The last time I checked, 1000 was about the minimum run which could
justify a new mold. A limited paint run would probably be about the
188 you mention.
Mold variations by way of inserts (different grills, smokebox doors
etc) have been in use for the last couple of decades, but then you're
back to 1000+ to make molding machine setup worthwhile.
Although presume that doesnt include initial research/design costs. Suspect
these are the costs that have dropped as more use made of computers and some
design now outsourced to cheapo labour.
Back in Tri-ang days when molds were made by little men chipping
train shapes out of blocks of sandstone the research costs probably
weren't too high.
Then we started to want the right number of wheels, actual holes
were the windows might be etc and the designers had to look for
plans and photos etc - greatly increased costs.
Computers/CAD meant we could have wire handrails.
CAD/CAM meant we could have mold variations and customers could
Does getting things made in China actually reduce costs?
Where the European manufacturers had gone to snap-together
construction and lots of details loose in the bottom of the box
the Chinese use self-tapper screws.
Prices haven't come down.
Seems to me the big change has been that model firms have been able
to get rid of troublesome employees and sell off lots of real-estate.
Difficult to compare prices, have to take into account inflation and
quality - especially detail, will leave that to others.
But didnt Hornby move production in order to survive. They needed to
seriously upgrade their models very quickly in order to compete with
bachmann - esp the new blue riband range. That meant they needed a lot of
capital in a very short time frame - the chinese were making models for a
number of companies. Economies of scale so able to invest more in new
tooling and get back that money much faster than Hornby could have done in
the limited market of the UK.
I guess the most logical comparison is with car companies, in that
improve over the years. Some companies with enough turnover "improve"
their models every 2-5 years. Smaller ones keep much the same model
in production for 10-20 years. (eg Subaru) New products are introduced
every x many years and the best seller gets minor improvements regularly.
Everyone knows a major upgrade of the main products has to come at some
point or the firm is a goner. Volkswagen in the mid70s was like Hornby
and just about ran out of options. (we won't mention BLMC etc ;-)
Hornby should have seen the market trends way back when Airfix/Mainline
etc moved the standard so far above Hornby's. They could have introduced
a model per year without selling their business.
Moving production to China will come back to bite all these firms when
Chinese wages and oil prices climb.
On Sun, 08 Aug 2010 15:49:32 +1200, "Greg.Procter"
I agree. It was the appearance of Airfix and Mainline that got me back
into the hobby.
When I moved into my first house I unpacked boxes that had been packed
away years earlier, including the model trains. I'd play with them but
that was all. Even to my teenage eye a decade or so earlier they
hadn't been very good. The Airfix prairie and 14xx were a breath of
fresh air, and their carriages were orders of magnitude better than
the thick plastic sides with flat glazing behind them.
It puzzled me why Hornby didn't bother to compete. Although when the
LBSCR 0-6-0T came out that was a bit better but still not up to the
standard. And they destroyed the tooling to make Thomas.
True about Hornby falling behind, but was it Hornby or the parent company ?
The change to super detail didnt happen until after the management buy out.
Moving of production may well become a problem, but had they not moved then
there may not have been a Hornby brand now.
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