Walthers buys Life-Like

Us, the consumers. Fewer choices.When a manufacturer is its own distributor to retail outlets, there are fewer reasons to discount the wholesale price.
And when the manufacturer is also its own retailer (at least in part), it has the option of undercutting the other retailers (not so bad for us, bad for mom-and-pop), or undersupplying the retailers (bad for us). In either case, if the local or internet retailers are forced out of business, or at least into not carrying the manufacturers product lines, we consumers are left with a single supplier who can sell for whatever they wish.
So far, neither Horizon nor Walters has shown a particular propensity to become deep discounters. I can still get products more cheaply from internet trains, discount trains (online), or from The Train Shop (in Santa Clara, CA) at better prices than directly from H or W.
Ed
in article snipped-for-privacy@news.east.earthlink.net, Froggy @ thepond..com at Froggy @ thepond..com wrote on 7/17/05 7:52 AM:

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On Sun, 17 Jul 2005 17:12:42 GMT, "Edward A. Oates"
This is true, but it really doesn't answer Fl@tliners statement. Not that I can see anyway. Sounded to me like he is implying that either Walthers or Horizon is going to be the loser.
On Sun, 17 Jul 2005 13:16:04 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (fl@liner) wrote:

Now, I don't necessarily think that the consumer will be a loser, except that we might have to pay higher prices for our toys. Maybe, maybe not. Little guys can't compete with each other in the market place by using price. They don't have enough margin. Witness that no brass importer has ever got into a price war with another importer at equal levels of quality. Yeah, you could get brass for less, but it was also a good deal less brass too; meaning lower quality, less detailing etc. It was the same in the plastic market too. Now we have two "big boys" running their respective shows who DO have the capability of offering top-notch product AND of competing with each other. Add to that Bowser and Atlas, who have both shown that they are capable of playing well in that field, and the consumer actually has a greater opportunity (statistically anyway) to get what he wants; more so now than back in the day when Athearn was the "Cock-o-the-walk", and you ran Athearn or you didn't run. This competition at this higher level may mean that we will have greater opportunity to get engines and cars that previously could only be had at the whim of a brass importer and at outrageous prices.
Now, let's take a moment to look at prices. Back in the day, when an Athearn locomotive cost US$10, that represented a day's wages for me. Today, I can get a better model for a lot less than a day's wages. Oh sure, I'd like to be able to buy my toys for $10, but in order to do that I'd have to go back to making $10 - 12 a day. I'll pass on that offer. So then, in the end, things don't really change all that much, and they aren't so bad as we try to make them seem sometimes. Do you want to pay a bit more for what you want, or not have any opportunity at all to get what you want?
How "bout it?
Froggy,
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I'm not in particular disagreement with you, Froggy. Inflation adjusted, prices are better than ever for mass market stuff; and the semi-mass market stuff (genesys, Proto2K, etc.) are better products than you could even buy 20 years ago without going brass (which doesn't usually run all that well, anyway!).
My point is than when manufacturers become their own distributors, it is possible that by cutting out the middleman for the retailer (online or local), prices might go down and all the retailers will buy at the same wholesale price; it it is equally likely that the manufacturers may decide that they want that end use price for themselves rather than just the wholesale price, and cut off retailers, or charge them higher wholesale prices. Time will tell.
All that said, I despise the distributor model almost everywhere. Walmart (in part) gets to charge lower prices by being their own wholesaler and buying directly from manufacturers, and using their volume buying to force discounts; they then run their own just-in-time distribution scheme.
For hobby shops, that middle-man-less scheme doesn't work because it is too costly for manufacturers, so they just sell to a few distributors who then deal with smaller retailers. With us down to one distributor (Horizon or Walther at it may be) for each manufacturer, the system is ripe for gaming if so desired.
We'll see. Fortunately, none of this stuff is essential goods like electricity. But if the lower end pricing goes up, it may keep newcomers from entering the hobby. I'm already well stocked, so I'm not rushing out to be 50 new boxcars.
Ed
in article snipped-for-privacy@news.east.earthlink.net, Froggy @ thepond..com at Froggy @ thepond..com wrote on 7/17/05 1:07 PM:

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Froggy @ the pond..com wrote: [...] we will have greater opportunity to get engines and cars

Most models were offered after some careful polling of potential customers, and a pretty firm market for at about 80% or so of the projected production run. That's still the case. A brass importer wants to have presold a fair number of models before they'll commit to making them, and many production runs these days are on the order of a hundred or so units, sometimes considerably fewer. This is really a form of custom building.

If you think brass was (and is?) offered at "outrageous prices", you're forgetting the economics of mostly hand-built production in small batches. The alternative would mean tooling for a plastic kit, and the mfr would have to sell around 100,000 units to recoup his investment. IOW, he'd have to produce a model for which there was strong demand, and produce it year after year. Which is exactly what Irv Athearn did, and why he didn't bring out a new model every six months. (He made a few mistakes, though: do you recall the Pacific, offered with rubber band drive? Gear drive would have meant additional tooling, which would have raised the cost. IMO, Irv goofed: we were _ready_ for a good quality plastic + die cast kit with a reliable Athearn drive.)
The economics of brass locos (each model affordable by a few hundred or so modellers) worked as long as wages in Japan were low, then when those rose to comfortable levels, production was moved to Korea. Now that CAD/CAM has made tool and die making much, much cheaper, it's economical to produce relatively small runs of plastic locos, on the order of ten thousand or less. But note: As China corners the market on these products, its potential competitors in Europe and America are going bankrupt. This means that the machine tools and more importantly the skills to use them are being lost. As Chinese wages start to rise, you'll see the prices of plastic rise, too. Oops, don't look now, but that's already happening.

Agreed, it's a point I've made many times. In real money (the money I earn, not the money the economists gabble about with their understated inflation rates), our toys are cheaper than they were when I bought my first brass loco (2nd hand, and I still have it.) When you consider the improvement in quality, even of train-set quality rolling stock, they are a real bargain.
BTW, brass has turned out to be a bad investment, selling for maybe 2 to 5 times its original price, whereas it should be selling 10 to 15 times that price just to maintain its value (keep pace with inflation.)
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says...

Walthers or

Not at all. The implication being that the hobbyist and the LHS are going to feel the brunt in availability and lack of discounting in the short term. Over the long haul, the whole hobby will probably suffer when the biggies price me and others out of the hobby. Of course, all of this could drive the hobby into an exclusively"cottage industry" where everything you get for the layout has to be ordered from the manufacturer. Just think of all the more time we can use as an excuse for not working on the layout!
fl@liner
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fl@liner wrote:

So we all go back to this hobby's roots - scratchbuilding what we want/need. Buying RTR is just an excuse for laziness.
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says...

to

Rick, I don't know about you, but I can do a credible job on a plastic kit, but wood? ... disaster! I'm not asking for stone knives but I don't want to shop for a loco or boxcar like I have to do for my next new car.
If I'm given the choice of kit/rtr, I'll always go with the kit. It saves me a couple of bucks, and I get the pride of a job well-done (however small that may be).
fl@liner
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That is bullshit.
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Well it is starting. Bowser just sent an email to their dealers stating that they will no longer be carrying Life Like products. Canceled all orders for new releases.

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RTR is a convenience for some, especially beginning modelers.Calling them BS sort of begs the question: when is buying a model rail road product which is even partially assembled not "laziness?" I notice that Athearn blue box kits come pre-painted and decaled. Is that laziness, or should I start with flat styrene and cut, carve, etc. to get the thing I want?
This hobby, like most, is about choices. Some really want to scratch build everything and have the skills and experience to do that. Other want to do scenery, lay track, design layouts, etc., and could care less about actually building rolling stock, so they by some pre-built. Other want to do operations, and if someone delivered a layout to their specifications with rolling stock and loco's all in place, they'd be happy as clams (whatever that means).
in article R2ZCe.17873$ snipped-for-privacy@tornado.rdc-kc.rr.com, Mark Mathu at snipped-for-privacy@mathu.com wrote on 7/18/05 6:53 PM:

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On Tue, 19 Jul 2005 15:50:48 UTC, "Edward A. Oates"

I think you nailed it. Different courses for horses.
My preference is for design, trackwork and operation. I have no problem building kits but would rather not do it. Except for my last two module sets my track has all been handlaid with hand built turnouts. The first module set was handlaid with Railway Engineering turnouts and the second set was done with flextrack and Micro Engineering turnouts. I am going back to handlaid track with hand built turnouts (Okay I am going to cheat and use Fast Track jigs) because I enjoy it.
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ernie fisch


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Absolutely!
Rick's comment is the equivalent of saying: "Buying pre-fab turnouts is just an excuse for laziness," or "not operating with prototypical paperwork is just an excuse for laziness," or "not finishing your layout room is just an excuse for laziness."
This hobby is varied enough that everyone can concentrate on the parts of the hobby they enjoy -- and gloss over the parts they don't enjoy. Rick's comment is an embarrassment to those who truly love this hobby and all the variety it can offer.
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So we all go back to this hobby's roots - scratchbuilding what we

Rick, While I like to scratchbuild or put together craftsman type kits I don't see a thing wrong with RTR models especially with some of the outstanding models that are available. Not everyone in this world is a craftsman or wants to be a craftsman, nor should they. If we were all expert wood workers and carpenters who would make our bread. It quite obvious that RTR is very popular and I think always has been. The market for RTR has always been there. It finally being catered too after all these years. A number of my friends had layouts or I should say their fathers did. Most were 4x8's populated with RTR and simple kit stuff. As far as I can remember my dad was the only person I knew that had some Bowsers with extra detail. Everyone else had RTR Warbonnet F's or AHM stuff or Lionel or American Flyer. Most structures were the same simple ones everyone else had. Scenery and structures were rather sparse anyway. I'll bet a great number of those old kit locomotives, craftsman type car models and such were bought but never built or only half way put together and then abandoned to dusty oblivion. The ones that escaped house cleaning seem to emerge on Ebay with regularity and I would not be surprised if many of those will remain unbuilt. If more models were scratchbuilt or kit built in the old days its probably because of no choice rather than that people were less lazy back then. Probably the relative number of scratchbuilders was small then too but they were extensively featured in the magazines ( mostly because there wasn't anything else to feature) so it just seemed like everyone did it. Bruce
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Bruce Favinger wrote:

Perhaps my words were rather strong. I have a few P2K RTR tank cars and stock cars myself, and I have purchased a fair number of built-up craftsman models at swaps or auctions over the years. I prefer the really nice, though hard to find these days, craft kits like Silver Streak and Central Valley, et all used to make but I buy other things too, especially if the prototype was metal which a wood kits rarely simulates well. My response was a quick reaction to the whining that was expressed over the Walthers/Life-Like merger. It followed on to all of the whining that was posted over the Horizon mergers and the prognostications about how the hobby was "going to be ruined" and prices were going to skyrocket. Add in the annoying whining that goes on here nearly every month when MR comes out and it gets *so-o-o-o-o* *o-o-o-o-ld* very fast. The eternal flame wars between certain parties degrade the experience of RMR even further. So take my previous comment with a few grains of salt and lots of Cajun seasoning. ;-{)
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