"Toymaker Hornby has bought die-cast model
car maker Corgi for £7.5m as part of its strategy
of expanding in the hobby and collectibles market."
Hmm, I hope they are not heading for their 'Rovex' moment, to many
toes in to many pies, this is the third 'non core' purchase (Airfix,
Humbrol and now Corgi), diluting the brand has it's risks...
I think the quote should refer to 'fingers in too many pies'. In the past
when Hornby have diversified, they've got their fingers burnt - let's hope
that in their seemingly endless drive for growth they don't go there again.
Having witnessed the difficulty they've had recently in getting new model
railway products out of China, I can't help thinking this acquisition is
unlikely to help that cause with both Corgi and Bassett-Lowke coming from
I think the difference with the 'recent' set of acquistions is they've all,
in the main, got one thing in common: they complement the model railway side
of Hornby's business (i.e., Airfix do planes at 1:72, Corgi do cars at 1:72,
etc). The thing that kind of surprises me is that they haven't ventured into
N gauge rolling stock - they do Lyddle End, but not any stock of any kind...
Make your mind up John, not so long ago you were complainig about them
flooding the market with models !
Dont think China production problems are limited to Hornby. However they are
almost certainly looking around the globe in case its time to move.
I wouldn't be surprised if Hornby don't have a cunning plan there.
Making N buildings is a far less expensive way of dipping their toe
into the N market and establishing their credentials. Once the market
has got used to the idea of Hornby = N as well as 00, launching N
rolling stock would be far more "acceptable", always assuming they
don't do so by further aqusitions. I'm sure Hornby have been
keeping a beady eye on Heljan and Skytrex's 0 gauge activities
Judging by the tone of news reports about Hornby's aquisitions, I
rather think thay they have a good deal of respect in "The City"
with regard to their activities - well, they must have to get the
dosh, or they have a cash mountain stashed away. Hornby were
one of the pioneers of Chinese production, and as such are probably
ahead of the game there too. 20 years ago no one would have given a
fig for Hornby's chances of survival, but they've hung on in there.
The whole model railway scene owes them a debt of gratitude for
keeping train sets "on the high street" - no one else could have
 I've still got a fiver that says Hornby will own Bachmann Europe
at some stage.
I have become... comfortably numb
Even if they have it doesn't change the fact that their core
activities could suffer from diversification, Honrby (as a company)
could survive no doubt making/importing widgets but that would not be
a good move for railway modellers even if it's good for the City.
I think that depends on how one defines 'Chinese production', wasn't
both Palitoy and Airfix both out-sourcing their production to that
part of the world?
and as such are probably
Not correct, both Lima, Palitoy and probably Airfix could have done
so, they only failed because Hornby were there already, if Hornby had
gone belly-up in the late 1970s or early '80s any or all three of the
above would have filled their shoes - with (at the time) a better
Maybe, but Hornby were in the vanguard (technically it was Hong Kong
to start with) of the outsourcibg production race.
I have to disagree there - to the non-modelling fraternity Hornby
= trains, if Hornby had disappeared the likes of Argos etc would
have taken it to mean train sets were dead. The others never
had any exposure outside the model railway world - how many
actually knew that Airfix produced railway stuff at all, never mind
ready-to-run trains? If you don't believe me, ask someone you know
well enough to ask but doesn't know anout your interest in model
railways who makes, or has made, train sets - the answer will
most likely be Hornby, or possibly Traing for the older generation.
The Hornby brand is incredibly strong, way ahead of even Airfix (as
a kid who makes plastic kits and they'll probably say Tamya, or
Revell etc - older people will still say Arfix, but that brand has
faded over the years.
I have become... comfortably numb
It is NOW, that is not to say that it has always been so, at one time
Hornby was an incredibly weak brand - people still regarded it as
'cheap tat' even into the 1980s, it was still suffering from the bad
name that Tri-ang/Rovex gave it. If Hornby had folded and disappeared
in the late 1970s or early 80's the train-set would *not* have died
along with it, Lima was in a position to fill the shelves even if
Palitoy and Airfix were not.
You miss the point about branding - it's not what the "insiders"
in model railway land think, its when Mr. Buyer for High Street
Shop Co. Ltd thinks, or Joe Public percieves, and most importantly,
what the Mr. Wholesaler Buyer is prepared to bet his job on.
Hornby - practically everyone knows the deal. Yu take it home,
put it up, plug it in, and off you go. If little Johnny
doesn't like it we'll get some money back selling it.
If he likes it we can get some more bits to add and
our worries about birthday presents are over for
years to come.
Airfix - they make plastic kit's don't they. Gosh, I'm not
glueing that lot together. Or painting them.
Palitoy - cheap stuff that may make it to the end of the day.
(No offence to Palitoy, but that's peoples perception).
Lima - Who? What?
The first glance at a product sells it, if people have to look in
the box to understand what they are getting exactly, you've lost
half your customers before you even start. That's why brand image
is so important. There are some truly awful products out there
that only sell because the brand is in favour.
I have become... comfortably numb
A while ago I was in a local model shop when a woman walked in and asked
for an "Airfix" plane (she might have specified a Spitfire). The person
behind the counter said Airfix had just gone belly-up, and was no more.
Oh well, said the woman, if I can't get him a plane it'll have to be
something else, and she left.
The assistant should perhaps have tried to sell her a Revell or whatever
plane, but it was noticeable that she mentioned Airfix (I suspect this
was not because she knew that the Revell model is a Mark 1234(b) with a
different pattern of rivets to what she wanted!)
As suggested in the bit you snipped, that was a possibility, but I
suspect rather unlikely in the situation. If she'd said "Little Willy
wants the Airfix special edition 1:48 Swiss navy Seafire with
left-handed control column and mark 5 octagonal rivets" it might have
Disagree. The Power of Hornby is the name - just Like, say, Lionel in
the US or Marklin in Germany. Outside modelling circles, Joe Public in
the UK, who wants to buy a train set for little Johnny, wants a Hornby
set, which is precisely why Tri-ang/Rovex wanted the Hornby name on the
demise of Meccano Limited. Tri-ang did not want the factory, or the
staff, or the tooling, or the stock. They just wanted the name. Hornby
is a powerful name, just like Hoover, or Biro.
So you are saying that if Hornby had not survived either of it's two
(three) financial crises in the 1970s and 1980s people would have
stopped buying train-sets even though other companies had stepped in a
filled the shelves?... The point is, if the name no longer exists they
will still buy the product, just as no one who bought Rover have
stopped buying cars just because the name has disappeared from the
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