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Reply to "3rd Rail just announced SD40-2's"


I am a long time 3rd Rail customer and their models are excellent. However, given the MSRP of $729.99 for a plastic diesel I'd have to give this one some thought.  

I have my share of detractors here on this forum, because of my comments about recent Lionel pricing.  But if we want to know where Lionel is headed with its 2017 pricing (and beyond), we can look no further than 3rd Rail.  Now before I infuriate more forum members, let me clearly state this is NOT a slur against 3rd Rail.  The models they produce are seldom second-to-none in the 3-rail O-Gauge community, and that category of product comes with a hefty price tag.  If you want the best, you knowingly shell out those hefty bucks... and never look back. 

What I AM saying though is this...  successful companies know how to MARKET their products well.  Because at the end of the day, they're competing for the same deep pockets of a limited number of enthusiasts who can afford this class of product.  And clearly, just from skimming this thread, we can clearly see there IS a decent degree of enthusiasm for these highly detailed products.  Indeed, just look at the number of folks in this thread alone who have already pre-ordered (or plan to pre-order) 2, 3 or 4 (or more) of these diesel locos at $730/each! 

While we're at it... Another interesting 3rd Rail price-point worth noting is the SP 0-6-0 switcher coming in at $1,450 MSRP.  Double-WOW!!!  But the detail level on this puppy appears to set a new benchmark for 3-rail O-Gauge detail standards.  So I guess this is why Lionel has no issue pricing its latest Legacy 0-8-0 switchers (due out later this year) at $900 MSRP, while less than 4 years ago the same switchers carried a $700 MSRP.  Although Lionel's product will likely have nowhere near the detail level of the 3rd Rail / Sunset Models product, I honestly believe Lionel is trying to court the SAME market 3rd Rail is trying to capture.  In some cases, they'll win.  And in others, they'll lose. 

There will always be somebody who wants the absolute best and is willing to pay for it.  While others may feel there's a point at which they'd be happy settling for a bit less (of a model) when they're spending considerably less dollars.  I honestly believe Lionel is hoping to grab a piece of the latter segment of "high end buyers".  So suddenly Lionel's $900 MRSP (avg street-price $750), may not seem too badly priced compared to 3rd Rail's $1,350-$1,450 street price.

Getting back to this particular topic at hand... i.e., the newly announced 3rd Rail $730 SD40-2 diesels.  It wasn't THAT long ago that Lionel offered their VisionLine ES44 diesels at $875-ish MSRP, and that got us one heck of a diesel locomotive with a ton of heft -- not to mention the die-cast shell.  To get a VisionLine diesel like that today, we'd probably be shelling out $1,600 easy.

So everything is relative... and perhaps $730 doesn't seem too bad for the detail level and high-quality product enthusiasts would be getting.    Never thought I'd hear myself saying that though!!!      And it's still a TON of money I wouldn't spend on impulse. 


Last edited by Rocky Mountaineer
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