Re: InterMountain HO Scale Two-Bay Hoppers (Re-Release)-now Why Aren't There Production Kits?

Charlie Vlk

I certainly can’t argue with Dennis as he has intimate firsthand real experience on all sides of the discussion and ocean.


I think the consumer might underestimate the system design and supervision that goes into the production of kits and finished items. 

To some degree the parts count problem is largely self-administering during the assembly of a finished item….it becomes pretty obvious at several stages of assembly and inspection that a part is missing if the system is set up properly.

Keeping track of the packing of a myriad of parts into a “kit” seems to me to be less obvious.   A miscounted screw or a mal-formed part on a sprue might be overlooked in packing but harder not notice during assembly. 

But, as Dennis says, it is largely moot as the oversees factories know what they are going to charge for a project and the outcome is not influenced by our logic at all.  

It used to drive me nuts when the production minimums for Undecorated or number-less units was the same as fully decorated items.  My thinking was just-set-aside-raw-plastic-parts-and-don’t-paint-them,-then,-assemble-them!   More sales, less overall work!!  But to their mind, no, a line item on a spreadsheet has to follow the “rule”.  ARGHHH!!!!  

(on topic, that was likely the reason that you had to buy 3 Kato ACF Covered Hoppers in one box….the profit on the SKU was pre-determined and that dictated the packaging….even though the consumer did not want to be forced to buy 3 of one roadname at a time…even if they were probably going to want six different numbers in that railroad!

It is what it is….deal with it, as Dennis says!!!


If somebody wanted to go through the hassle of setting up a full-blown factory here in the US, talk to Accurail, Bowser, Con-Cor, Atlas, Inter-Mountain, or any other of the companies that eventually had to partially or completely give in to overseas production or assembly.   Perhaps someday an open full service factory modeled on the Chinese Sandi Kan, Kader, etc.. success can be established to allow boutique Model Railroad Companies to continue without having to take on the myriad of problems for individual low-production enterprises.  At that point kits may make a comeback if there are appreciable differences in labor for assembly vs. straight packing…but don’t expect to ever see the equivalent of a $1.98 Blue Box kit!


Charlie Vlk


From: <> On Behalf Of Dennis Storzek
Sent: Saturday, July 24, 2021 11:29 PM
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] InterMountain HO Scale Two-Bay Hoppers (Re-Release)-now Why Aren't There Production Kits?


On Sat, Jul 24, 2021 at 01:19 PM, Andy Carlson wrote:

Charlie, I can see that as an industry consultant that you may believe packaging kits is more expensive than making RTR cars.


That is so wrong--anyone who has watched Rapidos' video visits to their Chinese factories can't come up with your conclusion.


None of that makes any difference.The problem is, those companies we think of as manufacturers, really aren't; they contract all their manufacturing out. As such, they have no direct control over their costs; they are at the mercy of what they are quoted. The Chicom manufacturers aren't stupid, they know that their costs are rising and if all they do is build the tools and mold the parts, the day will come where they start losing work to somewhere else. They recognize that their major advantage is their low cost of assembly, and for the last twenty years have manipulated their price quotes to "lock" their customers into a pre-assembled product. I recall Bill Wischer telling me that years ago he had tried to to split a run between between RTR and kits, and the prices he was given were within fifty cents of each other. Never mind that the contractor's costs likely were vastly different, this wasn't a cost plus deal, and what he was quoted was what he would have to pay. That fifty cents would only translate to a dollar on what at the time was a twenty dollar product, but the perceived added value to the customer of the pre-assembled model was five times that. Thus, it was simply not doable. Since China entered the model railroading supply chain, they have worked to totally change the character of the product, to their advantage.

Dennis Storzek

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