Well it’s very nearly a year since the last foam filled festival of angst and fundamentalist fervor. In one sleeps time will Hornby hit the right notes with, (allegedly), two new steam engine projects, a passenger coach, (singular), and a host of new liveries across the range from Railroad to high spec tooling models? Will they generate a wordless Wednesday?, sometimes it’d be nice to think that could happen, but within five minutes it’ll likely be the endless, ‘my wallets in danger’, I’ll be watching this one’, to Why aren’t they doing a blooyellowred one? That might make a change of course from the current tempestuous, I want one, I want one, I can’t get one. (Don’t forget to write it in capitals on their facetube link, they need plenty more ‘Twenty Yard Hardmen’ in there. Shouting. A lot.) At Warley, Hornby made a surprise announcement of LMS horseboxes and LMS Period 3 suburban stock, North Eastern Region hopper wagons, A class 71, and an Adams radial tank, with hard copy models and test pieces (excepting the 71) on show. This of course has followed the furore of the cheek of Hornby to announce a Great Western King class locomotive in September.
In this era of ‘social media’ it appears to be the done thing to have your say, it’s your right, or the law or something. Historically,
or perhaps histerically Hornby have always kept their cards close to their chest regarding what they are announcing. Hence the surprise relating to some of their above announcements. Apparently Hornby doing what they’ve done for years, i.e. keeping quiet and then telling people what they are doing, are now ‘spoilers’ for other manufacturers. Well I say other ‘manufacturers’ but DJM would currently be far better employed writing romantic novels, their listings being more akin to The Pulitzer Prize ‘Best Fiction’ nominations. The manufacturers model prototypes are always worth studying closely, assuming the manufacturer puts images of them out, some don’t even up date their own website with images of their own products, or announcements about packaging… Bachmann seem well ahead of the game here. When you see a pre production model from them, you get a very good idea of how the finished product will look.
The LMS Twins were a case in point, The Hattons model manufactured by Dapol is chunky, no other way to describe it and the pre production models were the same when shown at a forum members day. The Bachmann pre production model had far more finesse to it, the group of modellers I associate with all waited to compare the Bachmann model when released, and then subsequently bought it over the Hattons/Dapol model. The Kernow 02’s also are exhibiting the same chunkiness around the cab, and general bodywork, with very noticeable thick cab sides. Compare the Kernow images 02 ( K2101O2SteamLocomotive ) to an equivalent Hornby M7 tank and you’ll see what I mean, the Hornby model has a finesse to it that the Kernow/Hattons/Dapol models don’t capture. I think the indications of the quality of the end product from these prototypes is maybe overlooked, or is it the majority of the Ready to Run market purchasers being less discerning/bothered about detail and quality issues? Some of electricnoses pigeons are coming home to roost. The FTG models SPA freight wagon has a design fault in that the couplings are too short resulting in buffer locking and an inability to couple like for like wagons without modifying them. It seems odd that the manufacturer hasn’t acknowledged the issue, they are surely aware of it having subsequently posted on the same page of the net that the problem is discussed, and presumably is still supplying inherently faulty products.
At Warley, Rapido www.rapidotrains were showing their pre production models of the APT-E, and as an addition to the UK product, they were showing their ‘home’ market products, which are second to none in terms of fidelity. To those unfamiliar with Rapido this was an easy way to show their companies capability, and quality. Interestingly just over a year ago they were in the UK and brought two pre-production models with them albionyard.the-canadians-are-coming/ At Crewe, Jason and Dan were very engaging and a year later we have them back in the UK with a UK product to show. The Canadian models which were prototypes are now, (within the year), available and are of very high quality. Compare that to the UK market, what a difference.
What this shows is that there are manufacturers out there who listen and get on with it. Hornby over the past couple of years maybe haven’t done so well in that respect, with no disrespect to Simon Kohler, hornbysimonsays who has always been polite and professional when dealing with Hornby matters, but I see a change in Hornby in how they are interacting with people. Their use of Facebook with the GWR King saga was very, very, clever indeed, and I think we’ll see more of that to come. I think not only will we see the quality and availability of models change from Hornby, I have a strong feeling we are seeing the beginning of a business model change too. And, if I’m right, some of that will be partly to them listening to what people are saying. There may be an element of being careful for what you’ve asked for. You may get it, but at someone else’s cost.
I’ve still got a fiver on this being one of this years announcements in a few hours time. Remember where you read it first, over a year ago …