• Response to Kyle and Myke and others about Commuter models

  • 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]
 
I just had to respond to the thread below. Some of you guys are not only making it difficult for manufacturers like myself, but also for yourselves. And, some of you are just pissing me off! ;-O

We have gone through this MANY times on this and other boards. THE MARKET TO MAKE MASS-PRODUCED COMMUTER MODELS DOESN'T EXIST! If it did, there would be a slew of products available from Athearn, Bachmann, Walthers, etc. ALREADY. If a few people are vociferously demanding an HO M-1 at $20 per car, that's still only a few people. And, they are not going to create a market by just making something at $20 per car and hoping it will sell. It won't. That's not how business works. Business works by catering to the market that ALREADY EXISTS. A business or entrepreneur sees an opportunity and tries to fill the market, be it a mass or niche market.

Commuter modeling is a NICHE market. Do you think that these models cost nothing to make? That a manufacturer can produce something with no regard for cost? Atlas did the AEM7 (a far more popular prototype than the Budd M-1) in HO a couple years back, and they have stated that they REGRET that decision now! Why? Because there are still piles of them at hobby shops and discount houses! Beyond Amtrak modelers and some commuter fans, there was NO INTEREST!

I used to be like most of you. I saw a need for commuter models myself years ago. I wrote to the manufacturers and magazines, with no luck. I learned about the production processes and costs, and then checked the available market BY ASKING QUESTIONS AND DOING RESEARCH. I learned that it was unlikely to happen the way I wanted it (and the way you want it now). There were only a couple of other companies making commuter models in any form, and most of those were brass importers. I decided to take matters into my own hands and produce those models myself.

IHP specializes in commuter and transit models. Period. We make NO freight equipment, freight diesels, steam locomotives, narrow gauge equipment, MOW equipment, etc. No one else has ever taken this approach, not before IHP, not since IHP. IHP makes these models in limited runs, which require a smaller investment BUT COST MORE PER-UNIT. Doing short runs of all our products allows us to produce a LARGER VARIETY of models, and a look at out website will show you what we've accomplished since 1993, including our ship kits. More commuter models are planned for the future. How much more 'REASONABLE' can I be, Kyle?

Those familiar with Bachmann's forum will recall even the 'Bach-Man' stating one time that commuter models were best left to companies like IHP that already were specialising in them, because it wasn't as financially feasible for a maker like Bachmann. He knows what it takes to keep his company in business. For the most part, it's not about what they customer buys- it's what the distributors and hobby shops buy that is important to a manufacturer, and many will not stock certain commuter models, if any at all. They WILL stock most freight locos and cars, if they can get them because SOMEONE will always be interested in them. Commuter models don't have NEARLY this appeal. I cannot sell my M-1s to dealers in the South, or in California, or in the Midwest. If I cannot do it, no larger manufacturer is going to be able to, either. If you think things would be different in a closed, specific market like NYC, I refer you again to the above note on the Atlas AEM7. It works the same for any niche product. My M-1s did well with customers primarily in NYC. I expect future runs to do the same.

If you don't like the way I do my products, fine. Resin kits are not for everyone. If you don't like my prices, fine. Not everyone is willing (and, it's always about willingess to pay, not ability) to afford the admission/entry fees to this specialized corner of the hobby. There are reasons why the prices are what they are, and they do not involve greed or ignorance of the market I serve. But, to wildly make accusations and suggestions impugning a dedicated manufacturer's hard work and integrity is so offensive that I wish I could grab you and smack around your little two-dimensional mind. I doubt those critical of me have ever seen an IHP product, nor could they ever comprehend what goes into making it.

There are those that don't deal with me simply because they perceive me as being an a**hole. Actually, I'm normally a quite friendly guy who enjoys talking to people if they ask questions and genuinely want to learn about the hobby and about my business, but I tend to become a very pissed-off Mr. Hyde when confronted with ignorant people trying to tell me my business and how they think it should work. Well, 'they' are not contributing anything to my business, nor the hobby in general. 'They' are not investing any money, making any patterns, fighting with subcontractors and managing a tight budget. Not that 'they' have to, but 'they' don't even make any effort to understand. 'They' just make stupid statements that don't reflect any acknowledgement of the reality of this industry.

This kind of behaviour on the part of the public doesn't serve themselves or the industry. Those that bemoan the lack of commuter models that don't cost hundreds of dollars aren't seeing the bigger picture. Those expensive models are all you are likely to get for the moment. Resin casting allows a maker like IHP to serve you all without the risk entailed in injection-moulding, but still at a price. You get the products you want, but you may have to do some work on your own, you may have to reserve early to make sure you even can find the product, and you may have to save up a little money to afford it. It's no different than if you were in HOn3 or some other specialty area.

Those that don't acknowledge the manufacturers that have taken the risk to AT LEAST TRY and bring to market what commuter modelers want to see are shooting themselves in the foot. The big manufacturers already know that the market isn't big enough for them to get involved (beyond a few exceptions). With support, small makers like IHP could grow and someday be able to afford to invest in a process that allows the price to be lowered and the product distributed more widely, at least in accordance with the market's limits. And, IHP is more likely to do this because our stated goal is to advance the cause of commuter modeling.

Right now, IHP produces commuter and transit models in resin. That's what the budget and the market will allow. Resin is a good fit between brass and plastic, with the lower prices of plastic and the limited production advantages of brass. If more people took a chance and bought our kits and models, there would be more incentive for IHP to go out and investigate making an investment in more long-term projects, complete with power trucks ;-). Other makers might take notice, too. This will not happen if you all stick to your Pollyanna views, hoping that one day Athearn or Bachman will magically produce M-2s at $20 each, available through Wal-Mart!

Mike Bartel
IHP
http://ihphobby.tripod.com

  by Otto Vondrak
 
I think we're all aware what is involved in manufacturing niche products on a limited run basis. There are some inexperienced hobbyists among us who don't understand the market, and wonder why we dont have the $20 DCC-equipped Metro-North M-1 available yet.

-otto-

  by Myke Romeo Angel
 
i already got the message the first time you explained it thank you very much. You still have to realize that i can still have my dreams to want a particular item. I simply replied in the previous thread because maybe if enough people showed intrest in limited run commuter modeling than maybe they could possibly make a limited run edition. I am no dummy & i know that the prices will be not be $20.

What you fail to realize is that some of the products that i want you currently do not offer @ this time. Yes i have tried the route of looking @ your site in hopes of purchasing an Arrow MU III unit, however none of the dealers you had listed currently carry them.

Another thing is most of the information you have posted is not accurate. Some of the dealers claimed they no longer run your products which is a royal pain when you really want something. I even spoke with you personally one time trying to attain the proper channels to go through & YOU yourself were not helpful. That right there could've been a sale for YOU. You told me to use the dealers that were on your link. I went to the SEPTA store down on Market & they looked @ me like i was half crazy, as if they had never even heard of you. Absolute Scale models carries most of your products however some of the information they had on their site was WRONG. I even sent them an e-mail asking for the correct prices on the Arrow MU's & they never got back to me.

Lastly i am the kind of person when i do purchase something, i want it right then & there. I am paying for something & ordering it, i expect it to be there within the next two weeks or so after i have ordered it. A lot of the products you produce you have to wait for & sorry i just don't like to wait.

Now for you to ASSume i was being cheap, was never the issue. You are grouping me & Kyle together when you should not have. Just like you created the business of commuter modeling, there were others before you like GEM modelers, just like there will be others after you.

Take into consideration back in 96 people said an HO Scale AEM-7 would most likely never be made & look what happened. Sometimes dreams do come true. It does not always happen overnight either, but it can happen... So no need for you to try & kill someone's dreams... Oh & just a friendly business advice tip, when someone calls interested in purchasing some of your products it wouldn't hurt if you were just a little bit nicer. I couldn't imagine paying $200 for a product where the person i purchased it from was rude, that's why i stopped purchasing items from Alfred Cappallis.......(sp)

  by [email protected]
 
Thanks, Otto, but still.....these days you have to get to them early, often and hard! ;-)

Yes, we can all dream, Myke. If I didn't dream, I wouldn't have IHP. Cheap models are what we all want, but those days are over. A quality product is what people want above all else- value for their money. In today's economy, manufacturers are going to stick more with tried and true choices like freight and steam models. They sell. Commuter models don't have that same appeal. The overall model railroad market is shrinking anyway- it's not what it used to be, even twenty years ago. (Twenty years ago, there were no commuter models hardly at all except for brass!)

I've been hearing your demands for an Arrow III. I've heard other people express interest to me, too. I'd love to do an Arrow/Silverliner class MU. They are among my personal favorite MU classes because I grew up with them. That's been one of my own dreams for awhile, but I didn't want to do something you or I would not be satisfied with. I've gathered more information on the GE MUs since I was young and I've been learning about more advanced production techniques to be able to do a top-quality Arrow III/Silverliner IV. The only problem is that I don't have the time right now to devote to sitting down and design the model.

Myke, I'm sorry I can't make exactly what you want when you want it. I'm not targeting one person or one area or one scale. It takes time to produce a run of models, even if tooling exists for it. I offer a lot of products. I try to offer a large variety of them, and as I said, a look at the website will show you what I've gotten done in the last few years. But, I do not have everything in stock at one time. Consequently, my dealers will not have everything in stock at one time. Sometimes, you have to wait. I do not make anything to order. I wait until I get enough dealer orders/backorders to do a sizeable run, and they must all be spoken for before the models arrive. That's how I make money- in volume sales. Hey- you wanted a 'Limited run'? That's what IHP specializes in! The big manufacturers don't do 'Limited Runs'! They do thousands of models but the market has to be big enough to justify the costs! They spend the same money on most projects! It has to be justified and most commuter models don't fit this need for them!

'Helpful' is a relative term. If you read the website, you would KNOW that IHP does not sell direct to the public. That is the means by which I have chosen to market my products. I have my reasons for it, which are numerous, and none of which you or most people would care about or understand. Suffice it to say that I provide a list of dealers that carry IHP products. This list changes over time, as it did recently. I try to keep it up to date but sometimes I don't know a dealer's motives until someone like you says that they don't know who I am, and then they get dropped. Others, like Conroy Classic Trains in Lansdowne PA, close up without notification (he had health problems, and I don't think he knew that much about running a business), but he was practically right in my backyard and had whatever products I had on hand available in his store. I am very busy here with pattern making, getting everything coordinated for kit production and lately, painting and assembly of models. I do other things, too. I don't have the time to be talking on the phone anymore. That's why I direct everyone to the website, and if you can't find the answer there, it doesn't exist. I'm doing what I can to help you find what you're looking for, but you have to have some sense to help yourself, too.

As to my dealers, I've dropped many dealers that gave me only occasional business. The dealers listed on the site are the most dedicated and loyal dealers that are willing to stock as well as backorder IHP products. And, don't blame me if the information on their sites is wrong or out of date or not present. That's not my fault. I don't control what they do. In addition, if they don't have stock of an item, that should tell you something as well. My stuff is selling to someone! I'm actually having a hard time now keeping up with orders. I don't carry any inventory. When I do a run, that's it- until the next run. If dealers don't order what they need for when the stragglers come in looking for Arrow I kits, that's not my fault. I explain to them the value of having inventory but only a few understand (Cappelli is one of them).

When I last ran Arrow I kits two years ago, I sold them all quickly. I have not been able to reorder them because I couldn't get them from the caster making them- he had temporarily shut down for renovation. Now, he is casting again and I have a big order of Arrow I cars in with him but have not yet received them. That's why no Arrow I cars are currently in stock at your dealer.

If you don't like to wait, that is going to cause you problems later in life. And, not just with model railroading. Much of our lives is spent waiting. I am only one person doing pattermaking, assembly, and marketing of my models. If you want IHP products faster, why don't you come and work for me? Or, invest some serious money in the tooling for the product? Otherwise, don't blame me for your impatience. I'm working as fast as I can. Sometimes, you not only have to wait, you have to be persistent. Don't expect everyone to do everything for you when you want it. The people I sell my products to KNOW that the product is limited run and that they will have to fork over some money for it AND that they sometimes have to wait for it. They KNOW how this business sometimes works. It's not unique to IHP- the whole hobby business can be like that. You'll be a whole lot happier with IHP, the industry, and your life in general if you have a bit more patience. Take it from someone who has been there!

I'm not grouping you and anyone else together. You both said some things on one thread and I responded to both of you, I thought separately. If not, I apologise. Though there were other commuter models before me, there was nothing on IHP's scope, and judging from past experience, those of us that are experienced in this industry have little reason to be as hopeful as you are for the future. And, I never called you cheap. I'm sorry if you took that the wrong way. But, I am also aware that there are a number of people interested in the hobby of commuter models that are young kids, and they don't know how the business works. All my customers are older, with some money and experience (and patience). The young kids need to learn how things work, and that they are indeed an up-and-coming generation of modelers, but they are still a SMALL portion of the hobby. I'm just happy that there is still an audience for commuter modeling. It's not easy teaching the younger generation these days (I know, because my alternate profession is high school teacher) because they think they know it all. Again, I'm not talking about you personally here, but if you find that you fit some of these criteria, you have some growing up to do.

You must remember that calling me should be a last resort. That's what the website is for. That's why I pay for it. That's why I tell people to go to dealers. The site was intended to be my catalogue and front desk secretary, all in one. In fact, in my future advertising, I'm not even going to print my address and phone# anymore- just the website URL. I expected that people wouldn't have to contact me if all the information was spread out there for them to see. Everyone can access the Internet these days. If you don't have a computer, there are Internet bars, your local library, and a friend's computer. There is no excuse for not being able to access the Internet these days. And that is partially because you are right about one thing: I can be a very caustic person if you catch me on a bad day. I'd rather people not have to face that! :P

There are a lot of people that have shown interest in commuter modeling. Many do not know that it is a niche market that will likely not be fully addressed by the major manufacturers. Small, dedicated specialty manufacturers will have to fill the day for much of what you want. The big manufacturers do watch us little guys, and if they see that we are doing well, they might decide to take a chance. That was my point earlier. By patronizing companies like IHP, you might help your own cause down the road. Even if the big makers end up doing nothing, IHP might have some more capital and wherewithal to invest in, say, an injected-plastic Arrow III or M-2 because I could afford to take the risk. They are more concerned about their bottomline in that regard. For you, it's Win-Win!

So, don't be angry with me because you can't find what you want when you want it. And, yes, I know that Cappelli can be rude, but that's his way. His two biggest problems are that he is rude and disorganized. Sometimes, he comes in the store with a bug up his ass. That's his problem. Just deal with it. He doesn't mean it personally, and he does make an effort to stock IHP products for you when I can get them to him. Other days, he'll even bend over backwards to get you what you want when you want it, if it's available to him.

Finally, a note to anyone who thinks that I overcharge or am not worth consideration: If you have a problem with IHP prices or with ANY manufacturer's prices, or with what products we do or how we do them, that's YOUR OWN DAMN FAULT! If you are unable or unwilling to afford to participate in this hobby, that's NOT our fault. We just do the best we can. We sell plenty to those who CAN afford our products and who CAN appreciate the hard work that goes into them. We make what we can make, how we can make it, when we can make it, and sell it at what we NEED to sell it for to stay in business. No one in the hobby business is getting rich off of it. I certainly am not. Manufacturers know we can't please everyone. Maybe YOU'D like to try investing tens of thousands of dollars and over ten years of your life learning how to run a business and deal with subcontractors and people like yourselves! Then, maybe I'll listen to your complaining!

Peace,

Mike Bartel
IHP
http://ihphobby.tripod.com

  by mlrr
 
Ok,

Now, I don't remember ever mentioning a price that the car should be sold at. I also don't recall saying that the model had to be DCC ready and for $20 each. I find that insulting. If I'm going to be referenced, please reference the facts.

I understand that there's "no market" for commuter train models. What I'm saying and suggesting is that not enough people who desire these models come forward and organize because they lack the information. When I first started with MRRing, I had no idea how big the hobby is in terms of shows and organizations. There's probably lots more out there in that position than you think. That's potentially more people in this potential market that doesn't exist. That's why I love seeing these requests in forums.

Another thing I said was that was that if a mass producer of commuter cars released these models in a specific area, and adjusted thier production practices accordingly, I would think that it would satisfy both the consumer and the manufacturer. I can't tell you how many people I run into in the New York Area who yurn for a M-1 (for example) at a price they can afford.

As for the AEM7, most places where I see a bunch of them piled up and not opened are places that sell them at list price. Secondly, the AEM7s that are probably not selling are the MARC and SEPTA AEM7s. Modelers are snatching up Amtrak AEM7s and you have to take into account that Atlas on thier phase IV and V models are not prototypically acurate in terms of the ditch lights which were installed when prototype AEM7s were repainted in phase IV. Now Atlas other than Brass manufactures was the only company to produce the AEM7, yet they didn't charge near 200 dollars per unit, and it was high quality. Not an undecorated, "dummy" kit.

Another thing to look at and I know Atlas is a mass producer but they charged 134.50 or something for the AEM7s. But that was understandable because you could see what you were paying for. Circuit boards, DCC compatability, high-quality performance, reversible lights etc. So someone like me would readily pay for the locomotive.

I also mentioned in my message WHY I thought the prices were UNREASONABLE. I am not going into that again. I'm not the only one who has felt this way as I've talked to many transit modelers in the NY area. Like you said, some are willing to pay the money, others are less pressed to do so. I was tempted at one time to do some research of my own and actually try to kitbash an M-1 MU 2-car unit, even scratchbuild one just to see how much it would cost to produce it, however I do not have the resources (mainly space and equipment) at the time to undertake such a project. Of course it will cost money to produce a model.

I forgot where I saw this but I saw a two car M-1 MU set at a hobby shop in NYC and they were charging about 50 bucks per car and I felt that was fairly reasonable, even if they weren't powered (and no, I didn't expect them to have DCC, I don't know where that came from). They were fully assembled and highly detailed and painted.

Like Myke, I too went through the dealers listed and none of them seemed to know what I was talking about (even after being put on the phone with the manager) or said they didn't carry your products.

Not to get personal, but I'm curious as to how many of the M-2 units have been sold and where. I like Myke, I was patient for the AEM7, Viewliner Sleeper, and Amfleet IIs and they were mass produced. And I don't believe the Amfleet II is a transit model as they are used on long distance trains.

Note: the comment of grabbing two dimensional heads and slapping them around is not appreciated and I'm surprised that this thread wasn't shut down by nowm, however I will not sink down to another level or loose my composure. Your opinion and beliefs are well noted and thats your right to express them as they are mine. You have no right to threaten anyone because of thier opinions. It can be comments like that that will turn off potential customers. I was close to investing in a two-car set and as I was being persistant, I started to sense an attitude while corresponding with you and then diverted the money I saved to investing in phase V AMD-103s which I also was patient for. Now I'm not experienced with the whole market, but at the same time, I'm not confident with the practices that manufacturers use to find the market for these things.

  by astrosa
 
Kyle,

A few things are amiss with the logic you've been presenting on this subject. You can't "petition a manufacturer to release models at a reasonable price" because then they'd be losing money, even if the models weren't super-detailed and DCC-ready and whatever else they're doing these days. You also can't expect them to "release models in a specific area and adjust their production practices accordingly" because their production practices aren't that simple.

Any injection-molded (or even die-cast) model requires a very large investment in order to produce the necessary molds, which for detailed models like we're used to, probably cost at least $50,000 each if not far more than that. A manufacturer has two options for recovering that investment: sell a limited run of models at abnormally high prices, or sell many thousands of models at prices that consumers would deem "reasonable." The example Mike is making of the AEM-7 is that Atlas needed to manufacture tons of them in order to justify the list price, and the resulting supply far exceeded the demand. If they'd been able to sell out the entire production run, it wouldn't have been a problem, but to produce fewer units would have substantially raised the list price - which could have resulted in even fewer sales due to dissatisfied consumers.

The fact of the matter for resin production is that while it requires a much lesser initial investment - silicon rubber molds are far cheaper and faster to produce than aluminum or steel tooling - each mold has a limited lifespan. Therefore, the production run consists of much fewer units, ergo the unit prices must be higher. Even if there is enough demand to justify additional production runs, each subsequent run requires another investment. Also, the production method itself is different; I'm not aware of automated resin-casting machines, and resin takes much longer to cure than molten styrene takes to cool. All of these factors combine to create the great divide between injection-molded, mass-produced models and resin-cast, limited-production models. You simply can't expect the prices to be comparable.

Until six-axis CNC milling machines become more affordable to smaller manufacturers - thereby reducing the investment to produce tooling for injection molding - or until silicon rubber molds become stable enough to endure hundreds of casting cycles - thereby increasing the production counts for resin casting - this is simply how the industry works. The only way to get a manufacturer to produce a special-interest model for a lower price would be to foot the bill for the tooling and production.

  by mlrr
 
astrosa wrote:Kyle,

A few things are amiss with the logic you've been presenting on this subject. You can't "petition a manufacturer to release models at a reasonable price" because then they'd be losing money, even if the models weren't super-detailed and DCC-ready and whatever else they're doing these days. You also can't expect them to "release models in a specific area and adjust their production practices accordingly" because their production practices aren't that simple.

Any injection-molded (or even die-cast) model requires a very large investment in order to produce the necessary molds, which for detailed models like we're used to, probably cost at least $50,000 each if not far more than that. A manufacturer has two options for recovering that investment: sell a limited run of models at abnormally high prices, or sell many thousands of models at prices that consumers would deem "reasonable." The example Mike is making of the AEM-7 is that Atlas needed to manufacture tons of them in order to justify the list price, and the resulting supply far exceeded the demand. If they'd been able to sell out the entire production run, it wouldn't have been a problem, but to produce fewer units would have substantially raised the list price - which could have resulted in even fewer sales due to dissatisfied consumers.

The fact of the matter for resin production is that while it requires a much lesser initial investment - silicon rubber molds are far cheaper and faster to produce than aluminum or steel tooling - each mold has a limited lifespan. Therefore, the production run consists of much fewer units, ergo the unit prices must be higher. Even if there is enough demand to justify additional production runs, each subsequent run requires another investment. Also, the production method itself is different; I'm not aware of automated resin-casting machines, and resin takes much longer to cure than molten styrene takes to cool. All of these factors combine to create the great divide between injection-molded, mass-produced models and resin-cast, limited-production models. You simply can't expect the prices to be comparable.

Until six-axis CNC milling machines become more affordable to smaller manufacturers - thereby reducing the investment to produce tooling for injection molding - or until silicon rubber molds become stable enough to endure hundreds of casting cycles - thereby increasing the production counts for resin casting - this is simply how the industry works. The only way to get a manufacturer to produce a special-interest model for a lower price would be to foot the bill for the tooling and production.
Alex,

I appreciate your response the most so far since rather than threaten and insult you laid out an explanation for the "less experienced" MRRer. Thank you.

I'm curious. Just what do you think I mean exactly when I say "reasonable price"? I want to make it clear that I think it'd be great if there were a mass production of a transit model namely the M-1s, but I'm not pressed to pay over 200 dollars for a non-operational resign kit. I'm patient enough to see what happens in the future or wait to hit the jackpot, lol. Bottom line, lets say the M-1 model had a motor in one of the units, then that would tip the scales in terms of whether it's worth purchasing the model or not. That's what did it for me when I was trying to learn more about the particular model and when I found out that the power trucks came seperate, I just gave up and left it alone. To invest (for a lack of a better word) in a $200+ model kit made of resign with no other features (and NO, I'm NOT looking for DCC, lighting effects, etc.), just doesn't seem feasible to me. I don't believe in spending over 100 dollars for a single passenger car UNLESS it's a brass model as I know those are more pricey and I expect them to be, if it is a hard to find and out of production and hardly in circulation OR the model does more than just sit and collect dust until you invest additional time and money into the model just to get it to run.

Again I appreciate your response, I actually learned something new from this thread other than someone wanting to "slap me around" (yeah right), thanks to your reply!

Oh one more thing Alex, check the Atlas forum as I asked a related question regarding the AEM7 over there. An Atlas representitive doesn't make it sound as bad as Mike made it out to be. Apparently people who are not even "in the market" for the AEM7 own one or two here or there. Check it out when you get a chance.

  by astrosa
 
Kyle,

I have been involved in discussions very similar to this one before, so I understand your perspective and in fact agree with you on some points. My personal maximum for a single plastic passenger car is around $40, and I'm not sure I've ever even paid that much at a given time. Beyond that amount, unless the model would be nearly impossible to build on my own, kitbashing or scratchbuilding become much more attractive options. However, that's not to say that a price higher than that is unreasonable - it's simply beyond what I'm willing to pay.

My interpretation of your original post was that you felt IHP's prices were not reasonable, and I believe that's what has created this whole issue. Mike's prices are perfectly reasonable, since as he often points out, he makes very little profit from his sales. You get what you pay for, and in IHP's case, you get accurate models with high-quality, one-piece body shells. I don't doubt that another manufacturer could offer an M-1 set for a much cheaper price, but it might exhibit more casting flaws (thick walls, air bubbles, warping) and might be cast in several pieces that would be difficult to assemble since close tolerances are difficult to maintain in resin casting.

As for features, most notably a mechanism, I recall that Mike used to sell some of his models with an under-floor power truck made by Tenshodo. If not, I'm positive that he did carry those power trucks for sale separately at a good price. However, obtaining those trucks from Japan is difficult, and I have not been aware of a reliable importer since Pacific Fast Mail in the '80s and Walthers in the '90s. If I understand correctly, Mike's models still contain provisions for mounting the Tenshodo trucks - which run quite well, by the way - but obtaining them is left up to the modeler.

To offer his models powered would require considerable re-engineering and additional difficulties in obtaining parts, especially since Athearn drive parts are no longer reliably available. There's really no drop-in mechanism that would work for an M-1 (though the Life-Like RDC could probably be modified to suit), which severely limits Mike's options. It's not like other limited-run manufacturers who can offer a diesel shell that drops onto any number of existing mechanisms. Even then, cannibalizing to obtain a mechanism is somewhat wasteful, yet to produce a good drive chassis in-house is difficult enough even for the major manufacturers.

(What would help a lot is a modular chassis system that could vary in wheelbase from around 25' for subway cars to 60' for MUs, and in truck wheelbase from 7' to 9' with wheel diameters from 28" to 36". This is theoretically simple using Athearn-type components, but again the problem is availability of separate parts.)

Anyway, there's a significant difference between whether the prices are "feasible" to you or "resonable" in general. This difference was the cause of a misunderstanding between myself and Mike some time ago. What it all boils down to is that because it is you who cannot afford or choose not to pay his prices, you are not entitled to complain about them in a way that suggests his models are overpriced. If you had purchased one of his products and been dissatisfied with it, this would be a different story.

Also, I think the most glaring example of the AEM-7 issue is how Trainworld has been offering the MARC and SEPTA roadnames at a fraction of the original retail prices for some time now, yet they do not seem to be selling many. Perhaps it would have been better if Atlas had varied the number of units they produced in the different roadnames, with Amtrak naturally being the most popular, but no matter how you look at it, they haven't sold as many units as they needed to.

  by [email protected]
 
Thanks, Alex. Thank goodness someone here understands! :-D

Yes, Alex and I went through this once before, but at no time did I intend anything personal (Alex knows that). It was an issue-driven discussion.

Kyle, I could have had the same kind of discussion with you, but you immediately offend when you get personal, making statements telling everyone stating that someone's products are 'not worth consideration'. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW OFFENSIVE THAT IS?? You, who have never seen an IHP product, nor are ever likely to do so from what you write, are disparaging me in a public forum with no knowledge of my situation or the overall market in general. You dismiss my CONSIDERABLE work, my CONSIDERABLE time, and the MORE THAN CONSIDERABLE effort that I put into this business. This is DISHONORABLE behaviour on your part, and I am a bit old-fashioned in that I value honor, integrity, and discretion in people. THAT'S what makes me want to slap around your two-dimensional mind. No manufacturer in my position would feel any differently. I take my work very seriously and very personally because it is MY WORK. This is how I try to make my living, and when you attempt to interfere with someone's livelihood, don't be so surprised at their response.

If I could make and sell my kits/products cheaper, I would do so. I CANNOT do so at the present. But, my capabilities are improving every year and so is the product. One day, you just may see IHP do an injected-plastic M-1 or Silverliner IV or...who knows? But right now, resin is the way to go for those cars. There are brass importers that are now moving to resin because it is lots cheaper than brass, yet still allows for limited runs with lower investment. They are finding out now what I knew ten years ago!

No M-2 models have been sold by IHP because none have been produced yet. I haven't gotten around to them yet. MANY other things are happening here. Trying to diversify a little, you know.

I don't like the Tenshodo power trucks I used to get for customers. I decided last year to try and design my own power truck, or perhaps a complete power mechanism. This is still a drawing board plan, and I can't tell you any more now, but if successful, it will allow for immediate powering of IHP models. Yes, it will likely increase the price.

You can't compare or judge IHP's (or anyone's) prices beyond what you personally are willing to pay, and that is not IHP's fault. If you're pissed at IHP for not making $20 M-1 kits, if you begrudge Mike Bartel for trying to make what he needs to make to stay in business, if you are peeved by the fact that IHP's choice of medium is resin, then you yourself should question your commitment to the hobby. You cannot say that no one is TRYING to make commuter models, and if you ever saw the models, you would see what Alex is talking about. I am well aware that not everyone will pay for IHP kits but that's OK because I can only make the small number of models for those that will.

But, don't dare make it sound like I don't care or I am trying to hurt modelers. I only get upset when people like Kyle get all ignorant. Trouble is, there's always more of them....:-(

Oh, and my disposition is normally full of bunny-spasms. I'm usually such a sweet person that if you talked to me enough, you'd get diabetes! Okay, I exaggerate, but I'm also not the ogre that some people make me out to be. But, I don't have to stand for certain things and I reserve the right to always defend my positions.

I've wasted enough time on this. I'm building a new kit packing and shipping room. I have a growing business to attend to.

Peace,

Mike Bartel
IHP
http://ihphobby.tripod.com

  by mlrr
 
You're right, Mikes models do have provisions for the Tenshodo Power trucks.

With respect to the AEM7s, if you look at the request for the commuter AEM7s, then yes it's a good example of the AEM7s selling well with respect to roadnames. Amtrak as you stated is the most popular of them all. Also note the the ALP44s appeared to have sold fairly well too. It's hard to find those nowadays.

In terms of complaining about them, I did give a price range in my statement in the other thread so that people could make up thier own minds rather than let thier imagination run wild. I stated that they were somewhere between 250 and 300 dollars. By putting the price there some may think that's not so bad and others will be turned off. The reason why I emphasized allot of the "negativity" per-se is that allot of these things or lack there of (features) were not included with the kit and it was a disapointment so it was more of a warning than an attack.

  by mlrr
 
[email protected] wrote:Thanks, Alex. Thank goodness someone here understands! :-D

Yes, Alex and I went through this once before, but at no time did I intend anything personal (Alex knows that). It was an issue-driven discussion.

Kyle, I could have had the same kind of discussion with you, but you immediately offend when you get personal, making statements telling everyone stating that someone's products are 'not worth consideration'. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW OFFENSIVE THAT IS?? You, who have never seen an IHP product, nor are ever likely to do so from what you write, are disparaging me in a public forum with no knowledge of my situation or the overall market in general. You dismiss my CONSIDERABLE work, my CONSIDERABLE time, and the MORE THAN CONSIDERABLE effort that I put into this business. This is DISHONORABLE behaviour on your part, and I am a bit old-fashioned in that I value honor, integrity, and discretion in people. THAT'S what makes me want to slap around your two-dimensional mind. No manufacturer in my position would feel any differently. I take my work very seriously and very personally because it is MY WORK. This is how I try to make my living, and when you attempt to interfere with someone's livelihood, don't be so surprised at their response.

If I could make and sell my kits/products cheaper, I would do so. I CANNOT do so at the present. But, my capabilities are improving every year and so is the product. One day, you just may see IHP do an injected-plastic M-1 or Silverliner IV or...who knows? But right now, resin is the way to go for those cars. There are brass importers that are now moving to resin because it is lots cheaper than brass, yet still allows for limited runs with lower investment. They are finding out now what I knew ten years ago!

No M-2 models have been sold by IHP because none have been produced yet. I haven't gotten around to them yet. MANY other things are happening here. Trying to diversify a little, you know.

I don't like the Tenshodo power trucks I used to get for customers. I decided last year to try and design my own power truck, or perhaps a complete power mechanism. This is still a drawing board plan, and I can't tell you any more now, but if successful, it will allow for immediate powering of IHP models. Yes, it will likely increase the price.

You can't compare or judge IHP's (or anyone's) prices beyond what you personally are willing to pay, and that is not IHP's fault. If you're pissed at IHP for not making $20 M-1 kits, if you begrudge Mike Bartel for trying to make what he needs to make to stay in business, if you are peeved by the fact that IHP's choice of medium is resin, then you yourself should question your commitment to the hobby. You cannot say that no one is TRYING to make commuter models, and if you ever saw the models, you would see what Alex is talking about. I am well aware that not everyone will pay for IHP kits but that's OK because I can only make the small number of models for those that will.

But, don't dare make it sound like I don't care or I am trying to hurt modelers. I only get upset when people like Kyle get all ignorant. Trouble is, there's always more of them....:-(

Oh, and my disposition is normally full of bunny-spasms. I'm usually such a sweet person that if you talked to me enough, you'd get diabetes! Okay, I exaggerate, but I'm also not the ogre that some people make me out to be. But, I don't have to stand for certain things and I reserve the right to always defend my positions.

I've wasted enough time on this. I'm building a new kit packing and shipping room. I have a growing business to attend to.

Peace,

Mike Bartel
IHP
http://ihphobby.tripod.com
Just when you thought it was safe..................................

Well your growing business shouldn't be concerned with one person's opinion

See, it's comment's like smacking around someones two-dimensional mind that makes someone like me refuse to do business with anyone. Manufacturers get blasted all the time, but the difference is that they are professional about it. Instead of driving people who would be considered in a paticular market away, you should do what Alex has done for you and break it down with out direct attacks. But you'll probably say you don't have time for all that, go to the website, but it doesn't explain that well. The way Alex has broken everything down would bring someone back to the table but then you respond to him and go on attacking people and that doesn't help your cause.

Bachmann, Atlas, Walthers, and other manufactures don't threaten people for thier comments and opinions. As I mentioned before, I still left an option for people to make up thier own minds buy providing a general idea of the price range and what to expect. My initial comments in the other thread are factual in terms of your M-1 kit. The rest is opinion and I trust (and you should too) that peole are smart enough on this forum to tell the difference between facts and opinions.

But I'll tell you what Mike, and I sincerely mean this. Send me a sample of one of the models so that I can check it out and I will send it right back to after "examining" it. If I really like the work done, I will say so and bost about it on forums and my website. I'm not being smart here. I'll pay for the shipment both ways and everything. If you're not comfortable with that then send a picture of YOUR model and not the brass models that you have on your website.

  by [email protected]
 
I challenge you further, Kyle: You're in Philly, right? Arrange to meet me face to face at Cappelli's Hobbies one day, and I'll show you samples of the R11, the Silverliner III, the Arrow I and the N scale El cars. I have no M-1 sample, unfortunately- I've never had any extras in stock to put one together. I can show you the pilot model for the N scale M-1, however, if you like. Email me with the time and date at: [email protected]. I'll even show you that Cappelli isn't so bad, either. It'll save you postage and you get to see more stuff! You get to tell me to my face what you think, too. No other manufacturer would give you this personal opportunity. How about it?

Mike Bartel
IHP
http://ihphobby.tripod.com

  by Myke Romeo Angel
 
Yes Kyle brought up a few other good points as well....

Had Mike explained things in a more friendlier manner on the phone things may not have escalated to the point they are now. Mike what you have to realize is that we are consumers who should be treated with respect. I understand that people have bad days, However! if that is the case don't answer your phone & let the calls go to voice mail. When you feel better than you return the phone calls the following day. You will never gain the audience of the younger generation by type-casting us all together as one.

How can you expect us to buy the products if we spend our time going on a wild goose chase. I tried the methods first of contacting the dealers you had listed only to be turned away rudely. I comprehend very well and did just as the instructions siad provided by the site. I only contacted you when the contact list you had was not currently up to date. Hobbyist are not mind readers and can only do so much with the information they are provided.

Another thing was i even left you a voice mail in the past, sent you an e-mail & you still never replied. I understand indeed that you are truly a busy man indeed, but if that's a potential sell for you than you should be more than willing to assist in anyway you can. The time you took to verbally assault me & Kyle was the time you could've been helping out someone.

You have to realize you are responsible for some of the negative feedback others feel towards you to an extent. (This has nothing to do with pricing either, we have alredy established that three threads ago). Everyone on here can agree with me, if you are spending $200-$300 bucks on an item you @ least want some respect. The tone you had on the phone turned me off to your products. I know that you cannot control how the other hobby shops in the business treat their clientele but you cannot possibly think that I am goin to purchase something from someone like Mr. Capelli who is extremely rude. Why would I want to support a hobby shop who treats me like the scum of the earth.

Just remember if you treat your potential customers like crap, you won't have any after a while. Plus as adults no one ever threatened you, like Kyle said he stated an opinion which everyone has a right to. Insutling people on a message board does not look good for your business as it is only tarnishing your own image not us.

Now a person like Kyle who is young & quite talented might be a great addition to your company. We really should be on the same page not trying to verbally assault one another when we all have the same dreams.

  by mlrr
 
[email protected] wrote:I challenge you further, Kyle: You're in Philly, right? Arrange to meet me face to face at Cappelli's Hobbies one day, and I'll show you samples of the R11, the Silverliner III, the Arrow I and the N scale El cars. I have no M-1 sample, unfortunately- I've never had any extras in stock to put one together. I can show you the pilot model for the N scale M-1, however, if you like. Email me with the time and date at: [email protected]. I'll even show you that Cappelli isn't so bad, either. It'll save you postage and you get to see more stuff! You get to tell me to my face what you think, too. No other manufacturer would give you this personal opportunity. How about it?

Mike Bartel
IHP
http://ihphobby.tripod.com
Sounds good.

I'm not in Philly now but I will be from March 'till the next year. So I'll be happy to meet you face to face and see the models for myself, however I can't judge models that depict a prototype that I've had little exposure to. Perhaps the time will allow you to throw a sample M-1 together or something. Actually if you're talking about the Market-Frankford El then that would be a good sample too.

I guess the weeekend would be most appropriate, probably a Saturday.

I'm not sure where Capelli's is but we can discuss all that in the email as you mentioned.

  by Otto Vondrak
 
Myke, Kyle- No one is threatening and insulting you. If that was the case, this thread would have been shut down a while ago. These forums are for mature individuals, and you have to understand that when you come out and attack a manufacturer without base, you have to expect some "retaliation" (especially when the operation is small, and the manufacturer is very active in MANY rail forums). You really need to consider WHAT you are saying... you may think they are harmless observations and opinions, but in reality they are not. Hopefully this thread is educating both of you as to the realities of production, manufacturing, and distribution.

Guys don't make models of cool stuff and charge $200 "for fun" or "to be mean." They charge what they have to in order to recoup what they put into the project. When I was in middle school (1988), I thought $65 for an Atlas engine was a lot to pay (especially when my income came from cleaning my room and walking the dog). Today, I realize that $65 is not bad at all, in fact, it's a steal (when you consider that an Atlas GP35 from 1984 has NOTHING on an Atlas offering from 2004... separate grabs and details, DCC ready, etc etc) and epsecially now that I dont rely on my chores to make a living (although I have considered leaving my field to return to walking the dog). The remark about a "DCC-equipped $20 M-1" was not a quote from either of you. If it was, I would have attributed it to you. It was a reflection of the mentality that you all seemed to exhibit in your previous posts regarding availability and costs of certain models.

This may be hard to swallow, but just this once, you're going to have to take our word for it. Mr. Bartel's been in this business for a day or so longer than I've been alive, so I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt. When I was younger, I didnt always understand the prices of things and why I couldn't find trains pre-assembled and pre-decorated for Metro-North (I thought the MN Bombardier cars were the COOLEST THING I EVER SAW when I was in high shcool).

I encourage you to look into scratchbuilding or kitbashing an M-1 or M-2. You may in fact learn that you enjoy that aspect of the hobby, or you may find that its easier to make those cars yourself. I'm working on kitbashing an old Bachmann Amfleet car into an SPV-2000- just to see if I can. It will probably come out like crap, because there are just certain things I can't fabricate from styrene. In the end, you may understand why people were willing to track down Mr. Bartel and his production and purchase his resin kits.

-otto-