This past weekend, for the first time since my surgery, my wife and I were out doing some errands. I had to go to the local hobby shop to pick up a couple of things, and while there, my wife was looking at all the N and HO scale engines and cars. After a few moments of that, she came to the Z scale where I was and asked me why I decided to go into Z and not return to N scale like I had several years ago. Her argument was, that N scale stuff appeared to be far less expensive then Z especially the engines, and there seemed to be much more variety.
I tried my best to explain to her that Z scale engines are so expensive because of the tiny parts that go into them and the general overall engineering of them. As for the variety, I was at a loss to explain it as I too don't understand why there is so much more available in the other scales then in Z.
It is a fact that there is an abundance of box cars, gondolas, flats and tankers, but there is very little if anything at all, in utility cars like cranes and tool cars, and ballast clearners, and of course, snow plows offered by either AZL or MTL. Even passenger cars are confined to 4 basic designs which is unfortunate. The only crane and tool car in Z scale I've come across is made by Marklin and they just don't look right on North American Z scale layouts.
I suppose that Z scale being relatively new to these parts, hasn't fully come into it's own yet and the handful of manufacturers haven't really paid much attention to putting out the odds and sods of any railroad, choosing instead to concentrate on the standard issue stuff. To that I say, WHY NOT? If you are going to produce this stuff, then why not go whole hog? Makes perfect sense.
Anyway, after trying to explain the situation to my wife, I started questioning my decision to go with Z scale. I knew what I was getting into when I started, but in looking forward, I don't forsee any changes to the thinking at AZL, MTL et el in producing untility cars of any kind or expanding on their passenger car sets. Thus my layout will never truly be complete without these. Perhaps I should have gone back to N where there is so much more available. If I can only get the pieces I want in N or HO, perhaps a change is in order. Maybe I need to re-evalute the benefits of Z. But you know, I really hate the thought of starting all over again.