This week there’s been quite a kerfuffle about Bachmann’s 20% price rise, most noticeably on assorted forums and meejah. Basically rising costs have meant that Bachmann have passed on elements of that rising cost to the end user, the man on the Clapham Omnibus. It would appear that this is going to be the end of the hobby, the thin end of the wedge driving people out of a ‘rich mans’ hobby. One even mentioning that they knew of the coming increases at Warley last year. Well cynical old me, but I doubt that very much. The hobby started out as a rich mans plaything certainly, and the high quality end of the hobby has, and always will be expensive, but that’s no different to any leisure past time. The hobby is cheaper now than it has ever been, in my experience of about 40 years or so. The contemporary Ready to Run models offer outstanding value for money compared to the alternatives, just go and price a Judith Edge Sentinel vs the Hornby one, a DJH 9F vs Hornby/Bachmann, a Comet BR Mk1 against Hornby/Bachmann etc etc. The price of a kit and its components is going to exceed the RTR equivalent in 4mm scale.
The fastest way to reduce costs is to minimise your spending, and yes that’s a bit of a statement of the bleedin obvious but I do feel sometimes it needs saying, ‘tough love’ and all that. My interests cover a wide range of railway prototypes, and even prior to this announcement I had thought that there are things I’m never going to use in my collection. So, get rid of them, sell them. Apparently second hand prices had already started to rise because of this announcement within a day of the news breaking, so sell now!
You could turn this price rise to your advantage modelling wise, and I’ll use Albion Yard as an example. The era I have chosen runs from mid 1950’s through to the 1960’s. In that ten years or so the railways got well and truly stuck into the transition era, one of the reasons its so interesting. The picture above shows some of Albion Yards motive power, (the Standard 2-6-4T is just for photo purposes) and it could be reduced easily. The 03 shunter isn’t really Forest of Dean, same for the 4MT, those can be culled immediately, a more than 20% cut instantly and a saving if not purchased of £140ish, using the Scally price index. The prime reasons for doing this are neither of them ran in the Forest, the same can be done for the Ivatt 2-6-0, though that is a more realistic candidate for operation in the area and that’s another £90 saved. That leaves me five panniers and a 45XX. Two of those panniers are DCC sound, done as test pieces. Remove the sound from them and resell the chips, £140 the pair at a guess, possibly more. I could sell the whole locos of course and make a bigger return. If I do that I’ve now got four locos left. Those four, three panniers and a 45xx still give me a prototypical ‘fleet’ and allow me to ring changes at home, and have a small reliable fleet for an exhibition with some redundancy for failure. I wouldn’t want to go to a show with less than four locos for a one engine in steam branch. It has also refined my era to no later than 1965, so if we look at the header picture the ‘Teddy Bear’ goes despite it being a signature engine for 1965 onwards. I can do the same with the goods stock. I have very few wooden plank mineral wagons anyway, but if I choose 1960 for the sake of it, I can get rid of all but maybe one, as by that time the ubiquitous 16t steel mineral reigned supreme. Any TOPS coded minerals/wagons for the late 60’s era can be disposed as can wagons in the later bauxite or freight grey colours. I’ve not worked out how many of the wagon fleet would go, not many, but there would be a reduction, same with brake vans one each unfitted/fitted BR standard 20T van and two GWR unfitted Toads, still ending up with the right ‘mix’ in variety and use. So, the new products that are in the pipeline? Well a 64xx at £82 will be nice so we’ll have one of those. That brings our fleet to five locos. So selling stuff may actually refine the layout in terms of historical accuracy, conversely if I were starting out being era and location specific to prototype could minimise your spending at the outset.
With Albion Yard of course we are looking at a small layout, I also own Bawdsey http://bawdsey.wordpress.com/ and a similar exercise can be done with that by culling a class 24, class 15, and class 08. My coaching stock on Bawdsey could be reduced and purely replaced with the DMU traffic, the freight stock is pretty much the correct mix at the moment. As far as ‘new’ items go the obvious contenders are a 101 DMU, and replace one of the others, more likely the Cravens. If I want to go back in era then a Hornby J15 and the non corridor coach stock will be needed, but if I want to reduce costs and keep prototypical I still can with minimal effort. So is 20% such a deal breaker? I really think it isn’t, I’d prefer it not to be there of course but this is real life, the make believe is for our trainsets. Of course this may be pricing ‘real modellers/enthusiasts’ out of the market, but I’ve never known what price index or salary scale is to be applied to a real modeller or real enthusiast to make any sense of such throwaway comments. I suspect many of us that worked hard enough, overcome difficulties and have been fortunate enough to reach wherever we have in life that allows us to buy luxuries like toytrains, will find such disparaging comments glib and facile. I certainly do. I was surprised to see a comment that one person was allocating £1500 (minimum) for this years new RTR purchases on pre increase prices, so is cutting £300 or thereabouts really going to eat into the big scheme? Careful selection or refining of what you actually need rather than desire shouldn’t damage that project too much, if it does I’d love to know how.
Having used the scally price index its clear that it won’t be long before the ‘box shifters’ are blamed for the demise of the small model shop in this 20% argument. That smaller shops will need to be sharper and offer ‘more’ to their customers is without argument. What is often forgotten is those ‘box shifters’ were small shops at one time, and they have grown, I wonder why? I suspect its because people used them, and Mr Ben the Shopkeeper worked out why and thought, this works, we’ll do a bit more of it.. Others, Beatties/Railmail didn’t. If of course the shifters are such a problem then boycott them and pay the local shop rate, or do that terribly unBritish thing, and go and haggle. Still the price increase will make Rapido’s model seem affordable if our prices are rising by such an (allegedly) unsustainable rate.
Wonder if anyones worked out its not a locomotive yet ….