Is there a market for US TT?

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rdikken
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Is there a market for US TT?

Post by rdikken »

Dear US TT fans,

With the SW1200 coming to the end of the sales cycle, it is time to think about a successor(s), but more important is there a market for it. There were about 500 SW1200 sold, barely enough to cover the costs. The main part was sold in Europe.

If MTB makes a successor, it will be bigger than the SW1200. To make the costs as low as possible, MTB could use parts of the SW1200. Anyway he will need 2 or 3 molds for the house and he will need a new metal frame. Motor, gear, trucks, pcb and couplings are available. More molds and a bigger metal frame will raise the costs, to cover it MTB needs to sell perhaps 700 or 800pcs against a higher price. The sales price could be 160€ or more.

But does it sell enough? Is there a market in the US and Canada?

It is my feeling that there is a market but only if you offer enough RTR models with 4 or 5 locomotives and some rails. There are enough n-users and H0-users willing to go to TT if there is total package.

My question to you is, what can we do to enlarge the market, so that there will be successors of the SW1200 and more rolling stock? (See also the first pictures of the new 3-bay hopper of MTB at "Zeuke-TT, what's new?")

Kind regards,
Rob Dikken

areibel
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Re: Is there a market for US TT?

Post by areibel »

That has been a problem for as long as I've been in TT, and probably longer!
I have taken TT to different NMRA meetings and shows, everyone likes the size but when they ask "Where can you buy it?" things go downhill fast- Most guys don't want to rely on Ebay to find "classic" TT, and it's ever harder to find. And for new TT, it's almost as bad. You have items for sale at Zeuke TT, but if someone wanted a Southern Pacific SW1200 today where would they go? Or modern US prototype steam in TT? Most guys want to pull out the checkbook or credit card and buy it now, and we can't do that.
And we can't blame the manufacturers for that. If Vita did a run of 500 locomotives and they all sold he's happy, if he did 500 more and sold 100 then there's a problem. He has to sit on 400 locomotives that may sell eventually, but he doesn't want to tie up his money like that. The other offerings in TT in resin and on Shapeways help us, but many guys want to buy it, take it out of the box and run it. We may have better luck if we can attract some of the "builders" from other scales, like the RPM diesel modelers (I'd like to send a GP-38 set to someone like Elizabeth Allen and see what happens, check out her SD45X- http://www.pbase.com/tracktime/sd45x_elizabeth_allen )
I don't think the price of 160 Euros would be bad- if you look at the current offerings in HO they're well over that, and even the nicer N scale ones go for that much or more and none are getting cheaper. I think we just need to keep pushing it, getting the displays out there like our Canadian friends do so well and get modelers in other scales interested. It may not become their main scale, but if we can get another 100 modelers in the US interested enough to buy a locomotive and some cars, that would be a big help!

Bill Dixon
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Re: Is there a market for US TT?

Post by Bill Dixon »

Is there a North American market for TT-Scale?

Yes. I see it at every setup. Many people say that is a nice scale, what’s available?
When they find out what they have to do to find equipment, they loose interest.

We are very much in a chicken or egg situation here. We need equipment to develop a market but without a market we can’t get equipment.

So what do we need and what do we need to do?

1. Locomotives
Road names
2. Freight Equipment
3. Passenger Equipment
4. Track
5. Control
6. Scenery – buildings, vehicles, people, scenery
7. What can you do?

We need generic equipment, useable by many different railways in different locations.
We don’t need high priced unique items for the collector. That does not help us.
Regards
Bill Dixon
TT-Tracks
North Vancouver, BC

Bill Dixon
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Re: Is there a market for US TT?

Post by Bill Dixon »

1. Locomotives
Steam- steam is nice but finicky. I know there is a market for them but not a big one at the start. Someone could make a good market by following the HP idea. Make a basic chassis that could be used for several models. Make it with reasonable detail and a DCC socket and it might sell OK. Detail upgrade kits could be offered.

Diesel – what era?
Early Diesel
F7/9 A and B units. Make the molds modular. Single – dual headlight. Dynamic/non dynamic, passenger/freight. We will ignore the FP7/FP9 variants for now.
GP7/9 low nose / high nose.
We have a good switcher – SW1200.
Alco RS-3
S1/2/3/4 Switcher.

Mid Diesel
GP38/38-2
SD40-2 – possibly the most popular diesel.

Late Diesel – Dash-9 / AC4400 / GEVo

The era will be driven by what freight equipment is available. There is no point having a Dash-9 available if all you have to pull is 40’ box cars.

RDCs – I think that the RDC would be a natural to start with. RDC1/2/3. The four can wait. With a configurable mold you could do Phase 1 and Phase 2 RDCs.

Road names
So now we come to a contentious question, what road names. It depends on where you are. Lets go by area.
Canada Primary: CPR and CNR. Secondary: GNR, PGE/BCR/BC Rail
Pacific North West Primary: GNR, NPR, MILW. Secondary: SP&S, UP, SP
Pacific South West Primary: UP, SP, ATSF. Secondary: WP.
South Central Primary: SP, UP, ATSF. Secondary T&P
South East Primary: ACL, Seaboard, N&W. Secondary FEC
North East Primary: PRR, NYC, B&O, C&O. Secondary: Erie, New Haven, B&M
North Central (Chicago) Primary: many listed above. Burlington, C&NW, MILW
Central Primary: Rock Island, Burlington, C&NW. Secondary: KCS, D&RGW
There are many other railroads but I think that covers the major railroads.

Going by what is popular in other scales: ATSF, UP, GNR, SP, PRR and NYC.
So start with the popular road names and add others as the market matures.
Regards
Bill Dixon
TT-Tracks
North Vancouver, BC

Bill Dixon
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Re: Is there a market for US TT?

Post by Bill Dixon »

2. Freight Equipment
There needs to be a basic set of freight equipment available. They should be versatile and widely used.

= 42’ Flat Car. The Tichy model would be a good choice. The fishbelly under frame would allow for a good weight.
= 52’6” GSC Flat Car. A versatile car. As well as a basic flat car, it can be converted to TOFC or a bulkhead flat car.
= A 40’ 1932 AAR Box car. With a shell modification, it could be made into a double door box car.
= A 40’ PS-1 Box Car – widely used.
= A 50’ Box Car. Again modifiable to a double door version.
= A 40’ Wood PFE Reefer. Useable as a bill board reefer.
= A 40’ Steel PFE Reefer.
= A type 21 or type 27 tank car. The number refers to the year the frame was introduced. They can be used with a 6,000 gallon, 8,000 gallon or 10,000 gallon tank. The tank could be single dome, two dome or triple dome. It could be a petroleum tank or an insulated chemical tank.
= Stock Car
= Two Bay Hopper
= Three Bay Hopper
= 40’ Gondola
= 52’6” Drop end gondola
= Generic wood caboose
= Generic steel caboose
Those fifteen car types would give us a very good start. Obviously they will be painted in many non prototypical paint schemes. As we are trying to build the market for TT-Scale we won’t worry about that. When the market matures we can bring out more prototypic equipment.

As well more modern equipment can be released.
Regards
Bill Dixon
TT-Tracks
North Vancouver, BC

Bill Dixon
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Re: Is there a market for US TT?

Post by Bill Dixon »

3. Passenger Equipment
Hopefully we have the RDCs but more equipment would be nice.
Full length Heavyweight equipment would be nice but I think a series of 60’ cars would be a better choice at the start. Baggage, Combine, Coach, Diner, Sleeper and Observation.
With a mature market full length cars can be produced.

A series of smooth sided cars would cover may railroads.

Corrugated side cars (Budd or others) are a bit more railroad specific. Major choices are the CPR Canadian, the California Zephyr or an ATSF train.
Regards
Bill Dixon
TT-Tracks
North Vancouver, BC

Bill Dixon
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Re: Is there a market for US TT?

Post by Bill Dixon »

4. Track
I see the need for two types of track, both based on code 70 rail.

A Kato Unitrack style of track. Improved bedding track.
R4, R5, R6 and R7 curves.
Turnouts: #4, #6 turnouts and #3 wye. And the necessary straight and curved bits to make them work.
Various straights based on a 305mm straight. One foot.
Crossings would be nice but not necessary. A 90 degree, a 30 degree and perhaps crossings that match the #4 and #6 turnouts.

A flex track based system. #4 and #6 turnouts, a wye and crossings. 3’ flex track. A code 55 flex track could be made for branch lines.

5. Control
Nothing new is needed here. Both DC and DCC will work. I would make sure that all powered equipment is DCC ready.

6. Scenery – buildings, vehicles, people, scenery
Scenery is not an issue. Anything from Woodland Scenics, Noch or many other companies can be used.
Figures are reasonably available but not North American style.
There is a great need for North American style buildings and vehicles.
Regards
Bill Dixon
TT-Tracks
North Vancouver, BC

Bill Dixon
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Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:57 pm
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Re: Is there a market for US TT?

Post by Bill Dixon »

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
North Vancouver, BC

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RodTT
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Re: Is there a market for US TT?

Post by RodTT »

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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Arseny
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Re: Is there a market for US TT?

Post by Arseny »

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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