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Author Topic: Introducing Revolution Trains  (Read 32299 times)

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Offline red_death

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Introducing Revolution Trains
« on: February 03, 2015, 05:57:37 PM »
(Sorry, but you are not allowed to access the gallery)

As some of you will already guessed/gathered Revolution Trains is a new company created by Ben Ando and myself (Mike Hale).

The idea is that it offers railway modellers the chance to work together to fund the production of models that are too niche – or risky -for the mainstream manufacturers. It grew from the attempt to use the “Kickstarter” crowd-funding website to raise the money required to develop and produce a model of Virgin’s Class 390 Pendolino train in N-gauge.

During our Kickstarter campaign it rapidly became apparent that while Kickstarter has many qualities to commend it, it’s not really optimised for the British model railway market. Among the difficulties encountered were the strict Kickstarter time limits, and its “all or nothing” approach to fundraising.

Revolution Trains offers an alternative – a crowd-funding community where members can support proposals, nominate new ones and watch as these pet projects reach the point of being funded and produced.

We have an enormous respect for the model railway manufacturers and retailers but they quite rightly tend to focus on the “big ticket” items. For models where projected sales are, say, between 1,000 and 3,000, Revolution Trains offers modellers a mechanism by which they can work together to get what they want, not what the trade decides to offer.

So far we’ve worked with Rapido on the N Gauge Pendolino, and we are looking forward to working with Rapido and other manufacturers in the future.

How does it work?

Revolution Trains has created what it called the “4D system"

Every proposed model has a funding goal, based on the total needed to tool and produce a set number of models.

Customers visit the website, look at the ideas and Declare an interest in those they like, though NO MONEY IS TAKEN and they can cancel at any time.

When the project hits 90% of its "interest" target, a Deposit is requested.

Those deposits then fund Development and customers can follow the progress of the 3D scans and CAD work and have a say in the production of the models.

Finally, the models are manufactured and shipped, the balance is collected, and the customer takes Delivery via secure courier.

Unlike Kickstarter there is no time limit, and work can begin before the full target is reached when it becomes clear that the model is viable. Of course, if a model stays on the site for several months without generating support it can be taken off and replaced with another.

It is Revolution’s intention to have around 3-4 models under consideration at any time, and in any era or scale.

Hopefully with our N Gauge Pendolino we proved that the British model railway consumer is more sophisticated and less conservative than many believed. The market is changing, and so are modellers: more connected, more savvy, and more willing to make things happen than ever before.

We've got quite a few ideas of potential future projects which we hope to announce in a few weeks once the Pendolino design is well under way.

www.revolutiontrains.com (our website which we will continue to update and improve!)



Offline austinbob

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Re: Introducing Revolution Trains
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2015, 06:10:11 PM »
On the surface it looks like a good idea red_death. I have a few initial questions.

How do the ideas for production items get proposed and accepted?

Is your deposit committed once you declare an interest? i.e. can you get a refund at any time?

What happens to deposits if the model is not ultimately produced? I suppose that's almost the same question as above.
And finally  :laugh: I think this project should be marketed under a different monica. red_death doesn't bode well!!  :beers:
Size matters - especially if you don't have a lot of space - and N gauge is the answer!

Bob Austin

Offline PostModN66

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Re: Introducing Revolution Trains
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2015, 06:53:06 PM »
More power to you both!  A great idea that we all should get behind.

Cheers  Jon  :)
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Offline Ben A

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Re: Introducing Revolution Trains
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2015, 08:25:33 PM »

Hi Bob,

There is an FAQ section on our website in the "How it Works" section, but I'll answer your questions directly here.

It's basically a very similar principle to Kickstarter, except there are more flexible time deadlines.

You could consider the website as a form of concentrated "wish list" where modellers can actually show real support, rather than the vague "I'd buy bucketloads of *****" which is a characteristic of model railway forums and chit-chat.

Let me go through it step by step:

CHOOSING THE MODEL:
The first 2 or 3 models will probably be selected by Mike and me as we have already discreetly sounded out some train companies re drawings, licences etc.

However, it is fully our intention that further down the line we create a "community" feel with our backers, and they can then suggest and "sponsor" models - maybe taking a role in sourcing drawings, or photographs, or whatever.

At any time we anticipate having 2-4 model "options" seeking backing; then when one gets funded it moves to the "Project" section of the website and another one can take its place.  Similarly, if a potential model generates little interest in, say, 2-3 months it may be we decide to remove it and replace it with another potential choice.

Having chosen the model, we get a quote for 1000 units from a trusted manufacturer - in this case Rapido.  This gives us our target figure - we know that if we raise this amount we can fund everything needed. 

THE DEAL WITH THE MANUFACTURER: 
To make this work there will have to be certain non-negitiable aspects to the deal:  these include (1) they give us a preferential rate, on the basis that they keep the tooling afterward, (2) that our cash is ringfenced to this project, (3) that they cannot produce more models for at least two years after ours are delivered and (4) that payments are structured such that a significant tranche of the funds are only released when the models are ready for delivery - this gives us leverage throughout the process.

ANNOUNCING ON THE WEBSITE:
So we announce the item on the website - naturally enough it starts 0% funded.

THE 4D SYSTEM FOR OUR BACKERS:

Step 1 - Customers have a look and, if they *would* buy a particular model if it were released, can DECLARE for, anything from 1 to a dozen models.  Just like Kickstarter, WE DON'T TAKE ANY MONEY but just keep a running "funding" total, and the number starts to tick over.

Step 2 - When the model reaches a certain level - probably 90% funded - we ask people for DEPOSITS.  Anyone can still reduce, or cancel, their Declared interest until this point.  Once they've deposited, then we start work on the model.

Step 3 is DEVELOPMENT.  During this period the order book remains open until we are 100% funded, but then it closes.  Those who have deposited are therefore guaranteed an exclusive model - at least for the agreed period.  Latecomers can only buy from backers - creating what we feel will be a potentially interesting speculative market.  Backers can follow progress on our website - the laser scan, the CADs etc - via pages on our website and probably here too.  Where appropriate they can vote for numbersets or liveries via exclusive polls that only backers can take part in.

Finally Step 4 is DELIVERY - the model is shipped from China to us, and then on to your door.

Possible questions:

Q - Should we wait to being 100% funded before pressing the button?
A - We could, but experience shows us that once people see progress then the remaining 10% of models will sell.  And if they don't then we have financial reserves to pay the manufacturer and then just sell the models via our website or at select shows we may attend.  Or even to original backers who decide they want another model!

Q - What happens to deposits if the model is not produced?  (Your question)
A - Well, since we only take deposits when we are sure we have funding to complete the production, this issue does not arise.

Q - Can you get a refund at any time?  (Your question)
A - You can during the first stage - simply remove or amend your "declared" interest.  However, once we have taken deposits then you are committed to the project; this gives us all the security to proceed.  I am sure in the tiny number of cases where someone gets into genuine financial difficulties we could look sympathetically at the situation, but such possibilities are remote.  Plus, you'll be receiving exclusive models soon enough and can always sell them if you need to.

Q - What if the model ends up in development limbo?
A - You'll have to judge the chances of this happening for yourself.  Watch how our Pendolino goes and decide if you trust us!  I would argue that the development limbo that *can* be an issue for other manufacturers is often down to cash flow issues; our funding model means that doesn't affect us.  Indeed, as we have the money it is quite likely our projects will get priority over other jobs the factory has where they are awaiting payment.

I hope these help to clarify our plans - they're the questions Mike and I were asking ourselves as we approached this and were wondering whether or not we could make it work.

We think we can - and offer N Gauge modellers a way to come together to get the models they want.

But to some extent it IS a test - if, when we announce the first one or two models, no one decides they want them then they simply won't get any funding and the concept will fail; in which case, so be it.

cheers

Ben A.



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Re: Introducing Revolution Trains
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2015, 08:34:02 PM »
Thanks for your very comprehensive reply. This looks very interesting. I would like to think that customers have a big input into what is going to be developed. But very interesting
Size matters - especially if you don't have a lot of space - and N gauge is the answer!

Bob Austin

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Re: Introducing Revolution Trains
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2015, 08:55:28 PM »

Good luck with the new venture Ben and Mike

LNER steam rail car - any takers as a proposed N gauge model

Or is it too limited in appeal?


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Re: Introducing Revolution Trains
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2015, 09:04:42 PM »
Nothing like a good revolution :laugh:

Hope this proves a successful venture both for you and all other parties

 :thankyousign:

Offline Ben A

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Re: Introducing Revolution Trains
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2015, 09:35:56 PM »

Hi Rabbitaway,

LNER steam railcar - the answer is I don't know but it may be you can make a case for it!

As I said to AustinBob above, we would be keen to move to the situation soon where our backers and supporters do get the chance to make the case for models and then sponsor them.  And I think anyone who does that will get a very warm glow of satisfaction when their model - and the 999 others - arrive!

So:

*  Do you think there are 1000 LNER modellers to buy one, or 500 to buy two, etc etc?

*  Would they accept a sensible price - probably similar to the £115 quoted for Matthew's GWR railcar?

*  Do you know where we could get proper drawings, or is there a real one left to laser scan to be confident of accuracy?

*  Given current N Gauge technology would there be any serious manufacturing compromises (ie saloon filled with motor) and would your backers be ready to accept these?

If the answer to these questions (and more) is yes then why not make a case for it?  I am sure others will join the thread to offer you support - or not!!

cheers

Ben A.



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Re: Introducing Revolution Trains
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2015, 09:37:43 PM »
I love the concept of this company, The idea of being able to support new models that we desire, which fill the gaps in the market is excellent! :claphappy: I personally don't think that this should be just restricted locos but also rolling stock, I know this could be a bit of a minefield, as everyone want's something different, but a 1000 units could soon be fullfilled with for example rtr  Warwells / Warflats as many modellers would like a few to make up a rake. Once the products finally hit the market I can really see this company doing well, but untill then we will watch with excitement  :) I am certainly interested to see what's next in the pipeline  :thumbsup:

Regards

Tony

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Re: Introducing Revolution Trains
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2015, 09:48:13 PM »

Hi Tony,

Mike and I are very keen NOT to be seen as competing with manufacturers.  Indeed, we will be working with them, since we don't have our own factory!

So we will try to avoid models that are already in production, in catalogues, or similar to those in existence.

The warflat is an interesting idea but as Bachmann have announced this in OO we would be wary as it seems likely they are looking at it in N.  However, we could approach them and if they are worried about the model being too "niche" to warrant traditional manufacture in N, this could be exactly where we might step in - if they were willing to work with us of course!  I know Bachmann in the past have said they will only accept commissions from established retailers with retail premises.

cheers

Ben A.



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Re: Introducing Revolution Trains
« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2015, 10:01:30 PM »
I assume the Sentinel ?   http://www.lner.info/locos/Railcar/sentinel.shtml

*  Do you think there are 1000 LNER modellers to buy one, or 500 to buy two, etc etc?

Depending on which Diagram was produced, and running numbers  - I'd be interested !  I think you would need to identify some of the more attractive ones to LNER modellers.
 
Quote
*  Would they accept a sensible price - probably similar to the £115 quoted for Matthew's GWR railcar?

The lower the price, the more I'd like :)  At that level, probably just one; sub-£100, I'd go to two ...

Quote
*  Do you know where we could get proper drawings, or is there a real one left to laser scan to be confident of accuracy?

All scrapped, sadly ...

Quote
*  Given current N Gauge technology would there be any serious manufacturing compromises (ie saloon filled with motor) and would your backers be ready to accept these?

From the imagery - yup, saloon filled with motor ...
« Last Edit: February 03, 2015, 10:07:22 PM by MikeDunn »

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Re: Introducing Revolution Trains
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2015, 10:07:11 PM »

Hi Tony,

Mike and I are very keen NOT to be seen as competing with manufacturers.  Indeed, we will be working with them, since we don't have our own factory!

So we will try to avoid models that are already in production, in catalogues, or similar to those in existence.

The warflat is an interesting idea but as Bachmann have announced this in OO we would be wary as it seems likely they are looking at it in N.  However, we could approach them and if they are worried about the model being too "niche" to warrant traditional manufacture in N, this could be exactly where we might step in - if they were willing to work with us of course!  I know Bachmann in the past have said they will only accept commissions from established retailers with retail premises.

cheers

Ben A.

I can understand that you do not wish to stand on any toes, as the whole idea is to fill in gaps whereby other manufacturers don't feel that the model is viable. Warflats was just the first thing that came to mind  :), I am glad that you are open to other models and not just locos, as I am sure there will be holes in that market too. It will certainly be interesting to see what projects get proposed, and more importantly which will get backed to the point of production  :thumbsup: just one quick question is a 1000 unit run, for the model, or for the model in a particular livery ie. could a 1000 unit run be made up of say 4 liveries 250 of each?

Regards

Tony

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Re: Introducing Revolution Trains
« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2015, 10:21:17 PM »
Fantastic initiative - I wish you both every success.

Some ideas...

Class 47 in XP64 livery
Breakdown crane
Shark brake van

Kind regards

Paddy
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Offline red_death

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Re: Introducing Revolution Trains
« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2015, 10:23:56 PM »
Hi Tony

1000 is typically the minimum number of mouldings that we would be looking at to make the tooling costs economical (ie the split of costs  across the models). That 1000 can be split into quite a few liveries - 4 easily and possibly more if necessary.

We definitely don't want to focus solely on locos.

Cheers, Mike



Offline red_death

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Re: Introducing Revolution Trains
« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2015, 10:30:56 PM »
Fantastic initiative - I wish you both every success.

Some ideas...

<snip>

Kind regards

Paddy

Thanks Paddy. We are undoubtedly going to upset some by not producing x, y or z but our main aim is to encourage the production of things that the manufacturers are reluctant to take risks on.

Perhaps it helps if we explain why we *might* not take on particular projects - these are not definitive rejections, but it helps other people to understand what we are more likely to consider:

Class 47 in XP64 livery - re-livery of an existing Farish product is possible but I think that we would probably rather encourage something all new which helped to grow the attractiveness of N gauge (that isn't to say a particular relivery can't do that but there might be things with more impact)
Breakdown crane - an often requested item, but people are surprisingly reluctant to commit to it (I did a bit of research for the NGS a while back and was not overwhelmed by demand).  Furthermore unless there is a very compelling reason we don't want to compete with available kits.
Shark brake van - see the point about kits!

Cheers, Mike



 

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