Consumer Prototype Protection


Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>
 

Jeff Aley sez:
So, Tony, I infer that you think it's stupid for manufacturers to allow
such silly things as "cost" to influence their thinking. Given that the
broader MR market will not pay more for a kit just because it has 2 lines
of data at the end of the box, you're talking about increasing cost for a
fixed selling price. Please explain why doing this makes sense to you --
it sure doesn't make sense to me!
You are of course free to infer what you want, Jeff. But that's not what I meant to say. Probably in your business, as in many, there are real economies and false economies. There are economies that are sensible and genuinely help the bottom line, and there are economies that say "damn the customer." And there are foolish economies that save very little. I'd put the deliberate concealment of information in the latter category (and maybe in some other categories too).
Yeah, the MR market won't pay "more" for two lines of information on the end of the box . . . or will they? What if the cost difference is 10 cents? That's what the "day of overhead" Charlie mentioned would cost over even a rather small run of kits. And for bigger players, it's in the single numbers of pennies.
And if cost really IS fixed? though I very much doubt it--would those pennies buy you more customers or not? I don't really know, but I sure don't think it's clear that they would COST you a bunch of customers. Volume matters, too, just as I'm sure it does in your business.
I don't think customers expect, nor are likely to get, a Lofton or Westerfield information sheet in a Branchline kit (just to choose one example)--but especially if the preparation of that sheet were farmed out to a consultant or historical society (with appropriate controls), it might not cost much at all. I think it is fairly foolish to assume that ANY added cost, no matter how small, would break the model manufacturing business. Instead of debating that, let's debate costs AND benefits.

Tony Thompson Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2942 Linden Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705 www.signaturepress.com
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, thompson@signaturepress.com
Publishers of books on railroad history


eabracher@...
 

In a message dated 9/25/04 4:05:52 PM, lgreen@elp.rr.com writes:



I can name two products from two different manufacturers for which I
provided the prototype data.  Folks, it ain't that hard.  And it at
least one instance it boosted the heck out of sales.  More than
double the expected sales were realized.

Rio Grande Models, since 1970, has been putting prototype info on the
instruction sheet for almost all of their kits. The only time it was not there is
when either the kit was more or less generic or info was not available.

A short history of the period the model would be appropriate for and colors
it was painted as well as lettering.

Most modelers appreciate this small bit of information and one of the
questions most asked is what period of time did woud it be approprate for.

eric


Paul Hillman
 

It is actually safe to say, that ANY type of prototype which was built in the past, is still in existence today.

That is to say that, if a 1936 "farm tractor", for example, was once built in that era, and was used then in it's "heyday", then yet they still exist in the front of farmer's homes and in museums and displays. I see it all the time.

Therefore I do not see how dating a model would be detrimental to the consumer, or adverse to their wanting to purchase it. I actually think it would enhance purchasing.

All "dating" would do is define for everyone the date of it's origin and supply "period modellers" with that basic info, and refer "others" to the concept of that, "Yeah! My 'Grandad' used to have a tractor like that! I want to put one in my 1950, or even 1999, railroad scene."

What would "label printing costs" be?; an extra 1/1000 cents/per?

Paul Hillman


Gene Green <lgreen@...>
 

The thing that amazes me about this discussion is that I often hear
manufacturers say "Most customers don't care" or words to that effect.

For God's sake, manufacturers, listen to what you just said. If most
customers don't care (about extra information concerning the
prototype) then they don't care. Get it? They don't care so it
won't hurt sales.

On the other hand, if I can't identify that a product (1) matches its
prototype, (2) is correctly lettered and (3) is appropriate for 1950
or earlier, I don't buy it. If I can't find the information and the
manufacturer doesn't provide it, I don't buy. And I know I'm not the
only one with that attitude.

I can name two products from two different manufacturers for which I
provided the prototype data. Folks, it ain't that hard. And it at
least one instance it boosted the heck out of sales. More than
double the expected sales were realized.

Gene Green


Bob Kutella
 

--- In STMFC@yahoogroups.com, Anthony Thompson <thompson@s...> wrote:

You are of course free to infer what you want, Jeff. But that's
not
what I meant to say.
Of course you did not. But since so many comments on this thread
refer to cost control and economies, let's look at the market and what
it says. It seems to me modelers are willing to pay premium prices on
kits form Westerfield and Sunshine, which kits are sometimes so
specialized in detail and era, that they would never support a mass
market. Yet over and over I hear, and have myself experienced the
well documented kits. If nothing else it gives me a warm fuzzy
feeling that the finished product will be an accurate replica.

More firewwod - Micro Trains (often) supplies one side of their jewel
box liner with enough car history that you also get the idea they did
their homework. In this case, the well over 100 body styles cannot
support 100% accurate models, but I think people know that and do not
expect more for 15-20 bucks. Yet the paint schemes and colors, style
of lettering, and placement do reflect a prototype. That little
insert lets us know it, and was in each car box before they started
giving some history. So how much did that cost??
A reputable manufacturer will do at least a basic research job, yet
many modelers do not have the access to research material, have the
skills to ferret it out, and many can ill afford to spend valuable
model building time researching info that has already been done.
Somewhere there is another (unspoken) dynamic here since the cost
differential of a slip of paper cannot be the ruling factor.

Bob Kutella


Dave Nelson <muskoka@...>
 

I think this is a good time to add a thanks to Branchline for adding useful
information (e.g., dates) on their boxes. It isn't Sunshine or Westerfield
caliber, but it's darn useful.

Dave Nelson

-----Original Message-----
From: Anthony Thompson [mailto:thompson@signaturepress.com]

I don't think customers expect, nor are likely to get, a Lofton or
Westerfield information sheet in a Branchline kit (just to choose one
example).....


armprem
 

A goodly portion of model railroaders trust the manufacturers.Any paint
scheme is considered authentic.It takes some consumer education before they
start looking beyond the box and its contents.I am sure most of us were not
as sophisticated nor critical when we started in the hobby.I strongly
suspect that a more discerning hobbyist has led to more prototypically
accurate offerings.Armand Premo

----- Original Message -----
From: "Gene Green" <lgreen@elp.rr.com>
To: <STMFC@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Saturday, September 25, 2004 7:05 PM
Subject: [STMFC] Re: Consumer Prototype Protection


The thing that amazes me about this discussion is that I often hear
manufacturers say "Most customers don't care" or words to that effect.

For God's sake, manufacturers, listen to what you just said. If most
customers don't care (about extra information concerning the
prototype) then they don't care. Get it? They don't care so it
won't hurt sales.

On the other hand, if I can't identify that a product (1) matches its
prototype, (2) is correctly lettered and (3) is appropriate for 1950
or earlier, I don't buy it. If I can't find the information and the
manufacturer doesn't provide it, I don't buy. And I know I'm not the
only one with that attitude.

I can name two products from two different manufacturers for which I
provided the prototype data. Folks, it ain't that hard. And it at
least one instance it boosted the heck out of sales. More than
double the expected sales were realized.

Gene Green





Yahoo! Groups Links





Tim O'Connor
 

The basic dilemma with supplying this information is that it creates
an expectation on the customer's part that the information is correct
(it may not be) and it may raise some concern when it is NOT present.
Branchline, Kadee, Proto2000, Genesis mostly don't have to worry, as
they produce (mostly) accurate models.

Face it, a lot of models are marginally accurate, or just completely
bogus. Yet the vendor may need to sell inaccurate models in addition
to accurate models to cover their costs. Should they label only the
accurate models, and not the inaccurate ones? Wouldn't that possibly
wipe out many sales of the inaccurate cars?

Maybe a good compromise would be to just put the "reweigh date" or
the "new date" to indicate the era represented by the paint scheme
on the model, without actually claiming that the model is accurate.

I think that is Branchline's practice -- except for the Pullmans. I
can tell you, if you want heavyweight Pullmans, you'd better check
Tom Madden's CCR spreadsheet (from his web site) first -- Branchline
offers some cars in paint schemes that were short lived, and they
offer the cars in different schemes for the same owner that did not
co-exist. Nothing wrong with it, but if you're a strict period
modeler then you have check your facts first.

Tim O'Connor

I think this is a good time to add a thanks to Branchline for adding useful
information (e.g., dates) on their boxes. It isn't Sunshine or Westerfield
caliber, but it's darn useful.

Dave Nelson


Brian Termunde
 

I'm a bit surprised that no one has mentioned Micro-Trains. They do a pretty good job of not only advising on the dates built, but when the paint was as well. Not always as sometimes the info isn't available. For example, here is an Espee boxcar that was reissued this month;

This 40’ standard box car, with single Youngstown door has silver sides and black roof and ends. It has the SP Daylight Orange circular herald & SP Daylight Red “S”, “P” & “Overnights” lettering and runs on black Bettendorf trucks. The silver “Overnights” paint scheme was adopted in late 1955. The 45” circular herald was SP Daylight Orange with black lettering and the “S”, “P”, & “Overnights” lettering was SP Daylight Red. In 1956, the SP began renumbering with 6 digit numbers all cars previously having 5 digit numbers. The word “Overnights” was dropped in 1957 and shortly after, in 1958, the color of the herald was changed from orange to Daylight Red. However, no attempt was made to repaint the entire fleet of overnight cars. The silver “Overnights” paint scheme was seen into the late 1960s.

Kudos to Micro-Trains for doing this BTW!

--
Take Care!

Brian R. Termunde
West Jordan, UT
"Ship and Travel the Grand Canyon Line!"


Gene Green <lgreen@...>
 

The mere fact that some manufacturers DO include prototype
information seems to me to argue that all manufacturers could so more.

Westerfield, Sunshine, Branchline and Micro-Trains have been
recognized in this thread. Are there others of which any list
members are aware?

To argue that the information might be wrong and therefore should not
be attempted doesn't seem reasonable to me. Couldn't that same
argument be used to stop authors from writing books and articles?
Should we stop posting or reading this Yahoo discussion group because
someone might make an error?

Gene Green


Schuyler Larrabee
 

-----Original Message-----
From: Tim O'Connor
[mailto:timboconnor@comcast.net]

-Snipped-

Face it, a lot of models are marginally
accurate, or just
completely bogus. Yet the vendor may need to
sell inaccurate
models in addition to accurate models to cover
their costs.
Should they label only the accurate models, and
not the
inaccurate ones? Wouldn't that possibly wipe out
many sales
of the inaccurate cars?
Let's be generous and guess that the readers of
this list represent, oh, say, 0.5% of the
model-buying public. (Yeah, I know, way too high,
but easier to work with than say, 0.005% which I
would guess is more realistic.) Now, of any
particular model, I'd speculate that this group
represents maybe as much as 0.2% of the model
sales. Now, further, let's guess that maybe 20%
of those sales are to people who decide that the
car looks good, the BLT date is OK, and geez, I
can justify a Canandaigua Southern car because of
the heavy shipments of Lugubrium to my road's
modeled area. Now, those 20% get home and realize
after consulting (of course) the STMFC Archives
that they've blown it. All because the end of the
box didn't have the data on it. So, if the
percentages are correct, we've failed to make .2 x
.2 = .04% of the model's purchasers happy. Now
that's really gonna hurt the manufacturer, right?


Now, conversely, there's another group, which I
would hazard a guess is more than the people who
bought and wish they hadn't, who didn't buy when
they had an easy opportunity, but because they
weren't sure, and because their modeling money is
not without limit, didn't pull the wallet out.
I'd bet that represents, in contrast to the 20%
who pulled the trigger, maybe another 1% of the
overall model sales (not just a portion of the
0,5% first stated).

Further, those who bought this car and are unhappy
are, more than most, able to either trade that car
to somebody for whom it will work, and/or repaint
it for some other road that DID have the car at
the appropriate time if that can be done at all.
Sure, they're bummed if they have to do that, but
what the hey.

Now let's consider the sales to the rest of the
model-buying public, the other 99.5%. Did they
notice the lack of the prototype data on the end
of the box. Nope. Did they care? Nope. Did
they consider the BLT date? Nope. Did it impact
their decision to buy the car? Nope. They bought
it because they just LIKE the Canadaigua Southern
paint scheme. Looks cool. Real railroady,
y'know?

Yeah, I know, this begs the question about why the
manufacturer should bother for that 0.04% of
sales. Well, first of all, because it represents
money. Money in the modeler's budget that might
get spent on some other product by this same
manufacturer which DOES fit in because of the good
will generated by the fact that the end of the box
DID contain the information which killed the first
sale. But what about those in the potential 1% of
overall sales not gained, because the end of the
box DIDN'T contain the information? That's even
more than the .04%, isn't it?

Maybe a good compromise would be to just put the
"reweigh
date" or the "new date" to indicate the era
represented by
the paint scheme on the model, without actually
claiming that
the model is accurate.
Why compromise? I think the manufacturers should
put that information on there because:
1) they have it. If they don't they should, and
they can get it by asking.
2) a select subgroup (self-selected, if you like)
wants it.
3) It generates an image for the manufacturer of
knowing what you're doing.
4) It generates an image of caring about your
customers.
5) It will generate sales to informed consumers
6) informed consumers will consider you a good
source and recommend your products (assuming that
they're any good) to other modelers, including
those who couldn't give a damn about the stuff on
the end of the box.

Oh, yeah, small reasons to cater to a small group,
I suppose, but it didn't take many people to get
Dan Rather to apologize, did it?

And, BTW, I agree with Dave Nelson:

I think this is a good time to add a thanks to
Branchline for adding
useful information (e.g., dates) on their
boxes. It isn't
Sunshine or
Westerfield caliber, but it's darn useful.

SGL


Clyde Williams <billdgoat@...>
 

--- In STMFC@yahoogroups.com, "Gene Green" <lgreen@e...> wrote:
The mere fact that some manufacturers DO include prototype
information seems to me to argue that all manufacturers could so
more.

Westerfield, Sunshine, Branchline and Micro-Trains have been
recognized in this thread. Are there others of which any list
members are aware?

To argue that the information might be wrong and therefore should
not
be attempted doesn't seem reasonable to me. Couldn't that same
argument be used to stop authors from writing books and articles?
Should we stop posting or reading this Yahoo discussion group
because
someone might make an error?

Gene Green

Some time ago I contacted Red Caboose about why they used the post
WWII GN herald on their GS gondola kit. I was asked where was I when
they were researching those cars. I made them aware of the GNRHS.
Is there a way that, instead of having to contact numerous historical
societies, that manufacturers could contact the STMFC and ask for the
required data on ALL of the roads they plan on offering a new freight
car in. With all the knowledgeable people in this group for
manufacturers would be able to produce more accurate, and thus more
marketeable, products.
I myself would be glad to help but I joined this group to learn to be
a better period modeler.
Bill Williams


smithbf@...
 

Bill Williams asks:
Is there a way that, instead of having to contact numerous historical
societies, that manufacturers could contact the STMFC and ask for the
required data on ALL of the roads they plan on offering a new freight
car in. With all the knowledgeable people in this group for
manufacturers would be able to produce more accurate, and thus more
marketeable, products.
Bill, Al Buchan, the president of the PRRT&HS has sent a letter to as many
manufacturers as we could name offering the services of the society and
the society's Modeling Committee. In addition, we have now created a
special category of "Corporate Member" that provides specific reduced or
no-fee access to the archives as well as the Keystone and other perks.

If you are in the "biz" and haven't heard form Al, please let either
myself, Greg Martin or Elden Gatwood know and we'll get you on the list!

Quite a few manufacturers have responded and are working with the PRRT&HS
to develope new projects in a variety of scales. If a manufacturer
doesn't want to use the services of the PRRT&HS, that's fine! Of course,
if they get the model wrong they don't get to point the finger at anybody
else... <VBG>

Regards
Bruce

Bruce Smith
Electric Motors rep, PRRT&HS Modeling Committee
Auburn, AL


Schuyler Larrabee
 

-----Original Message-----
From: Clyde Williams [mailto:billdgoat@i-55.com]

Is there a way that, instead of having to
contact numerous
historical societies, that manufacturers could
contact the
STMFC and ask for the required data on ALL of
the roads they
plan on offering a new freight car in.
Several years ago, on the Freight Cars list,
various people volunteered to step up to the plate
for various roads. I did so for the ERIE, DL&W
and (sorry, this is post 1960) EL. Not that I
know everything about those roads (far from it!)
but OTOH, I know who to ask . . .

I rather wonder if this couldn't be
institutionalized on the steamfreightcars.com
site.

As some know, I'm chairman of the Erie Lackawanna
Historical Society (see www.erielackhs.org -
modeling section coming soon) and we do work with
manufacturers. We've caused some accurate models
to be produced to begin with, run custom decorated
versions of accurate plastic, and saved a few
manufacturers' butts when they were in process
(JUST in time, in one case in particular). Still,
even some of those who we've helped persist in
trying to do things without asking, and they
generally botch some aspect of it. We can only
help those who bother to ask.

SGL


George Hollwedel <georgeloop1338@...>
 

A little different, but doesn't Red Caboose put the date or dates info on their web site? I think I've noticed it with Atlas too.


George Hollwedel
Prototype N Scale Models
georgeloop@austin.rr.com
310 Loma Verde Street
Buda, TX 78610-9785
512-796-6883

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Brian Termunde
 

In a message dated 9/27/2004 10:10:18 AM Mountain Daylight Time,
cvlk@comcast.net writes:
Just stating the information that is on the carside (built date, etc..) is
okay but doesn't give you more information than you are going to find out
when you inspect the paint, printing, etc.. before you buy the car.
Charlie Vlk

Sorry Charlie! I never would have bought the Micro-Trains WP orange box cars
if they had not provided the info (at that time, in their monthly release
flyer). The cars seemed a bit too Lionel for me otherwise. While not a perfect
match, it was better then nothing for me. I can understand that some people could
be put off since there are inaccuracies with the model. And that is a
question that everyone need to decide for themselves, is this item good enough for me?

I look at the info the manufacturer has provided -- if any (if not, then I
most likely will NOT buy the item unless I can find if it's reasonably (for my
standards) accurate for my period -- either through folks like you all here,
who have been educating this ignorant N scaler, or though other sources).

Then I depend on reviews (if any prototype info is provided at all), and, as
I stated above, sources like this list.

While I can understand that a Manufacturer may not have the info, if they
have it, why not share it? It really can't cost all that much if they already
have the info to begin with.

Take Care!

Brian R. Termunde
West Jordan, Utah
"Ship and Travel the Grand Canyon Line!"


Charlie Vlk
 

The inclusion of Micro-Trains on the list of manufacturers that do include
information proves my point the value of such information....
MicroTrains puts 40' boxcar paint jobs on their PS1 boxcar regardless of the
prototype car construction or door widths...... fine for most of their
customers, but not of much use for accuracy. Citing the prototype used for
the paint job while conveniently avoiding the issue that the model is all
wrong for the prototype is "not helpful" as our Secretary of Defense would
say....
Just stating the information that is on the carside (built date, etc..) is
okay but doesn't give you more information than you are going to find out
when you inspect the paint, printing, etc.. before you buy the car.
Charlie Vlk

Westerfield, Sunshine, Branchline and Micro-Trains have been
recognized in this thread. Are there others of which any list
members are aware?


Charlie Vlk
 

"don't care" probably should be stated as "don't bother to know"..... and
putting Authorative Data on the outside of the box may cause some to pass up
models that are outside of a particular era envelope..... and I doubt that a
car that is identified to fall within a particular period is going to be
bought when otherwise it would be passed up.
The inclusion of reweigh or airbrake stencil information (which is too small
for many of us to read, even in HO) further limits the applicablility of a
model as delivered from a manufacturer. Should it be left off for a modeler
to add to suit their era or be included to be ignored???
Charlie Vlk


Tim O'Connor
 

Gene Green wrote

To argue that the information might be wrong and therefore should not
be attempted doesn't seem reasonable to me. Couldn't that same
argument be used to stop authors from writing books and articles?
Should we stop posting or reading this Yahoo discussion group because
someone might make an error?
Gene Green
If my livelihood depended on it, I'd say the answer is yes. That's
the beauty of keeping this as a purely hobby interest.

Branchline provides a minimal amount of prototype information, and
so does Kadee. Nearly all of the brass importers provide little to
no prototype information. (Ask those of us trying to figure out the
prototypes for some Overland tank cars.) Al Westerfield and Martin
Lofton are the exception, not the rule... and they have been known
to make mistakes.

Nope, I'd rather rely on groups like this, a variety of reference
sources, ORER's, Cyclopedias, etc -- before I feel I actually know
something. Assuming that labels on boxes are reliable is the quick
route to disaster!

Tim "Warning: Model Trains Are Addictive" O'Connor


George Hollwedel <georgeloop1338@...>
 

Hey Brian, how come you haven't bought any of my Micro-Trains Santa Fe PS-1's, especially in the "Grand Canyon" scheme? These are acurately done with no maps! Ship and Travel slogans only, two classes, Bx52 and Bx57.

GCRDS@aol.com wrote:In a message dated 9/27/2004 10:10:18 AM Mountain Daylight Time,
cvlk@comcast.net writes:
Just stating the information that is on the carside (built date, etc..) is
okay but doesn't give you more information than you are going to find out
when you inspect the paint, printing, etc.. before you buy the car.
Charlie Vlk

Sorry Charlie! I never would have bought the Micro-Trains WP orange box cars
if they had not provided the info (at that time, in their monthly release
flyer). The cars seemed a bit too Lionel for me otherwise. While not a perfect
match, it was better then nothing for me. I can understand that some people could
be put off since there are inaccuracies with the model. And that is a
question that everyone need to decide for themselves, is this item good enough for me?

I look at the info the manufacturer has provided -- if any (if not, then I
most likely will NOT buy the item unless I can find if it's reasonably (for my
standards) accurate for my period -- either through folks like you all here,
who have been educating this ignorant N scaler, or though other sources).

Then I depend on reviews (if any prototype info is provided at all), and, as
I stated above, sources like this list.

While I can understand that a Manufacturer may not have the info, if they
have it, why not share it? It really can't cost all that much if they already
have the info to begin with.

Take Care!

Brian R. Termunde
West Jordan, Utah
"Ship and Travel the Grand Canyon Line!"



George Hollwedel
Prototype N Scale Models
georgeloop@austin.rr.com
310 Loma Verde Street
Buda, TX 78610-9785
512-796-6883

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