Train Shows vs. Other Enthusiasts' Shows

All the Train Shows I've been to GATS, Greenberg, and the like have nothing but "Mom & Pop" travelling-type vendors -- not even the major hobby stores in the area (I live in the SF Bay Area) are present, not to mention the major manufacturers/distributors/importers (e.g. Walthers, BLI, Atlas, MRC, Brass Importers, etc.).

Most other shows, like Auto Shows, Golf & Tennis, Computer Shows, Sport & Boat, etc., have a significant number (if not 100% like auto shows) of the major manufacturers showing their latest models.

Are there any Model RR shows that the public can attend where the major manufacturers display their latest stuff?


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The International Model & Hobby Expo held in Chicago around September normally has many model railroad manufacturers showing their latest products.

Trainfest in Milwaukee (November 13-14, 2004) is held in conjunction with a Model Railroad Industry Association event and there are booths from many of the major manufacturers/distributors/importers.

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Reply to
Mark Mathu

Yes, the National Train Show that goes with the NMRA National Convention once a year. Outside of that all other train show suck

Reply to
Marty Hall

in article hu_vc.75$, Mark Mathu at wrote on 6/4/04 9:07 AM:

Don't forget the show at the NMRA anual convention.

Bill Wyman

Reply to
William Wyman

The National Train Show held in conjunction with the NMRA National Convention

The Big Train Show held in early February in West Springfield, MA

Larry Madson

Reply to
larry madson

I might be mistaken but don't you need to be a hobby shop dealer to attend the one in Chicago. I don't know about the Trainfest in Milwaukee. If you like the 3 rail O guage niche then join the TCA and attend York twice a year. All the manufacturers display there.

Reply to
Marty Hall

The show in Chicago (Rosemont, to be exact) is trade-only the first day or two, then open to the public. Or at least that used to be the way they operated. I'm not sure if Trainfest has a similar format or not, now that it includes the MRIA.


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conjunction with a

first day or two, then open to

not sure if Trainfest has a

Trainfest (Milwaukee) one day for dealers only, two days for public, IIRC.

-- Bill McC.

Reply to
Bill McCutcheon

The National Train Show which runs at the end of the NMRA national convention. Nearly all of the biggies are there.

Reply to
Rick Jones

The only one I go to that has manufacturers is the Big Railroad Hobby Show in West Springfield, MA at the Big E.

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Almost all of the manufacturers of any consequence are there. Atlas Bachmann Overland Microscale City Classics Athearn Walthers Roundhouse/MDC Digitrax Lenz Dynatrol USA Trains/Charles Ro Laser Kit Concord Car Shops NERS Jay-Bee Re-Boxx Kalmbach MRC Aristo-Craft Del-Aire Badger Branchline Weaver Stewart Miniatronics, etc.

And that's not counting the historical groups (B&M, NH, etc.), museums (RMNE, Danbury, etc.), and real railroads (Amtrak, Cog, etc.) that show up. In a recent Model Retailer magazine, model railroad manufacturers picked the West Springfield show as the number 2 show in the country in importance, behind only the NMRA show.

Paul A. Cutler III

************* Weather Or No Go New Haven *************
Reply to
Pac Man

Are there any Model RR shows that the public can attend where the major manufacturers display their latest stuff?

In summation, here are all the major shows with big-time manufacturer representation.

  1. Summer...the NMRA Train Show in conjunction with the NMRA National Seattle, WA this year. There's a trade day/NMRA conventioneers only, then Sat and Sun public.
  2. Fall....Rosemont I Hobby Expo and Las Vegas Hobbyvisions. These two are slugging it out to see who will be King of the Hill. Trade day then weekend public for both.
  3. Winter-November...TrainFest in Milwaukee, WI sponsored by WISE-NMRA. Trade Day then public weekend.
  4. Winter-January/February...Big E Show by Amherst Society in Springfield, MA. Paul gave the details in a previous post. Public on weekend.
  5. Spring...East Coast Hobby Show in Ft. Washington, PA. Public weekends here too. They all have websites. I made them all last year except the NMRA.

D. Harrison

Reply to
David Harrison

The Chicago show is open to Public on one or two days each year (Saturday for sure, I think Sunday too.)

Trainfest is strictly a public event, although the MIRA show actually starts one day earlier for the dealers only.



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yea, definitely open on Sunday. I've went the last 2 years, and it was the same day as the Great Midwest Train Show in Wheaton IL. I did the train show first, then over to the International hobby one. It's not all trains though, since it's a "model and hobby show", but it does have many of the big (and some small) manufacturers. Atlas, Walthers, Athearn, Bachmann, Overland, etc are usually there.

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FWIW the Seattle train show is open to registered convention attendees privately on Friday from 10AM to 2PM only. Not much of a bonus for attendees! I'll have a look for myself this time.

Bob Boudreau Canada

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In truth though while manufactors do a few big shows like those listed as a rule they do not like train shows,

They are beneath them, the prices undercut the hobby store they say they support and because the shows are expensive even if the show gave the space to them they would have to pay their own room and board.

So the billions dollar other industries spend on promoting their products at large boat and car shows for example is wasted according to the fearless (and thoughtless) leaders in our hobby

For example a few years ago the old GATS management had a train show in January in St Louis mo attendance was reported at 23,000 and since I was helping my friends at kc hobbies and D and D Trains I can believe it, there was every one of those people, some hobbyist but most new folks taking their kids for the day Buying trains and buildings at a amazing rate While the national show attendance of 16, 000 from all over the world in St Louis sales were very slow Mike at kc said it was one of his worst shows ever everyone already had their trains.

Train shows grow the hobby by bringing in new people

Interesting while Horizon says they are against train shows their dealer Jeff at Lombard hobbies was at the Chicago/Dupage show in May selling the CNW genesis f-7 G1513 for $110 the A and B set and $60 for the f-7a buying several sets my kid took a box to carry them it was for the f7a direct from horizon to Lombard hobbies

Reply to
John Obert

Any manufacturer that markets/advertises a product looks to maximize their advertising dollar. If it costs Atlas (to pick one randomly) as much to send staff to a train show as it does for a full page color spread in MRR, which is the best choice?

They can meet a couple of hundred hobbyists, half of whom will spend an hour complaining because they haven't released a BDZ-2000 Switcher painted for the Yakamo East (or if they did, why they didn't do one with dynamic brakes)...

Or they can have an ad that reaches thousands.

They will send staff to retailer shows because that's who their primary buyer is. They will do the NMRA and a select few public shows, mainly for the goodwill.

Apples and peanuts. There's no comparison between product uses, distribution stream, cost, profit, etc.

If model railroad industry was anywhere near what those two industries are, they'd spend the money.

I'd also wager that the mrr industries and those two spend a similar percentage on advertising, relative to their gross sales.

I don't recall seeing that. Care to provide a link?

They have said they support hobby shops and won't sell to the guy in a pick-up truck (who only does train shows.)

Lots of brick and mortar shops do train shows. For example:

Mike Tennent "IronPenguin" Operating Traffic Lights Crossbucks Special Effects Lighting

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Reply to
Mike Tennent

You do not get a choice if you want to stay in business you have to grow that means grow your product line or your customer base both is best, just one is generally slow death

My point is the NMRA while it my have its uses they put on a poor international show in St Louis (and later Toronto) that did not pull as many people as GATS And the people GATS pull are newer to the hobby, still buying products, while the NMRAer also buys and buys the big ticket items their shelves are or will be getting full. New customers are needed and they are at the Gats and local club/NMRA shows, that's is where mfg need to be sometimes

As for horizon I meant they were against train show /Internet dealers because they discount the products sorry I left out those words

They are not price fixing but have had "friendly talk" with shops about maintaining higher prices It probably almost breaks the law or may even break it but these days most laws are just suggestion anyway

however when they need money or have to dump products they move them out the back door to the dealers like jeff that dump them below cost that the other hobby stores paid

by the way Jeff is not stealing them or selling at a loss he and his father have been doing this for over 20 years It is just now that he has been able to dump athearn usssaully it was Kato or Proto he sells cheap

You seem to be negative about the train show only dealers in truth they pay more to be at the shows than your average shop. In small shows and Gats 10 tables or 4 booths can run 400 to 500, at the biggies like trainfest and the NMRA national the cost in 3000 easy and then they have to re do it the next weekend their rental cost for the month is 2000 on the slow months but could be 4000 to 6000 on months when they book the big shows, also not include is insurance for your car and stock, hotel rooms, eating on the road, buying trucks to move the trains, building and putting up display in hours

here is the part that would kill a lot of hobby store owners.

Being able to sell your engine for 10 more than the guy across the aisle from you. It requires being a salesman by being nice and with quick customers attention


Reply to
John Obert

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