• Model Power closes, MRC to license future runs

  • Discussion related to everything about model railroading, from layout design and planning, to reviews of related model tools and equipment. Discussion includes O, S, HO, N and Z, as well as narrow gauge topics. Also includes discussion of traditional "toy train" and "collector" topics such as Lionel, American Flyer, Marx, and others. Also includes discussion of outdoor garden railways and live steamers.
Discussion related to everything about model railroading, from layout design and planning, to reviews of related model tools and equipment. Discussion includes O, S, HO, N and Z, as well as narrow gauge topics. Also includes discussion of traditional "toy train" and "collector" topics such as Lionel, American Flyer, Marx, and others. Also includes discussion of outdoor garden railways and live steamers.

Moderators: 3rdrail, Otto Vondrak, stilson4283

  by [email protected]
 
Hi all,

Shame to see another company close up. MP was a longtime maker that was geared more towards the entry-level and trainset modeler but had some nice usable structures and accessories and were producing the old Mantua range of locomotives in HO as well as marketing the Del Prado aircraft collectibles in the USA. Here's their announcement: http://www.modelpower.com/default.asp" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Mike Bartel
  by Backshophoss
 
Model Power was the supplier to the Hobby Lobby chain and a supplier to Walters as well.
According to the E-zine "Model Railroad Hobbist"(pg 126 apr'14 issue) Vollmer GMBH has closed up shop
back in Germany as well. Known for their Catenary system,and european designed building kits.
http://mrhmag.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  by scottychaos
 
As a teenage HO scale modeler in the 1980's, with very little money, Model Power was very appreciated..
("entry level" has its place! ;)
I will always look back on my Model Power, AHM and Tyco trains with affection..
sorry to see them go!
Scot
  by Milwaukee_F40C
 
I hope the tooling and designs are purchased by other companies. Even lower end structures are good for kitbashing, as long as the appropriate elements continue to be manufactured.
  by CNJ999
 
Although Model Power was never among the hobby's first tier of names, nor were its products ever quite up to top of the line runs from Athearn, Broadway Limited, et al, they still offered a lot of good, solid, entry-level stuff as well as kitbashing fodder. I suspect that few of us with fair-sized, long enduring, layouts don't have at least something on our pikes that came from Model Power. It especially saddens me to now see Model Power folding as they had taken over Mantua's traditional line more than a dozen years back. That company was once considered as having the hobby's foremost line of steam locomotives, the best puller ever, as well as being the first to mass market RTR locomotives. The advent of these caused the hobby to grow three fold almost overnight back in the 1950's. Their little 0-4-0 Camelback Goat rivaled Varney's classic Docksider for the title of the all-time most popular steam locomotive in the hobby's history.

While I suppose many younger/newer model railroaders won't shed any tears over Model Power's demise, I regard its passing as one more nail in our hobby's coffin. Once upon a time manufacturers were so numerous that reciting a listing of their names was like going down through the alphabet. Today we are left with just a handful and they are rapidly moving toward pricing themselves virtually out of the marketplace. I still hear some hobbyists claiming that with our super-detailed locos and rollingstock that today we are in the hobby's Golden Age. But from where I stand and what I've seen transpire in the industry over the course of the last 15 years, I regard today as much more that Age's golden twilight.

CNJ999
  by wildwood junction
 
Too bad. Their building kits in HO were interesting though. Often they were in fact German Faller kits and were repackaged in Model Power boxes. A case in point is 'John's Shrimp Shack' which is a Faller kit, and it even had German language signs in the kit. This accounts for the European appearance of the building kits. I am guessing that the kits will be available for a while especially on Ebay.
  by mtuandrew
 
Sounds like many of their models were Marx designs, and the original tooling to boot. When you're set up to make ten thousand locomotives and fifty thousand cars per run, it's hard to tailor production for one thousand total per run.

I'm guessing we will see new-in-box Model Power equipment for years, through eBay and suppliers like Horizon and Walthers, but it is definitely a shame.
  by Desertdweller
 
This is really sad news. When we lose an entry-level supplier, it is bound to have a ripple effect through the whole industry.

The higher the price bar is raised for newcomers to the hobby, the fewer newcomers there will be.

Les
  by glennk419
 
I was never a huge purchaser of Model Power products but had taken a liking more recently to their Model Power Mini's line of vehicles which are decently detailed and fairly priced. As several have already stated, the loss of another viable manufacturer is sad and troubling for the future of our hobby.
  by Otto Vondrak
 
CNJ999 wrote:While I suppose many younger/newer model railroaders won't shed any tears over Model Power's demise, I regard its passing as one more nail in our hobby's coffin. Once upon a time manufacturers were so numerous that reciting a listing of their names was like going down through the alphabet. Today we are left with just a handful and they are rapidly moving toward pricing themselves virtually out of the marketplace.
A fine opinion, but if that were the case, why are there so many new models available on the market? Someone must be buying them. Why do new products and companies continue to appear with more specific, niche products for the hobby? Someone must be supporting them. Furthermore, Model Power did indeed serve a purpose in this hobby. Their imported Pola structure kits added depth, and some of their model trains provided kitbashing fodder for generations (Sharks, FAs, and others). However, poor business practice is eventually what did them in. Not to mention, it's one thing to offer a low-end product, but I'm not sure where their product fit into today's spectrum. In some cases, their products were toys (and poorly made toys at best). Model Power could have been around for another 25 years had they focused on their core products, but you have to understand that their business was primary importing other company's goods packaged in Model Power's boxes. They weren't interested in upgrades or anything else that would have kept them around... But at least you can still find Pola kits on the market.

The only lesson to be learned here is that you can't sell the same toys you offered 30 years ago and expect to be competitive.

-otto-
  by CNJ999
 
Otto Vondrak wrote: A fine opinion, but if that were the case, why are there so many new models available on the market? Someone must be buying them. Why do new products and companies continue to appear with more specific, niche products for the hobby? Someone must be supporting them.

-otto-
Appreciate, Otto, that the "so many new models" appear to be nothing more than small "limited runs" of items numbering but a fraction of what any given 1st rate company would offer in the past. This is backed up by how quickly many of these new items become sold out , or scarce in the marketplace, sometime within just weeks of their issue date. In fact, I've been told by some folks who should be in the know, that all of today's runs are at the minimum allowable as dictated not by the importers, but rather by the couple of Chinese factories that are producing the models. The importers wanted to go with lower numbers! The plants recently decided to limit which American companies they are even willing to take any new orders from and Bachmann's parent company owns most of the manufacturing end of the industry at this point.

The number of hobbyists buying the big ticket locomotives and rolling stock items offered these days also must be dwindling, since second runs of a product seem to be increasingly rare. Any business knowing that it has a good seller and a broad ready market waiting to be filled by more of his product would have to be insane not to take advantage of that. That they so often don't signals to me that they understand they are dealing with a limited market indeed and simply can't chance second runs. Likewise, the turnover time between one model to the next is a further indicator that the companies supposedly promising to offer 3, 4, or 5 different models per year are likely living hand-to-month, needing such a rapid turnover to maintain enough cash flow to stay in business in the short term. Stock of repair parts/full replacements for the new products approaches zero these days. Send a model back with a problem and except for Bachmann, you'll almost certainly get the same one back after a few adjustments have been made to it. Break a major part and you are out of luck. That signals a run was so limited that there are absolutely no parts or over-run replacements to draw from.

Now without question there are a modest number of financially well off newer hobbyists out there doing most of the buying - often of several models every month if some claims seen on some Internet forums are to be believed. It doesn't take a whole lot of such individuals to buy up limited run products in a short time. However, I am not acquainted with any hobbyists buying these $350 and up newer locomotives even one at a time. Nor are my friends interested in the high-end RTR rolling stock at $35 to $50 a pop. All the older railroaders I know are still acquiring most of their stuff off eBay and it's almost exclusively items from years ago, selling at a fraction of today's equipment prices. I'm even becoming curious if our hobby's premier magazine, Model Railroader, is going to survive in the current financial climate. Each year their circulation declines by at least several thousand and up to ten thousand readers. They are currently down to about 60% of the readership they enjoyed 20 years ago. The sometimes almost desperate manner in which they are attempting to peddle their video version of the magazine lately leaves me with doubts about how well it is selling and how it may be impacting company finances.

CNJ999
  by Backshophoss
 
Some of Model Power's latest products (Ore cars for example)were coming out with better detailing,McHenry-like
couplers, and metal wheelsets,were the only company "currently" producing Harriman style passenger cars,using
a SP commute Harriman as the prototype(the MDC/Athearn cars are short lenght,when made).
Just a little tweaking and they ran OK,a little weathering and could pass muster on a club Layout untill
the "Nitpickers" poked their noses around. :wink:
  by granton junction
 
I think that the ho kits for buildings were Faller, not Pola. But maybe both? Model Power just re-packaged the kits. But they were always interesting to me.
  by Bigt
 
CNJ999,

Yep, I agree with you 100 percent! There will be those who will laugh at the "good
old days", what with our "shake the box" kits and such. But, as I have stated before when
this subject arises, there are not that many modellers who can afford the prices now being
asked for today's product offerings. Yes, there are those who will buy these products. They
are much like those of my younger days, those who could afford brass models......I, as well as
most of the modellers I knew, could not. However, we still had the Athearns, the Train Miniatures,
Roundhouse/MDC, and so many others, to keep us satisfied - as well as most of the hobbyists.
I feel we don't have that choice anymore, my opinion, offense to no one.

A friend of mine, someone I grew up with, has always been a scale model enthusiast. He
has always been a big fan of WWII aircraft and armor. He says they too have seen changes in
their hobby, but, that the "basic kits" are still there for all to enjoy. Yes, you can go absolutely
crazy on expensive kits (and, their add-on details), but, you still have the "old standbys", from
old, reliable firms, there if you so desire to use them. As I have told him, we in the railroad
hobby do not have that luxury anymore.

Although I did not own a lot of Model Power equipment in whole, I used a lot of it for kitbashing
over the years. Too bad to see them go............another "fallen flag" if you will.
  by Backshophoss
 
Announced in Sept '14 MR(pg 10),as of June 30 '14 Licensing agreement,MRC will produce Model Power and Mantua,
using the Model Power branding. :-)
Fair use quote,per regs,"Model Rectifier Corp(MRC) announced on June 30 that it will produce and market
Model Power's railroad products under the Model Power brand. Model Power and Mantua railroad and
accesory products will now be avaible worldwide from MRC."