Well, according to what I've subsequently heard, Froggy is right.
August 15th is the date.
Some more thoughts on this:
Similarity to the Athearn/Horizon deal: Well, it is a major distributor
buying out a major manufacturer. But Walthers is already the biggest
model RR distributor, while Horizon was a minor player. (Yes, I know
they are bigger overall than Walthers. But they still only distribute a
relatively small number of RR lines. Prior to Athearn/MDC, there was no
real reason for a trains-only shop to buy from Horizon.)
The immediate effect will be much smaller, since most shops carrying
trains will already have a Walthers account. You won't have a number of
shops dropping the line or getting shut out, as happened with
Wholesale price: Who's the low-cost distributor of Life-Like? Surprise,
surprise, it's Walthers. (At least for 5-star dealers.) I don't expect
this to change.
Retail price: Some of the larger dealers are able to buy Life-Like at
distributor prices. This will probably stop. In the short term, expect
some really low prices, as distributors dump Life-Like. In the long
term, most of the really deep discount LL prices will probably go away.
Expect street price to settle around 20% to 30% off list.
Availability: This should help availability on regular production-run
items some, since inventory levels will be easier to control. But on
limited-run items, your dealer will only have one place to go, and once
they're gone, that's it.
Who's next: Who knows? But not Bachmann. I doubt anyone in the business
has the money to buy them. Atlas is a good bet if someone has the
money, and rumor has it Woodland Scenics. Bowser seems unlikely, the
current management seems interested in running the business. Kato seems
really unlikely, but Intermountain seems like a good candidate, too.
Peter King in NY