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I was struck and disappointed by Lionel's sparse display. I've not been to York in a couple of years but thought the big layout they used to have was a marvelous way to exhibit their products. More expensive to be sure, but this is York!


As for MTH, the comment about a duster is spot on. I'm a big fan of what MTH has done for the hobby, but the dusty displays are almost shabby. Really reflects a lack of attention or pride. 

Originally Posted by Notch 6:
... Scenery is not going to sell trains to the York crowd, features are.

As with all topics, we're never all gonna agree.  But I find this type of statement to lack any basis whatsoever.  Sure you'll have folks agreeing with it and others (like myself) disagreeing with it.


More to the point though... The thing that disappoints a lot of enthusiasts is the fact that these display layouts HAD been much more appealing in years past.  So why the big austerity program with some of the York displays of late?    Of course it costs less to set up a few pieces of plywood with fabric instead of a scenic'd masterpiece.  No kidding.  But is that something we'd expect of a market leader?  Heck no.  I just think it sends the wrong message.


It's like asking Norfolk Southern executives if they absolutely NEEDED to paint locomotives in the older heritage paint schemes and new specialty paint schemes.  Of course they didn't NEED to.  But they certainly endeared themselves to many train enthusiasts by doing so.  It's great PR.


I guess I liked the York displays from back around the 2007-ish timeframe, give or take a couple of years either way.  Not only did they display product with style, they also sparked everyone's creativity to build their own layouts.  Finished layouts sell product, track, accessories, building structures, scenery products, etc... in other words, they sell the whole package.


So please... let's not make definitive-sounding statements that claim scenery doesn't sell trains.  




P.S.  BTW, it sure was great to see Atlas-O's 9'x40' dogbone display layout back in business.  It showed off the company's CZ train and new Gunderson Well cars quite nicely.

Last edited by Rocky Mountaineer

If I recall correctly, there became a "gentleman's agreement" years ago between all the manufacturers with displays that they would only bring their "Big Layout" to one of the 2 meets in order to save costs (I think it used to be October when they would generally bring the larger displays).


Before that agreement, every meet ended up with each of MTH and Lionel trying to "one up" the other.  For a long time, MTH had a nicer display, then Lionel did some really elaborate setups (while a goof in that it hid the product until you were in the booth, anyone remember when they made the PowerHouse display you walked into?).  They also did the larger version of what they have now a few times (6 towers instead of 4, with a large elevated loop perched above 4 of the  towers over the middle of the booth). 


They both realized it was costing way too much money to continue like that.


The explanation Notch 6 gave above sounds logical for this time since they wanted to show off the new 21" cars and the GG-1.




Originally Posted by Dave45681:

If I recall correctly, ...


Dave, I do recall that there were some issues surrounding the more exotic layouts.  And of course cost is always a factor.  But I think there was more to it than meets the eye than simply cost and gentlemen's agreement, per se.


At one time, MTH had a fabulous multi-level York display layout.  It was irregularly shaped and well-scenic'd with carved foam mountains.  The display was literally THE "wow factor" of the Orange Hall, and it often drew quite the crowd of observers.  Yet we couldn't even take pictures of it due to the archaic "no-photography" rule that existed at the time.  Even OGR wasn't permitted to photograph the layout before the show officially opened, which caused quite the bru-hah-hah... with accusations flying that the ED/TCA wasn't really interested in promoting the hobby at large, etc...


That brought the no-photography-rule to a head for sure.  And at the time, other stuff came into question also... such as the two-signature membership rule, length of the meet, and whether the meet would have an open-to-the-public day.  At one point, word on the street was MTH reportedly became quite vocal about its presence at the meet unless the TCA didn't come out of the dark ages on some of its thinking.


So a LOT of "stuff" was reportedly bandied about over the years... All leading to where we are now... which are grossly scaled-down vendor layouts that pale in comparison to the displays of 8-10 years ago. (OTOH, the York meet now hosts several wonderful non-vendor, operating layouts that are a joy to see.  So that's a definite bonus.)


Meanwhile, MTH has certainly scaled back its York display layout, but at least brings a semblance of a finished layout to York.  Lionel, of course, has brought the concept of scaling back to an all-time low, with their layout looking more like an afterthought than anything.  And Atlas-O opted for no display layout at York in recent years, so it was quite refreshing to see the company's former dog-bone layout brought back to life this month to show off the wonderful CZ train.


FWIW, when my wife and I would spend days on end out in the York/Hanover/Gettysburg area whenever the York train show came to town, I would even stop back in on Saturday morning to grab one more glimpse of the nice vendor layouts -- especially MTH's.  And 9 times out of 10, I also bought something else in the Orange Hall on Saturday while I was there.  So please pardon me that I'm not so easily convinced that Lionel's ho-hum-looking layout (if you can even call it that) sells as much product in the big picture as the display layouts of years past.  I ain't buying that argument.



I see it as 2 fold...


Cost.  Not only in transportation, maintenance, and repair but all around ease of keeping it running.  A detailed layout needs a lot of attention.


Secondly ease of operation and open view for demonstrations.  From anywhere around the flat table layout you can see for the most part what's happening.  With Lionel doing the 4 or 5 time a day demonstrations a layout with mountains and valleys, buildings and tunnels is not conducive to this.


While I did enjoy the layouts of past, I imagine the simple loops are far less of a headache than dealing with the scenic layout especially with a 3 day meet.


My only complaint is I would like to see a few sensor tracks and an iPad, Apple TV'd to the monitors in the booth. This would be cool to sell more sensor tracks and LCS stuff. 


The flat table doesn't bother me a I enjoy the demonstrations.  Plus I can put my Kool_aid on the table without fear of falling.



Last edited by MartyE
Originally Posted by MartyE:


My only complaint is I would like to see a few sensor tracks and an iPad, Apple TV'd to the monitors in the booth. This would be cool to sell more sensor tracks and LCS stuff. 


Good point, Marty.  On MTH's small display layout, they had a couple of iPad stations at the corners, where visitors could activate the loco's whistle and bell (among other speed controls too).  I couldn't resist.    It was cool, but I know it's not for everyone.


As for drinking Kool-Aid in the Lionel booth... Don't now about that.  But I did hear a rumor that Lionel might be offering an operating Kool-Aid TankTrain set as the company's next Vision Line product.  Track and transformer not included, but the set is reported to include an automatic Kool-Aid dispenser for the TankTrain cars, which has replaced the company's plans to offer an operating smoke fluid dispenser.  



I use the Apple TV device for the Legacy meeting to put what I am doing on the iPad up on a PC monitor.  Granted not a huge monitor but most folks can see what the iPad is doing via the LCS App, iCab App, or High Rail App.
With the LCS App even if the engine goes over the Sensor Track the ID and direction of travel would at least be displayed.  If the Sensor Box car comes out next year why wouldn't you want to display that.
It's such a simple setup and with a closed network which most vendors / manufacturers have anyways it seems like it would be simple to incorporate.
I'm actually disappointed that, other than when JonZ or Rudy are there, LCS, iCab, and in general the Legacy side of the Lionel product line is pretty much non existent at the Lionel booth.
That being said I did enjoy MTH's App too.  I really think it was done well.
Originally Posted by Rocky Mountaineer:

Good point, Marty.  On MTH's small display layout, they had a couple of iPad stations at the corners, where visitors could activate the loco's whistle and bell (among other speed controls too).  I couldn't resist.    It was cool, but I know it's not for everyone.






Last edited by MartyE

Following the progression of the Lionel layout at York; at first they had a beautiful multi-level creation that was heavy on the scenery and the accessories. Now they have a bare table with a loop and a few switches. Next year the switches will be gone, there will be a single loop and the following year the table will be gone. Finally all the display cases will be glass enclosed and all the employees will be gone. Cutting your way to profitability is the way of Wall Street until you reach a point where things fall apart. The one new Lionel item, a Legacy Caboose, that I purchased at York this Oct was DOA right out of the box. This should confirm everything that you need to know about the direction of this company.

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