Are preserved railways missing a trick?

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EM2

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I'm not a frequent visitor to preserved lines, but have visited two in the last few months. And something struck me that seems obvious to me, but maybe I'm missing something.
Why don't preserved railways have a decent selection of models? I can quite easily imagine kids getting off the preserved train they've just been on, whether hauled by a GWR Pannier or a Class 37 or whatever, going to the gift shop and seeing models of that exact loco for sale.
If I was that kid, I'd be badgering my Mum & Dad like mad for the model. I reckon it'd be a gold mine!
 
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theageofthetra

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Been wanting a model of either of the RHDR 'Canadians' since aged 5! Mind you how long did we wait for Thomas products?- don't think any were made in Awdrey's lifetime?
 

Train wasp

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i dropped in to the Mid Hants Railway station shop a few weeks ago and they had a good selection of 00 gauge and N gauge locos and wagon/coaches. I also notice they are also selling 0 gauge wagons.
 

70014IronDuke

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I'm not a frequent visitor to preserved lines, but have visited two in the last few months. And something struck me that seems obvious to me, but maybe I'm missing something.
Why don't preserved railways have a decent selection of models? I can quite easily imagine kids getting off the preserved train they've just been on, whether hauled by a GWR Pannier or a Class 37 or whatever, going to the gift shop and seeing models of that exact loco for sale.
If I was that kid, I'd be badgering my Mum & Dad like mad for the model. I reckon it'd be a gold mine!



Well, I am no expert in retailing, but

a) models cost a lot of dosh (at least, in my estimation). I have just googled 00 gauge Bulleid Pacific Hornby, and seen that new model locomotives appear to retail in the £130 – 160 range.

While one might not sound very much to some on decent UK salaries, buy in 15 or 20 such models, and you are tying up a lot of cash in stocks. Of course, you could get those at wholesale prices, but hey, it's still a lot of money.

b) And stock of that value needs careful stock control. If someone nicks a Thomas-the-Tank-Engine T-shirt, you lose maybe £1.00 or £1.50, Losing a Hornby Castle (or even little Johnny dropping it on the floor) and you've lost £120.00.

c) selling a model locomotive (or even a carriage) is not like selling a mug or t-shirt – people start asking questions – so your volunteer behind the counter needs to know some answers. you might have the right volunteer, or you might not.

d) If the Thomas T-shirt has a hole in it, even at £5, the buyer may just forget it. But if a £140 scale model of Alfred the Great doesn't negotiate the owner's points, you gonna need to be able to replace it, or somehow solve the problem.

That needs some sort of reliable after-sales service and/or more money, or you may be in trouble - legally.

Just my amrchair, amateur thoughts :(. Maybe some preserved railway operations have nailed all these issues and more, and successfully sell models.
 

TBirdFrank

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Gift shops need to sell items that reflect the attraction - but most of all they need to sell merchandise that sells. Whilst we enthusiasts will always welcome a well stocked book or video store - mum and dad and the weans will be far more swayed by a well stocked ice cream fridge, Thomas and other more populist stuff to which we would never give house room - but which creates turnover.
 

Tim R-T-C

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Many railways do offer models of their engines - most manufacturers like Bachmann are able to offer small runs of particular numbers.

Haworth for instance have a large model railway selection, but I believe they sell a lot online as well.
 

Bevan Price

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The smaller / less affluent heritage lines cannot afford to carry large quantities of expensive stock. And one needs to remember that probably only 10% of visitors are diehard railway enthusiasts, and only a fraction of these will collect model railway equipment.

Moreover, the number of shops selling model railway equipment has been slowly declining in recent years - I don't know of any remaining in Manchester (city centre or suburbs), for example. And the last such shop in Liverpool (Hattons) moved to Widnes a few months ago.
 

E&W Lucas

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I'm not a frequent visitor to preserved lines, but have visited two in the last few months. And something struck me that seems obvious to me, but maybe I'm missing something.
Why don't preserved railways have a decent selection of models? I can quite easily imagine kids getting off the preserved train they've just been on, whether hauled by a GWR Pannier or a Class 37 or whatever, going to the gift shop and seeing models of that exact loco for sale.
If I was that kid, I'd be badgering my Mum & Dad like mad for the model. I reckon it'd be a gold mine!

In short, no.
The margin on a model is small; the visitor perceives that they have made a very expensive purchase, but the railway sees very little for it. A model loco would be way beyond what most could be expected to spend in a shop, so turnover would be slow. Margin would be even smaller, if a special edition representing a particular loco had to be produced. How many visitors would even have a train set to run said loco on?

As others have said, too much money tied up for too small a return.
 

2392

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Been wanting a model of either of the RHDR 'Canadians' since aged 5! Mind you how long did we wait for Thomas products?- don't think any were made in Awdrey's lifetime?

Unfortunately, you're likely to have a long wait. I say that as narrow gauge OO9/HO9, which equate to about 2-3 foot gauge is very much a niche market within the OO market. They are effectively OO models running on N gauge track. Though the RHDR is a 15 inch gauge outfit so would be even more of a niche market. Effectively a niche within a niche. As you say though never say never some manufacturer somewhere may cotton on......
 

MotCO

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Does it actually have to be a Hornby-type working model? Wouldn't a Matchbox-type model be just as desirable, or anything depicting the train they have just ridden on?
 

AndyW33

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As others have already said, many heritage railways do sell model railway equipment. If you want to sell models of the actual locos in use on your line, bear in mind that to get the correct running number and livery (unless you're lucky) you'd need to commission a special run. Bachmann have a minimum order of 504 for this, Hornby's is reputed to be much higher. In both cases they'd tag on the heritage railway's order to a production run of the same loco type for their general stockists to keep the production cost down. There are long periods when models of individual types of loco are out of production because of low sales, or impending modifications, even if you're not bothered about getting the number or livery right for your line. For example if you are a railway with an Ivatt 2-6-2T, you could now stock them again this week for the first time this decade. If the NNR wanted to stock models of their B12 4-6-0, Hornby are putting the finishing touches to a retooled version of the model - again it will be available for the first time this decade.
 
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class387

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I always thought it would be great if Oxford Diecast would make unpowered model trains to the same size and quality as their 1:144 scale buses. That way their would be cheap, fairly realistic representations of trains for those not serious into modelling.
 

MotCO

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Out of interest, why 504? Why not 500? I note that in the limited edition art print world, they are all numbered 'X' of 512. It seems a strange number to chose!

512 is a factor of 2, i.e. 2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2 = 512. Is it easier to print copies on larger pieces of material and cut them in half, quarters etc?

I don't understand the 504.
 

AndrewE

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512 is a factor of 2, i.e. 2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2 = 512. Is it easier to print copies on larger pieces of material and cut them in half, quarters etc?

I don't understand the 504.

A few for chopping up for examination to check they are the same quality as the proofs? Plus one or two for the producer's archive.
 

paul1609

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I'm not a frequent visitor to preserved lines, but have visited two in the last few months. And something struck me that seems obvious to me, but maybe I'm missing something.
Why don't preserved railways have a decent selection of models? I can quite easily imagine kids getting off the preserved train they've just been on, whether hauled by a GWR Pannier or a Class 37 or whatever, going to the gift shop and seeing models of that exact loco for sale.
If I was that kid, I'd be badgering my Mum & Dad like mad for the model. I reckon it'd be a gold mine!
Until recently Ive been a director of the K&ESR and frequently volunteer in Tenterden Shop. We do have a very small selection of models, usually specialist to the K&ESR itself but there isnt that much of a market for models. Id guess that most parents having forked out for a day trip to the railway, meals and in our case probably a visit to bodiam castle as well dont have the surplus spending money to purchase an expensive railway model. The spend in the shop will most likely be under a tenner. Whilst we do try hard to meet the enthusiast market its a very small percentage of our visitors and is how can I say generally very economic with its spending. If something is available for £10 cheaper online thats where the enthusiast market goes. Thats why youll see many railway book shops closing in the next few years.
 
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