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Bachmann are having a laugh, aren't they? - Everything Bachmann. - More Practical Help - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Wed Jun 24th, 2020 04:44 pm
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col.stephens
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Bachmann are about to release class 117 3-Car DMU in a couple of liveries for the princely retail price of £314.95.  Even at the Rails of Sheffield discounted price of £267.70, this is still a lot of money for what is basically one motorised coach and two pull-along coaches.


I get the distinct feeling that Bachmann are simply pushing the boundaries to see what is the maximum profit that can be squeezed out of any poor sap willing to part with his cash, bearing no relation to the actual worth of the model.


On checking my records I find that the last 2-Car DMU purchased by me cost £93.00
That extra coach must be very expensive to produce!


Discuss.


Terry





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 Posted: Wed Jun 24th, 2020 07:59 pm
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amdaley
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They'll be waiting because I won't be buying at that price :roll:



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 Posted: Wed Jun 24th, 2020 09:10 pm
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Gwiwer
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I appreciate the fact that some will find this price too high and might consider it profit-seeking.  It is at the same level as all recent multiple-unit announcements and if one considers three Mk1 carriages at the current price plus the power unit then it is not unrealistic.  A locomotive alone typically costs in the region of £169 (list price) for example.  

The class 117 / 121 DMU units are all-new research and development whereas many locomotives and carriages are reissues from an existing tool.  So the start-up costs for the project are higher and the overall cost might not be written off over many years and multiple re-releases as with coaching stock.  

A list-price Mk1 is £48.95 now; many modellers who remember buying them for less than half that a few years ago are also voting with their wallets yet sales are holding up.  

Apart from the commissioned GW150 units these sets can be widely obtained for around £267 which is the maximum level of discounting Bachmann will allow in order to give retailers a fairly level playing field. A large Widnes-based business tried to undercut the rest and swiftly found themselves in breach of Bachmann's terms of service and unable to supply that brand.  

Without some profit there will be no Bachmann.  Without a dealer / retailer margin there will be no shops from which to buy models.  Eyes watered when the 2-car 2-HAP unit was announced at £260; the research for that might be partially covered by the earlier 2-EPB and 2-H units but the actual release will be all new.  Again compared with a locomotive and Mk1 carriage (£169 plus £49 roundly) and allowing for all-new R&D the price tag is not unreasonable.  

The 4-BEP units are listed at £449.95 yet three cars are identical to the previous 4-CEP units which have been through several issues.  Only the buffet car is all-new but I believe refinements are being made to the inter-car couplers and lighting compared with the 4-CEP units.  

Whether we like it or not, or can afford it or not, this is the price bracket for the next year or two and beyond that the only way is up I'm afraid.  At least we can still obtain retailer's discounts in most cases and Bachmann has moved to ensure, so far as they can, that one retailer doesn't undercut the rest with excessive discounting.  






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 Posted: Wed Jun 24th, 2020 11:11 pm
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Paul Chetter
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These models raise the bar for DMU models. They look fantastic and run super smoothly.

The below floor motor and drivetrain mechanisms mean that the interiors are much better represented.

For those of us who appreciate these things, the decoder interface is the PluX22 type (only one decoder required) and speakers are fitted to both driving cars, wired through the multi-pin coupling system.

There's a host of lighting included, even on DC. Destination boards illuminate, saloon lighting, directional headcode lamps, cab lights.

Yes, they are pricey compared to earlier models, but there's so much more to them. The Class 121 is great too.

You will also find that both driving cars are powered, so not quite what has been portrayed earlier.

Best regards,

Paul

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 Posted: Thu Jun 25th, 2020 12:19 am
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Colin W
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Interesting market developments in recent years as aggressive new players have taken on Hornby and Bachmann.

Despite their apparent financial distress, Hornby's "White Knight" seems to have inspired them to greater things with for example some prompt action e.g. the excellent new Terrier beating Rails / Dapol to the punch and lots of excitement in their anniversary year.

Bachmann have taken another path, the "high road" if you will and this latest release under discussion is a fine example, judging from what's been said here. I've nothing but high praise for every bit of Bachmann kit I've ever bought, those lovely tank engines, Prairies etc. It's just a shame that a conservative approach means they'll be targeting sectors of less interest to me.

Actions taken like breaking with Hattons, showed that Bachmann was serious about being a premium supplier in the market. This has its pros and cons and is unlikely to change anytime soon.



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 Posted: Thu Jun 25th, 2020 03:47 am
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BCDR
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That is the cost of quality, detailed RTR. For too long relatively cheap manufacturing  in China kept cost down. Not any longer. You can look forward to what goes on here - pre-order or risk not getting that model you want. 

Detailed passenger coach here is $100, detailed steam or diesel locomotive anything up to $500. Still a bargain when compared with the detailed standard of hand-built brass models.


I try and keep my locomotives cheap (ish) and spend the money on the decoder. 


Nigel



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 Posted: Thu Jun 25th, 2020 07:53 am
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RFS
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The forthcoming Bachmann 4-BEP has a list price of £449. Only one coach of the 4 is new, the others being based on the existing 4-CEP. But it's believed that the lighting and inter-coach couplings have been improved to the same standard as the recent 4-TC from Kernow. Nevertheless it's an eye-watering RRP.    

But Bachmann are also re-issuing the existing 4-CEP models in original condition. Yet the prices for these are also £449. Now that really does seem a bit steep. Seems like a generation ago now that in 2013 I purchased 2 additional 4-CEPs for my layout from Hatton's at just £69 each. As a result I don't need any more. We won't see those prices again - except perhaps on Ebay for second-hand sales. .



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 Posted: Thu Jun 25th, 2020 02:50 pm
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BCDR
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It's becoming an expensive hobby. Somebody calculated that a layout can cost $300 a foot when stock, controls, scenic, etc.. are taken into account. Even more if you have somebody build the baseboards for you. The demographics of the hobby (a much lamented issue here) is not helping either. I think we are also seeing the demise of the detailing and kit side of the hobby (already happened here, very few suppliers of castings, and the brass locomotive or cast freight car from a kit is almost extinct). which will only contribute to escalating prices.

I was interested in the GWR steam rail motor being commissioned by Kernow. On my wish list (actually my "dream-on, lad" list), but while £150-£160 (depends on whether you pre-order or take your chance) is not that bad for what is a limited run model, I would then have to add £110 for a decent sound decoder, and then another £70-odd for conversion to EM. £340. Hmm. Not everybody fancies doing that 4-wheel chassis with Walschaert valve gear, but looking into the DIY possibilities I found the following: Etched sides, ends, floor, £45.00. Milled frames, £12.60. Gearbox and motor, £45.00. DIY valve gear, rods, £15.00. Wheels and axles, £20.00. Plus the roof, interior seating, windows, buffers, water tank, gas tank,couplers, painting, lining....probably another £50.00. That comes to ~£185 plus the decoder. £295. If you paid a professional builder add on another £500.00. Shapeways has a diagram Q body shell for $103, still needs the chassis (plus a lot of fettling to get rid of the print lines). That RTR model starts to look quite good when compared to the alternatives. Not everybody likes DIY of course, which reduces the range of possibilities.

Older tooling will not result in multi-tier pricing. They will be increased to match current new tooling. Bachmann et al exist to make money for the owners and shareholders. Like all for-profit companies they will charge what the market will bear (based on their historically dubious market research). Keep in mind that it was a "third" business (1/3 to the contract manufacturer, 1/3 to the business, 1/3 to the retailer). I suspect that has changed to the benfit of the business.

To my mind not allowing a competitive market place looks like price fixing. Is this being done to keep small businesses going? Highly questionable practice given that to be a dealer you have to commit to buying a certain number of models. Nobody in their right mind will buy £20,000 worth of stock that could sit on the shelf for a year or more if the market research got it wrong. One reason lots of high street store-front hobby shops have gone. Like it or not, this will come down to several large suppliers who can afford the capital tie-up. It's happened here, there are probably less than 10 large scale retail suppliers in the US. Most small hobby shops do not hold locomotive stock, they will place your order (normally a pre-order with a deposit) though the largest commercial trade supplier. I think the UK will be down to 3-4 retailers at most. In what will essentially be a monopoly where pricing is fixed by the manufacturer.

One answer of course is to stop collecting and reduce the modeling footprint. One thing that going small brought home to me was that I don't really need a lot of stock.  And that older models with a bit of detailing are actually quite presentable. And it's YMR.

Nigel





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 Posted: Thu Jun 25th, 2020 04:32 pm
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Gwiwer
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RFS wrote: The forthcoming Bachmann 4-BEP has a list price of £449. Only one coach of the 4 is new, the others being based on the existing 4-CEP. But it's believed that the lighting and inter-coach couplings have been improved to the same standard as the recent 4-TC from Kernow. Nevertheless it's an eye-watering RRP.    

But Bachmann are also re-issuing the existing 4-CEP models in original condition. Yet the prices for these are also £449. Now that really does seem a bit steep. Seems like a generation ago now that in 2013 I purchased 2 additional 4-CEPs for my layout from Hatton's at just £69 each. As a result I don't need any more. We won't see those prices again - except perhaps on Ebay for second-hand sales. .
Indeed the 2021 4-Cep releases (delayed from this year) are priced at £449 for a model out of the same tool as the early ones which were little more than £100 IIRC.  However these will feature the improved - hopefully even and not over-bright - interior lighting and multi-pin couplers as on the 117s and 4-Bep units.  That does not in any way make them incompatible with the older 4-Cep models but unless one adapts the interior lighting in those then the centre trailers will look dim compared with the rest of the train.  That is assuming one has the space to run units coupled to form at least an 8-car train.  

My fleet of class 117 and 121 units has arrived.  The biggest box I have ever received on the doorstep contained the lot in one go.  And my account has taken then anticipated and budgeted-for large hit.  

I have to say they are magnificent models and run superbly.  They also run sweetly when coupled which is not always true of the much earlier Hornby ex-Lima units that often fought each other when coupled.  I'll be able to comment on the lighting once the sun goes down as it is way too bright to appraise in the current conditions.  

Despite the layout these were intended for having been broken up three years ago I kept the orders in and shall enjoy these units as and when I can.  Not cheap but in my humble opinion they have been worth the wait and the money.  



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 Posted: Thu Jun 25th, 2020 04:48 pm
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Gwiwer
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not allowing a competitive market place looks like price fixing. Is this being done to keep small businesses going?

In the case of Bachmann and Hattons it was done as I understand it because Hattons chose to breach Bachmann's terms of service by undercutting the maximum permitted retailer discount. That then gave Hattons a potentially unfair advantage over all other retailers by abusing their market position.

Highly questionable practice given that to be a dealer you have to commit to buying a certain number of models. Nobody in their right mind will buy £20,000 worth of stock that could sit on the shelf for a year or more if the market research got it wrong.

I don't know chapter and verse on Bachmann's trade terms but there are plenty of retailers in the UK able to secure supplies. Whether each has to commit to £20,000+ per order is not within my knowledge but many Bachmann items are popular enough that if one requires a specific vehicle it frequently cannot be found after a year or so from release without searching at least several likely sources.



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 Posted: Thu Jun 25th, 2020 09:49 pm
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Ssamm
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I often travel on a DMU/EMU when I visit the UK so I have a soft spot for them.

Include a quality sound decoder and I am finding the prices of the newer models out of my budget. And that's even allowing for no VAT

But I'm sure the manufacturers have calculated the price increase offsets any reduction in demand. But it is a risky strategy unless you are planning on having different tiers of quality and price.

Cheers
Evan

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 Posted: Fri Jun 26th, 2020 12:34 am
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Concern about the price of the hobby is nothing new and I imagine it will not be going away. It is not often mentioned, but I cannot believe the cost of freight stock!
The value of anything is simply what someone is prepared to pay.  If we keep paying the prices (and justifying the expense to ourselves) manufacturers will keep asking for more.  it is simple economics. And it doesn't matter if something is a re-run with old tooling.... if it is a limited number on sale they know they are going to have the demand, so up goes the price.  And the knock on is in the secondhand market, where prices are steadily increasing also.  I pretty much consider it a bargain if I get an item for its original sale value.

But it isn't all grim.  You can still have a well stocked railway: it just needs to be multi era, multi regional full of stock no one is buying!

Michael

 



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 Posted: Fri Jun 26th, 2020 11:13 am
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Yes prices of model railway equipment have risen steeply over the last 5 years not just locos and rolling stock.
And the hobby can now be extremely expensive.

I note comparison being mentioned between UK and US outline.
But you have to bear in mind The volume of UK outline produced is far smaller the the US market and purely through the Economics of production costs larger volumes produced enable a cheaper pricing policy on the end product.

I have even noticed on the second hand market Ebay and facebook selling groups the prices being asked for in many cases far exceed what the person would have paid for the original model when they bought it.

So you cant just blame manufacturers or retailers as model railway hobbyists are also taking advantage and pushing second hand prices up themselves.

Brian



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 Posted: Fri Jun 26th, 2020 01:55 pm
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Hi Brian,

Production volume aside, it's getting just as expensive here. There are several manufacturers smaller than Bachmann in the UK or Hornby (Bowser or Rapido for example). Major difference is Bachmann is still considered by many to be the entry level. And that the major players usually have different detailing levels (and prices). Basic, silver, gold, or standard, exhibition or rivet counter. 

A Bachmann EMD E7 diesel with factory sound has a rrp of $299.00, yours from a warehouse retailer for $120.  That is where the difference is. If only they did a Great Northern...Broadway Limited (another small company) do one of my other wants, a Great Northern S2 4-8-4. MSRP $750. Dream on, lad. Retails for around $500. Keep on dreaming. 

My usual  supplier is the local train show, which normally has a couple of hundred seller stalls and takes place quarterly. Surprising what UK items come up. 

I am left with the impression that the UK market is going the way of the German market - expensive, detailed and fragile collectors items. 

NIgel



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 Posted: Fri Jun 26th, 2020 08:24 pm
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the UK market is going the way of the German market - expensive, detailed and fragile collectors items.

Not entirely. Hornby is still a big player in the UK and continues to offer genuine entry level kiddies train sets and - moving on from there - the "Railroad" range of less refined and slightly cheaper rolling stock. That is still perfectly credible and some modellers are very happy to use those items in preference to the full price range.

Railroad is a bit of a grey area; there isn't a defined set of criteria or if there is that is known only to those in the business. But, for example, the Mk1 carriage where Hornby's offering competes with Bachmann almost head-to-head also has a Railroad version of the basic types which has less detailed moulding, no separate parts, plastic wheels running in bogie-frame recesses (as opposed to pin-bearings) and a slightly less refined look overall. Some items are only produced in "Railroad" and some only in the main range which is a source of frustration both ways.

What is becoming apparent is that there are smaller, leaner businesses prepared to weigh in with both specialist and mainstream products and take on the "big boys". Oxford Rail is a recent development of the Oxford Die-Cast business and offers very good items though slightly below the quality of Bachmann or Heljan, arguably on par with or marginally ahead of Hornby. They took on Hornby head-to-head with the LSWR Adams "Radial" tank from which no clear winner emerged though many though Hornby was slightly better in most respects.

DJModels which is now defunct also attempted to raise the bar and take on the big boys using a different business model. MAny items were commissioned and released jointly under the DJM / retailer names, some under just the retailer's own brand such as the Kernow MRC Beattie "Well tanks". He locked horns with Hornby (sorry, pun intended) over the SR class 71 electric locos which again led to no clear market leader though DJM's offering was widely considered more refined in design but far too slow due to the way it was powered.

Looking around the UK scene today there is a number of small dynamic players with good product and often cheaper than a comparable Bachmann item. But without the overlap of product as in those I mentioned above.

Model railways was once a hobby only a few could afford at the top level and many modellers had to equip and use their own workshops to produce a large range of items which were never available commercially. Home businesses and the generally changed economics of the past 30 years or so have made model railways both relatively cheaper and with most things one might want obtainable if one looks hard enough - though some still take great pride in making their own parts and scratch-building everything.

The past five years has seen an accelerating reversal of the cost base making the best models once again beyond the reach of many but - so far - not beyond so many that the manufacturers are unable to break even on sales. Some items will disappoint, others will fly off shelves. There is no obvious rule to determine which will be the case for a given item until it appears.

It is also the case that model railways have long been a hobby actively engaged in by more senior men than any other section of the population. Even today how many young members does the average model railway club have in, say, the 20 -30 age group? Those no longer bound to "go with dad" and for whom other things may be taking precedence in their lives. We return to the hobby, or perhaps arrive at it anew, in slightly later years with perhaps more domestic stability and a little savings behind us.

It is probably that market place that the likes of Bachmann and Hornby are intent on selling to because they are the ones market research has suggested have the greater amount of disposable income and interest in spending it on their products.



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