Thursday, August 12, 2004

Primed Trolley's Getting Ready to Roll!

I absolutely LOVE seeing this. Makes me wish I had the money to buy 16 trolleys. Jim Cohen is getting a whole bunch of these amazing little machines ready for delivery to his lucky customers.

This is a rare sight, just not something we see everyday. This is how they looked in the early part of the 20th Century. All hand made and each trolley is slightly different. All made in Connecticut, USA! I am always amazed that Jim can even let these leave his house! I guess he has to keep the lights on or something.

One thing to think about, Jim and Joe typically can't make enough of these things. I guess if we wanted to gauge our hobby is healthy, that might be one barometer we could use....Posted by Hello


Gilbert Ives said...

I wonder just how many items Jim Cohen and Joe Mania have produced. What's the true size of this market? Why can't Lionel sell new Standard Gauge (and how many Hiawathas and Commodores were actually made)?

Dave Farquhar said...

It's hard to beat something built by hand using the old methods. Their prices are comparable to MTH, yet you get something closer to the spirit of the old stuff. If I wanted to spend $200, I know which one I'd pick.

As for why Lionel didn't sell much of their modern Standard Gauge: marketing. They can't market their O gauge stuff either. This year's JC Penney special is limited to 800 pieces. Why would they limit a huge retailer like JC Penney to 800 units? Because they don't think JC Penney can sell a thousand, that's why.

If Lionel wants to start selling in decent numbers again, they need to figure out there's more to life than hi-railers. Maybe the Polar Express set will convince them.

Standard Gauge Blogger said...

Lionel really made two great standard gauge sets recently - the Hiawatha and the Vanderbilt set. I have both and both are magnificent.

It really pains me to look at each new Lionel catalog and instead of seeing amazing trains like the one's mentioned above, I see rehashes and reissues of postwar favorites as well as blisteringly expensive scale "anniversary" engines. Plus I really think the accessories (particularly the operating one's) leave much to be desired.

If you are an o-gauge high railer, most of this fare is great albeit more money than the MTH product. Still all manufactured abroad. Hard to tell "where the beef is"? How many circus accessories can one layout have?

And Lionel still has trouble pushing the easy stuff (we are told standard gauge is just too hard to sell).

As one of my colleagues said in the prior post - marketing! Build what people want in the volumes that will sell. As I have seen posted on the TCA Standard Gauge mailing list - every person that sees a Vandy set is in awe. But most people HAVEN'T seen one! As an old boss of mine once said to my team in extreme anger: "I can't teach you common sense!". While the criticism may be out of line, it does go to the heart of the matter.

There is (and has always been) a market and there are people that will really buy standard gauge, lots of it. Lionel Classics standard gauge are now seeing in uptick in resale value because the all important Lionel name is stamped on the side (eventhough they were all made by Mike in Samhongsa).

Let me give one more perspective on this discussion - MTH just came out with a fairly decent prewar flavor catalog for 2004. It has some Dorfan Steamers, Ives Electrics and some nice accessories like the Race Car set. Do you think for a minute that MTH would do this as a flight of fancy for its' owner? I didn't think so either. Mike is a pretty shrewd business man. I know I am going to buy a good chunk of that catalog. Look at Mark Tobias's comments in my interview with him. What did he say is becoming very hot with collectors? American Flyer and Ives Standard gauge is getting hot. What does the MTH catalog have in it? A Mayflower set and a ton of Ives rolling stock and electric engines.

Sorry, off on a rant....