Originally Posted by Gilbert Ives:
I wasn't really clear. I just thought it was an example of Lionel having a market segment to grow and then just abandoning it. If they only offer a high-priced starter set with the Northern or Challenger, and then don't offer any more add-ons -- well, you get the idea. The Docksider set has been around for a few years but only promoted when first released. A lot of discounting on it, too. And now it lacks Fastrack, so it's not an item for the new S push.
My point about MTH was that they saw the need for "affordable" Tinplate starter sets and offered them for $600, as well as heaps of accessories whereas Lionel only offered two big -- if quite impressive -- "Collector" sets at just over & under $2,000.
I didn't realize that the Bachmann/WBB set was that much.
Bachmann tends to get HEAVILY discounted across the board. I think there's few that would actually pay the MSRP. But, As I said, the retail prices are just for comparison purposes.
Lionel floundered around quite a bit in the late 90's and early 00's, when personally I had little respect for the company as a whole. I had little faith in the current management when they took over in 2004, but they do appear to be doing things right this time around. Not perfect, but then neither am I.
So now Lionel's turning some much needed attention to the Flyer line. Competitive starter sets are needed, just as top of the line stuff, along with some "transition" stuff in the middle. I'm pretty sure it will come.
No matter how they're improved upon, the old Gilbert mechanics are not conducive to modern manufacturing. The new locomotive that Ben mentioned in his post should address that situation. We'll have to wait and see how it turns out. It'll be interesting.
MTH will also have to address the same issues. Good as SHS locomotives are, they really are too expensive to produce for mass market starter sets. The F-units can be simplified to a degree, but MTH will probably also have to do something more basic in design.
I don't know if Lionel has a "TMCC Lite" in the works for sets, but I'm pretty sure MTH will be including DCS in the S sets, just like they do with HO and O set. That may prove to be the competitive edge in that portion of the market.
Stay tuned, folks...