Korea

And Japan got too expensive before Korea. in the 50's, Japan was the go-to place for much beautiful model RR equipment, in many scales. Much of it (not all) suffered from beautiful detailing and horrible drivetrains; I wonder how many reviews in the 60's in MR said "nice looking, but will require an upgrade to an American motor and gearbox to be satisfactory", or some such.

Since Japanese labor began to cost more than US labor (plus other factors), Korea was the beneficiary. Funny, as Japan has had a healthy model RR hobby since before WWII, and Korea had (has?) essentially none.

Growing up in the 50's - 60's, my contemporaries and I felt that "Made in Japan" meant cheap and poorly engineered (sometimes justifiably); now "Japanese" has become collectible, at least in the model RR area. 

Even funnier, to me, is that now I'll see "Made in Korea" and think: "O-o-o, it's some of that good Korean stuff". The Korean stuff was never junky like the early Japanese stuff, as they got into the game later and the manufacturing world was different from the post-WWII era.

The Chinese product has been a step backwards, in many cases. Not all, but many. I want my good Korean stuff back!

It is interesting to observe how the once low-end Korean electronics firm, Samsung, morphed since the 1980's into a quality powerhouse today! I remember when the Sony and Panasonic Japanese brands were the leaders in the last century. I once owned several Sony ES Series audio components, and they were top notch in the 1980's.

vita sine litteris mors est  (Seneca)

Vietnam may well become the "new" Korea. For example, Omron, a high quality Japanese medical equipment firm, has been manufacturing there for several years now. Their fine blood pressure measuring devices are always top rated in consumer reviews.

vita sine litteris mors est  (Seneca)

Tinplate Art posted:

The Korean firm, Samhongsa, did some quality work in several scales.

In O gauge, they built all of MTH's engines and other items for years, since MTH's very beginning, as well as many engines for Weaver, and a number for Lionel. Some people use to say "Those aren't MTH engines, they're Samhongsa engines that MTH markets for them." 

I've got 3 MTH Premier steam locomotives made in Korea (made in 99, 04, and 05 respectively). They run and look great, and pull very well with their big Pittman motors. I've got no complaints. I also have an early (95) MTH Premier diesel that still runs great and was also made in Korea. Those along with my made in USA Lionel locomotives have been pretty much trouble free. I've only really had issues with my made in China Williams locomotive, but it was built to a considerably lower price point.

I can't much comment on current manufactured Chinese products vs the older Korea/USA made stuff, since I own all the old stuff. It works, so I see no need to replace it. Plus that would be too expensive.

Santa Fe, All the Way

Lou N posted:
Tinplate Art posted:

The Korean firm, Samhongsa, did some quality work in several scales.

The Korean firm Ajin Precision did the best.

Lou N

I had the good fortune to visit Ajin to inspect Right of Way equipment prior to shipping.  It was quite a well done operation.  Jang Se Ho was the chief engineer who went on to start Boo Rim Industrial.

Lou N

It mostly has to do with costs, Korea for many years was a lost cost provider, especially once Japan became too expensive as wages and expectations rose there,and Korea became an industrialized country with higher labor costs. China took that over since they entered the WTO, but it looks like manufacturing is moving from there, or starting to, Chinese firms are either investing in automation or are moving production to places like Vietnam or likely, Africa (the Chinese are helping build infrastructure there, and I suspect it isn't all that altruistic, you can't manufacture in places lacking things like power, roads, ports, rail, etc).  China is increasingly no longer the low cost manufacturer and like companies before them, move things to cheaper labor (Samsung did the same thing, a lot of their components are manufactured in China I believe, they do assembly in Korea and do R and D at home, plus higher cost items are made at home). 

In terms of quality, that is an issue we have talked about ad infinitum on here, and a lot of it boils down to things like the kind of market we are talking about and expectations. It is very different when you are in a competitive mass market (like cars, consumer appliances) , where people have alternate choices if they don't like what you produce, different in a small market like toy trains where you don't have much choice so quality isn't as important. Even in mass markets, like consumer appliances, quality these days (to me) doesn't seem like an issue, it is a lot more important in the car market for sure. 

The person who dies with the best toys dies a happy person

Balshis posted:

Is Zinc Rot so much of a problem with Korean-made models as it seems to be turning out to be with Chinese products?

I have no idea. I have a 20 year old MTH Premier GS4 Northern that was made in Korea and its fine. So take that for what it's worth. At the same time I have some MTH and Lionel aluminum passenger cars made in the mid 90's in China and the diecast trucks on them are all fine.

Santa Fe, All the Way

I have only one O gauge locomotive that I have positively identified as manufactured in Korea and that is the Lionel Veranda Turbine. It’s a fine model that dates back to 2001. I thought Korean model train production went off a cliff after that owing to Chinese competition so it's very good to know that there is still production coming out of Korea - even if it is for MTH!

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