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@MartyE posted:

Well what I meant is that everyone is seeing an increase so I suspect Lionel has to offset the cost like everyone else.  It's business.

To be honest, IMO,  MTH isn't going anywhere for a while.  They basically said so in the release above where they state a new Z4000 type transformer would be redesigned for a new processor.

To be honest, I'll believe their longevity when I see it.   I hope for the best, but I prepare for the worst.

@ADCX Rob posted:

They were 39.99 at Madison Hardware in the 1960's

So I had my dad check his records on the "new" ZW he purchased.  He bought in 1968 (the PW ZW last appearance in a catalog was in 1966) and it turns out that the ZW was actually $65. He also bought a few accessories and with the shipping, the total bill was around $91.

He remembered seeing it in the 66 catalog, forgot about in 67 because Lionel didn't have a catalog and when he saw the dismal 68 catalog he knew he better get one now because it's likely to never get an original one again. Lionel's future was very uncertain at the time.

Z4000's are popular and people like them, hence they have been mostly unchanged for 23 years (albeit minor changes from the first 1998 model). It's kind of an end of era for them and now is your last chance to get one. I'm sure the demand will be high and the price is set to accommodate. Will the successor be better?... some folks are not willing to take that chance nor do they like change.

Last edited by H1000
@superwarp1 posted:

Even twenty years ago I was not impressed with the prices of transformers from Lionel and MTH.  Decided to build my own.  Purchased a power transformer from Newark 120 volt primary 18 volt secondary at 20 amps max.  Fused the primary, fused the secondary, enclosed in a grounded metal box connected to. TPC300/TIU combo and I’ve never looked back.  With that price I’m really glad I went the way I did.

Hammond power transformer

I'd like to see a picture of that. I just might build one myself.

@H1000 posted:

So I had my dad check his records on the "new" ZW he purchased.  He bought in 1968 (the PW ZW last appearance in a catalog was in 1966) and it turns out that the ZW was actually $65. He also bought a few accessories and with the shipping, the total bill was around $91.

Many people don't consider actual costs at the time. Calculating inflation, in today's dollars your dad paid $503.00 for that ZW, and $704 with the accessories. Maybe a fair price at the time, but not really a bargain. Not many people were dropping $500+ on toy train transformers in those days.

Last edited by breezinup
@breezinup posted:

Many people don't consider actual costs at the time. Calculating inflation, in today's dollars your dad paid $503.00 for that ZW, and $704 with the accessories. Maybe a fair price at the time, but not really a bargain. Not many people were dropping $500+ on toy train transformers in those days.

All very true, Dad held off as long as thought he could an almost missed the boat. The PW ZW was the best of the best for the time and one pays a premium for that especially when you want a new one and they have been out of production for two years. While the Z4000 has a few technical features (trivial to some) over the ZW-L I don't think the Z4000 value point is there anymore after this price hike. You have to really like your PS1 engines and pure sine wave output to justify the new cost.

From 1966 to 1998 what high power premium transformers were available to buy? This is why dad never regretted buying that expensive ZW. If memory serves me correct the Z4000 was the next available option over a PW ZW in 1998 and the ZW-C soon after in 1999 (someone correct me if I am wrong on that year). That brief time was critical to MTH to develop a following for the Z4000 as Lionel had nothing to compete with it.

The pricing I've heard for the following...

Cab1L / Base 1L set current MSRP is $249.99 will be $299.99 MSRP   +$50

Legacy Powermaster current MSRP is $99.99 will be $209.99 MSRP   +$110

Powerhouse 180 current MSRP is $149.99 will be $209.99 MSRP  +$60

GW180 current MSRP is $279.99 will be $329.99 MSRP  +$50

So it really doesn't surprise me that the Z4K is increasing but what does surprise me is they are not honoring previous pre-orders.

@feet posted:

To sum it up this is becoming a rich man's hobby.

As has been said on here many times, it was never cheap, at least not the new stuff. Someone pointed out that a ZW in the late 60's was the equivalent of around 600 bucks today, Mario's for memorial day had the ZW-1 for like 635 (not any more, that was when the regular price was like 750). Look at the price of 50's trains in the day at today's levels, it wasn't cheap. Lot of us got used to when PW stuff was to be found where you could buy a huge box for like 50 bucks, but that was because the market was depressed on the used side.

Heck, I just saw an athearn Caboose with sound in MRR, and HO scale one, and it was like 149 bucks with the sound module, they had an athearn hopper that was like 45 bucks (MSRP, I understand, but still).

@bigkid posted:

As has been said on here many times, it was never cheap, at least not the new stuff. Someone pointed out that a ZW in the late 60's was the equivalent of around 600 bucks today, Mario's for memorial day had the ZW-1 for like 635 (not any more, that was when the regular price was like 750). Look at the price of 50's trains in the day at today's levels, it wasn't cheap. Lot of us got used to when PW stuff was to be found where you could buy a huge box for like 50 bucks, but that was because the market was depressed on the used side.

Heck, I just saw an athearn Caboose with sound in MRR, and HO scale one, and it was like 149 bucks with the sound module, they had an athearn hopper that was like 45 bucks (MSRP, I understand, but still).

No argument that good quality O gauge was never cheap.  However, not that long ago one could pursue HO or N on a budget, but not any more.  IMO, that's where the huge price increases are.  Granted, the products are far more sophisticated now (DCC, details on cars, etc.), but I miss the days when I could tell someone that a person with any budget could participate in our hobby.

“To sum it up this is becoming a rich man’s hobby”

This is true if you want high tech electronics, but you can buy a rebuilt postwar transformer and a nice MPC engine and cars for a very modest sum.  If the budget is even tighter you can pick up a Marx set and some used track and have more fun than a barrel of monkeys.  I know a gentleman who is on a very tight budget, he brings ten dollars to a train show. He picks up broken Plasticville and maybe a Marx car or two. He always shows me pictures of his layout and it is beautiful.  It was built from scrap lumber but you would never know it by looking at it.  I truly believe he is having as much fun as the guy with the unlimited budget.    

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