I think the answer is at this point it is what it is and whatever it becomes, it becomes. That doesn't mean people shouldn't have concerns. Mike W wanted to retire and get out of the business and what we see is the outcome. Ideally as we have beaten to death, someone would have bought the company and keep going forward with it but that simply wasn't there (for example, a private equity company, like the one that owns Lionel, could theoretically have bought MTH). Lionel and Atlas bought what they wanted of the tooling, what fit their product line, MTH parts spun off, MTH DCS is its own entity, and what is left of MTH product seems to be a custom run shop for hobby stores and some relatively low BTO runs they are doing themselves.
The part about this that concerns me is that either Mike had an unrealistic idea of what MTH was worth, or no investor thinks that the company is financially viable. Seems like there should be some middle ground, but that's for others to decide. IMO, Lionel gets attention from investors because of the century-plus name - everyone knows about Lionel Trains, whether they are interested or not. Mention Mike's Train House or MTH to the average person - crickets.
BTW MTH parts is a work in progress, and all I can say is that given what I heard Mike R saying at York and seeing a demo of the parts lookup, I don't think that is a concern going forward, he seems pretty determined to make it work and given how intense he seems to be, I wouldn't bet against it being a smashing success.
Mike Reagan is the bright spot in all of this. If anyone has the skill and passion to make it happen, it's him. Fingers crossed.
@A. Wells posted:
Or some of us might move to HO Scale. In the last three weeks, I've seen nothing but price slaughter for O items, esp. used MTH items. ...
O has never been inexpensive, but HO ain't cheap either. Not that long ago, one could buy a conventional HO loco for 1/10th the cost of an item from Lionel or MTH. Now, HO items are catching up in price, and you need more of them to populate a layout than in O gauge. I always promoted model railroading as a hobby that was accessible to all budgets, but sadly that's no longer the case.
I find it a very frustrating time to be in the O hobby. I've invested heavily in the O end of things at this point and I'm having some regret esp. when I see so many readily available models at cheaper prices for other scales.
This will improve, we just need to be patient. I was encouraged by what I saw at York - in general, asking prices haven't risen, and people were more willing to negotiate. Right now, people on "that auction site which shall not be named" are just trolling for suckers - don't feed that monster.
As @Mellow Hudson Mike mentioned above, the best outcome would be for a passionate young (or at least younger) entrepreneur to step up as Richard Kughn and Mike Wolf did a generation ago. Unfortunately, we're still waiting for that person.
There are a lot of moving parts involved - the aging demographic, chips, shipping, overseas manufacturing - it's going to take awhile to shake itself out. And remember, it's just a hobby...