Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Book Review: Bachmann USA Catalogue

I'm not really supposed to have this. It's intended for US distribution, not UK.

Who cares. I've got it and want to flaunt it.

The Bachmann US catalogue, or should that be catalog, tells a very interesting story about how the company sees their market. I'm going to say from the outset that I think they are right, or at least if they are wrong then they will be the ones who suffer.

Bachmann have looked hard at the market and what it tells them is that toys sell. That's why we have Chugginton on the cover and first 5 pages. Then there is a Barnum & Bailey train set (which I covet) before we move on to Thomas the Tank (Bachmann have the rights to this in the US, Hornby in the UK),.

In fact its page 18 before we see what you might term a "serious" railway model with the first of the proper train set.

Moving on to locos, what struck me is the sheer number of identical models in different colours. American railroads got into standardisation far faster and more effectively than UK ones so you an EMD GP9 can run in 12 different lines livery.

US modellers also buy unnumbered and lettered engines. The GE 70-ton diesel can be bought ibn black, green, red and yellow liveries ready for you to add letters and numbers. Occasionally UK modellers ask for this sort of thing but mostly they whine they shouldn't have to do any work on a model as it falls out of the box. Re-numbering is certainly a no-no in some quarters although the proponents seem as keen on people doing it as those who are against.

Talking of paint, one thing I don't see is factory weathered stock. Maybe Americans like their trains clean, or are just happier making them dirty themselves?

The range is massive: N, HO, O, On30, G. Buildings, controls, track, accessories. The book is 16mm thick and it's on that thin paper ModelRail uses. OK, so it's A5 in size but with 350 page, that's a lot of toy trains.


Colin 't Hart said...

Bachmann proves time and time again that they don't treat the US market seriously. Each time they come with a new "premium" range of locomotives they never meet up to the standards set by other mainstream manufacturers (Atlas, Athearn, Kato, etc). This despite in the past actually making some of these items for the other manufactuteres (at Kader's factories in China).

Now in the last few years -- after stopping production for other manufacturers -- they have announced many new US-outline products, but these also fall short in dimensional accuracy and detailing.

Occasionally they do produce some decent products: The GE switchers you mention are one example.

Anonymous said...

Although it's true that e.g. many railroads ran GP9's, US model manufacturers have in the past been undiscriminating about putting any roadname on any locomotive. The big sellers are Santa Fe and Pennsylvania. As the saying goes, a rabid Pennsy fan would buy a bar of soap with wheels on as long as it said Pennsy on the side...

Vaughan45 said...

I agree with the other comments, Bachmann is known as 'toy train' producer in the states and their range also includes the O scale Williams 3 rail brand. This product positioning maybe because the US market already has a number of 'premium' brands and even the more basic Atlas Trainman range (the idea on which Hornby's Railroad range appears to be based) seem better products. It is therefore to the credit of Graham Hubbard and the team at Bachmann Europe that they have been able to drive up the standard for UK models

Phil Parker said...

Facinating. In the UK, Bachmann are the leading light in quality RTR model railwasy whereas Hornby are on more often seen as the toy train maker. I hadn't expected this to that interesting.

Anonymous said...

I marvel at the breadth of ready to run commercial offerings from Bachmann UK compared to their North American product line. Exampole S&DJR loco's matched to specific loco number with tablet exchangers. Bachmann US sells generic steam loco's that run well but represent no particular railway's loco's.

Steve Lucas, Ontario, Canada.