At last year's Naperville meet, I sold freight cars at Martin's large sales room on Saturday. I brought a lot of fresh, direct from Intermountain, decorated kits recently found in their warehouse. I priced them with steep discounts, and even at the largest gathering of kit sympathetic modelers in the US, the RTRs I brought outsold the kits by a huge margin. I brought most of the kits home. Ted from Rails Unlimited had a huge selection of Intermountain decorated kits, and he told me that very few were selling. If the decorated kits don't sell at Naperville, how can we expect them to sell at the LHS in Peoria?
One manufacturer of HO freight cars told me that the labor in packing kits, and printing instructions, keeps the profit margins depressed in his kit sales.
From: "Gatwood, Elden J SAD " <email@example.com>
I had some manufacturers, hobby shop owners, and modelers (or buyers of
models) get pretty brutal this past year, when I expressed some similar
ponderings. Here is what I got from each:
Manufacturer: "You just don't understand the realities of the model
railroading industry. No one wants kits anymore, they want RTR. You are in
a group that is outnumbered a hundred to one. You are one of the only people
I know still building kits."
Hobby Shop Owner: "You don't understand that the industry has gone to RTR,
and I won't stock kits on my shelves because they won't sell. The buying
public wants something they can plop right onto the layout....with sound."
Modeler: "You don't understand. I can't build stuff like you do. I can't
building resin kits, or paint or decal, or weather stuff. I want a working
layout in my lifetime."
OK, I get it.
I still think there is a market for limited-run, very accurate, freight car
kits, perhaps even with pre-painted and lettered parts, for those of us,
small in number, that like to build something unique, and meaningful for a
layout, with a statistically representative fleet.
Call me crazy.