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The cost of model railways | Test Valley

The cost of model railways

When Test Valley Models decided to leave the model railway market some time ago, it was due mainly to the discounts expected by the railway modeller because a certain two stores in the north of the country, (One from Liverpool, and one from Sheffield) had decided to get into an unofficial price war, which, made it completely pointless for small independents to even consider selling model engines and rolling stock.

The discounts being applied meant that in most cases a margin of 5% was the most you could expect, and with a certain manufacturer being shown on TV to favour these two big stores, the bottom really had dropped out of the market for the likes of small traders like myself.

Some might think that I may rue this decision following what some see as a surge in model railways during the pandemic, I have to say that the number of enquiries I get does not justify me re-entering into this market.

The enquiries I have received are, in the main, for packets of track pins and rail joiners ! A shop can hardly survive on selling a pack of those once every two years or so.

I was also stunned today to see the trade prices of new loco's being released, these prices are what were retail not so long ago, don't misunderstand me, I am a firm believer that the Chinese worker should not be a slave for western consumerism, but when you consider the margins being offered on model railway stock compared to say wargaming and kit building, it is no wonder that model railway devoted shops fall by the trackside on an almost weekly basis, when the base margin being offered is around 28%, and the retailer is expected by railway modellers to discount by at least 15% it cannot be viable in these times of high rents and rates in the high st, to stock these overpriced items, an average loco these days costing around £200, it is no wonder the hobby is failing.

Who is to blame for all this ?

Well the modeller themselves, they have driven prices up year-on-year, simply by demanding more detail, and at the same time moaning about the price  of super detailed models !

My stance on this, remains the same, a stance which I know is not liked by members of the model railway community, "Why should a worker in China, or some other Far Eastern country live on the breadline so that you can have a cheap product" ?

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