Friday, September 10, 2004

MTH 2005?

Some nice standard gauge gossip - apparently the tinplate catalog for MTH has been successful, they are going to bring out another tinplate catalog around the York timeframe or near the first of the year.

I like this - new standard gauge that has optional new or old electronics in it. The quality thus far of Mike's tinplate has been very good and I like how he is breathing some life into the hobby. Apparently the Ives Prosperity Specials are sold out!

By the way, let me get on a soapbox for one second (uh oh) - I have seen (predominantly on the AOL boards) some very negative comments about Chinese people, especially when it comes to manufacturing trains and the like. Racism is bad in any form. I see quite a few folks waxing eloquent about American jobs lost, how Joshua Cowen is rolling over in his grave because he liked American jobs, etc.

Might I remind everyone that the first employees at the Lionel plant were actually Italian immigrants. Some Lionel manufacturing and die work was done predominantly in Italy. Even that long ago (almost a century now), smart guys like Cowen could see the global economy. I don't see many train people turning down a prime antique Marklin Gauge 1 piece or new laptop (all of which are made somewhere else). Botom line - be glad we're getting new standard gauge and support the people willing to make it! Lest we forget that all of us are from somewhere else. (ok, I am off the soapbox).

MPosted by Hello


Anonymous said...

Good point on the xenophobia of some in the hobby.

Jim Kelly

Gilbert Ives said...

This reminds me of that old line: "A Conservative is a Liberal who got mugged." And on a personal note, I'd say that my 1970's Heart bled a lot less after spending almost a decade in New Haven.

OK, I agree that Xenophobia is bad but so is Slave Labor. I would ask the question: "Is Walmart good or bad for America?" Yeah, I know it's not really "Slave Labor" in China, but I also remember when people used to care about sweatshops more than saving ten bucks on a shirt. As a country, we only care about saving the ten bucks.

Marc, you're the one who waxes lyrical about Jim Cohen and Joe Mania, so if anyone should be supported it would be these guys. I'd rather repros and replicas made by craftsmen than those made by unskilled and horrendously-underpaid drones. Yeah, I have these cheapish MTH repros myself, but again, if Rich-Art were making them, I'd gladly pay more.

I haven't read the AOL boards, but anti-Offshoring and anti-Immigrant are not synonymous [full-dislosure: I am a fan of Lou Dobbs on CNN]. Mr. J.L. Cowen was a Republican-Protectionist. If it wasn't for protectionism lobbied for by Messrs. Ives and others after the Great War, there would be no American Toy Train producers -- at least at the high end. Marklin and Bing were International Players for decades, and would have the deep pockets to wipe-out little American start-ups like Lionel.

And Cowen ran Lionel like a big family with Big Daddy taking care of everyone -- good wages, benefits, acts of kindness. Look at the record. The Italians who started with Cowen hired their family and friends. The Jews on the sales side hired their family and friends. People loved working there because they knew from experience that they would be alright in tough times as well as good.

A. C. Gilbert hired a lot of women who were able to support themselves and their families. Gilbert never had any real labor union troubles because the employees were treated so well they had no need for a union. Management Gurus today talk about enlightened companies making More Money -- and Gilbert was doing this more than a half century ago. And in the cases of both companies, it was some manipulating corporate swindler who created the ruin.

I'm rambling as usual, but in closing I'll say that my big gripe with MTH is that while they're able to make money and sell it pretty-cheap, I'm not so dazzled with the product. We're talking Quality Control, and that's an important issue no matter WHERE something is made or by WHOM.

Standard Gauge Blogger said...

Actually, if you get a chance, you may want to eyeball the AOL boards. While I agree that anti-immigrant and anti-offshoring are not synonmous, they are synonomous in the minds of many train people. It concerns me when I some of my TCA brethern expressing views that are blatnatly racist - that's just not in the spirit of the club or hobby.

I have seen some fairly nasty posts on Chinese, Koreans, people that can't differentiate Taiwan from Hong Kong and so on.

I do like Jim Cohen and Joe Mania and I too would love to buy product from Dick Mayer vs. imported products.

That really wasn't where I was going with the post though. While I am not for the Wal-Martification of trains, I am for the production of standard gauge.

We could get into a fairly long winded discussion on this, some American factories easily mirror some of the worst anywhere in the world.

The bottom line is that I think we should differentiate between not having any choices at all and be at the mercy of "psuedo scrupulous" dealers at toy train shows and a manufacturer that is still accountable to its' customers here in this country (MTH).