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Author Topic: Are we over the Golden Age of N Gauge?  (Read 4272 times)

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Offline carpy

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Re: Are we over the Golden Age of N Gauge?
« Reply #45 on: March 29, 2018, 11:04:54 am »
having only been in this wonderful hobby for 10 years, i am now annoyed that from my first few years i was easily able to buy whatever i wanted which has been prewar gwr steam engines. having been told by the first retailer to buy anything that i saw that i wanted, to a degree this i did at the time,subject to available finances. since then very few engines are in the market.
so even over the short time i would naturally think we are over the golden age as for availability of engines
carpy

Offline DJM Dave

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Re: Are we over the Golden Age of N Gauge?
« Reply #46 on: March 29, 2018, 11:55:15 am »
God i hope the golden age isn't over, that's for sure.

Before you all jump on me, i'm an N gauge modeller and think that although certain items have not sold as well in recent years as manufacturers have expected (350 etc) the hobby is quite buoyant right now.

Now as a manufacturer, yes, only 1 wagon so far, i do think there are now fewer and fewer opportunities to produce something in N where you are guaranteed sales and therefore profit, unless its an exceptional item like the recent DCC sound fitted class 40 for instance, which is simply marvellous.

I think the next 18 months will be very interesting, and models that have had gestation periods that have been too long could come to the fore and make a lot of people very happy.

Some of you might have noticed 3 brand new locomotive codes on the product progress part of my web site.
These will not be announced until the models have been tooled and i can show tangible models just before production. I have been guilty of too much froth production in the past and i quite like the idea of just shutting up and doing it, then announcing, rather like Farish when in Poole.

So yes i think we have a way to go yet, but with N gauge keeping going up in price, i do wonder where the limit is.
N gauge Model Railway locomotive and rolling stock manufacturer.

Offline njee20

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Re: Are we over the Golden Age of N Gauge?
« Reply #47 on: March 29, 2018, 12:03:44 pm »
A laudable strategy indeed Dave, and one which will likely win you fans. I wish the other manufacturers would do that. It makes a mockery of catalogue years that not a single new product from the 2018 Farish catalogue will be released in 2018!

Offline Karhedron

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Re: Are we over the Golden Age of N Gauge?
« Reply #48 on: March 29, 2018, 01:08:25 pm »
It makes a mockery of catalogue years that not a single new product from the 2018 Farish catalogue will be released in 2018!

It is actually part of a coherent strategy. Looking at prices in the 2018 catalogue, I suspect most of us will need to be saving until at least 2019 to be able to afford any of it.  :goggleeyes:
Well, that's just not good enough. Some fount of all knowledge you are!  :no:  ;)

Offline trkilliman

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Re: Are we over the Golden Age of N Gauge?
« Reply #49 on: March 29, 2018, 01:48:04 pm »
I think the original question about the "Golden Age" will be interpreted by people in several ways.

Ten years back I could walk into Modelmania in Bristol and buy a Farish B.R. covered van for around £8-9. I had a job that paid fairly well and buying 2-3 wagons wasn't going to break the bank or infringe on some mandatory payment/bill.

There may have been a Golden Age for manufacturers, having goods produced so much cheaper in Hong Kong. Political decisions re' the workers pay and conditions have eroded the Golden Age of cheap manufacturing costs. The increased costs of production come straight back to you and I. For some they will cut back on purchases, and they may also feel their Golden Age has slipped away. 

This for me was a sort of Golden Age, before the year on year price increases have seen a situation arise where the likes of covered vans/Toad brake vans are around the £20 mark. The £50 coach seems a reality.  I elected to retire from work a few years early due to ill health, so my buying power is nowhere near what it once was.

Whilst I may likely get flamed for mentioning prices, just think of this. Many who have lost jobs that paid well may well have found themselves in minimum wage / zero hours jobs. Will they have the same buying power as previously...I seriously doubt it. It's no secret that outgoings are outstripping pay for many, and this has to be another factor re' purchases. It has been said that 2nd hand prices have shot up on the back of the cost of new. Things have sort of turned full circle. 55 years back as a lad my Father could not afford new model railway items, it was 2nd hand and make what you could yourself.

I have plenty of stock and could even sale some of it. Purchased over several years when I could easily do so, this was my N gauge Golden Age. I have now taken to making my own coaches using etched sides...and enjoying it!

Well I've rambled on, and some readers may think I'm deluded or way off topic. But for me my Golden Age was 10-12 years back.

Offline RailGooner

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Re: Are we over the Golden Age of N Gauge?
« Reply #50 on: March 29, 2018, 02:01:22 pm »
YOU'VE NEVER HAD IT SO GOOD

That's the title of a piece by Neil Walker in the latest NGS Journal 2/2018. Not read it through yet, but seems relevant to this discussion.
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Offline Karhedron

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Re: Are we over the Golden Age of N Gauge?
« Reply #51 on: March 29, 2018, 02:21:02 pm »
I think the original question about the "Golden Age" will be interpreted by people in several ways.

This is a very valid point. Are we walking about a golden age in terms of prices? Availability? New releases? Range?

In terms of prices, 10 years ago was a great time to be modelling. I picked up several new Dapol collett coaches for £9 each. Whilst not perfect (having the same compromises as the Bachmann 00 gauge equivalents), they were far ahead of the generic Farish coaches which were the best pre-nationalisation modellers could get prior to that.

In terms of availability, you probably have to go back to Farish's Poole days to reach a time when you could guarantee that models in a catalogue would reliably be in stock for years to come.

For new releases, I guess this peaked about 5 years ago when Farish and Dapol were racing to beat each other to profitable prototypes. Since then the rate of new releases has declined somewhat and we are still waiting for the backlog of models announced during this time to clear.

For range, you could say we have never had it so good (subject to the caveat that you may need to hunt around for things). Whilst it may be frustrating to start a project and find key items are no longer available, it seems that both Farish and Dapol do periodically rerun items that have sold out (indeed, they would be foolish not to considering such items have paid off their toolings and thus potentially have significantly higher profit margins). Also, a bit of patience scouring eBay can often turn up missing items, even if bargains are getting a bit thin on the ground these days.

We all have our own perception of what constitutes a golden era, just as we have different perceptions on value for money. N Gauge has become more expensive and also more "patchy" in terms of availability than in the past. However the range is wider than ever. It is possible to model most parts of country in the steam era with several signature locos for each of the big 4 produced to high standards as well as at least 1 (if not 2) families of pre-nationalisation coaching stock available.

Moving into the diesel and electric era, most of the classes of diesel have now been produced to modern standards with just a handful of short-lived classes left to go. Rolling stock from Mk1-4 is available to varying standards and new locos and stock are being released all the time. RevolutioN have successfully started a new way of bringing models to market and I look forward to seeing some of Dave's wares running on Chew Magna when they are ready.

I personally feel that the idea of a single golden age is misleading. N gauge is thriving in a way that I suspect no one could have imagined when Farish was first taken over by Bachmann. Yes, some of the things that we have taken for granted in the past will likely no longer hold true in the future but overall I believe that future is rosy for the scale.
Well, that's just not good enough. Some fount of all knowledge you are!  :no:  ;)

Offline Newportnobby

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Re: Are we over the Golden Age of N Gauge?
« Reply #52 on: March 29, 2018, 02:31:44 pm »
YOU'VE NEVER HAD IT SO GOOD

That's the title of a piece by Neil Walker in the latest NGS Journal 2/2018. Not read it through yet, but seems relevant to this discussion.

But if I've read it right he leaves alone locos and rolling stock to concentrate on the 'cottage industry' that has sprung up along with 3D printing etc mentioned earlier in this thread. For sure, all those little detail pieces are a huge help to N gaugers these days but it's the expensive end which will be the telling part. As has been said, when I was a paid worker I could have up to £1600 worth of pre orders but, having taken early retirement and living on a small personal pension until my state pension kicks in as well, I'm lucky if I can buy one loco per year. The ones I want that have been
announced/delayed/whatever will quite possibly have to be sent into the next world for me to play with ::)

Offline trkilliman

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Re: Are we over the Golden Age of N Gauge?
« Reply #53 on: March 29, 2018, 04:23:01 pm »

I think it is thriving, and to my way of thinking largely due to it's size and what can be done in many of today's smaller houses. I do wonder what sales volumes are like though compared to say 8-10 years back?  We are looking at moving and have been taken aback at how small some of the new/newish builds are...even for two of us.

I also think the next few years will be interesting, with more 3D products becoming available. Perhaps crowdfunding will increase, and possibly be looked at in some form by the likes of Farish and Dapol outside of their catalogue items... to produce what there is a specific demand for. Certainly the continuing loss of retail outlets could lead to them having a re-think.

With production costs in H.K rising as they have, would further costs lead to some work returning to the U.K?

Sorry if I have gone off of topic a bit, but I reckon that Brexit, trade deals/embargoes, 3D printing and general production costs could well create knock on effects and notable changes in our hobby.

Offline leachsprite4

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Re: Are we over the Golden Age of N Gauge?
« Reply #54 on: March 29, 2018, 06:49:59 pm »
Is it a golden age, yes because we are all getting great models or locos, rolling and even road vehicles now.

I like the  comments from djm Dave as I think the key is being able to make a profit. I'm sure we could all list a few things we'd like but would they make a profit.

I think it's interesting that really after 50 years of n gauge there is still only one British outline turntable on the market  :hmmm:

That said the quality of the models we now have are amazing compare the 4MT from farish and bachmann by farish.

Graham

Offline acko22

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Re: Are we over the Golden Age of N Gauge?
« Reply #55 on: March 29, 2018, 10:48:15 pm »
OK my last little ditty before I disappear again for a while!

Looking at what people have said after my first input, generally a lot say the "golden age" was about 5 years ago since then things haven't been as good.

I think that time was good as makers were fighting for business but the market could never last like that unless the market grew to match to keep the shelves emptying ready for the next batch or model. What we are left with is a really great range of models available both new and second hand even though prices are going up which can be attributed to numerous factors which we all know all to well.

Are the golden times over, actually when you think with the small traders and the new makers that are in the market now, plus the advent of 3D printing and other ideas that are coming to fruition. I would say while RTR models may be slowing down in general as they regroup after the mad rush 5 years ago, with crowdfunding, 3D printing and other new things coming in.

A great example of the bright future is in 3D printing go on Shapeways and you can get almost anything you need, or ask friends to sort something unique out for yourself  :D then for the RTR models I would say N gauge has proven crowdfunding in the UK with the TEA tanker and the Pendolino in particular proving as a community we can get the "niche" models we really want.

So all in all do I think we have seen the "Golden Age" in N gauge well we certainly saw a high point which has been followed by a slump. But I think with N gauge taking full advantage of the new opportunities there is plenty of good times to come yet even if we as a community have to push it ourselves by 3D printing, scratch building or by Crowdfunding.

Offline The Big Bear

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Re: Are we over the Golden Age of N Gauge?
« Reply #56 on: March 30, 2018, 11:24:40 pm »
@Rabbitaway, Iíd just like to thank you for starting such an interesting thread, which really struck a chord with me.

At 37, I count myself as one of those who has returned to the hobby after kids and other hobbies like wine and fast cars.  On the plus side, I relish the range and quality of Sectorisation-era models available to me as Ė no offence to anyone intended Ė there must now be a decent cohort of us railway modellers who just canít relate to the end-of-steam and blue diesel eras that dominated catalogues for so long.  If ready choice of 75% of the models one covets represents a golden age, then perhaps I am living in it.

But, without wishing to rehash old debates on this forum, I do fear that itís (perceptions of) value for money that will ultimately do for n gauge.  As I understand it, its total market share is stagnant at best, and declining for the major manufacturers.  And the point is, itís not dedicated followers on this forum who need to be convinced, itís new modellers with buying power.

Indicatively, I have two or three friends at work who also like the idea of returning to the hobby.  But, were I to let on that Iíve been waiting for the release of the GF InterCity Mk2fs for three years, and the RRP is likely to be £42.95 per 14cm of plastic, you cannot blame them for taking their £300 for a decent rake elsewhere and entering another Ironman event instead. 

And Ė again no offence intended Ė I find myself exasperated at the inflation-shattering price increases my forebears tolerated.  The last locomotive my parents bought me in 1995 was a Class 08; the price sticker for £29 is still attached.  Adjusted for inflation, thatís £53 in todays money; yet the comparator model when I re-entered the hobby in 2016 retailed for £94.95.  Yes, itís better quality, but not seismically as some suggest, and, in other domains of model engineering Ė R/C cars for example Ė increases in quality have stayed measurably closer to inflation.

I can relate to a great deal thatís been written on this thread.  Of my generation, I count myself as very lucky as owning a 4-bedroom house and finding space for a 7í x 2í7Ē layout, not to mention having the buying power for the occasional rake of carefully selected stock.  But it worries me that even n gaugeís traditional USP of scale-length trains in a reasonable space is open to challenge and resonates less than when it was fresh.  Some are committed proto-typical modellers from the outset, but most graduate from just running trains.  Based on my last 10 purchases, n gauge models cost 93% of their OO gauge counterparts (and a couple were actually more expensive) and, given my time again, Iím just not sure I would choose n gauge.  Getting more for your money is not an argument that should be readily dismissed: what was the great opportunity of n gauge when it was novel is now a clear threat.

Overall, Iíve not been back in n gauge long enough to judge whether itís in decline.  But Iíd tentatively suggest this should not be seen as a period of growth for n gauge.  The choice of models is good, but itís not expanding further in my experience: pre-orders sitting dormant for 2-3 years is not a sales model that many contemporary consumers would recognise or tolerate.  And other gauges Ė OO in particular Ė seem to be increasing the range share of later eras faster.  Crowd-funding is a laudable initiative, but it cannot be as proactive in model engineering as in market sectors where it has been game-changing.  Value for money in n gauge, both against inflation and other scales, worsens year-on-year and such irrationally buoyant second-hand sales can only mean many folk have been priced-out of catalogue sales.

I hope Iím wrong, but I just donít feel like Iíve entered a hobby in its golden age: starting and completing even a relatively modest n gauge layout over the last 3 years has often felt more of a challenge than a pleasure.  Unless something changes, I'm pretty sure my next major layout will be in the garden.

Offline PeteW

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Re: Are we over the Golden Age of N Gauge?
« Reply #57 on: March 31, 2018, 01:25:19 am »
I've been following this thread from the beginning, and have been reluctant to contribute because I've barely dipped my toe into the world of railway modelling, let alone the n-specific area of the hobby. But it's a holiday weekend and I've had a couple of glasses of a rather good Malbec, so what the hell...

My interest in model railways has always been first 'model', and second 'railways'. Last summer I took the opportunity to visit Pendon and in particular to see John Ahern's Madder Valley railway. I was, by turns, impressed, stunned, and humbled. I was impressed and stunned because here was an exemplary layout that - even if I had the time, the space and the budget - I doubt I could replicate. And then I was humbled because Mr Ahern created this masterpiece at a time when there was little to no rolling stock, no ready-to-plant buildings, and a very limited selection of scenic products.

I believe that if Mr Ahern could read this thread he would be appalled, infuriated or incredulous - or likely a combination of all of those. I truly suspect that if he had the opportunities to buy - at whatever price - the range of locomotives, coaches, wagons, buildings and scenic materials available now he would absolutely affirm that we are, in fact, enjoying a golden age.

When I think about Madder Valley I honestly can't remember how many locomotives, wagons or coaches there were. What I remember is the quality of the modelling and that, yes, there were trains there. So how many locos does it take to make a great layout? Ten, twenty, fifty? Or just two or three? How many coaches? How many wagons to a rake, and how many rakes?

This isn't just nostalgia! When I look through the great inspirational threads on this forum, the same is true. The ones that stick in the memory are RogerdB's Wrenton, Belstone's Longframlington, and a host of others where - with respect - the rolling stock is the least of 'em.

Of course, I baulk at the £150 loco, the £30 coach and the £15-£20 wagon. But we have eBay, where you can still buy numerous items of rolling stock at prices way below list (I currently have four locos from eBay and haven't paid more than £30 for any of them). Moreover, we have - god bless 'em - Peco who are churning out wagon kits at about a fiver apiece that only need simple assembly and a bit of weathering. I suspect Mr Ahern would have sold his mother for Peco - and his soul for eBay!

I fear we have fallen victim to naked consumerism, where we know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

But on the question of value, I have everything I need (except time and skill!) to make the layout of my dreams and I'm probably about £750 all in. Which compares very favourably, I think, to my tragically under-used gym membership, my pathetically neglected Fender Stratocaster, and my near-forgotten Canon digital SLR.

In short, a golden age is what you make of it... and how you make it.

Online Bealman

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Re: Are we over the Golden Age of N Gauge?
« Reply #58 on: March 31, 2018, 01:42:42 am »
I can identify with the end of your post - I too have a Canon DSLR which I hardly ever use, and a brand new Fender Strat which spends most of it's time on the guitar stand.

Never had a gym membership, though.  :D

I agree with your comments regarding John Ahern.
Vision over visibility. Bono, U2.

Offline PeteW

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Re: Are we over the Golden Age of N Gauge?
« Reply #59 on: March 31, 2018, 02:05:56 am »
I can identify with the end of your post

No view on "the rather good Malbec"?  :D

 

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