If you're new to S, there's plenty to explore, grab onto, hunt down, and enjoy.  Knock yourself out.  But honestly if you've been in it any longer than 10 years, S stands for starved.   Starved for variety.  In fact I can't help but think manufacturers like Lionel, MTH, and AM are in awe of how S-gaugers aren't bored to death.  We get excited about re-release after re-release with a tweak here and a tweak there of the same meat and potato engines that we've had and been fed for years at a time while scads of engines enjoyed in other scales are completely missing from our radar and likely outlook.  We have our heads in the proverbial S-and.  So much fun model railroading passes us by in the process.  S by comparison is like looking at the real and model railroad worlds through a straw.  I still have S and the majority of the track on my layout is S, but I sold about 98% of my S locos and rolling stock.  Since then I've discovered why that was easy.  Even though I delved deeply into S for over 21 years (postwar, modern, conventional, TMCC, Legacy, DCC, by L/AF, AM, SHS, BLM, AHR, and others including custom conversions for myself and customers), there were very few to none of the great engines I really have a passion for because of their design, designer, color scheme, uniqueness or all four and none of them were in sight.  Examples include the American and British streamlined steam engines of the 30's and 40's, but it doesn't end there.  Do yourself a favor and save a search on eBay -- HO, locomotive, steam, most recently posted -- and get an alert for that on a daily basis.  Give it a week.  Wow.  Just look at the amazing range and variety out there.  The reason I went so deep into S was where else is there to go?  You can't go wide.  You're hemmed in.  In fact, now that I can get a hold (literally) of almost any one of the greatest engines ever made, I find that I'm happy just running them on DC -- no sounds, no smoke, no impersonations of that stuff -- just what any model train engine can truly represent of its 1:1 big brother -- motion forward, motion backward, and maybe a headlight.  But man, do they look great!  ATSF Blue Goose, NYC 20th Century Dreyfuss Hudsons (all varieties) , M-Road F-7 Pacific, SP 4449, N&W 6XX, LMS Coronation Pacific, etc. and others like the LV John Wilkes and Frisco Firefly that I never knew existed but now aspire to someday add to my line up.  They're amazing.  I honestly can't believe how much wider my vision of and appreciation for what incredible steam engines there have been throughout history and are available in miniature since taking off my S blinders.  Try it.  You might like it too.

No disrespect, but the 2019 Lionel AF releases are so boring.  The third release of Berkshires now with some applied details and enhanced electronics inside is something get excited about?  Really?  A tweak on u-boats that have been out for years?  For that matter, an oil tender version of AM's Pacific for hundreds of $'s more than virtually the same engine released over 10 years ago?   Get out of the rut.  See how much more there is to have fun with.  

I still cherish and enjoy the S that I kept and friendships from that, but realize now how limited S is in terms of what it affords you to enjoy about real and miniature railroading.  I wish it were different, but don't foresee that changing.

Dave

 

 

Dave

S happens

TCA, NASG, ACSG W&OD

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

Original Post

I think most of us are frustrated with the lack of new products in S. Personally I choose to focus on and enjoy what I have and can get rather than what is not available. But I do want more S gauge engines to be made. I really like clouds of smoke, whistles, bells, chuffs and chatter. I like smoke so much I had fan driven smoke units added to my AM steam engines. At this point I will stay with S gauge and try not to torture myself too much by staring at what is available in 3 rail O or in HO.

Tom

I didn't click "Like This Topic", because I don't "like" the circumstances that prompted Dave's post. But boy, can I ever relate to what he expressed. It's exactly what made me throw in the towel in regards to S scale.

I hate like everything for the scale and its enthusiasts that S scale seems to be very stagnant at this point.

I'm sure it is a discouraging situation for many that are in S scale. Seeing as several S scalers are friends from back when I was in S, then it pains me for their sake every time a catalog from the "Big Two" come out... and it's a re-serving of things past.

Hopefully, something will revitalize the S market and improvement will be seen.

Andre

This is why I bailed on S for all practical  purposes. I sold off 90% of all my stuff and after doing a marry go round of different gauges to find out where I wanna be, I landed on O.  

Once I accepted the fact that Lionel S gauge would really not be more than Gilbert-esk rehashes I actually find it easier to enjoy what little dabbling I do in S now.  I will continue all the Polar Express purchases (passenger and freight) and will build on my 5 or 6 road name specific Flyonel sets I have made.  I find about 2 or 3 items that catch my eye in each catalog now but that’s where it will end for me   I have come to really like the flyerchief/BT control system. 

And I have a bunch of SD40-2s coming in O! 

I have to admit, I still go to S fest, and spend most my time on the S gauge page of the forum because while it’s a small group, I find the people in S to be nice, easy going and fun to interact with.  

Ben

LCCA

I have been hooked on "S" since I was 5 years old. HO is too small , fragile and trackwork has to be perfect to be reliable..  O gauge 3rail just does not look real.  "S" is the "Goldilocks" of trains,

We have much more to choose from now than we used to have in the early days of "S"

I  used to collect AC Gilbert but have sold off most of it and now have saved my favorite running locos for the layout. AM, SHS and Flyonel.  My layout uses AM trackwork and is a great compromise between scale and tinplate. 
Lionel and AM have done a fantastic job considering the small share of the train market "S" gauge is.

I always have said "S" was a kit basher's gauge when it comes to most of the scenery and buildings.
That makes it a craftsman scale. 

 

IMHO.
Carl

 

 

Sgaugian posted:

If you're new to S, there's plenty to explore, grab onto, hunt down, and enjoy.  Knock yourself out.  But honestly if you've been in it any longer than 10 years, S stands for starved.   Starved for variety.  In fact I can't help but think manufacturers like Lionel, MTH, and AM are in awe of how S-gaugers aren't bored to death.  We get excited about re-release after re-release with a tweak here and a tweak there of the same meat and potato engines that we've had and been fed for years at a time while scads of engines enjoyed in other scales are completely missing from our radar and likely outlook.  

I've been giving Dave's post some thought and can't say I disagree with with his conclusions in general.

We have our heads in the proverbial S-and.

No argument here, I've noticed it's been that way since I got into S in 1985.  A fair S folks in general seem to not want to have anything to do with the outside world.

 So much fun model railroading passes us by in the process.  S by comparison is like looking at the real and model railroad worlds through a straw.  I still have S and the majority of the track on my layout is S, but I sold about 98% of my S locos and rolling stock.  Since then I've discovered why that was easy.  Even though I delved deeply into S for over 21 years (postwar, modern, conventional, TMCC, Legacy, DCC, by L/AF, AM, SHS, BLM, AHR, and others including custom conversions for myself and customers), there were very few to none of the great engines I really have a passion for because of their design, designer, color scheme, uniqueness or all four and none of them were in sight.  Examples include the American and British streamlined steam engines of the 30's and 40's, but it doesn't end there.  Do yourself a favor and save a search on eBay -HO, locomotive, steam, most recently posted -- and get an alert for that on a daily basis.  Give it a week.  Wow.  Just look at the amazing range and variety out there.  

Don't really need eBay for that, all it takes is to walk in to any hobby shop or look around in the rest of the real model railroading world.

The reason I went so deep into S was where else is there to go?  You can't go wide.  You're hemmed in.  In fact, now that I can get a hold (literally) of almost any one of the greatest engines ever made, I find that I'm happy just running them on DC -- no sounds, no smoke, no impersonations of that stuff -- just what any model train engine can truly represent of its 1:1 big brother -- motion forward, motion backward, and maybe a headlight.  But man, do they look great!  ATSF Blue Goose, NYC 20th Century Dreyfuss Hudsons (all varieties) , M-Road F-7 Pacific, SP 4449, N&W 6XX, LMS Coronation Pacific, etc. and others like the LV John Wilkes and Frisco Firefly that I never knew existed but now aspire to someday add to my line up.  

The ATSF Blue Goose, LV John Wilkes or Frisco Firefly are highly unlikely to ever appear in S, unless someone like River Raisin chooses to offer them at caviar pricing.  These also do not have a continuous presence in HO or O.   However, I am surprised the N&W J or SP GS4 (although Overland offered a brass one waaaay back when) has eluded the non-brass manufacturers.  Same for the likes of the SD40-2.

They're amazing.  I honestly can't believe how much wider my vision of and appreciation for what incredible steam engines there have been throughout history and are available in miniature since taking off my S blinders.  Try it.  You might like it too.

I personally have a small collection of what I consider desirable HO and N.  They reside safely in their boxes as I have currently no place to run them.

No disrespect, but the 2019 Lionel AF releases are so boring.  The third release of Berkshires now with some applied details and enhanced electronics inside is something get excited about?  

The Berks are a re-cataloging of the cancelled 2018 Volume 1 run, albeit at a slightly higher price.  Given the CAD drawings Dave Olson posted last time, about the only thing they have in common with the FlyerChief versions are the frames and wheels.  These appear to be new tooling otherwise.  As long as they come out to be equivalent or better to the Y3's in detail, yes they are something to get excited about.

Really?  A tweak on u-boats that have been out for years? 

It's interesting that the ones in the new catalog are already on the water, according to Dave Olson.  This indicates to me the preorders for the V1 U-boats were low and and rather than cancel, these V2 ones fill out the needed production quantities.

For that matter, an oil tender version of AM's Pacific for hundreds of $'s more than virtually the same engine released over 10 years ago?  

I think this explains the AM Pacific pricing best:

A&J 121019

It's not 1997 (when the Pacific was released) anymore.  Even AM's FP7 no longer sells for $129.95.  Also the omnipotent Athearn HO F7 of my youth is no longer $12.95. (The last time I checked it was $89.95.)

Get out of the rut.  See how much more there is to have fun with.  

I still cherish and enjoy the S that I kept and friendships from that, but realize now how limited S is in terms of what it affords you to enjoy about real and miniature railroading.  I wish it were different, but don't foresee that changing.

Dave

S has always been a tough scale to get into, even during the "glory days" just before Sanda Kan fired their customers.  I know some folks have come and gone in S over the past decade or so.  I've even given a thought of going back to HO a time or two.  However, it appears I'm one of the fortunate few that the current variety of S products pretty much fulfills my model railroading wants and desires.

Would I like to see more variety outside of my personal interests?  In a word: Yes.

Rusty

 

 

 

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Get out of the rut.  See how much more there is to have fun with.

I think that anyone in S scale knows about limitations and the scarcity of choices. It does not seem helpful to encourage those and any interested parties in the S scale forum to quit.  That's a personal choice. Like Rusty, I stay in S because of people I have met and the challenge of finding or building what works for me. That is how I find my fun.

The fact is that there are not enough of us S scale/high-rail modelers to make the market attractive enough to build the variety we see in HO or even O scale. When Lionel cancelled the first Legacy Berkshire, I noted that it the price was too good to be true. It was; it was too low at $500 to make production worth it for Lionel. Now they raised the list price to $600, the same as that for their diesel locomotives. The Challenger and the Y-3 had list prices of $1,000 when the SD70ACe was $480--more than twice as much. Now a Berkshire with Legacy features (excellent sound for a wide variety of effects; ability to run AC, TMCC, Legacy, DC, and DCC; directional lighting that includes a light on the tender; marker lights; a cab light; and a high level of detailing) is available for $100 more than a simple DC Pacific with a single headlight. That's exciting!

Rather than complain about a U36C/U33C jumping to $600, I'm happy to see a Legacy steam locomotive at the same price. The cylindrical hoppers will have new, more prototypical trucks. Lionel even promised some time ago to offer an SD40(-2)--a long time after a much earlier promise that was believable enough to make the cover of the S Gaugian. So despite so many personnel changes at Lionel and despite the small market S scale offers, my thinking is that Lionel does listen and eventually does get to the back burner. 

There are two additional consolations about S scale. The first is that the choices are so limited that I can avoid becoming the Imelda Marcos of models trains, with so many impulse purchases that I have closets of unopened boxes of rolling stock instead of shoes. The second is that decent models of autos and trucks are far more plentiful at a third or fourth the price of HO versions. When Lionel offers a real auto-rack car, I'll have a place to store some of them.

For me,  I love the trains I have and the quality and variety we enjoy, which is far more than when I was younger.  When there was not much available in S, I did try HO and N, but it was not as good as S in reliability and the ability to see and enjoy the details.  I earlier had tried O, but just too big for me for a true interesting layout. 

Former SHS, American Models, MTH, Lionel and others have done amazing work and invested considerably considering our small niche and aging market.  For the most part the manufacturers, leadership and owners have taken financial risk in our market, and I am truly appreciative.  I still enjoy my American Flyer also.  I eagerly look to purchase the new legacy Berkshires, I must admit I was excited to see they are being offered and hope they will be delivered.  

My children loved when Lionel continued many years ago with American Flyer, the durability and that children can play with these toys was great fun.  The detailed newer models are beautiful and I admire greatly the details of these models, the smoke, sounds and walk around control capabilities.  My grandchildren love the newer functions.  

I am blessed to have kept my American Flyer, but also fortunate to enjoy the newer track, engines, passenger and freight cars, which give me so much enjoyment to look at and run.  

I do understand disappointments and frustrations.  I felt them particularly when the earlier Berkshires were cancelled, and when SHS ownership retired. 

Most days I feel we are blessed to be in this hobby today and enjoy the many offerings available.  Just my view.  Thank you to our manufacturers, and our fellow S friends for your part in supporting .  Mike West 

 

 

 

 

TOKELLY posted:
Lionel even promised some time ago to offer an SD40(-2)--a long time after a much earlier promise that was believable enough to make the cover of the S Gaugian. So despite so many personnel changes at Lionel and despite the small market S scale offers, my thinking is that Lionel does listen and eventually does get to the back burner. 

 

I do understand disappointments and frustrations.  I felt them particularly when the earlier Berkshires were cancelled, and when SHS ownership retired. 

I suspect the SD40 isn't even on the stove, it's in the freezer in the basement.  It was announced back in 1998, 21 years ago.  It came and and went so fast I doubt there was any development done short of the heavily retouched Athearn HO SD40 used to advertise it.  I'd wager the SD40's have severe freezer burn...

For the record, the SHS owners didn't retire willingly, they lacked the resources to start up again after builder Sanda Kan purged their customer base.

Mike West posted:

Former SHS, American Models, MTH, Lionel and others have done amazing work and invested considerably considering our small niche and aging market.  For the most part the manufacturers, leadership and owners have taken financial risk in our market, and I am truly appreciative.

I would hesitate to include MTH in that list.  Other than the purchase of SHS, MTH has been a great disappointment and has squandered opportunities in re-releasing and possibly expanding on the Showcase Line.  It's good stuff when something comes out, but the last catalog (and only) was 6 years ago and only about 30% of the former SHS line has been re-released.

I've given up counting how many times MTH has indicated an S catalog is coming and watch the alleged release date slip by.

Rusty

 

 

Look at the growth of the HO line in the new catalog. Why don't we get half of that stuff. It's clear there is only marginal money in s. All you cantankerous old men boycotting Lionel or whatever company, because they are not doing exactly what you think they should are partially to blame. The other half is mismanagement of Lionel. They are only marketing toward cantankerous old men. 

Greekchief posted:

Look at the growth of the HO line in the new catalog. Why don't we get half of that stuff. It's clear there is only marginal money in s. All you cantankerous old men boycotting Lionel or whatever company, because they are not doing exactly what you think they should are partially to blame. The other half is mismanagement of Lionel. They are only marketing toward cantankerous old men. 

I wouldn't count those HO chickens quite yet.  With the exception of the upgraded Berkshires, the HO freight and passenger cars in the V2 catalog will be made from ex-Model Power (and ex-Marx owned by Model Power) tooling.  The only investment is in the molds, not product design and tool cutting.

HO is a big market with much more competition (and less brand loyalty) than Lionel deals with in O or S.  It remains to be seen how well the "new" Lionel HO does.

Even the passenger platform shown on page 111 in the Flyer section is ex-Marx.  It's actually an O-sized platform.

BTW: This cantankerous old man isn't boycotting Lionel, but they do have to make something that I'm interested in for me to buy.

Rusty

Rusty,

I respect your point about MTH and I too am disappointed with the firm in several ways, but do appreciate the investment they made in continuing the excellent SHS track system, which I use extensively and believe among the best.  I also purchased their F-3's (Santa Fe A, A and Union Pacific A & B) with the excellent SHS bodies and detailing design and enhanced sound and control systems, which are amazing and I believe good value for the money.  

I am cautiously hopeful other investments will be made, but also note in a recent interview it looked like the firm to me was most guarded as to future products, noting specifically (as I remember it) the very small market in S.

I thank you also for helping in the past when I had some repairs needing to be done (Lionel Legacy control system and an MTH F-3 Engine), and you generously gave of your time and knowledge to a stranger.  Much appreciated and I continue to be amazed at the knowledge and caring by you and those in this hobby.  

Mike West 

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