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Reply to "Does anyone think a mfgr will throw a steam bone to S next year?"

 

Bingo.  Nostalgia only goes so far.  Does anyone seriously think that 3-rail O would be where it is now if MTH hadn't gone independent and essentially force Lionel out of endless reissues of Postwar?  Now, I will give Lionel/Flyer its due, they have offered some new product that breaks the postwar mold, but they still tend to fall back on Gilbert nostalgia.  I reason that from their wheelhouse, that appears to be where the market is.  Fancy electronics only adds so much to 60-70 year old designs.

But even with new products like SD70's, how many times can you reissue them without any appreciable market expansion.

Scale trains is still the big unknown.  It looks like we won't see any of the former SHS/MTH Showcase Line until late 2022-early 2023.  Scale Trains' reputation may be of benefit, but we'll have to wait and see.  Trouble is, new folks don't want to wait.

Unfortunately, just as O can't escape the Lionel name, S can't escape the American Flyer name.  Even when one says American Models, you can just about see the "thought balloon" above folks heads thinking American Flyer.

I don't think any current HO would be willing to "take the plunge" without being able to purchasing an existing line to minimize the investment.  There's nothing out there with a "For Sale" sign on it right now and with the passing of Ron Bashista, the family as stated they intend to keep running the company.

Probably about the only company with sufficient resources to take a gamble on S would be Bachmann.

Well, Lionel has successfully scaled down U33C's ES44's, SD70's, Challengers, Y3's, and the cylindrical hopper from O. The Pacific's and Mikado's don't count, they came out before Lionel had O scale versions of these USRA locomotives.   It can be done.  Why they pulled the rug out from under the 57' mechanical reefer I'll never understand.  That car had potential.

Rusty

Just as the adherence to Nostalgia is the biggest weakness of S, Incentive is the key to it's future expansion.   Lionel has no incentive to expand AF or explore Scale AF - because AF is in direct competition with Lionel.  On the spectrum of scale, Z - N - HO - S - O - G,  Lionel and AF sit on the same half.  They are both larger scales and these are two products which have directly competed for the same audience since they were founded. So why spend money on ne AF tooling?  It's not like Lionel customers are going to move to AF  - if anything, Lionel want's AF customers to move to Lionel.

Bachmann is similar to Lionel.  They own the Williams tooling. They've also demonstrated zero desire to reproduce Aristocraft in 1:29 despite there being significant market demand for motive power in that scale.  There's just no incentive for them to even use tooling they already own!  They just want to do what they do.  The in-roads aren't through Bachmann.

The incentive is far greater for these new N / HO builders.  As modelers age, they tend to move up to O or G or they give it up cause they don't have the space.  Only Atlas has a multi-scale presence - and it's in O which doesn't cover that space issue.  S offers these new N / HO builders the perfect step-up.  It's not too large but it's large enough to maintain their client base.  It's also large enough that some people interested in O scale 2-rail - but not the space limitations (like myself) - would explore it.  They are spending big $ getting customers - they need to move up a scale to maintain them indefinitely.

BLI has shown that a company can expand into a scale without purchasing existing tooling.  All of their HO / N locomotives have been designed in-house.  And despite their HO / N pedigree, they are also familiar with lower production numbers - as they have produced low volume Hybrid Brass locomotives in HO.   I think if any one company could make it happen without buying existing tooling, it's BLI.

As for AM - I hope the family does keep it going as I intend to purchase a large quantity of items from them in the very near future.  I hope when they are ready to give-up-the-goose, they find a buyer who wants to continue the production.  If I could afford to take it over, I would.  I think it's a quality product that could be very successful - if it tapped into the N / HO market.


Last edited by Jacobpaul81
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