Is there a market for US TT?

Re: Is there a market for US TT?

Postby Bill Dixon » Fri Aug 03, 2018 2:18 am

7. What can you do?
A) Publicize TT-Scale in any way, shape or form. Display a layout, a module, or models at shows, public events or any type. Get the word out there.

B) Buy the product when it is available. I am surprised the SW1200 did not sell better. Some of us bought more than our share. I have nine and hope to a have more before the year is out. A few other bought more. Obviously many of you did not buy a single model.
If you want this scale to grow you have to support the manufacturers!

So what is it going to take?

Money and lots of it.

If I had the money, I would:

Contract Kato to make the track, RDCs and F units.
Athearn to do the GPs
Atlas to do the Alcos
Micro Trains to do the freight cars and heavy weight passenger cars. And then set up a monthly release of new product like they currently do with N and Z-S Scale.
MicroEngineering to do the flex track.
Kuehn to do the turnouts and crossing.
Woodland Scenics to do a handful of buildings and some figures.
Not sure who to get to do vehicles.
Walthers to do some buildings.
Walthers to do smoothside cars.
And since it is my money we are dreaming about spending, Walthers to do the CPR Canadian with proper FP9 locomotives.

For the SD40-2 and GP38 Athearn would be a good choice. Also perhaps the Dash-9 and AC4400.
Scale Trains do a very nice GEVo.

As the market grows other companies would come on board with new products.

A dream perhaps it is not going to happen unless we all work towards it.

So time to get off your butts and start doing something to promote TT-Scale.

Much of what I have written above is open to discussion but is a good frame work to start with.
Regards
Bill Dixon
TT-Tracks
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Re: Is there a market for US TT?

Postby RodTT » Fri Aug 03, 2018 3:33 am

Since getting into US TT about this time last year, I've certainly been doing my bit to get the scale better known. My switching layout was featured in the July issue of the UK's Continental Modeller and I have twice emailed Model Railroader with a link to my website describing the layout and mentioning the various TT suppliers. I vaguely threatened that my continued sub to the magazine depended on it but I don't expect them to be impressed.

There is quite a following for US outline here in the UK, obviously mostly HO and N. The problem with TT, as has already been pointed out, is that most people want more of it and they want it to be easily available. The reaction at shows is that it's a very nice scale but people don't want to be ordering a bit here, a bit there as and when it's available, and to be scraping around on Shapeways and the like to fill in the gaps such as road vehicles. I must say if getting a layout together had been much harder I probably wouldn't have given it a go.

I see the priorities as being
a) at least one or two more locos - ready to run preferably or 'near ready to run' as long as it's easily put together and all the components can be had from the same supplier, including decals;
b) road vehicles;
c) structures or structure kits/components, preferably but not essentially in 3D relief plastic or resin rather than card.

Personally I would love another RTR diesel or three and would be happy to pay around €160 - as long as it was say a GP38 or GP40, or an Alco S or RS series, and definitely not one of the first generation F type locos, which I hate (though I realise many people love them).

Having said that, I am never going to be buying more than one or two of any one type of loco or freight car. And I may well be the only person in the UK with a US TT model railway!

A similar discussion arises once in a while on UK forums about 3mm scale TT, and the conclusion here is invariably that unless the bigger manufacturers get interested, it will remain a kitbuilder's and scratchbuilder's scale. And of course they won't get interested if they don't see a market. I was pleasantly surprised to see that in the RTR stakes, against all the odds US TT is faring better than UK 3mm.

Another factor is that the vast majority of railway modellers are 60+. I would like to be proved wrong but sadly I think the hobby will mostly die off as we do.

P.S. could we get Rapido interested?
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Re: Is there a market for US TT?

Postby Bernd » Fri Aug 03, 2018 7:52 am

Right now some US model manufacturers are scrambling to find suppliers do to a factory shut down in China. Don't know if any of you here have heard about it. Rapido may be taking up some of the slack according to Jason Sharon owner of Rapido.

I think Bill Dixon nailed pretty much of what is needed. It would be nice if a manufacturer would do what Bachmann did for On30. Another thing I see is that not many modelers turn entrepreneur and start producing a product. As a matter of fact I've seen some of them start closing down their business do to age such as George Sellios of Fine Scale Miniatures has closed down to retire.

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Re: Is there a market for US TT?

Postby krokodil » Fri Aug 03, 2018 12:56 pm

Hi Bill,

It is a perfect wishlist for te US TT friends, you just forgot the basic item of your countries over the pond. Everything there is all about the money.
You see the ignorance of MR about our scale.
Why?
Because the main sponsors of the magazine(s) do not produce anything for TT scale. It was easy for Bachmann to introduce the On3 scale models - his advertising activities (budget) easily covered the introduction of the new scale. Do not expect such support from Tillig.
Yes, we are also in the generation of 60+, and we saw the decline of Athearn, MDC, Browser, Lionel and many other US manufacturers mostly for the most popular scale. Can we expect from any of the bigger players after such experience to introduce additional competition for their market share?

All those kits, unpainted models where known in the past. I have several Shays purchased as kits and almost all typical logging vehicles from US manufacturers - all of them are already out of business and nothing similar is available.
I always lowed the US model sortiment from the 80-ies, where the modelers had to work something for the final product. Some of the vehicles where just shake out from the box, but many of them gave me several weeks of work (3 truck Shay etc.). Here in Europe we never had any similar models or kits. From the business point of view it was probably not the dream of the company owners..
I would start the wishlist with the search for sponsors of the TT scale, maybe it is easier as to knock on the doors with the vehicle and track wishlist.
Probably it is easier to find a distribution network for the models. Somebody mentioned, that MTB needs to sell about 5-600 locomotives for the rentability. I think Hobbytown ( or similar network) has more shops as 500....
Personally I would also purchase several US models, just to remember my trips in your country. :grin:
Greetings from Austria
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Re: Is there a market for US TT?

Postby Arseny » Thu Aug 30, 2018 4:40 pm

Maybe the way to break that "vicious circle" is to find some "international" locomotive that was in use both in USA and Europe and/or Russia. Maybe, for manudacturer it could make sense to produce such locomotive to approach good amount of sales and production.

For example, S160 steam locomotive was in use in different European countries (including Germany, but for very short time), Russia (known as Ша, i.e. Sha), and even China. Some of them were used by USATC and Alaska Railroad.

ALCO RSD-1 were used both by Soviet railroads and USATC. Maybe it could be possible to make both 4-axle and 6-axle versions?

"Russian Decapod" were used both in Russia and USA, and also Finland (but I doubt that there are a lot of TTers in Finland, I know only one :) ), China and North Korea. Are there any model railroaders in North Korea at all? :)

German V65 were used for a short time in Canada as demonstrator. Unfortunately, there is no V65 model in TT

Maybe something else?
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Re: Is there a market for US TT?

Postby Juup » Fri Aug 31, 2018 10:17 am

Hi All,

On holidays and catching up on TT Nut :)

I wonder if a different approach might be possible. Considering that:

1. Model manufacturing is not a very profitable business (the European manufacturers all seem to struggle ... I imagine it is the same the US manufacturers). Outsourcing to China is a way to cope, but it may simply delay the inevitable ... because as others have pointed out:
2. Model railway enthusiasts are older ... So, it is a shrinking market.

So, getting any of the big manufacturers into TT may be too much to expect. And yes, as pointed out, RTR is crucial for a scale to succeed.

Looking again at 3D printing ... please correct me where I go off-piste. The big problem as I see it, in terms of RTR, is the current lack of colour printing. The super fine plastic materials needed for our modelling tends to come in a translucent colour. Painting such a model is a labour of love, and not viable for RTR. However, that is going to change, and thinking 5 or 10 years ahead, if 3D printing in different colours is possible, with separate parts printed in different colours, then we are a bit closer. Multi-colour printing would be the holy grail, but that I think is really far way. I believe metal 3D printing is available too for undercarriages etc. If we then create a business model where:

1. All chassis components are 3D printed in appropriate colour, but avoiding models with colour schemes that are too complex.
2. Electronics and motors and other mechanical parts are bought from Alibaba or similar.
3. Wheelsets should be possible to buy in bulk as well.
4. A catalogue of models that can be delivered quickly, perhaps by having some inventory ... yes, an investment, but this would be more like 10 or 20 rather than a production run of 500.
5. Just in time further 3D printing and assembly to replenish the small inventory.
6. A parts and decals package to go with each model ... only enthusiasts ever add all the parts anyways.

Yes, it would require some kind of workforce doing the final assembly to achieve RTR, but assembly for a single loco or railcar might take no more than an hour, and the value added would be considerable.

Finally, if in the future there are even fewer modellers, and mass manufacturing (even if in China) becomes unprofitable for all scales, then something like the above may be the only way for the hobby to survive (beyond enthusiasts). Any future demise of mass manufacturing of all scales might ironically shake up the market ... whatever scale has a new manufacturing model ready is the one more likely to succeed into the future :)

Yes, this is more like a business proposal than anything :) Not something I would have time for at present ... but maybe in 5 or 10 years when the 3D tech is mature? Oh, and track etc is a whole additional question ... but RTR market may, initially be fine with Tillig or Kuhn for that, or??

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Re: Is there a market for US TT?

Postby RodTT » Fri Aug 31, 2018 11:40 am

Juup,
I think there is much merit in what you say and this is no doubt the kind of direction the technology will go in. I particularly like the idea of a ready-coloured loco.
Personally I would also be happy with 'near ready to run', where the body shell, chassis with motor and add-on bits like wheels, trucks, couplings and decals are included, or bought in some cases as an add-on package, and assembled by the buyer, as long as it was easy to put together.
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Re: Is there a market for US TT?

Postby krokodil » Fri Aug 31, 2018 11:42 am

IMG_3504.JPG


Ad Arseny

This picture says more than 1000 words...why are the models outside of US different.....
Greetings from Austria
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Re: Is there a market for US TT?

Postby Arseny » Fri Aug 31, 2018 1:55 pm

:lol:

But most of Russian/Soviet railroad stuff look similar to American, bigger than European.
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Re: Is there a market for US TT?

Postby krokodil » Fri Aug 31, 2018 2:37 pm

big601a.jpg


Or the biggest steamers in US and in Europe ( the Big Boy and the Hungarian class 601).
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