Topics

ET kits


Jim King
 

Mark,

 

I’m not interested in expanding my product line to western-road modelers but thanks for the suggestion.  There is a MUCH longer list of manufacturers doing that, including RTR Blackstone products.  I have plenty of projects to keep me busy with S and O standard gauge, however, I still think there is a “need” for good-quality trucks in HOn3 and Sn2/3. 

 

I produced 3 runs of Sn2 freight and passenger trucks using traditional SLA patterns and urethane castings and included Kadee HOn3 wheelsets, which makes a very nice “complete” package.  Fantastic detail but the passenger truck is a little “tedious” to assemble with 28 part per truck.  I’m now evaluating rerunning those using my CAD files as 3D printed parts to reduce assembly time.  You can see all of the trucks (diesel sideframes, too) I produce on 2 pages of my web site, all in S scale.

 

There are several archbar-type truck styles that have only been produced in HOn3 in white metal or brass; both mediums required a LOT of fiddling to get them to roll even at $20/pr (brass).  Lawndale had unique “upside down” trucks and, of course, the combine had “pretty” trucks that could easily be applied to other cars, especially for freelance modelers.

 

Taking the time to research/design accurate, detailed cars in a limited ET HOn3 market is not something I want to tackle with competition already established.  I am a bit surprised at prices associated with 3D printed kits that require the customer to supply his own detail parts, trucks, couplers and (possibly) weight.  A $60 “carbody kit” could easily end up costing a modeler $85 when all parts/decals are accumulated.  If I was producing a $60 kit, it would, at least, include all of the detail parts and decals required to finish it.  Trucks are very much a personal choice (some like Grandt’s D&RGW trucks because they roll like a greased pig) and some folks use Sergent’s HOn3 couplers.  I get that.  But it’s increasingly difficult for new-to-the-game modelers to acquire detail parts and that’s where the kit’s mfr should help.

 

Jim King

www.smokymountainmodelworks.com

 


Larry Smith
 

Jim

As a suggestion, if you want to stay in the HOn3 market is to do some of the other eastern narrow gauge.  How about the Mann's Creek hoppers, did you know they had three different hoppers.  How about the Ohio River and Western, bigger then both the ET and EBT combined, or the Waynesburg and Washington.  For lesser known but still popular are the Newport and Sherman's Valley, Tionesta Valley ( great looking side door caboose that has never been done) and the Lawndale.  There are drawing for most of these cars out there, many of them done by the late Ed Cass, so your research info is already out there.  All you have to do is the cad work to get going.

Larry Smith 

On Tuesday, January 8, 2019, 10:04:06 AM CST, Jim King <jimking3@...> wrote:


Mark,

 

I’m not interested in expanding my product line to western-road modelers but thanks for the suggestion.  There is a MUCH longer list of manufacturers doing that, including RTR Blackstone products.  I have plenty of projects to keep me busy with S and O standard gauge, however, I still think there is a “need” for good-quality trucks in HOn3 and Sn2/3. 

 

I produced 3 runs of Sn2 freight and passenger trucks using traditional SLA patterns and urethane castings and included Kadee HOn3 wheelsets, which makes a very nice “complete” package.  Fantastic detail but the passenger truck is a little “tedious” to assemble with 28 part per truck.  I’m now evaluating rerunning those using my CAD files as 3D printed parts to reduce assembly time.  You can see all of the trucks (diesel sideframes, too) I produce on 2 pages of my web site, all in S scale.

 

There are several archbar-type truck styles that have only been produced in HOn3 in white metal or brass; both mediums required a LOT of fiddling to get them to roll even at $20/pr (brass).  Lawndale had unique “upside down” trucks and, of course, the combine had “pretty” trucks that could easily be applied to other cars, especially for freelance modelers.

 

Taking the time to research/design accurate, detailed cars in a limited ET HOn3 market is not something I want to tackle with competition already established.  I am a bit surprised at prices associated with 3D printed kits that require the customer to supply his own detail parts, trucks, couplers and (possibly) weight.  A $60 “carbody kit” could easily end up costing a modeler $85 when all parts/decals are accumulated.  If I was producing a $60 kit, it would, at least, include all of the detail parts and decals required to finish it.  Trucks are very much a personal choice (some like Grandt’s D&RGW trucks because they roll like a greased pig) and some folks use Sergent’s HOn3 couplers.  I get that.  But it’s increasingly difficult for new-to-the-game modelers to acquire detail parts and that’s where the kit’s mfr should help.

 

Jim King

www.smokymountainmodelworks.com

 


Larry Smith
 

With all this discussion about competition being good for the hobby, I suggest you read the following from Chris Lane who has given me permission to post.

Quick economics lesson (Thanks Dr. Lynch, my business school Econ professor!) Assume Company X and Company Y decide to make a product “widgets” and their cost of production is exactly equal. Further, the widgets are equal and there is no difference in the eye of the consumer. Lastly, the market for widgets is limited and both companies have the capacity to completely satisfy the demand for widgets themselves, + a bit more. So right out of the gate, the max amount of widgets that either X or Y could sell is half the market demand, all things being equal.

Now let’s say X decides they want to sell more widgets than half the demand. So they cut price. But they find out that really doesn’t move more widgets. In fact, the trend shows they will be selling less before much longer. A quick marketing focus group reveals that consumers, knowing all widgets are equal, believes X’s widgets these to somehow be inferior; why else would they cut the price? But even before they knew why, X knew they were making less money. We could walk through any number of market reactions by X and Company Y, but they all led to either just one company surviving, or both companies saying the hell with it and going off to make waggles (or RGS stuff) which is a much bigger market and more profit.

Another example with insight into the train market. Let’s say Ma opens a pie stand and makes rhubarb pie. It’s good pie, but not everyone likes it. That’s OK, because Ma can only make 4 pies a day, cut into 6 slices (24 slices). And that is about the market for rhubarb pie in that town. 

Well, Ma's mother (MaMa) gets wind, and is pissed. She taught Ma how to make pie and it’s her recipe, so she open’s MaMa’s rhubarb pies across the street. Now each is selling 12 slices a day. Ma’s business was cut in half overnight, and she ain’t happy, and MaMa is grumpy that both her daughter is selling her pie recipe AND she is only getting half the pie sales. 

So MaMa rebrands as MaMa’s Original Rhubarb pies, and markets that she was the first and is still the best and her sales go up to 16 slices a day. Ma counters with “Pies made with love and a smile” (because MaMa is kinda cranky in dealing with customers) and regains the lost market share and goes to 18 slices. But at the end of the day, both make rhubarb pie, and neither can gain all the market (and it ain’t a big market), and the increased marketing costs are cutting into both’s profits.

But MaMa also makes lemon pie, and her daughter (thinking she is too sweet) doesn’t like lemon, so won’t make it. So MaMa introduces “Lemon Tart Pie. Pie for sourpusses made by the original sourpuss.” Everyone loves the marketing, (truth in advertising), and it turns out even more people like lemon than rhubarb. In addition, some people like both kind of pies (fat guys) and buy both.

So what did we learn today Kids? A) if you are going to make pie (model trains) make a different kind of pie (boxcar) than the other guy. Everyone wins because  while cost of the pie fillings (tooling, materials and development) are basically the same, you maximize the number of pie eaters (train guys) you can sell to. Further, since the two piemakers are not trying to beat one another up over price, quality etc etc, the money spent there can go to developing more pies. The Pie eater (train buyer) wins because he gets the lowest cost pie (train) as the piemakers sales are as high as possible, while the costs are as low as possible, AND the buyer gets more pie variety.

Larry Smith


Jim King
 

Larry,

 

Thanks for the suggestions.  Lawndale has been a personal favorite simply because it’s fairly close and the roadbed easily traced in spots.  I need to work down my S and O standard gauge stuff before giving serious thought before getting back into narrow gauge cars.  I still believe there is a market for trucks and will continue exploring that aspect.  My Sn2 trucks were well-received (sold all 3 runs in short-order) and I suspect there is similar interest in other scales/gauges.

 

Jim King

www.smokymountainmodelworks.com

 


Jim King
 

Larry,

 

I understand the Economics 101 to Marketing analogy all to well … that’s why I produce resin kits, details, etc. that no one else does.  The HO RTR guys seems to be missing that point many times considering yet ANOTHER SD40-2 has recently arrived.

 

The narrow-gauge KIT market, regardless of scale/gauge, is too small for a competitor to start from scratch, despite all the current innovations in 3D printing, etc.  It still boils down to the research and LOTS of hours in CAD to make a credible product.  Given all of the ET stuff WR makes, there is no reason for me to re-enter that world.  Good for him … the modeler is the winner here!

 

It’s also a matter of risk vs reward for me.  The model RR product line is a key ingredient to my full-time business.  This is NOT a hobby … it’s my livelihood.  I carefully select prototypes, solicit interest from my private email lists then determine if a certain car is a go/no-go/wait-a-while.  O scale kits command primo $$ simply because they are big, the market is hungry for good products and the current RTR suppliers stick to what they can keep spitting out from China with different paint schemes.  The builders are my target market but the demand has to be sufficient to justify the upfront work to get to the end result.  I need “numbers”, not selling a few here or there or, assuming there’s a “run” when XYZ-product is made available, then the orders stop and I’m left with parts that are unique to that car.  Not a good business plan!

 

I will slide back into the shadows for now and consider potential narrow gauge products in time.

 

Jim King

www.smokymountainmodelworks.com