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@train steve posted:

My concern is that the $2500 trains will hurt new people getting into the hobby.

The same argument was made back when it was, "will $10 for a new locomotive hurt the hobby because who can afford that?" If you go back and look at the old magazines, you'll see letter writers and editors addressing this question even back then.

When I was a kid and was reading Model Railroader in the early 80s, I specifically remember a letter to the editor about that, from some older guy who remembered back in the day of $1 cars and he was aghast that Athearn was charging what he considered way too much. Even as a kid with no money no access to way to earn any (and at the mercy of parents who meant well but weren't rolling in cash), I didn't think the stuff was all that expensive.

This is where free market comes into play. If Lionel wasn't selling all these higher-end locomotives with all the literal bells and whistles, you wouldn't see them come out with more and more stuff.

I find it funny especially among 3-rail fans, many of who I know buy stuff just to sit in boxes for eternity, as they're probably the reasons why the stuff just keeps getting more and more complicated (and maybe more proportionately expensive). In other words, some Lionel collectors will buy anything they make, so they make more and more and keep raising the bar at the same time.

@palallin posted:

I am part of the (relatively) small crowd that wants scale size, moderate but accurate detailing, and minimal electronics--i.e. no command control, generic sounds (NO Crew Talk!), minimal lighting, and conventional smoke units.

The small size of the group means that we command very little attention n the marketplace, alas!  Rolling stock is easy enough to come by, but engines are usually either scale with all the unnecessary felgercarb or sub-scale, too often also with too much electronic stuff.  Postwar provides the right level of gimcrackery but sub-scale.

Thus, my HiRail purchases have been at a standstill for years.  My focus has lately turned to Marx (8-wheel plastic/DeLuxe) and Standard Gauge--original only, please.

Talk about your diverse interests!

Someone like yourself could buy stuff like MTH PS2, Lionel TMCC engines and the like used, scale or near scale, rip out the broken command control and put in a dallee reversing board and maybe wire some lighting, and prob do it pretty cheaply. Thing is, people who want scale features also want the command control features that allow slow operations, etc.

Basically the problem is that the o gauge 3 rail world is diverse and Lionel and the other companies had to figure out how to navigate it. I would hazard a guess that Lionel's most profitable market right now is the scale side, the 1500-2000 buck engines, the scale detailed freight cars that cost 60 or 70 bucks, they command premium prices for those and the margins are likely high.  The more traditional sized stuff, the lionchief/lc+/lc 2.0 to me is a kind of 'gateway' drug, they introduce people to the fun of remote control without breaking the bank.  Menards is kind of covering the traditional stuff as far as cars go, RMT sort of covers that, too. Atlas is really scale as is 3rd rail, relatively expensive.

The novelty sets are what they always have been, to toy side of it to get kids and younger people into it, back in the day we had those operating cars, the helicopter car, the space car, the accessories, they had the 'ladies train', they had sets later on based around merchandising of popular products. The coors light train, the Polar Express, the santa trains, the frozen train, is based on a similar thing, get kids something they will enjoy they know.

I will add that I don't know if you have been looking at HO prices in Model Railroader or N scale for that matter, the engines, not talking brass, are pushing into the 500-600 dollar range (saw a rivarossi engine for that much), freight and passenger car prices are going up a lot, too, you see HO scale cars that are in the 40,50 buck range. While most engines can be had with either dc with DCC compatible plug or with DCC decoder in it, they are still expensive. The price of HO track isn't that cheap, either, last I looked.  Like with O gauge, of course you can go cheap, you can buy stuff off fleabay or used at shows pretty cheap, there are still relatively cheap new product out there and of course there is a lot more offered, but these are still pretty expensive hobbies. Lionel prob knows what sell and honestly with traditional stuff, with everything outside engines, why buy new when you have like 75 years of post WWII you can buy? Unlike engines boxcars and the like don't really wear down and are easily fixed. With the engines, you can run post war, if you want to have some ability to run remote you can use a powermaster with legacy or tmcc command base to control your conventional engines. It would be great if lionel produced new offering in scale and semi scale in large numbers, but isn't going to happen.

A huge range of opinions!!

I had dumped all of my HO equipment, and scrapped the "open grid benchwork" that I had attempted to build (poorly) for years, as I moved (again) around 2004.  While on a winter getaway in 2013  I stopped on a whim at a train shop in Ft. Myers FL that had a simple, but large O Scale track w/ a LionMaster steamer set up.

I decided to jump into trains again, this time with a flat tabletop layout.  The reason I chose O GAUGE WAS the reliability of three-rail equipment and track.  Not "fiddly", as are N and HO (IMO).  This after years of attempting to build HO scale layouts- none of which ever ran at all.   I had an O gauge track plan developed, and even had a modular set of tables built to order, medium-sized with 048, 060, and O72 curves.   I started off w/ postwar conventional and in the 8 years since,  I have moved on to buy used Legacy, a few NEW Legacy, and LC+ locos.

A couple of years into building my layout, I bought a Starter PRR "Pennsylvania Flyer" LC set for grand daughters as a Christmas present.  I was blown away with what could be bought for $ 250, as were the grandchildren pleased having it.  I have since bought the same set for three families of grandchildren, and have caused friends to do the same for their grandchildren.

My visitors can't tell the difference between "scale" and O Gauge.  They don't SEE the 16" passenger cars as being "shorties".  And they think the layout is terrific, some even think museum quality (no way is it!!).

From a business standpoint, no doubt the largest dollars of sales in Lionel's business must be the sets, which means (today) Lion Chief lines and theme sets.

At the same time,  the "scale" crowd IS willing to spend a LOT more for a locomotive that is 1:48, has a bunch of features.  I think many never RUN them- they collect them, not any more as "an investment", but just because NOW they can afford them, and like them.   That makes Legacies that are new -never run-  available at good prices.  The market is now better for Lionel with MTH out of the picture.

So- there are two opposed market segments, separated by price, theme, and  complexity.  If I were Lionel, I would split the catalog- Legacy in one small catalog (maybe even only an online catalog), and everything else, with LC+ and LC+ 2.0 being the step up.  The LHS will still carry the lower-priced items, as their customers seek out and order them.  But the real volume IS and had always been, "toy trains".  Even big-box stores (like Menards) would likely carry the sets.

I was reading everyone's comments.  I was a little confused because Lionel has made that push for less expensive more traditional sized trains with all the LionChief lines.  And even though it does not match the scale lines in terms of variety, it certainly has a lot.  The reason I never went for Postwar stuff was because it really was toy like and that's fine because that is what it was at the time.  But everything gets more advanced and Lionel's scale stuff obviously is incredible looking, has all the tech in it but it is super expensive.  I don't think people who want traditional size stuff are being left out.  With Lionel adding LionChief to the mix they gave them that smaller size and lower cost.  I realize for some 500.00 may not be low enough you have to be realistic.   Please remember, they are a BUSINESS.  They will produce product that gives them the best return.  I think they have been trying to give a larger variety for everyone, but you are not going to see 200.00 trains anymore.  Even back in the 50's when Lionel was making trains, they were not cheap compared to incomes.  For post war enthusiasts eBay has massive amount of inventory available.  I still think todays train world has tons of options for everyone, on every budget for what realistically can be produced by a company to make a profit and stay in business. 

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