1. DCESharkman

    DCESharkman TrainBoard Member

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    I started with N scale back in the early to mid 1990's, mainly because I was told I needed a hobby, and space was very limited since I was living in a 30 foot sailboat when I was stationed at Coronado. So when ever I was local and had pay, I visited train shops in San Diego and started accumulating a few locomotives and then some rolling stock. Had a small oval on the dinette table. And that lead to the wild size of the layout and the inventory I have now. My first locomotives were a few GP-30's and GP-35's in DRGW that Kato made for Altas. They all have decoders now and still run very well.
     
  2. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    N-Scale and "NSR" aka N-Scale Railroading.

    NSR is now free for downloading.

    https://nscalerailroadingmagazine.com/
     
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  3. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Probably at least four years ago, the editor's column in MRR magazine mentioned one month that, if the hobby was growing anywhere, it was in N scale.

    But there's a difference in growth (rate) and existing market size. If N scale market is growing, it is likely catching up to HO. BUT, there's quite a ways to go before it gets there. I don't remember where, but I read that the HO market was at least 2x that of N scale. Until N catches up, the larger market for HO will continue to have a wider variety of models (rolling and not) available than does N scale.

    I think MRR's selection (and perhaps submissions) of articles is overly tilted towards HO (over N) simply because of momentum. They seem to specialize in articles about room-filling (if not basement-filling) layouts, where there is plenty of room to show a larger scale, with more detail, than N affords. They continue to all pay lip-service to the small layouts, where N clearly dominates HO.

    The selected user submitted photos of realistic model railroad scenes clearly favors HO due to more detail available.

    But until N scale has grown faster than HO long enough to match the HO market size, HO will continue to get more coverage.

    But I like N scale!
     
  4. C&O_MountainMan

    C&O_MountainMan TrainBoard Member

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    Like I mentioned in an earlier post, it will have to go further than that. If the average HO piece costs 25% more than its N counterpart, and profit margins, as a percentage, are the same, the N Scale piece will have to sell 25% more units to bring the same number of dollars to the makers/sellers thereof.

    N scale will have to match the HO market in terms of dollars, not just unit sales, before N becomes the “favored scale” for manufacturer variety, etc.

    The same kind of thing will have to happen with publication subscriptions before the publishers of multi-scale publications devote more ink to N scale.

    EDIT:

    And then there is tooling: HO already has tooling/models in place that gives it the edge in variety. Variety in N scale (apart from blowing the dust off of a small number discontinued lines and updating electronics), will come through the initial outlay for the necessary tooling. Manufacturers will have to be confident they can overcome that cost hurdle before redirecting their emphasis.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2023 at 8:39 PM
  5. Calzephyr

    Calzephyr TrainBoard Supporter

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    Well stated... miniature masterpieces. These are artwork in motion even if a non running 'shelf queen'. Detail work and paint alone are selling points.
     
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  6. Calzephyr

    Calzephyr TrainBoard Supporter

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    Well... the one that is currently 'in print' is N Scale magazine. Content is a bit scant currently as most submissions are from a few regular contributors. It is a bi-monthly publication so it is typically a couple months behind.
    The other magazine N Scale Model Railroading was in print from 2000(??) Until it succumbed to the Covid-19 restrictions, insufficient submissions and supply chain issues in 2021.
    The magazine is still being published as an online bi-monthly download. I think the download is free! I have to look for the link.
    Last printed was issue #117 Jan/Feb 2021.
    Went to PDF download monthly from March 2021 to September 2022. Currently waiting for future releases.
    https://s.amsu.ng/RyF5RVlLhAjN
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2023 at 9:22 PM
  7. MRLdave

    MRLdave TrainBoard Member

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    N scale and N scale Railroading
    nscalerailroadingmagazine.com
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2023 at 11:26 PM
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  8. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    I think you're largely right... But the N scale user will buy 5 railcars/locomotives/structure kits, etc. instead of the 4 that the HO scale user will, not only because of the discount, but also because the former will have more ROOM for them to run on his same-sized layout, or to show in his same-sized display case, etc.

    And that's not counting the N scale customer who simply does not have room for an HO layout to suit his fancy, but he does in N scale.

    But HO certainly has a big advantage in existing tooling, especially for less common prototypes. However, I don't think either camp can simply rest on their laurels. As N scale has vastly improved their detail, the HO manufacturers still have to keep improving their tooling to maintain more detail to justify their price premium, to customers that have less room and/or more competition for that room.
     
  9. badlandnp

    badlandnp TrainBoard Member

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    Started with HO, at age 8 with that Christmas train set, by Tyco. HO was cheaper as a teen and up until these later years. It was readily available in my small town at the local variety store with a "model RR pusher." Hence it was the scale of choice. In my late teen years, the growth of N began, and I had a great interest in it then, but was so heavily invested in HO, it had to wait. I am glad it did!

    In the late 90's, I finally got back into the hobby, and N was my scale of choice. That was when the new Atlas fine scale diesels came out, and oh man those ran sweet! And were so affordable! Then Kato hit us with that Mikado, Life Like did their steam legacy series, Fine N Scale started producing as did so many other finely detailed and great running models hit the shelves.

    Even as part of the HO club at the Livingston depot, I had an N scale layout at home, for reasons of space available, price, and the fact that the quality was so good.

    I think that those three reasons are what drive so many to N. As stated by most of the posts above, "Space, price and quality" are the driving factors. Then once into it, the other benefits become apparent. Much better ability to produce better appearing 'scale' track curvature and scenery to rail ratio. Nothing kills a scene worse than tiny trees next to a long passenger car hanging over the inside rail on a curve!

    The manufacturers have begun to figure it out, as witnessed by the rapid growth of Bman and BLI and many others in the N loco market. For which many thanks are deserved!
     
  10. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    As @BigJake has noted- Many of the N scale sellers discount much of what they offer. Yet another incentive for us to buy, as our money goes further. Finding the same in HO is not as easy. How do the N people make up for the dollar difference? Sales volume. It has been this way since the mid-1970's, when with N-Trak, Kadee and discounts, N popularity really began to get moving.
     
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  11. John Moore

    John Moore TrainBoard Supporter

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  12. spyder62

    spyder62 TrainBoard Member

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    one thing that has helped the growth on N scale is T-trak almost every show we go to has a T-trak layout.
    As the modules are small and easy to complete one it helps draw people in. And when they find out the can
    join the club and display their module at shows sure helps also. Having the space and time to build a bigger
    layout does put some people off as does the cost.
    rich
     
  13. nscalestation

    nscalestation TrainBoard Supporter

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    The size and the weight. Both T-Trak and FreemoN have seen growth in recent years. Both focus on light weight module design. As we get older, it gets harder to handle heavier modules assuming you have the room to work on them. There are ways to do Ntrak modules in a smaller, lighter format. A few members in the club I belong to use 2 ft pairs with 1/2 inch frames and 1/4 inch decks. When put together they form a 4 ft module and sit on a lightweight frame.
     
  14. DeaconKC

    DeaconKC TrainBoard Member

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    Well, I am back in the hobby after 2 hiatuses. I had a Tyco starter set when a kid and did HO through High School. Once married, no room and out of the hobby. Picked up a Bachmann Starter set with the F7 on a clearance sale in Nscale in the late 80s and built a N Trak module and then started in HO again as well to do more details. A move to a new house stopped the HO stuff and then caring for aging parents meant all the train stuff was boxed up until last year, when I returned to N scale. The incredible quality improvement in locos and detail make working with this scale a joy. Building a small home layout and a couple of T Trak modules now.
     
  15. C&O_MountainMan

    C&O_MountainMan TrainBoard Member

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    If so, that buttresses what I said: unit sales can’t be used to declare N Scale equal in the manufacturers’ eyes. It will have to be dollars.
     
  16. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Companies don't quote unit sales unless they are losing in dollar sales, or dealing in commodities.

    N scale is not losing ground to HO in dollar sales either.
     
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  17. DCESharkman

    DCESharkman TrainBoard Member

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    I do not want to pour water on the situation, but it is so cool the improvements in N Scale, but at sometime they will get too costly as well.

    I think that has also happened already to the larger scales. Folks that had great layouts in larger scales, well they still have them but the cost of new equipment may be discouraging additional purchases giving a false impression that the actual operators market is shrinking based on sales. Or it could just be that they do not need any more. It could be they have all they need.

    I have not really bought much in the last few years, the recent spat of Anniversary Amtrak locomotives and the couple of passenger cars sets is about all I have purchased in the last few years. I have not gotten any new locomotives in years other than those. My big problem is the lack of decoders for the locomotives I do have in already. It seems the decoder production levels are at an all time low, I can only get 4 or 5 at the most. Some of this is because of the overall chip shortage caused by COVID. Hopefully the cost for decoders will be a bit more reasonable when the production levels get back close to where they should be. That would be a better determination on how all the scales are doing. And instead of looking at just sales, there needs to be a decision on a better way of determining the the overall health of a scale of trains than sales.

    For example, I had a friend who passed, who had more Lionel O Scale trains than I have in N Scale based on a unit count of the number of locomotives and freight cars, and that is something refreshing. Some scales may be seen as shrinking only by virtue of declining sales due to maturity of the individual.

    At 62, and collecting since I my early 30's, I am bound to have more overall than just starting out now. I still have the DRGW locomotives mentioned earlier, plus the passenger cars in the Kato book-sleeves, or whatever you want to call them with no numbers applied yet. I just haven't gotten around to it yet. I still have a good 4-5 hundred locomotives I need decoders for. So it isn't as simple as it seems.

    So the future of more detailed locomotives may be getting better and better, but that point of maturity does not necessarily relate to the cost or volume of production, or the health of the scale, it just is not that simple.
     
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  18. C&O_MountainMan

    C&O_MountainMan TrainBoard Member

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    I’ve stated a reality, and expressed what that reality means. And I wont need a single sales report to know it: If the variety aspect of N scale grows to equal that of HO, or to surpass it, we can be sure that net profits of N scale have passed those of HO. Furthermore, unit sales of N will have left HO’s in the dust long before that. And we won’t need quoted unit sales figures to know it.



    There might be a few manufacturers out there that read the writing on the wall as that point approaches, and will choose to get out ahead of it, in order to be well-positioned for market share when that point arrives.

    I don’t think anyone in this thread has suggested that it is.
     
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  19. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Discount/volume selling in N scale is what helped build us. Any manufacturer will be quite pleased with someone who moves quantities, regardless of scale. And that is solid dollars for the manufacturer.

    Sadly, we are now in days of reversing that, where runs are limited or made to order. Somehow manufacturers believe that guarantee of a specific profit, all the while limiting the same and market growth, is a good thing.
     
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  20. NtheBasement

    NtheBasement TrainBoard Member

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    Just another data point, the model railroad market in Japan is 12 billion yen (92 million dollars) and the vast majority of that is N. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1050908/japan-model-railroads-market-retail-value/ That's probably half the US N market size. Add to that the markets in other countries it seems like N has a bright future.
    The old established companies are still churning things out but sales are on the internet now. The fact that sales are good enough for niche sector competition from new companies is a good sign.
     

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