Size Creep

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Mountain Man, Feb 22, 2008.

  1. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    I have noticed - can't really miss it - the current raging trend towards "size creep". Where HO was once enough and some folks opted for O, we now have whole legions of O, On3, On30, S, Sn3 and some gargantuan thing referred to for some reason as 1:20th or thereabouts, which I thought was Garden scale. New products galore with astronomical prioce tags, and I understand the attraction of larger scales...but isn't this heading straight into price-burnout?

    All I ever wanted to do was model in HO or HOn3, but I have recently had to settle for N - not being that proficient with bashing everything, Nn3 is temporarily out. So...the question du jour is: is this trip really necessary? And who are all these rich people paying these prices and driving the market beyond the means of those of us without oil wells in our yards?

    Inquiring minds want to know...:rolleyes:
  2. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    They are obviously people with descretionary income and space as well. I would be into a large scale layout if the weather permitted here in MT. Actually, the larger scales can be done by the average hobbiest. if you don't get too carried away.
  3. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    Automakers used to enlarge automobiles with each successive model. This was a marketing strategy. Just look at the ford thunderbird. larger car+more features=higher pricetag=more profit.

    The model railroad industry may be different. Larger scales may be becoming more popular because the eyesight of the average modeler is deteriorating as we get older. Prices are climbing, but so is the quality of the product.

  4. hmas

    hmas Member

    Well 45mm track that the 1/20th size stuff runs on has been around for 3 centuries, back in 1880 Marklin pulled the game together* & promoted 3 track sizes G1 45mm (1/32-1/30 scale standard gauge trains) G2 & G3. In the 1930s all these HO-rrible & f-00-L gauges turned up.:mrgreen:

    Lgb reintroduced 1/22 trains to the market in1968 ie G2 trains running on G1 track & sold the silly yanks on the idea the rest is history.
    I"m a member of the Gauge 1 model railway association & have been using 45mm since the 1960's.
    In a nutshell the industry is returning to its roots, locos are cheaper than some of the H0 stuff, + we can use track, R/C battery, steam or clockwork power.
    But you may say I'm biased :mrgreen:
  5. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    There have not been railroads for three centuries, let alone models of them...

    Larger, more expensive scales don't have to cost the modeler anymore. An O scale engine alone might be $600 compared to $100 for an N scale engine. In the same space, however an O scale modeler might build a branchline layout and only require one engine whereas an N scale modeler might have enough for a double track mainline and four track engine terminal that holds ten engines at a time, not to mention what's circling on the mainline. What's more expensive, one O scale engine or a dozen smaller ones?

  6. hmas

    hmas Member

    railohio did speak out of turn
    "There have not been railroads for three centuries, let alone models of them"

    thats 3 centuries, maybe not 300 yrs of model trains as we know them but over 3 centuries!
    The first full size railways with wooden tracks & horse or manpower date back well before the 18th century.

    Timeline of railway history - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Timeline of railway history - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Early Railways. A Selection of Papers from the First International Early Railways Conference (2001), pp. 8-19 (11)

    read the pdf in the references by Dr M.J.T Lewis University of Hull.
    He discusses the use of a railway in 600BC!

    So you still need to argue about how long railways have been around?

  7. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    O, On3, S, and Sn3 have all been around for a long time.

    The difference is, On3 is a bit easier to find now due to the popularity of On30 (much of mainline stuff is On3 with narrower frames/wheels). On30 gives all those aging HO people a chance to work with something they can see a little easier. The result is products can be offered for both On30 and On3. Make no mistake, On3 & Sn3 are far from popular...but they allow a narrow gauge model to build cars with more detail possible than HOn3 and you can avoid the N-scale sized mechanisms. Trust me as an On3 guy, aside from Coronado and a few places in Colorado...NO one carries On3 stuff. I have never seen anything On3 in a shop except in Colorado.

    Now the current 3-rail stuff...that I think is definitely driven by people with a surplus of disposable income. I am really skeptical of people claiming that it's okay to pay the exorbitant prices because its a "collectors item"...yeah right.

    I am very mixed about the baby boomers altering the market. To a degree, I couldn't care less about what is coming out in RTR. Yet, I do like seeing more steam layouts in magazines...something noticeable since the Spectrum 2-8-0 came out. What I dislike is the HO market seemingly trying to chase the 3-rail market to the sky. A Rivarossi passenger car used to run $15 and looked quite nice. The newer cars are nicer...but not worth the $35 they charge. I don't like to see the price of steam locomotives racing towards the sky either.

    That being said...the only On3 locomotive under $700 used to be the Grandt Line Porter...thanks to the pricey diecast's now more like $400. That's a huge improvement. It's also eating into the brass market...which is good for a person like me whom would like to gobble up some EBT 2-8-2s, DSP&P 2-6-6ts, and RGS 4-6-0s.

    The 1:20th thing you mentioned is one of the best things to happen to garden scale. True G scale is 1:22.5 scale...that means that the track is only the correct width for meter gauge trains...and LGB's American trains had too narrow of frames. American No1 gauge is 1:29th gauge...which meant that the trains were running on 51" gauge track...the frames were too narrow. The 1:20.3 scale is F scale...and it allows the "standard" american narrow gauge, 3', to be correctly proportioned on LGB track. The same is true for the higher end 1:32 trains which represent standard gauge on the same track. The result is merely that garden scale has moved from semi-scale stuff to true model railroading.
  8. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Hi...The effect of the now-retiring baby boomers who have for all practical purposes put their debt-ridden days behind them (mortgages, education, raisin' kids, etc...) having more disposable income than the still-struggling Joes, has pushed the price line upwards. Since most of them grew up with 3-railers, it's only natural that they return to this type of train (and other "fine-scale" O-gauge equipment).
    Couple this with a weakened dollar which makes imports (virtually everything in this hobby) more expensive, and you have a price escalation which we hadn't seen in this hobby.
  9. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    Not to mention an ageing population whose arms are no longer long enough to be able to see the fine detail on N and HO models, the popularity in the larger scales
  10. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    The problem with constant escalation of any kind, be it size, price or whatever, is that it historically leads to its own demise at some point. The constant processs induces a "pyramid" effect requiring more and more input to maintain a given level.

    Speaking of inflation, today I saw a beautiful N-scale early 2-6-0, perfectly suited to the layout I am developing. Unfortunately, it is made by Marklin and I don't have $400 USD for an N-scale locomotive, nor would I spend the money that way if I did. I come from what might be the last generation to realize that a) money has to come from somewhere, b) nothing is forever, especially income, and c) your body will fail before your passion for the hobby does; therefore, have a lot of money on hand because care for elderly is expensive, and if you think either Social Security or your insurance is everlasting and infallible in a failing America, I have some lots on top of Pike's Peak to sell you. Trust me; they're a real steal. :mrgreen:

    After all is said and done, it's still just a hobby. I do it for fun, not to outspend/impress others. My own gold standard is: Do I enjoy it? If so, everything is as it should be. Anything beyond that is entirely gratis. I'm the same way about cars, houses and all that other stuff, too. If you actually need a $100,000 SUV and a $3.5 million dollar house, please allow me to express my condolences, and if you "just happen to mention" that you have a $3,000 dollar locomotive on your model layout, don't be surprised if I look at you kind of funny.

    It's about the fun, not the money. :cool:
  11. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    It's about the fun, not the money. :cool:

    Amen to that....
  12. MadModeler

    MadModeler Member

    As long as I can see it, I'll stick with HO.

    However, I am still willing to experiment with other gauges. I remember with fondness (and the occasional swear word), the fun I had wiring the scenery for my friend's N scale Christmas train set. Looking back, that was a real blast! Street lights, buildings and Christmas lights on a pair of trees in front of the Post office. Looked great when we were done!

    Sadly, the set was wrecked when he moved but apparently my friend is planning to rebuild it and yes, I did agree to help with the rebuild. (just the wiring though!)
  13. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Such as the group that is pushing the market in that direction passing on...and those of us whom are left are fewer due to the higher costs driving people into other hobbies. I stopped buying guitar stuff as a part of my hobby because it was so much more expensive than my trains...and didn't provide as much enjoyment...the $$$ per hour of fun was less efficient.

    There is certainly a smaller market that find a $300 4-8-4 to be acceptable than the market for $60 4-8-4s.
  14. KCS

    KCS Member

    "It's about the fun, not the money." I highly agree but the sad truth is without money there is no fun. :( I started looking into larger scales a few year's ago and there's several reason's why I was wanting to convert over to 1:29 (garden scale) Train handling physic's have more of a prototypical feel on the throttle to me than HO does but that's one thing about HO that keep's me here beside's cost. HO offer's the widest selction of model's weather it be prototypical handlaid track from Proto87, highly detailed brass locomotives and car's to highly detailed mordern rolling stock and work equipment. You can can just about anything that is offered in 1:1 scale in HO. Even those Freightliner truck's that you see on the road but see old 70's model's of in HO because these modern model's are avalible they are just difficult to find as they are produced by much smaller outfit's or even single man operations.

    One scale that can not be taken into account on the list and is not commonly talked about would be 1:8 scale. I researched this scale and I am amazed at what most of these guy's build from scratch. There are companies who also offer these model's but mostly in kit's and locomotives can cost almost as much as a small car like a Kia if not more. But once you see what these thing's are loaded with and what it take's to build them you'll see why they cost so much. Look up "Lee's trains" 1/8 scale and look at this guy's work and look through the links. Amazing! Just as much detail as the real thing and there are some club's such as one that has over 6 (actual) miles of track to run on. I've even heard a couple of these guy's using their train's for actual revene service hauling chopped fire wood and dirt from property to property. If I had that kind of money, I would have been in it a LONG time ago. Now if I could only win the lottery! :p
  15. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I'm not sure how much things have really changed. Back in the 1950's Model Railroader Mag featured layouts running a lot of brass locomotives and command control systems. The prices of $75.00-$100.00 for brass may seem low now, but at that time a new Chevy or Ford cost less than $2000.00. A new house in Southern California cost less than $25,000.00, and the average income was about $5000.00 per year. Oh by the way, command co0ntrol cost $2000.00 back in the day! Today my $25,000.00 house is appraised at $600,000.00. A new car is going to cost from $15,000.00 for a basic economy car to $35,00.00-$45,000.00 for a pick up. Compared with income in the past few years, most train prices are still pretty reasonable. Model steam engines are pricey, but when I got into the hobby in 1980, I went with Athearn Diesels because I found that any steam engine I tried to operate needed way too much tinkering to even get it to run around a modular layout with a 36" minimum radius.
  16. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    If, in fact, there is no fun without the money, then this doesn't deserve to be a hobby, since that would place the emphasis on the wrong end of the scales.
  17. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    Fun, is what you have, doing the things you enjoy. As long as you can keep a roof over your head, and food on the table, you can have fun.
    When I first got into this hobby, not only did I not have any money, there wasn't all the finely detailed locos and rolling stock that there is now. Brass was at the top, but by today's standards, didn't run as well, or look as good.
    I built with balsa, and card stock, and pushed a dummy loco around a 4' X 6' plywood board layout, and I had fun.
    The difference?, I like to build models. It is the building that is fun, not the owning. I spend a lot of money, to have cable. So many channels....all of them filled with "drama", stupidity, and nonsense. I'd cancel, but there are a handful of channels that occasionally have some very interesting programs. Overall, however, cable isn't "fun".
    "Without money there is no fun", is truly sad. I will add the fact that I can have fun, without spending too much money, to the list of blessings that have filled my life.
  18. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Amen, sir...amen. :thumb:
  19. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    And if I didn't have the money for styrene...I'd use cereal board, cut cars out of wood scraps, and such
  20. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    I thought the first proprietary command control systems came in the 70s?

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