Originally Posted by KevinE:

Next they can bring back TT scale!

TT is still alive and doing well in Europe.  Tillig and Roco make it.

 

I was talking to the owner of my LHS last night.  He's big on O, but is planning on carrying a small stock of MTH S when it becomes available and seeing how it does.

 

Rusty

Most certainly a very interesting and potentially promising announcement.

 

Competition is good and this new arrangement should keep Lionel’s American Flyer feet to the fire. It would be interesting to know if the sale of S-Helper Service's assets was pitched (first?) to Lionel? In any case, it remains to be seen whether or not M.T.H. can maintain a reasonable facsimile of the wonderful personal attention from Don, Robin, and Mike F. that made S-Helper Service as a small dedicated firm so appealing. In addition to a very good line of trains, of course.

 

Because of SHS’s historic cash limitations, there are a significant number of gaps in the line up. Hopefully, M.T.H. will use the new opportunity to fill them. The thoughtful viewer of Rusty’s excellent pictures will note that the range of locomotive offerings is actually pretty limited (the SW’s, F-units, and the 2-8-0). There are no gondolas or tank cars. Although all of the rolling stock is steam or transition era, there is nothing modern and no true steam era caboose, aside from a very lovely later period extended vision caboose type. No recently offered passenger equipment. The excellent sectional track system still requires completion, e.g., more radius choices and high number turnouts. There is a lot in the line that is very good, indeed. But, much remains to be done to make it a complete train line.

 

I also hope that a bit of M.T.H.’s native practicality as a manufacturer/importer of a broad line of trains can rub off on the acquired Showcase Line. For example, the 2-8-0 is an excellent but flawed product. The plastic tender tether point and many of the add-on detail parts are too fragile. Operation of the hi-rail version is lumpy at slow speeds in conventional AC mode. Such shortcomings as these can hopefully be avoided in the future.

 

As a life long enthusiast of S gauge, I hope that the big three manufactures (Lionel, M.T.H., and AM) can avoid going head-to-head on offerings, at least for a while. AM, SHS, and Lionel AF managed this quite well in the past. And, River Raisin plays in a different and lofty market segment, all together. American Models has been and continues to offer a quality, but slightly lower priced line of trains. One suspects that this could continue with AM being able to tout that much of their line is made here in good ol' Michigan. How the various control systems will play out is another hanging question. We’ll see. It will be fun to watch. And participate.

 

Bob Bubeck

Originally Posted by Bob Bubeck:

Most certainly a very interesting and potentially promising announcement.

 

Competition is good and this new arrangement should keep Lionel’s American Flyer feet to the fire. It would be interesting to know if the sale of S-Helper Service's assets was pitched (first?) to Lionel? In any case, it remains to be seen whether or not M.T.H. can maintain a reasonable facsimile of the wonderful personal attention from Don, Robin, and Mike F. that made S-Helper Service as a small dedicated firm so appealing. In addition to a very good line of trains, of course.

 

Because of SHS’s historic cash limitations, there are a significant number of gaps in the line up. Hopefully, M.T.H. will use the new opportunity to fill them. The thoughtful viewer of Rusty’s excellent pictures will note that the range of locomotive offerings is actually pretty limited (the SW’s, F-units, and the 2-6-0). There are no gondolas or tank cars. Although all of the rolling stock is steam or transition era, there is nothing modern and no true steam era caboose, aside from a very lovely later period extended vision caboose type. No recently offered passenger equipment. The excellent sectional track system still requires completion, e.g., more radius choices and high number turnouts. There is a lot in the line that is very good, indeed. But, much remains to be done to make it a complete train line.

 

I also hope that a bit of M.T.H.’s native practicality as a manufacturer/importer of a broad line of trains can rub off on the acquired Showcase Line. For example, the 2-6-0 is an excellent but flawed product. The plastic tender tether point and many of the add-on detail parts are too fragile. Operation of the hi-rail version is lumpy at slow speeds in conventional AC mode. Such shortcomings as these can hopefully be avoided in the future.

 

As a life long enthusiast of S gauge, I hope that the big three manufactures (Lionel, M.T.H., and AM) can avoid going head-to-head on offerings, at least for a while. AM, SHS, and Lionel AF managed this quite well in the past. And, River Raisin plays in a different and lofty market segment, all together. American Models has been and continues to offer a quality, but slightly lower priced line of trains. One suspects that this could continue with AM being able to tout that much of their line is made here in good ol' Michigan. How the various control systems will play out is another hanging question. We’ll see. It will be fun to watch. And participate.

 

Bob Bubeck

Pretty good analysis, Bob.  (BTW, it's a 2-8-0...)

 

Sometimes SHS held themselves back to their advantage or disadvantage.  The switchers evolved due to the use of common castings, trucks, cabs, etc... Same for the F-units.  Their box cars and open hopper cars also used some common castings between the models, minimizing the development costs.

 

One thing that held them back was wanting to try to keep the freight cars visually the same height as a Flyer boxcar.  Everybody and their brother in the scale crowd was asking SHS to do a PS-1 boxcar, but they didn't want to do one because it was taller than the Flyer boxcar.  How the TOFC and bulkhead flats got made with this logic escapes me.

 

I suspect (pure speculation alert...) that MTH will announce something totally new by mid next year to shake things up with the Showcase Line.  I look to how MTH rolled out the HO line as a guide.  Maybe, I'm wrong, we'll see.

 

With the recent exciting developments in S, I don't expect S to overtake O or HO in popularity, but it may become more mainstream, less of a curiosity and get some valuable shelf space in stores.

 

Rusty

Originally Posted by Rusty Traque:
Originally Posted by Bob Bubeck:
Pretty good analysis, Bob.  (BTW, it's a 2-8-0...)

.... 

One thing that held them back was wanting to try to keep the freight cars visually the same height as a Flyer boxcar.  Everybody and their brother in the scale crowd was asking SHS to do a PS-1 boxcar, but they didn't want to do one because it was taller than the Flyer boxcar.  .......

 

Rusty

Ooops! Fixed that. Should have typed better because I own a SHS B&O Consol, converted to TMCC.

 

"The" Flyer box car is a model of the PRR X-29. Good in its day, but a PS-1 should have been done. More likely to happen now.

 

Bob

Seeing that the PS-1 40' Box Car was one of the first cars in the O Scale and the HO Scale line, it looks like PS-1 40' Box Car will immediately be added to the new S Scale line. They could be extra confident by making both 50' and 40' PS-1 Box Cars for the S Scale line to match the O Scale line.

 

Andrew

 

 

I regard this as very exciting news!

 

S scale has always intrigued me, but alas, the manufacturers, Lionel's pretty much neglected American Flyer line, S Helper, and American Models were unable to compete with the plethora of product offerings available to us three railers sufficient to tempt many of us away from the product cornucopia of today's O marketplace.

 

HO, most of us "toy train" guys would agree, is just too small for aging eyes and hands, but S has the size advantage enabling a model railroader to pack a lot more layout into an available space like a basement or attic.  Despite the much larger numbers of us who cut our electric train teeth on Lionel, there has always been a sizable potential market for S due to its artfully sized dimensions somewhere between O and HO, as well as a loyal crowd of American Flyer fans hankering to go rivet counting and scenery building.

 

MTH's purchase of an existing manufacturer/importer of quality scale offerings like S Helper, can only be good news for those already committed to or considering S scale as a space-expanding alternative to the real estate consuming size of O scale, three rail or otherwise!  The recent introduction of the smaller component size of PS-3 makes a perfect fit inside the smaller confines of S scale diesel locos and steam tenders.  If Mike and company can shoehorn that fun-expanding stuff into HO, surely there is little limitation to the electronic bells, whistles, and operational features they can fit into the larger confines of S!

 

MTH has the financial horsepower to expand the S Helper line with locos and rolling stock that would never have been possible had SH remained a small niche outfit.  For S scale guys, this has to be a marriage made in Heaven!  I can't imagine that the market is large enough (yet) to demand the kind of variety and diversity of product that MTH has been able to produce in O gauge, but the product line will certainly be refined and expanded beyond anything S scalers could have hoped for in the past.

 

So, this will undoubtedly be fun to watch what MTH will do for and with S scale if their efforts in HO are any indication of what might be accomplished.  Perhaps if MTH builds it, they will come!

 

CongratulatoryBear

Heck, It's a Big Tent With Room Enough For Everyone!

" Lionel's pretty much neglected American Flyer line"

 

I dont know that I would agree with that statement. I think that Over the years just about every important freight car has been released as well as the significant diesels. The PA Missouri pacific eagle, UP and Silver comet sets were released and quite a few of the operating accessories were reproduced. MTH made several accessories as well. We did not see most of the Steam engines but I think there may have been problems with the tools. In their place Lionel gave us beautiful USRA Pacifics and Mikados with TMCC and Challengers and the coming mallets . There have been several new diesels as well. Interesting items of recent are a PWC flyer set and a modern version of the Circus train.And lets not forget the new Fastrack and the remake of some of the conventional track components.

 

I think what nmight give us an impression of neglect is the lack of a stand alone catalog until this year. Flyer items were always buried in the Lionel Catalog however check back at those catalogs and there are quite a few varied offerrings over time.

 

I blieve for s scalers and guages, the purchase of the S Helper line offers some relief as they can expect to see these products made available on a regular basis and perhaps some new designs as Lionel is doing.

 

It will be interesting to see how the control electronics manifests itself and plays out among S gauge enthusiasts.

LIRR Steamer

I think I would also disagree with the word "neglect."  I would say that Lionel was inconsistent in marketing and presentation over the decades. Multiple management changes didn't help. 

 

As I mentioned earlier in the thread that got vaporized, at the NASG convention in Milwaukee in 2003, Lionel was showing off the castings for the Mikado.  Spread out across the table you could see this was indeed a new commitment and direction for Flyer.

 

The representative asked us some very detailed questions on how to attract the scale market.  (Never thought I'd hear a Lionel rep say "Kadee...")  We had a very nice conversation with him about locomotives and rolling stock being "scale friendly." We left with the feeling that Lionel/Flyer had indeed turned the corner.

 

Then management changed a year or so later and *poof* he was gone...  Flyer continued to trickle on.

 

But, that's all in the past.

 

Lionel is a much more stable company now and they seem to have sharpened their focus to our benefit.

 

Rusty

LIRR Steamer:

 

Maybe I was too hasty in my comment about Lionel neglecting their American Flyer line.  Your profile doesn't say, but it looks like you're an S gauge guy, so I'll defer to your opinion on that one.  I confess that I don't follow S that closely, just admire the items and lines I see at train meets, particularly at York.

 

I agree with those that said on this thread that robust competition can only benefit the S gauge/S scale hobby, which compared to O and HO has been in the doldrums for far too long.  I also forgot to mention that aspect of Gilbert AF vs Lionel that was always guaranteed to start a fight on the school yard, two rail vs three rail track, might give a vital advantage to a vibrant S marketplace appealing to newcomers!  A high rail type of a semiscale track system in S like Atlas 21st Century Track or MTH Scaletrax which are already available in O could also increase the appeal of S over three rail O for consumers not already committed to O and loaded up with stuff.

 

If Mike Wolf did in fact say that O was "flat" he's probably right.  Mike is a marketing genius and nobody knows the numbers better than he does.  Competition in O gauge has been intense and the supply of product for the past decade or so has been prodigious.  So S could be a fertile field for MTH to sow some seeds in, especially with PS/DCS-equipped locomotives.  If Mike Wolf and team didn't think the market were there, they wouldn't have bought out S Helper! 

 

Somebody said earlier in the thread that he was skeptical about the appeal of high tech electronic sound and control systems in the S gauge hobby.  I predict that for most operators, once they see and hear what PS or TMCC/Legacy can do, they'll be hooked too.  The serious S gauge modeler who cares about operations and previous to DCC, had to wire his/her layout with all those blocks and use plug-in throttles etc. to operate down line prototypically will love the freedom that the DCS handheld or CAB 2 remote gives them.  And both systems are a lot more user friendly than DCC from what I've read and seen.

 

This promises to be an exciting, even revolutionary time in the history of S gauge.

 

Bear

Heck, It's a Big Tent With Room Enough For Everyone!

Is Mike supposed to have meant by saying "The O Gauge market is flat" that the O Gauge market in the US isn`t growing for MTH? Then has it flattened out at a large rate of sales? Mike has said that He thinks there`s alot of potential for Growth in the European Market for O-Gauge: simular to the US market in the 70`s and 80`s.. 

If MTH takes the SHS down the DCS line I hope it's in the form of a 'plug-in' to the existing 8-pin socket. I've already got a fairly hefty investment in DCC and getting my 'S' equipment switched over to DCC. I don't really want to be paying for DCS circuitry when I will not be using it.

 

 

Len2

Originally Posted by Len2:

If MTH takes the SHS down the DCS line I hope it's in the form of a 'plug-in' to the existing 8-pin socket. I've already got a fairly hefty investment in DCC and getting my 'S' equipment switched over to DCC. I don't really want to be paying for DCS circuitry when I will not be using it.

 

 

DCS 3.0 (introduced when MTH started making HO) is DCC compatible.

 

Rusty

From perusing the HO forums, it's DCC compatible up to a point, but there are issues. And if adding DCS, which I don't need, pushes the prices up into the range of MTH's HO offerings it will price me out of their 'S' loco market. Which is why I'd prefer any DCS option be a 'plug-in', not built in.

 

Len2

I haven't been following all the MTH HO offerings closely, but seeing the recent released HO PA's and F-units come both ways: Proto 3.0 or DCC ready, its possible that DCC ready may be an option for S. 

 

It all depends if MTH follows the O Gauge marketing model or HO marketing model with S.  It's just another unanswered question for MTH after the dust settles...

 

But, by observation, it seems more folks want all the bells and whistles these days than those that do not. 

 

Rusty

 

 

This is the feature write up from a PS-3 Ho product. It talks about having DCC on board. I would think the S Helper enhines by MTH could be like this:

 

 

Proto-Sound 3.0 equipped locomotives can be controlled in command mode with any DCC compliant command control system. While the user won't have access to all of the incredible features of Proto-Sound 3.0, independent control over the locomotive is possible. This means you can continue to use your existing DCC controller to independently control your other DCC equipped locomotives in addition to your Proto-Sound 3.0 locomotive on the same track at the same time.

When using a DCC controller, the following Proto-Sound 3.0 locomotive features are accessible:

  • F0 Headlight
  • F1 Bell
  • F2 Horn
  • F3 Start-up/Shut-down
  • F4 PFA
  • F5 Lights (Number Board)
  • F6 Master Volume
  • F7 Front Coupler
  • F8 Rear Coupler
  • F9 Forward Signal
  • F10 Reverse Signal
  • F11 Smoke On/Off
  • F12 Smoke Volume
  • F13 Grade Crossing
  • F14 Coupler Slack
  • F15 Extended Start-up
  • F16 Extended Shut-down
  • F17 Rev Up
  • F18 Rev Down
  • F19 Engine Sounds (On/Off)
  • F20 Single Horn Blast
  • F21 Coupler Close
  • F22 Feature Reset
  • F23 Idle Sequence 1
  • F24 Idle Sequence 2
  • F25 Idle Sequence 3
  • F26 One Shot Doppler (On/Off)
  • F27 Brake Sounds (On/Off)
  • F28 Cab Chatter (On/Off)
  • Proto-Sound 3.0 With The Digital Command System Featuring: Freight Yard Proto-Effects
  • Unit Measures:13 7/8” x 1 7/16” x 2 3/8”
  • Operates On 18" Radius Curves

LIRR Steamer

Originally Posted by Rusty Traque:

I haven't been following all the MTH HO offerings closely, but seeing the recent released HO PA's and F-units come both ways: Proto 3.0 or DCC ready, its possible that DCC ready may be an option for S. 

 

It all depends if MTH follows the O Gauge marketing model or HO marketing model with S.  It's just another unanswered question for MTH after the dust settles...

 

But, by observation, it seems more folks want all the bells and whistles these days than those that do not. 

 

Rusty

 

 

The SHS locos are already 'DCC Ready'. Out of the box the dummy plug is set for traditional 'S' AC operation. By rotating the plug 180deg it switches them to DC operation, like HO/N.

 

By removing the dummy plug, and installing an 8-pin motor or motor/sound decoder and speaker you get DCC operation, with or without sounds. Which is what I do, and why I don't particularly want to pay for DCS to be included when I won't be using it.

 

Len2

Originally Posted by Len2:

 

The SHS locos are already 'DCC Ready'. Out of the box the dummy plug is set for traditional 'S' AC operation. By rotating the plug 180deg it switches them to DC operation, like HO/N.

 

By removing the dummy plug, and installing an 8-pin motor or motor/sound decoder and speaker you get DCC operation, with or without sounds. Which is what I do, and why I don't particularly want to pay for DCS to be included when I won't be using it.

 

Actually, unless ordered for DC operation, non-sound AC SHS loco's had an electronic 3-position reverse board installed with the DCC shorting plug included in the box.  I have a small collection of SHS reverser boards lying around here somewhere. 

 

The first run SW1's were wired backwards and SHS sent a "reversed" shorting plug on request.  I simply reversed the motor and lamp leads at the 8-pin plug on mine.

 

As far as MTH goes, it's only been a week.  I don't think even they know how they're going to handle things yet.

 

Rusty

When using a DCC controller, the following Proto-Sound 3.0 locomotive features are accessible:

  • F0 Headlight
  • F1 Bell
  • F2 Horn
  • F3 Start-up/Shut-down
  • F4 PFA
  • F5 Lights (Number Board)
  • F6 Master Volume
  • F7 Front Coupler
  • F8 Rear Coupler
  • F9 Forward Signal
  • F10 Reverse Signal
  • F11 Smoke On/Off
  • F12 Smoke Volume
  • F13 Grade Crossing
  • F14 Coupler Slack
  • F15 Extended Start-up
  • F16 Extended Shut-down
  • F17 Rev Up
  • F18 Rev Down
  • F19 Engine Sounds (On/Off)
  • F20 Single Horn Blast
  • F21 Coupler Close
  • F22 Feature Reset
  • F23 Idle Sequence 1
  • F24 Idle Sequence 2
  • F25 Idle Sequence 3
  • F26 One Shot Doppler (On/Off)
  • F27 Brake Sounds (On/Off)
  • F28 Cab Chatter (On/Off)
  • Proto-Sound 3.0 With The Digital Command System Featuring: Freight Yard Proto-Effects

 

 

I can't imagine too much else a person would need.  That's a lot of control.  I agree that we need to see what MTH is going to do. They seem like a pretty sharp group so I would assume they'll do the right thing.

 

Butch

Mike Wolf is a smart business man. He wouldn't be getting into "S" Gauge if he didn't think he could make money.I have always been disappointed with Lionel's lack of interest in really digging deep into "S" Gauge. I have always believed the only reason they purchased the American Flyer tooling was to keep some other toy company from purchasing it.

Originally Posted by jim sutter:

Mike Wolf is a smart business man. He wouldn't be getting into "S" Gauge if he didn't think he could make money.I have always been disappointed with Lionel's lack of interest in really digging deep into "S" Gauge. I have always believed the only reason they purchased the American Flyer tooling was to keep some other toy company from purchasing it.

You know what they say Jim, competition is good for the market and good for customers.

Now that MTH has entered the S scale market I'll bet that the offerings coming from Lionel with their American Flyer line will also increase.

 

One of the problems with S scale is that until now no large manufacturer has really tried to develop that niche of the market. That will soon change as more and more product and accesories find themselves available to modelers.

 

Steve Tapper 

Steve

 

We need to recognize how well S helper did fill that niche market, developing a nice line of Flyer compatible track well before there was a fastrack product of any kind. They offered a variety of locomotives and detailed freight cars quite like an Atlas product. The company offerred train sets and published catalogs for a number of years.

 

Likewise with Lionel, their investment in an S gauge fastrack product and those detailed steamers of recent demonstrates an interest in my opinion. This year we have a stand alone Americn Flyer catalog for the first time in more than 40 years.

 

I hope that MTH continues the fine approach of S helper to the scale. I think that the downturn in the economy and the consolidation in the orient really hurt these people and the scale. 

 

It seems to look good for S gauge at this time

LIRR Steamer

It's actually pretty amazing how much SHS has put out in the past 20 years.  They may not have put out the mega-catalogs like Lionel and MTH, but for a small company, the two guys from Jersey did all right.

 

Even American Models, even though they only put out one catalog a couple of years ago, has put out quite a fair variety of equipment  since 1985.  Hopefully AM will get rolling again soon.

 

Add in the new scale proportioned stuff Lionel/Flyer's been doing since about '03, although all hirail 'till this year, River Raisin, S Scale America(formerly Pacific Rail Shops,) the dearly departed Omnicon and Southwind Models, plus Overland's brief foray into S many moons ago, there's been quite a bit available in a scale where "nuthin's available!"

 

Now, if we can get Woodland Scenics and Walther's involved in making S scale structures...

 

Rusty

Originally Posted by Rusty Traque:

It's actually pretty amazing how much SHS has put out in the past 20 years.  They may not have put out the mega-catalogs like Lionel and MTH, but for a small company, the two guys from Jersey did all right.

 

Even American Models, even though they only put out one catalog a couple of years ago, has put out quite a fair variety of equipment  since 1985.  Hopefully AM will get rolling again soon.

 

Add in the new scale proportioned stuff Lionel/Flyer's been doing since about '03, although all hirail 'till this year, River Raisin, S Scale America(formerly Pacific Rail Shops,) the dearly departed Omnicon and Southwind Models, plus Overland's brief foray into S many moons ago, there's been quite a bit available in a scale where "nuthin's available!"

 

Now, if we can get Woodland Scenics and Walther's involved in making S scale structures...

 

Rusty


Mark my words Rusty... We will see RTR structures from MTH in S in the near future. Just like in O.

-Jonathan

 I have been a little late in responding to the thread. I have just been reading everyone else's and taking it all in.

  I think this is the biggest thing to happen to "S", since Lionel decided to re-issue freight cars back in 1979! MTH is the Leader in model railroading command systems(IMO).

  They have done incredible work in continually producing smaller boards to fit in various locomotives and scales, without comprimising sound quality.

  I wish MTH the best success, and I hope they continue with the DCS system in the "S" scale line.

  Looking forward to seeing some F7's in GN and the old CNR paint scheme. Plus some #5 turnouts and crossovers.

 Truly a new era for "S" gauge.    Al

RT:

I think it's possibly a whiff of cedar-scented smoke wafting up lazily towards one's nostrils, or perhaps the memories of those wonderful little soft red plastic smoke fluid dispensers, or even the more prototypical two-rail track mounted firmly in pliable rubber roadbed with the ties molded into the ballast.



The absolute numbers of Gilbertistas surely must lag behind the Lionelistas of the dim and distant past.  Nonetheless, there are doubtless legions of once youthful American Flyer fans yet out there.  They must be figuratively licking their chops over the prospects of MTH-enabled fulfillment of their garish-catalog-art-inspired dreams from yesteryear!  Yes, they're here.  They've patiently and quietly lived among us swashbuckling three-railers for decades.  It's they who are keeping this thread alive and thriving!  I find that somehow deliciously refreshing.



EnlightenedBearishOne

Heck, It's a Big Tent With Room Enough For Everyone!

Thanks, Rich!

 

Once in awhile I get lucky and hit the nail rather than my entire thumb!

 

Even though I had Marx and Lionel as a kid and got hooked on three-rail very early, I did have friends whose parents, for whatever reasons, started them out on two-rail Flyer trains instead of the more well known and popular Lionel, or the less costly products of Louis Marx and Company. 

 

Playground disagreements about the virtues of two versus three aside, I confess I was always a little jealous of the fact that my pals' Flyer trains had the same number of parallel rails as the 1:1 Union Pacific and Great Northern roads which served our little wheat-growing town in eastern Washington!  They always won the prototypical accuracy argument by default, but were able to back it up with articles about the relative realism of Flyer track in the Gilbert catalog if the obvious wasn't persuasive enough.

 

Playing with my buddies' trains after school also hooked me on cedar-scented smoke.  Even these days, when I'm strolling through the Orange Hall at York, a whiff of that nostalgic stuff always draws me inexorably towards the smoke fluid dealers' booths.  Only there can I relive treasured olfactory toy train moments from my youth.  Nothing propels  imagination quite like aroma!

 

PoeticallyAromaticBear

 

 

Heck, It's a Big Tent With Room Enough For Everyone!
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