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Model trains cost an arm and a leg

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Model trains cost an arm and a leg
Posted by southernpacificgs4 on Thursday, May 19, 2022 6:37 PM

I saw with some months of delay the October 2021 new product announcement from Walthers and I was surprised by the price of a particular passenger car.

The Pullman-Standard Bi-Level commuter cars.

For a standard car the price is 89.98 dollars and for a lighted cars it is 99.98 dollars.

If you want to have a decent train with minimum 5 cars this will cost you 499.90 dollars in the lighted version and this without a locomotive.

What was the price of these cars when Walthers released them for the first time?

I guess that these price will kill the model train hobby for a lot of people.

We as model train enthusiast has also contributed to this evolution by asking more and more details on our models with the consequence of higher prices of the models. And as a result of this urge of more realism with details hanging beneath the cars are that those cars are limited to run on a minimum radius of 24 inches.

Did we as model train enthusiast shoot ourselves in the foot, 10 or 20 years ago by asking (no we demanded) more and more details?

I think that model manufactures are crossing a red line by asking those  prices?

Will model trains in the future only for the "rich people"?

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Posted by davidmurray on Thursday, May 19, 2022 6:48 PM

I feel much the same.  Most of my freight cars are Athern "blue box" kits.  Much cheaper in terms of hours to be worked to buy one than any new car on the market today.

The new cars are more detailed, but the detasils break easily.  Young/new people are being priced out.

 

 

David Murray from Oshawa, Ontario Canada
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Posted by southernpacificgs4 on Thursday, May 19, 2022 6:58 PM

davidmurray

  Young/new people are being priced out.

David you hit also the nail on the head

People who want to start with the hobby will startle of those price

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Posted by rrebell on Thursday, May 19, 2022 7:32 PM

You just need to learn to shop. Walthers new NW2 DCC and sound is listed for around $210 but others want more than retail, paid $145 for mine. All my stuff is high detail and paid less than $15 per car, sometimes much less, if I remember right I paid $12 each for MTH  2 bay hoppers instead of $35 and these were brand new in original shipping container, also these were in ,my home road logo. These were very recent purchaces.

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Posted by saronaterry on Thursday, May 19, 2022 7:36 PM

Can't figure out how to insert the eating popcorn GIF. Sigh.

Terry

Terry in NW Wisconsin

Queenbogey715 is my Youtube channel

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Posted by jjdamnit on Thursday, May 19, 2022 7:37 PM

Hello All,

The expression, "Not seeing the forest for the trees!" comes to mind. 

If you have the motivation to enjoy this great hobby you will find a way, despite the perceived expense...

Faith in the future generations of model railroaders

Yes, this hobby can be expensive but I find my biggest cost is in tools.

Had I not invested in a quality soldering station, proper solder, appropriate flux, foam cradle, and solder removal tools, the following would have not been as successful...

Well, that was easy...relatively...

The ability to DIY has always been at the heart of this hobby.

Nowadays you can choose your path...

R&R- -Rehab and Refurbish- -at your time and expense, with the associated downtime.

Or...

RTR- -and absorb the cost of Ready-To-Run for the sake of convenience.

It's an age-old question that doesn't have a clear answer, only a personal choice.

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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Posted by BATMAN on Thursday, May 19, 2022 7:49 PM

saronaterry

Can't figure out how to insert the eating popcorn GIF. Sigh.

Terry

 

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

https://www.youtube.com/user/BATTRAIN1/videos 

You can never ever out-train poor nutrition.

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Posted by PC101 on Thursday, May 19, 2022 8:03 PM

Young people will buy into the hobby. They will spend more money per detailed piece of rolling stock and engines and I'd think collect less pieces then us ''old'' guys growing up on Athearn BB and MDC/Roundhouse.       

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Posted by Attuvian1 on Thursday, May 19, 2022 8:23 PM

Well, there are some valid points here.  But I don't entirely buy into this projection, if for only these two reasons:

 
1) I'm amazed how some young folks can generate money.  And not always by means of their parents or plastic.
2) I'm just as amazed at how much they are willing to spend for what they want.
 
I suspect that their greater urgency for instant gratification (as compared to most of us at their age), is suffcient to offset the problem.
 
[Added]  Whatever issues there may be in acquiring motive power and rolling stock, there may be an even greater one.  Pretty quickly a 4x8 on a slab of plywood with sectional track won't cut it for those wanting to move ahead.  I'm almost more concerned with the ability to work with their hands.  To run an analogy with the fairer sex, I'd wager that far fewer young women these days can cook (from scratch) or sew than in previous generations. 
 
John
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Posted by NYVTRR on Thursday, May 19, 2022 8:29 PM

I notice that some of the young model railroaders on youtube buy up a lot of inexpensive used locos and rolling stock.  They buy the items that a lot of people would consider as junk, fix them up and get them running like new.  In my opinion thats how young people get involved and will keep the hobby going.

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Posted by John-NYBW on Thursday, May 19, 2022 8:34 PM

Well we just had a lunar eclipse and the "this hobby is so expensive" threads come along just about as often. I saved both the 50th anniversary edition of the Walthers catalog as well as the 75th edition. This allowed me to compare prices of items to what they were a generation earlier. For the most part, the cost of like items had kept pace with inflation. Some a little more, some less. There's no comparing locos because a high end DCC loco from today is so much more sophisticated than a basic DC loco from 25 years earlier. More than a decade has passed from that 75th anniversary issue but I would wager the same comparison would be true today. 

The good news is any of us is free to spend as much or as little as we choose. It's still possible to enjoy the hobby without buying high end items. Accurail freight cars are still relatively cheap and you can still buy basic DC locos at a reasonable cost. If you can't find affordable passenger cars there's always ebay. I've built a fairly large fleet through the second hand market and haven't had to spend an arm and a leg to do so. 

 

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Posted by gmpullman on Thursday, May 19, 2022 9:42 PM

Steven Otte
 No matter how many threads there already are on the topic of how expensive the hobby is, people always want to start a new one, so here's what we're going to do.

 

https://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/88/t/245773.aspx

 

 

Cheers, Ed

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Posted by NittanyLion on Thursday, May 19, 2022 9:48 PM

southernpacificgs4
Will model trains in the future only for the "rich people"?

When wasn't that the case?

One of the earliest ads with a price is in the March 1934 issue. An outfit is selling what we would call sectional track. A three foot straight section, two rail O, on plywood roadbed is $1 a piece.

The average American made 43 cents an hour. 

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Posted by wrench567 on Thursday, May 19, 2022 10:11 PM

   It's all a matter of perception. Prices have to be raised in order to survive. When you see the price of a box of 6 premade hamburger patties at $20 then that $30 freight car looks reasonable. Just imagine the costs of developing a new model. The company can be out hundreds of thousands of dollars in design, mold making, setup, crew training in assembly, and so on. Let alone shipping costs from around the world. I never understood Bowser. Parts made in the US, shipped to China and assembled, shipped back to the US. Crazy.

    Pete.

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Posted by BATMAN on Thursday, May 19, 2022 10:22 PM

I don't think there are two more countries on Earth than the United States and Canada where it is easier to go out and obtain the standard of living you want. Barring health problems, you have a choice as to the amount of effort you put into your life. If you don't like something about your situation, fix it.

I have had the good fortune of being able to travel the world and have shared meals with people living in mud huts or grass shacks surviving on $2.00 a day. If you want to be healthy and fit, do what the healthy and fit people do. If you want to be in a good place financially do what those people do. Every hour spent in front of the idiot box or on the front porch drinking beer is time that could have been spent cracking a book and learning how to improve your situation. 

I don't tolerate whiners well, in case you haven't guessed. I wonder what someone living on $2.00 a day would think about us spending $100.00 on a toy train car?

 

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

https://www.youtube.com/user/BATTRAIN1/videos 

You can never ever out-train poor nutrition.

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Thursday, May 19, 2022 10:32 PM

I bought a few passenger coaches a while back.  They are fairly decent but not spectacular Rivarossi models.  They were about $30 each.  I found some Walthers lighting kits for these models.  I took them apart and installed the lighting kits and replacement trucks and wheels.  While everything was spread out on the workbench, I painted the rudimentary interior and added unpainted figures I got cheap after brush painting those.

These cost me about $40 per car.  Plus, I got all the "play value" out of producing my custom coaches.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by "JaBear" on Thursday, May 19, 2022 10:57 PM

Storm by Bear, on Flickr

 

It would be interesting in what young Forum member Harrison and his friends would have to say on the topic, but then they’re probably busy, having far too much fun enjoying this hobby.

My 2 CentsMy 2 CentsMy 2 CentsMy 2 Cents(inflation!!)

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

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Posted by RR_Mel on Thursday, May 19, 2022 11:05 PM

Model Railroad “stuff” has always been a bit high for equal time spent hobby “stuff”.  When I started out in HO gauge (1951) there wasn’t any prefab track.  It was 3 for a dime 36” rails and a roll of Atlas Tie Fiber Strip at $1.25 for 25’, a sack of scale spikes for another dime.

My first HO locomotive (MDC 0-6-0) cost me $6.85, I was earning my hobby money from a paper route at 45₵ per month.

When I got my first car gas was 17₵ per gallon.

I’ve never bitched about the cost of my hobby and that includes today’s prices.  A good Model Railroader will find a way to play with his trains.

The only thing that made me think cost recently is the price of electronics from China, prices have almost tripled in the last few months.  Sure glad I don’t need any more electronic goodies.  I just love the DC to DC Buck Converters.   


Mel


 
My Model Railroad   
http://melvineperry.blogspot.com/
 
Bakersfield, California
 
Turned 84 last July, aging is definitely not for wimps.

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Posted by selector on Thursday, May 19, 2022 11:48 PM

1. Hobbies aren't a right.  They're from discretionary income unless you're immature and irresponsible enough to fund your pastimes using money you shouldn't, or that you simply don't have (but I repeat myself...);

2. People into fishing will spend $1000 each year just on new lures, a replacement reel or rod, new line, gas if they drive;

3. Kayakers and paddle boarders will spend $3000 on a new hull/board, $400 on the 'best' carbon fiber paddle, gas money if they have to drive any distance;

4. Motor cycle enthusiasts, whether enduro, motocross, or road racing,...well, I hesitate to guess, but it must be thousands each year, and that's after the initial purchases of helmet, license and testing, spiffy upgrades, say to a collector exhaust and racing bars, how much for a helmet these days, more if it's a go-fast kind...;  (same for snow machines)

4. What would the 'best' and coolest crossbow cost...maybe $3000 for one custom made?  Then there are the arrows, wrist savers, etc...;

5. A decent violin, even second hand?  $800, really well used, rather tired. A 'good' bow is several thousands new; and

6. painting, probably fairl cheap these days.  An easle, maybe $100 second hand. Paints of any kind and quality, probably set you back about $200.  Brushes, decent again, about $130, give or take. Oils might be a bit more, dunno....I don't paint.  I put my money in trains. 

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Posted by Enzoamps on Friday, May 20, 2022 2:29 AM

I didn't need "the best".  A 1959 Les Paul guitar can be worth over a quarter millions dollars, yet my cheap knock-off Les Paul style copy cost me a hundred bucks and plays and sounds just fine.  60-65 years ago I used to drool over the Pacific Fast Mail brass locos on the back cover of Model Railroadeer, and marvelled at the nice engines with turned flywheels and fancy motors and GEARs, Gears I tell you.  But I was happy as a clam with my rubber band drive Athearn locos.  Sure, they stopped with a wiggle, but that was OK.   And I had some B unit dummys, I don't see those anymore

Later in life I bought some Fine Scale Miniatures kits, but when I was starting out, I had my cheap Revell Engine house, and station, and Crossing shanty.  They were a small step up from the Plasticville structires I had 70 years ago.  But I liked them.   And I got me one of the Ambroid "One of 5000" car kits later on, but my selection of blue box cheap cars was fine for me.

Without blue box cars, Revell and Plasticville buildings, and rubber band locos, I likely would have put my time and energy into short wave radio, my other hobby at the time.

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Posted by John-NYBW on Friday, May 20, 2022 5:57 AM

gmpullman

 

 
Steven Otte
 No matter how many threads there already are on the topic of how expensive the hobby is, people always want to start a new one, so here's what we're going to do.

 

 

https://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/88/t/245773.aspx

 

 

Cheers, Ed

 

Looks like that thread got locked. No posts since November 2017.

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Friday, May 20, 2022 9:51 AM

My dad was a very good golfer. So good, he did not have a handicap (If you shoot an average of 80 shots on a par 72 course, you would have a handicap of 8. That way, golfers of all levels of ability can compete against each other in tournaments). So it came to the point when he was doing his annual clinic with the club pro, the pro told Dad that he was technically proficient and to improve Dad's game he would recommend custom made clubs - with shafts made to match his height and arm length and appropriate swing weights (The clubs sold off the rack are made to suit the mythical "average" player - plenty good enough for maybe 95 percent of all golfers (like me)). So dad went and invested several thousand dollars in custom clubs. I don't know what they did for his game, but he seemed pleased with his investment. Point is, any hobby can be as expensive or economical as you want it to be. I wouldn't pay what he paid for his clubs and he wouldn't pay what I've been willing to pay for a locomotive. 

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Posted by NorthsideChi on Friday, May 20, 2022 9:55 AM

Cost and space are the two challenges to the hobby.  Anyone that I know who has interest in trains in my age group (30's) we're all living in apartment and condo buildings in major cities across the US with little extra room.  I've pointed at my temporary layout and said "That's the price of a new MacBook pro going in circles there."

I don't think people are calling stuff overpriced.  Gosh, stuff it so beautifully crafted since I got back into the hobby a few years ago.  But it has a high entry price because people do want to be serious about the hobby, yet they don't want to buy a toy

The response I hear is always the same.  "Maybe when I have a house with a basement someday and more money saved up"

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Posted by rrebell on Friday, May 20, 2022 10:26 AM

Two points to bring up. Some good quality engines are dirt cheap, picked up two Bachmann S4 DCC and sound for under $70 each a few years ago from a retailer to boot brand new. Point being there are real bargins out there. Second item is that people live the lives they want but you have to pay the dues to do so. I have had many people ask me how to get to where I am and every one who asked has said the same thing said, "I don't want to work that hard". Worked with a guy who went on vacation every year and spent $2000 when he only made around $20,000 a year, I mean it was his choise but I reinvested mine and retired at 52. Retired once before at 29 before wife and kids, put in some 70hr+  work weeks and 20 hour days instead  of going out and partying, weird thing about that time is I remember being shocked that everyone else had to work, it never occured to me that most people work most of their lives and I started with nothing as far as money, like not a dime. 

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, May 20, 2022 10:58 AM

BEAUSABRE

If you shoot an average of 80 shots on a par 72 course, you would have a handicap of 8. 

Maybe, but not necessarily so. It depends upon the course(s) "slope" and also your most recent scores. But, I digress.

Rich

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Posted by York1 on Friday, May 20, 2022 11:04 AM

When I started four years ago, my scenery was several building kits.

As I built them, I thought I could build the same thing from scratch.

Buying the plastic strips, the sheets, the windows, etc., I found that I actually spent more on the scratch-building supplies than on the kit.

That doesn't matter, though.  I have enjoyed scratch-building much more than putting together the kits, so I have no problem with the money spent.  It's part of the cost of enjoying the hobby.

My wife's hobby is bird watching and feeding the birds.  She spends much more on bird food each month than I do on trains.

York1 John       

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, May 20, 2022 11:17 AM

NorthsideChi

Cost and space are the two challenges to the hobby.  Anyone that I know who has interest in trains in my age group (30's) we're all living in apartment and condo buildings in major cities across the US with little extra room.  I've pointed at my temporary layout and said "That's the price of a new MacBook pro going in circles there."

I don't think people are calling stuff overpriced.  Gosh, stuff it so beautifully crafted since I got back into the hobby a few years ago.  But it has a high entry price because people do want to be serious about the hobby, yet they don't want to buy a toy

The response I hear is always the same.  "Maybe when I have a house with a basement someday and more money saved up"

 

You nailed it. Sure, this thread has overtones of 'the hobby is too expensive'. But, as I read the OP's opening post, he is honing in on the cost of passenger cars. That strikes a chord with me.

As NorthsideChi says, "Cost and space are the two challenges to the hobby". What it all comes down to for the young and old is whether they can afford to do what they really want to do in the hobby and whether they have the space to do it.

A lot of the replies offered here talk about compromises with cost and space, plus quality. From that perspective, anyone young or old can set up a 4x8 layout, buy some used motive power and rolling stock and have some fun. But can everyone who models railroads do what they really want to do based upon cost and space, or do they have to settle for what they can afford and for what space allows.

Back to the passenger car issue. I'm old, I can afford to do what I want to do, and I have the available space to do it. But, like the OP, my typical passenger train is two locomotives and five or six 85' passenger cars. As new passenger cars are rolled out by Walthers and Rapido, $90 to $120 per car is the norm. That could add up to anywhere from $600 to $1,000. If you want to run a passenger train in and out of a passenger train station, you are gonna need 8 to 12 feet of track length for a 2-loco, 6 car passenger train.

Yeah, I know, first world problems. But, you cannot deny the fact that you need the space and a big fat hobby budget to do what you want to do instead of just dreaming about it.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by Enzoamps on Friday, May 20, 2022 3:38 PM

A guy can spend $1000 on a golf club if he can afford it and wants to.  Fine.  And all the other examples.  I am more worried about the kids.  A guy in the hobby can go find sweet deals on things, but some 12 year old kid isn't that savvy.  That kid can care about the nuances and details later, he needs to get involved first.   You never buy a $1000 golf club if you never had a cheap hand me down set to start with.

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Posted by John-NYBW on Friday, May 20, 2022 4:35 PM

BEAUSABRE

My dad was a very good golfer. So good, he did not have a handicap (If you shoot an average of 80 shots on a par 72 course, you would have a handicap of 8. 

It's not quite that simple. The handicap is based on the course rating, not par. My home course has a par of 72 just like Augusta National but it isn't nearly as difficult and it's course rating reflects that. Shooting 80 on my course would not yield the same handicap as shooting 80 at Augusta National. 

Also handicaps are not based on your average score. They are based on the 10 best of your last 20 scores. The scores are also adjusted to eliminate score of triple bogey or worse and even limits the number of double bogeys you can post for handicap purposes. After adjusting your scores, your handicap is 90% of the difference between your adjusted score and the course ratings. Your handicap is intended to reflect what you are capable of, not what your average is. 

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Friday, May 20, 2022 4:47 PM

Rich, I know, but I wanted to keep it simple and not crawl through the USGA weeds (obviously I put my shot into the rough). Speaking of which, I live pretty close to USGA Golf Museum and Library aka Golf House, if you are a serious golfer, or even a fan, it's worth a visit. 

Visit the Museum (usga.org)

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