A costly hobby?

 
  saltyone Locomotive Fireman

Location: Sydney
In the main, railway modelling is a rather expensive hobby. I can understand why there are such high prices charged for Australian outline (even though they are produced in China) given the limited runs and associated costs, that's what I would like to think anyway but some prices are just ridiculous.

That then brings me to UK outline models, they are also produced in China but in much greater quantities, hence an economy of scale and cheaper prices, but that is only if you live in the UK!

For example, I model OO UK 60's era and principally buy Bachmann Branchline. The average wagon equates to about $11.00 and is further reduced by the removal of VAT for overseas purchasers (which the retailer usually applies to your postage costs).  I recently bought a locomotive and wagons and the total, including postage, was $101.00.

Had I purchased them all in Australia I would have paid $190.00.  Can anyone enlighten me why a wagon I can get from overseas for $11.00, costs $26.00 here in Australia?  Are the retailers ripping us off or are they themselves getting gouged by the importers?  Time to go back online for some more bargains!

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  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
It is more the importers than the retailers ripping you off. I have access to one importer's wholesale price list's from Australia for well known brands of models of all types including trains and track. Imagine my surprise years back when I ordered a box of Peco flex track that cost $115 wholesale, when I could have walked into my local hobby shop and got the same brand and type of track for $98 retail that was the RRP by the way, it was not on special or something.

So you have to ask yourself why such a big difference in the prices. Oh who I was getting the track for had an ABN and an account at this importer. I was knocked for a six at this price difference. Someone was while not ripping you off as such, making a substantial mark up might be a better way of putting it.

So it pays to shop around and get the best deal rather than just to accept blindly that that price is etched in stone. The same goes for loco's etc keep an eye out and you can pick up some real money saving items sometimes if you look of course.
  MUDCRABS Chief Train Controller

Location: Penrith Station (The Garage)
Salty, where do you get most of your stuff? I get mine from
Hattons.
Rails Of Sheffield.
Hereford Models.
Trains on Time.

Just about in that order.

I was bitten once and...it will be never again in OZ shops.
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
It is a sad situation indeed for local shops, because they have no choice but to deal with a local importer who has an exclusive agency for British models. It is hard enough for the shops to survive as it is without having to pay for an un-necessary middleman.

You can bet that Hattons, Rails of Sheffield and other British outlets don't have to buy through any middleman.

Don't take it out of the local shops, they have no say in the matter. We should be supporting them where possible, not shunning them. It will be a sad day when the last Model Rail shop closes.
  MUDCRABS Chief Train Controller

Location: Penrith Station (The Garage)
Well Blacksmith.

We all have to look after ourselves in this world and if I can save $100 on one model.. well I'm afraid I'll buy Over Seas.
Sorry for the shop owner but...
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
I always try to support my local model shop and get most things there only very rarely do I order something that they sell over the internet etc. I even get them to get me things in from overseas as they can do with a lot of the manufacturers now, sure it cost a little bit more but if some goes belly up then I have some form of recourse.

Go in and belt the counter till I get satisfaction. LaughingLaughing

Also good for a chin wag as well as I know the people behind the counter reasonably well so can shoot some bull as well. Something that cannot be done with a computer order.

Of course there are shop owners and there are shop owners as well, those that feign dis-interest in serving me, usually get short shrift and I never trade with them again, so far I have not really found one, but have been told a few tales about some. 8)
  oldmodeller Locomotive Driver

Salty, where do you get most of your stuff? I get mine from
Hattons.
Rails Of Sheffield.
Hereford Models.
Trains on Time.

Just about in that order.

I was bitten once and...it will be never again in OZ shops.
"MUDCRABS"


I can't help but agree, our group model all prototypes and source most of our wants from overseas. A good friend of mine commenced his buying models from overseas more than 20 years ago - he has worked out that he has saved some $8,000.00 plus in that time. Most times from England it's 2 (sometimes more) for the cost of 1 purchased in Oz.
In USA, until recently it was 3 to 4 for the price of 1 purchased in Oz.
Years ago, I was quoted a 60% selling margin on a brass C32 that I wanted to sell at my then local hobby shop. Needless to say, I left that shop with my model still in the box and safely tucked under my arm.
As far as items made in China go, I now work in the sporting apparel business, if the item retails in Oz for say $200.00, the factory receives $2.40 and the worker $1.60 total per garment = 2% . I realise that I'm not comparing apples with apples - but!
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
Australian retailers wishing to sell UK outline are currently straight-jacketed into dealing with a single agent and therefore at the mercy of their pricing.  In order to turn any profit at all the poor retailer has to offer these items at prices which bring tears to some knowing eyes though - to be fair - not much more than comparable US or Australian themed items.  

As well the detail and engineering on many UK-outline models surpasses ( in some cases by a country mile or six) that of Australian models in particular.  Compare the quality and detail (inside and out) on a Bachmann Branchline coach with the rather basic bare shell of a Powerline one yet Bachmann are much cheaper when imported and about the same price from local shops.  It is possible to purchase Bachmann coaches of some less popular issues for as little as $20 from the UK albeit that is heavily discounted and $35 is closer to the mark

I support the local retailers to the extent of buying most of my sundries and scenics from them.  Train World in particular can usually offer remarkably cheap prices on Woodland Scenics which may be worth knowing.  All my rolling stock comes mail-order from the UK simply because of the price.

With a 20% deduction from the shelf price (even if it's discounted) due to not having to pay UK taxes it is usually possible to obtain even heavy locomotives cheaper than they can be purchased over the counter in the UK.  Most retailers now offer cheap shipping as well thanks to commercial deals with their carriers.  It is misleading to suggest that the VAT element is "applied" to the shipping.  You pay the VAT-free price for the item and the shipping as nominally separate transactions; some shops will actually make two individual charges to your card for this reason.

There is a huge number of retail shops in the UK to choose from and some also commission limited editions or unique items from time to time.  Among those I use (no commercial connection with any) are:

Kernow Model Rail Centre - justifiably renowned for their excellent customer service and among the cheapest and best-stocked there is.  Huge range of scenics and scratch-building kit here which is seldom found at the "box shifters"
Hattons - the biggest box-shifter and often the cheapest by a small amount though beware if you select City Link as the carrier your items can take a month or more to arrive (not within Hattons' control) as they are routed via the Swiss mail service and are held back until a full container is headed this way.
The Signal Box - not the cheapest but handy to know of as they are linked with ModelZone and can sell MZ commissions tax-free online which MZ themselves seem unwilling to do.
Gaugemaster (trading as The Engine Shed) -  a truly vast range of just about every brand you can think of.  Again not the cheapest and often costly for shipping compared with some but an Aladdin's Cave of all the bits and pieces you can't find anywhere else. Also home of their own-brand range of controllers and similar kit.

One word of warning.  You are responsible for the content of items you order from overseas.  Anything which contains restricted or prohibited substances - even if it can be purchased over the counter here - should not be purchased mail-order from overseas.  This includes ballast (unless synthetic - most is crushed rock or shell) and certain items of foliage which are dried natural products.  Also remember ordering certain items which may present a danger in transit can be restricted or unlawful.  Paints, thinners, adhesives and bladed tools for example are probably best bought locally.
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
I can't help but agree, our group model all prototypes and source most of our wants from overseas. A good friend of mine commenced his buying models from overseas more than 20 years ago - he has worked out that he has saved some $8,000.00 plus in that time. Most times from England it's 2 (sometimes more) for the cost of 1 purchased in Oz.
"oldmodeller"


Your friend that's buying at 2 for 1 and saving $8k over 20 years is not buying much. That only works out to spending about $400/yr over that time. Small potatos indeed. A bloke my club probably spends about that a month, another mate would do that every couple of months, all from the UK almost exclusively from Hattons.
  UP9372 Assistant Commissioner

Location: Banned
I will look into these agency agreements and see how enforceable they are. It is possible they may not be and actually be a restraint on trade under the legislation ACCC administers. In the example quoted a a Bachmann wagon can be landed for $11 but retails here for $26 here. The hobby shops would be better buying overseas from a large retailer (buying in bulk would reduce the price maybe to $9) and stuff the local agents.
  Geekboy Train Controller

Location: Banned
And the tax & import duty component?

Most people that buy would order under the $1K limit to avoid this. A shop doing the same couldn't.
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Whilst the GST thing is true, when your cost is reduced by half adding 10% barely counts...
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
As well the detail and engineering on many UK-outline models surpasses ( in some cases by a country mile or six) that of Australian models in particular.  Compare the quality and detail (inside and out) on a Bachmann Branchline coach with the rather basic bare shell of a Powerline one yet Bachmann are much cheaper when imported and about the same price from local shops.
"Gwiwer"


A pretty unfair comparison. The Powerline product is quite ancient now and hardly can be compared to recent Bachmann carriages. The only reason the Powerline product holds its price is because there is nothing newer (yet) to replace it.

As for the quality being better by a country mile, hmmm. I have just purchased two recent release Bachmann steam locomotives as a gift for someone and I cannot agree they are any better than local product. In fact British manufacturers are still fiddling about with poor drive mechanisms where only one bogie in two is powered.
  chironex Junior Train Controller

Location: The final destination never even comes so sit back, relax, and pray that there is one
I have the added problem that the sad joke that passes for Toyworlds hobby section has no stock to buy, not that it costs too much. I have to special order so much as plain N track, let alone any track features, and wait more than a month.
There are NO N locos and rollingstock. The only items they have are some Hornby sets and a handful of Railroad rollingstock, and some Lifelike pseudo-Australian HO sets.
There is NO ground cover, ballast, etc.
The collection of accessories looks more like the leftovers after a hobby shops closing down sale.
I have to order online, if not overseas, because there is no stock. Sometimes it's about get the best deal, but otherwise I cannot get the item at all.
It's not always overseas because I haven't heard of a QR 1720 being made in China...!
It's not just because I have picked the wierdest scales and most obscure roadnames ever. Even common items have to be ordered.
Their odd definition of the word "stockist" doesn't help either- an Australian stockist frequently has 1 or 2 items out of a range of 250-odd and neither is the one I want.



Then I have to laugh at British magazines letter pages full of people begging for new releases under the justification that "this reasonably-priced, superbly-detailed, well-running RTR loco is only available in 50 assorted paint jobs but not the one I want....waaaahhhh".
Yes many simply can't customise the loco themselves but do they really think the exact one they want is going to be made economically just for them? When I can't find a loco I want at all. Certainly not in any hobby shop within range of my place.
  SPSD40T2 Chief Commissioner

Location: Platform 9-3/4 and still waiting !!
Is there any impediment to parallel importation ?
  Heihachi_73 Chief Commissioner

Location: Terminating at Ringwood
Another sloppy tactic they use is putting on a 'limited edition' tag on a generic model (like a VR loco in its standard VR livery) and offering a ridiculous inflated price, only to 'run out' of those models, then magically come up with a second batch of them 6 months later.

Sometimes, dropping the overall price actually increases profit (Coles even found that out), as the models clear out more frequently. How about a DCC-ready locomotive which costs no more than $99? Is it possible in the 2000 years? Nope, Austrains' Basix locos cost just short of $200 instead, despite being the base version.

Additionally, why are such low quality models based on very old designs still on the shelves in the first place? Model and toy shops are still trying to sell 1970s-designed train sets with underweight rolling stock, unmodified casting errors, large 'pizza-cutter' flanges, horn hook couplers (or dunny seats in European and Powerline models, or tension lock in the UK, or 'C'Rapido in N scale, or Bachmann Flim-Z Mates with plastic springs), yet on the side of the box, it shows that they are in fact brand new (in the case of Life-Like's Rail Blaster set, 2010). Not only are these sets non-compliant with the NMRA standards, some of them even lack the ability to be upgraded in the first place without serious modifications. In Life-Like's case, why can't the parent company (Walther's) tell China to cease production of these outdated products, since it could be damaging their reputation? Most US-based companies switched to knuckle couplers and RP25 wheelset standards over 20 years ago.

The UK scene is just as pathetic, still using a defunct standard for its horribly oversized OO scale on HO scale track. Either shrink the models to correct HO 1:87 (or 1:87.1) proportions like the rest of the entire world, or die trying to keep up with old, dated 1:76 on narrow gauge rails. It's a wonder Hornby is still in business, let alone taking over so many companies in the past. Their excuse for OO? They couldn't fit a small enough motor in an HO scale locomotive, in the 1930s. In the 2000s, electric motors can be seen in 1:450 T scale locomotives, if not smaller. OO should have been phased out when Tri-ang was.
  chironex Junior Train Controller

Location: The final destination never even comes so sit back, relax, and pray that there is one
Probably for cultural reasons, as the British have this thing about scale equations of whole millimetres to the foot; plus OO is like a part of their heritage now, some manufacturers have tried British outlines in HO but there is no public support, it just isn't proper, old chap!
Just as one doesn't seem to be able to get any American O gauge without those thrice-cursed third rails. Lionel is an American icon and they will NOT change it.
  CraigW Assistant Commissioner

UK scene is just as pathetic, still using a defunct standard for its horribly oversized OO scale on HO scale track. Either shrink the models to correct HO 1:87 (or 1:87.1) proportions like the rest of the entire world, or die trying to keep up with old, dated 1:76 on narrow gauge rails. It's a wonder Hornby is still in business, let alone taking over so many companies in the past. Their excuse for OO? They couldn't fit a small enough motor in an HO scale locomotive, in the 1930s. In the 2000s, electric motors can be seen in 1:450 T scale locomotives, if not smaller. OO should have been phased out when Tri-ang was.

What garbage!

The reasons that the UK decided to go 4mm scale are historical and well covered. But the simple fact is that it is too late to go HO scale in the UK as the whole modelling industry over there is very firmly 4mm scale. It is a bit like saying Australian modellers should go to 4mm scale.

Despite what you may think, even now 3.5mm scale causes problems with smaller (steam) locomotives and there would be a lot of compromises to do many UK locos in 3.5mm scale. For the UK modeller who wants to correct the track gauge or wheels there are both EM and P4 options both of which are well supported trade wise.

I must admit to buying bugger all from the local shops beyond paint, styrene sheet etc  because as one who is interested in pre war GWR and models to P4 standards there is not a whole lot available for me!

Having said that, I do have a Bachmann Super D, Hornby 28xx and Grange and a Model Rail Sentinel. The latter two have been converted to P4 while the other two will.

I purchased three of them locally with one of them - the Grange being on sale in Hobbyco for $130. Can anyone complain about that price?

regards,[/quote]
  73LJWhiteSL Deputy Commissioner

Location: South East Melbourne Surburbs
I admit i have brought from overseas myself. I was after a Athean Big Boy, and after enquiring at a couple of local hobby shops with prices ranging from $500 - 600, I ordered mine from the states and even with $50+ of postage i still got it for under $400AUD. From memory the retail price was $320USD.

I would love to support local hobbies shops but if the import is gonna push prices that high forget it.

With the ease and competition of online sales, i think the end is neigh for hobby shops. They either need to somehow be competitive or rethink how they do their business.

Steve
  LaidlayM Chief Commissioner

Location: Research
.............. Their excuse for OO? They couldn't fit a small enough motor in an HO scale locomotive, in the 1930s. .......
"Heihachi_73"


What's your source of information there?  I thought they went to 4mm to get locos with splashers over the wide flanged wheels.

Mark
  allan Chief Commissioner

There're all kinds of excuses... truth is that the Poms found their engines embarrassingly small when built to the same scale as those from the rest of the world, so scaled them up a bit!!

And, don't ask me for a source.
  sol Assistant Commissioner

Location: Evanston Gardens SA
The History of 00
Can I suggest this http://www.doubleogauge.com/history/history.htm  which covers 1920- 1939 with extra pages for the following years as per the bottom of that page.
  kingfisher Chief Train Controller

Not sure why small should be seen as embarrassing. Using that logic the locos used in the Pilbara make all the other locos in Australia look embarrassingly small.
  MUDCRABS Chief Train Controller

Location: Penrith Station (The Garage)


The UK scene is just as pathetic, still using a defunct standard for its horribly oversized OO scale on HO scale track. Either shrink the models to correct HO 1:87 (or 1:87.1) proportions like the rest of the entire world, or die trying to keep up with old, dated 1:76 on narrow gauge rails..
"Heihachi_73"


Well with your thinking, we better start to drive on the right hand side of the road because the rest of the world do?? Question
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
There're all kinds of excuses... truth is that the Poms found their engines embarrassingly small when built to the same scale as those from the rest of the world, so scaled them up a bit!!

And, don't ask me for a source.
"allan"


Frankly, I find that to be the most plausible explanation... not to mention the most amusing. Yep, I think we should lock that one in Eddie  Twisted Evil

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