The term “armchair modeller” has been about a while in the hobby referring to those who are vocal in criticism and comment but are sat in their comfy chairs tapping away on their keyboards without actually undertaking much modelling of their own. I have noticed more and more on various online forums etc. a new version of the “armchair modeller” the “armchair Ready -To-Run designer” this breed makes assumptions on what the manufacturers can / should produce in the future on the basis of what they already produced, without really understanding the mass manufacturing / marketing process.
Before I illustrate this below I will accept that in some cases the design of one model can be produced in such away that it can also be used for another. An example of this is Hornby’s original chassis for the Rebuilt Merchant Navy pacific that had an offset rear bearing that can be turned to give the correct wheelbase for the Light Pacifics. Also there will often be some commonality of parts such as tenders and possibly bogies, that will reduced some initial costs, but more often than not the main chassis and body mouldings are complete unique. Therefore to produce another, albeit similar, locomotive class will require a complete new set of tooling which is where the majority of the development cost will fall.
From a Southern perspective the two most common assumptions for production of one model from another that regularly appear online are: firstly because Hornby have produced and N15 they can simply produce a S15, or secondly because Bachmann have produced a N Class they can easily produce a U class.
In both these examples there are admittedly some commonality of parts such as tenders, bogies / pony trucks but with the locomotives having differing driving wheel sizes, driving wheel spacing, varying boiler pitches, different cabs etc. The main body and chassis will need to be completely new and therefore costly toolings.
A further example came to light online last week, to be honest is what promoted this post, is this statement “A Western ‘G6’ 0-6-0T is an ‘obvious’ for Dapol because of the common boiler with their ‘O2’.” Whilst the G6 did in reality share a boiler with some of the O2 class the design and construction of
a model is somewhat different and boilers for example are not separate components and therefore there will be virtually no commonality of parts from a model perspective between these two classes other than perhaps the 4’10” driving wheels and buffer heads everything else would be totally new tooling!
It also has to be questioned if there is in fact a market to enable the manufacture to get the return on the investment from producing such similar models. Many modellers dedicated to a particular railway company will no doubt create an initial demand.
Indeed I would of course be part of that demand from a Southern perspective (even though I have already a number of kit built examples in my fleet).
To the average modeller / model market an N15 and S15 and N and U possibly look too alike to gain mass market sales. At the end of the day the main drive of the Ready To Run manufacturers is to make the maximum profit and a return for their share / stake holders.
This does not of course mean that any of the locomotive types above will not be considered as giving a suitable return and therefore be produced in the future. For example Bachmann will be announcing their release plans for the next 18 months in the couple of weeks time and I am sure there will be one or two items of Southern interest (full details of such will be posted on this blog too).