southern Pacific Daylight passenger cars. The “promised” date at that time was December of 2006. A friend of mine did the same thing at about the same time with the PCM Daylight GS-4 and the full complement of passenger cars. These items now have an "estimated" date of January 31, 2008. Upon hearing that news, I immediately notified the dealers I pre-ordered through that I was canceling my orders. A year is long enough. If they can't deliver it by then, the heck with it. I have plenty of locomotives and rolling stock. (Some people might say "too much", but they're obviously not train people...)

    Now I realize that being in the business of manufacturing and distributing products for model railroaders is a low profit margin proposition in the first place, so god forbid you should have two or three of whatever you’re having the Chinese manufacture for you left over after all the pre-orders have been fulfilled.

    Or am I just imagining that? What about Factory Direct Trains, who seem to have warehouses full of PCM and Broadway Limited and other equipment that supposedly had to be pre-ordered (often with a deposit) because it was going to be made in such a limited quantity? I put down a deposit on not one, but two of the new AC6000 diesels with my LHS, and paid $145 each for them when he got them in – which was a week after FDT was advertising them all over the place for $119. What the ?! I was so mad I sold both locomotives on eBay and bought one better-quality diesel with the proceeds.

    Manufacturers, listen up! Most of the people in this hobby are old farts! People, you’ve got to remember this: we’re likely to kick the bucket at unpredictable and inconvenient times. And, sooner rather than later, probably. So if you want to get your hands on our money before we die, you’d better get on the stick and get your products out the door.

    But that’s just my opinion…
  2. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I suspect the people asking for the deposit are not the manufacturer, but the local hobby shop you order through. The manufacturer sets the size of the production run partially on the basis of the size of the preorder. The big mail order houses will have a bunch of models because they will pre order a huge number knowing that they can unload them at a discount world wide now with the internet. Your local hobby shop is working on a much smaller scale and can't afford to stock items they may not be able to sell. My local hobby shop pretty much knows the local market. If they get a chance to buy Santa Fe, BNSF, SP, or UP prototype models they jump on them. If a local modeler wants to buy a locomotive decorated for an Eastern prototype, they need to special order it because the local hobby shop is not going to gamble on models that may not sell in So Cal.
  3. Bones

    Bones Member

    Yep, typically the hobby shop collects the money as a guaranteed sale. Cause if they are ordering a large amount of something, they have to know they can sell it.
    The manufacturer just needs to know that they can justify the cost of tooling for the model. (some tooling can cost $400,000 and up for a single model)

    As for PCM... email them and tell them to produce something. In N scale, they've announced 5 locomotives. One has seen daylight, but very few have shipped. It is rumored to have flaws, as well. Everything else... lost in the abyssmal land of perpetual delay.
  4. CNWman

    CNWman CNW Fan

    ...And this is why I only get already on the shelves or in stock trains (although I've only truthfuly gotten only ONE locomotive that I had a hankering for, the F3 was my start into the hobby, and the B23-7 and Hustler were freebees).
  5. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    I don't pre-order as there is never anything I want that badly. Unfortunately, I order rare enough stuff that I frequently have to backorder.

    I get $30 a month for my hobby plus a few hundred $$$ at Christmas, so I have a policy: If it isn't directly in my stated goals...I won't buy it. Therefore...I won't buy anything On3 unless it is DSP&P specific or applicable and I won't buy anything that isn't appropriate for the NKP in 1948. I attempt to spend my money on what will keep me busy...therefore I haven't purchased Walthers NKP 100 series 55 seat coaches or the Blueprint 80 series coaches. Instead I'll purchase materials to build the 60 series coaches and DSP&P cars.

    I'm in love with the Spectrum 2-6-6-2s, the Broadway 2-10-4s, the Spectrum 4-6-0s and 4-4-0s, but they don't help me to accomplish my goals and sabotage what funding I do have to get there.
  6. rhtastro

    rhtastro Member

    This is a good subject and one with which I've had some experience. Recently, I ordered an expensive digital with sound, etc Marklin SP PA-1 double unit, double powered loco that wasn't quite in stock yet. ie: backordered, from a reputable mailorder dealer. I've always had a thing for SP and UP. Then Marklin, Inc. came up with a huge sale on guess what, PA-1's for Santa Fe and UP. So I bought the exact double unit, except with Santa Fe markings for an astounding half off. Then naturally, I did what is natural, I cancelled the SP order. I already had the UP model. It was plain that the dealer wasn't too happy, but since I didn't put anything down and I did buy the Santa Fe model from him, it seemed ok. He lost one but gained one and I'll still deal with him in the future. I have backordered before but I'll never wait more than 2 or 3 months for anythiing. By the way that SF PA-1 double unit is a real gem and will easily pull all the freight cars I've got.
  7. Kanawha

    Kanawha Member

    Its such a pain trying to get BLI locomotives. Almost not worth the wait. Especially since they've been having trouble with quality control lately.
  8. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    I was hoping to scrape together the funds necessary to by a frame, drivers, and motor from them to use in my NKP 4-6-2 conversion...it is good to know that they've had some quality issues recently. I've been waiting for months for their USRA light 4-6-2 to be released.
  9. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Guys,I seldom preorder unless a car or engine road name will be a hot seller..Other then that nope.

    I will NOT preorder from BLI/PCM..

    BTW..I prefer to buy AFTER seeing the model instead of buying a pig in the poke.:evil:
  10. jimh

    jimh Member

    Maybe it was always this way, but it seems to me that manufacturers are really screwing up in the last several years when it comes to releasing a new product/model and it does not matter what they are coming out with. I can be a new power unit for a MRR or a new gizmo for your car or computer.

    They (manufaturers) go and hype up the product, put a release date on it, and encourage people to pre-order that item and the next thing you know the release date has came and went and went and went to the point you cancel your order and start looking for the item at antique shows.
  11. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Most manufacturers have the products built in China. I've noticed more and more general products (tools, etc) built in India now, so we may se a shift to India for some model railroad products. When you are dealing wiht an overseas company to build your product to your design, the number of things that can go wrong and delay delivery are enormous. There are enough things that can go wrong when you try to build it locally, having it built half way around the world increases the problems.

    Add to that, the problem of shipping. I used to work at a container terminal in the Los Angeles Harbor. It is not a common occurance, but occasionally containers have their lashings break and are lost at sea.

    Finally the manufacturer may have not understood how long everything was going to take so they start promoting the model too early.
  12. b28_82

    b28_82 Member

    I too preordered a BLI Southern Pacific Daylight set because it is the most accurate out there that's not brass. However I made the preorder in either May or June of 2006 and as of today its been pushed back to May 2008.

    I might just say the heck with it if the Kato N scale version comes out before this one because its about 1/3 of the price and they stick to their schedules too. Oh well such as life though.

  13. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    There may be hobby shops taking pre-orders but there is also the disturbing trend of manufacturers doing the same thing, and only producing as many units as they have pre-orders for.

    I can see how this benefits the manufacturer, as they will never have any unsold inventory.

    But please tell me how this benefits the consumer? We are supposed to pony up our deposit, wait a year and a half, pay the rest of our money, and then, and only then, do we actually get to see, and test, the new loco.

    I refuse to play that game. We all should. Maybe then the manufacturers will get back to having product on the shelves before they ask for our money.

    Okay, I'm stepping of my soapbox now. :D


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