I was was at Trainland today (great store with good pricing) and Ryan Knuckle was there.  Got to talk about several topics regarding Flyer and the future, but one thing that interested me was the topic of surveys.  I shared with him that I had done two sets of them in previous years (he was aware of them) and wondered why Lionel did not do one for American Flyer.  He responded “if he asked 10 of us what we wanted, he would get 11 different answers”.

This got me thinking that in many ways we are our own worst enemy.  Our failure to agree on what we want and putting down options that one person wants and another does not may be what hurts us in the long run as without an overwhelming support for one product we get nothing.

Typically when I have done these surveys I get results like 35% want product A, 35% want Product B and 30% want product C.  From Lionel’s perspective,  there is not enough interest to do any of those items.

Now if were to get to the point that 100% wanted product B, They might be willing to pursue it (based on cost etc).  Then if that product sold well and then next year if 100% then wanted Product A they would be more inclined to consider that.

My point behind this is I think in the past these surveys asked what you would want them to build.  I’m thinking a different approach may be needed.  Instead maybe (for example) I should proposes 3 engines and ask, would you be willing to buy one of these.  You could respond yes or no to any of the 3.  This way, instead of Lionel walking away thinking 2/3rds of S gauge fans would not buy the new engine, instead they might consider it if they saw 90% would buy one of the engines.  It may not be your favorite, but it still would be something new you would buy.

What do you all think of this approach?

—Rocco— 

Original Post

Surveys or not.  Look at what’s happening that we’re supposed to get all giddy about - couplers that (finally) open as wide as they ought to (even though Gilbert KC’s have done so for over 60 years), active-spring equalized trucks, with wheels that have flanges that actually work (even though S-Helper produced a variety of them years ago).  A unified voice is one thing but manufacturers that actually try using what they’ve made before selling it is another.  The problem could be that no matter what they make it gets bought.  So why should they be anymore careful or creative about that. 

Dave

SHOw me -- trains.  Haven't met one yet I didn't like.

x-Chief Wrench & Bottle-washer of Precision Flyer Repairs 

Not specific to the S-Gauge situation, but I always thought the catalogs became the surveys for the last 20 years or so.

Not enough orders = they don't make it. 

Problem is you don't find that out until after you decide what you want and all the orders from dealers to Lionel are in and counted.   It could then be too late for you to apply your funds towards another item, depending on whether they have made extras beyond the orders for some of the things that don't get cancelled.

-Dave

Not sure where to start here.

I believe anything Lionel makes in S has to operate on a Gilbert track system to achieve realistic sales. So far everything they have made does. This eliminates a lot of modern, long rolling stock because with properly placed truck mounts the car sides will hit the Gilbert turnouts.

I feel engines and rolling stock need to be two different surveys.

Lionel needs to support the survey contents to the extent the items listed could be manufactured at a credible cost.

Engines, we should get as many votes as engines we would buy. For example if there were four Legacy engines on the list and I would buy one each of three of them and three of the 4th one then I should be able to use 7 votes so Lionel gets a true picture of likely sales. I also think Lionel has further fragmented a small S gauge market by selling both Legacy and FlyerChief.

Availability of scale wheelsets should be noted if planned. Unlikely for steam engines.

I would participate in the survey but Lionel needs to agree to at least look at the results as input to their product planning.

Tom

Tom, 

I would say the survey would need to separate, Accessories, Engines (Steam, Diesel), Freight & Passenger cars.

It would be hard to implement a system with a number of votes because the quantity you would buy would be price dependent.  Likewise the Flyer chief vs Legacy would also be a problem.  I have to give this some more thought.

Maybe I have to provide an estimated price for each item.

—Rocco— 

Rocco, I appreciate the thought and effort you are giving this. Certainly agree with the need for the separate surveys as you describe. As far as engines go Lionel is bringing so few new Legacy engines to market that I for one do not really look at the price. More repaints of PA's might be the exception. If Lionel made a Legacy Hudson, Mountain, Texas or whatever I would buy them regardless of price, assuming the price is not more than the O scale equivalent. I may also not be Lionel's typical S gauge customer.

Tom

I think this is all going nowhere.  It is playing into what Ryan says.  He told me the same thing that he told Rocco several years ago when I interviewed him for the S Gaugian.  Everybody goes a different direction.

Lionel will use their past experience to build what they think will sell.  Yes, that mostly means traditional American Flyer type stuff.  

Rocco posted:

My point behind this is I think in the past these surveys asked what you would want them to build.  I’m thinking a different approach may be needed.  Instead maybe (for example) I should proposes 3 engines and ask, would you be willing to buy one of these.  You could respond yes or no to any of the 3.  This way, instead of Lionel walking away thinking 2/3rds of S gauge fans would not buy the new engine, instead they might consider it if they saw 90% would buy one of the engines.  It may not be your favorite, but it still would be something new you would buy.

What do you all think of this approach?

—Rocco— 

My observation of surveys in OGRland in general is:  Even if you limit the selection to several specific items, the survey eventually goes off into the weeds as folks begin to chime in with their personal preferences.

Rusty

Rocco, although I have very little, and know very little about, S Gauge, I think your ideas have a lot of merit. It makes sense to me that surveys showing much interest in particular S Gauge models could motivate manufacturers to produce such models.

IMO, S Gauge is a great size for model railroading: not too big and not too small, arguably just right. Also, Postwar AF S Gauge trains and accessories have great charm. I'm excited about having a 2nd layout that will be S Gauge in a spare room at my house, where I have a substantial O Gauge layout and collection in my basement.

Model railroaders with large O Gauge layouts  could add S Gauge to achieve forced perspective. Arnold

 

In my little world, I leave this troubled world behind.

I'd be willing to participate. I agree with a post above though in that I feel that is what I'm doing by ordering Legacy Berkshires. Not even in my top 10, but nobody asked me so I'll take what I can get.

Here's my thoughts for 3 products that COULD get widespread interest:

1. Legacy NYC J3A Hudson (you could come back with Dreyfuss and Empire State versions)

2. SD40-2 I think this is a no-brainer

3. New highly detailed passenger cars. LED constant lights, detailed interiors with figures, underbody detail, Hi-Rail and Scale coupler and wheel options.

These aren't my personal top choices, but I think these would have widespread appeal.

I've never understood why they don't just throw new ideas into each catalog. What does it cost them to dangle the idea? If they don't get the orders they just cancel it. That's what they do now anyways. If you are going to put out a catalog anyways how much more does it cost to put an extra page or two of artwork in there? They may actually hit on something that surprises them. What's the harm? Even if it took twice the development time because they are starting from an idea I wouldn't care. Give us a chance, try some new products. There are so many models that haven't been done in S. We are hungry

-Jonathan

 

jonnyspeed posted:

I'd be willing to participate. I agree with a post above though in that I feel that is what I'm doing by ordering Legacy Berkshires. Not even in my top 10, but nobody asked me so I'll take what I can get.

Here's my thoughts for 3 products that COULD get widespread interest:

1. Legacy NYC J3A Hudson (you could come back with Dreyfuss and Empire State versions)

Not a bad suggestion.

2. SD40-2 I think this is a no-brainer

Agreed.  I've never understood why an SD40 or SD40-2 is Kryponite to S manufacturers.

3. New highly detailed passenger cars. LED constant lights, detailed interiors with figures, underbody detail, Hi-Rail and Scale coupler and wheel options.

How much are you willing to pay?  AM's Budd's now MSRP at  $399.95 for a four car set and $94.95 per extra coach, Domes at $109.95.  Proposed six car sets from Golden Gate Depot (pre-tarriff) are estimated at $1800.00.  They will likely be higher whenever produced.

Probably the closest thing to what you describe is from Rapido Trains in HO (with no figures) is $119.95 (US) per car.  Even Rapido's announced N Scale "Canadian" comes out to about $70.00 a car.

These aren't my personal top choices, but I think these would have widespread appeal.

I've never understood why they don't just throw new ideas into each catalog. What does it cost them to dangle the idea? If they don't get the orders they just cancel it.

Cancelling leaves a bad taste in the customer's mouth.  Lionel's 57' mechanical reefers come to mind and there were a lot of bad feelings with the cancellation of Lionel's Legacy Berks, (admittedly, most of which has dissipated with the new Legacy Berk announcement.)

That's what they do now anyways. If you are going to put out a catalog anyways how much more does it cost to put an extra page or two of artwork in there? They may actually hit on something that surprises them. What's the harm?

Even if it took twice the development time because they are starting from an idea I wouldn't care.

Look at all the complaining about MTH.  4 years for the F3's, 6 years for a new catalog.  August -- 26 days and counting.

Rusty

Give us a chance, try some new products. There are so many models that haven't been done in S. We are hungry

 

I would participate also

 

TCA, METCA, LCCA, LRRC, MTHRRC, Atlas Golden Spike Club Charter Member, Bergen County Model RRC and NJ HiRailers Member.

 

If you haven't checked out the new NJ HiRailers website please do. Go to the "Photos" page to see galleries of our events and check the "What's New" page periodically to see what we've added.

 

 

 

Rusty Traque posted:
jonnyspeed posted:

I'd be willing to participate. I agree with a post above though in that I feel that is what I'm doing by ordering Legacy Berkshires. Not even in my top 10, but nobody asked me so I'll take what I can get.

Here's my thoughts for 3 products that COULD get widespread interest:

1. Legacy NYC J3A Hudson (you could come back with Dreyfuss and Empire State versions)

Not a bad suggestion.

2. SD40-2 I think this is a no-brainer

Agreed.  I've never understood why an SD40 or SD40-2 is Kryponite to S manufacturers.

 

 

 

With the J3A, you could also do a "close enough" ATSF Blue Goose.  The SD40-2, as we have all stated repeatedly, is a big mystery.  Lionel is probably stuck in a rut (and investing in HO??), but why isn't AM doing one?  And while I'm griping, where's the separate sale Flyer/Lion chief boards; even sans sounds?  Bluerail and TCS are coming out with an interesting board. 

Brendan

I agree a different approach is needed Rocco. In many of the polls, there have been numerous proposed engines that I would purchase. So one vote just cast for my top choice is not indicative at all of what I would buy. I'd rather see a list of maybe 10 or so choices and us each indicate which of them we would buy, but I do think it needs to distinguish between a Flyerchief version and Legacy version. For example, personally, I'll buy just about anything new offered in Legacy, but I am unlikely to ever purchase another Flyerchief.

I appreciate all the comments.  I reached out to a contact at the NASG that I know who also expressed an interest in this approach.  In the next few weeks I will be working on putting something together for them to review and then share it with this forum to get maximum exposure for the survey results.  The basic ideas shared here will be the foundation of what I intend to create.  As for item selection I will take some of the input from the previous surveys as well as input from the NASG that they have said they have gathered.

—Rocco—

Rusty Traque posted:
jonnyspeed posted:

3. New highly detailed passenger cars. LED constant lights, detailed interiors with figures, underbody detail, Hi-Rail and Scale coupler and wheel options.

How much are you willing to pay?  AM's Budd's now MSRP at  $399.95 for a four car set and $94.95 per extra coach, Domes at $109.95.  Proposed six car sets from Golden Gate Depot (pre-tarriff) are estimated at $1800.00.  They will likely be higher whenever produced.

Probably the closest thing to what you describe is from Rapido Trains in HO (with no figures) is $119.95 (US) per car.  Even Rapido's announced N Scale "Canadian" comes out to about $70.00 a car.

What ever it takes.... I currently have 2 sets of GGD cars on order @ $3600. I doubt those will get made so I’d gladly reallocate that to Lionel if they would build them. Yes, I want S scale Rapido quality. What’s wrong with that? They are fantastic.

Cancelling leaves a bad taste in the customer's mouth.  Lionel's 57' mechanical reefers come to mind and there were a lot of bad feelings with the cancellation of Lionel's Legacy Berks, (admittedly, most of which has dissipated with the new Legacy Berk announcement.)

Worse than no products? That’s not a better option.

 

 

-Jonathan

 

jonnyspeed posted:
Rusty Traque posted:
jonnyspeed posted:

3. New highly detailed passenger cars. LED constant lights, detailed interiors with figures, underbody detail, Hi-Rail and Scale coupler and wheel options.

How much are you willing to pay?  AM's Budd's now MSRP at  $399.95 for a four car set and $94.95 per extra coach, Domes at $109.95.  Proposed six car sets from Golden Gate Depot (pre-tarriff) are estimated at $1800.00.  They will likely be higher whenever produced.

Probably the closest thing to what you describe is from Rapido Trains in HO (with no figures) is $119.95 (US) per car.  Even Rapido's announced N Scale "Canadian" comes out to about $70.00 a car.

What ever it takes.... I currently have 2 sets of GGD cars on order @ $3600. I doubt those will get made so I’d gladly reallocate that to Lionel if they would build them. Yes, I want S scale Rapido quality. What’s wrong with that? They are fantastic.

Cancelling leaves a bad taste in the customer's mouth.  Lionel's 57' mechanical reefers come to mind and there were a lot of bad feelings with the cancellation of Lionel's Legacy Berks, (admittedly, most of which has dissipated with the new Legacy Berk announcement.)

Worse than no products? That’s not a better option.

 

 

I have no trouble with Rapido quality either.  I continue to be impressed with their offerings and level of communication (even though a little over the top sometimes) about their factories and products.  If I was still in HO, the bulk of my disposable funds would be going North of the border. 

I only have one set of GGD cars reserved, plus the two car add on.  However, my wallet is not bottomless.  The GDD cars are stretching the envelope of what I'm willing to pay for S Scale passenger cars.

If the GDD cars do get made, great.  Funds are set aside.  If not, the funds can be applied elsewhere and I still have my AM Budds.  Not perfect, but AM's Budds still make a good-lookin' train no matter what road they're decorated for.

Cancellations are diminishing returns.  Too many cancellations and nobody's going to believe anything would be produced. 

Rusty

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