Throwback Thursday Hornby TT October 22

A week back 10/10/22, Hornby announced they were in the new TT 1:120th scale market.

Earlier in the year Peco introduced a range of products both track and buildings, a few of which are sitting on the review shelf here.

Heljan also threw their hat into the ring with the fascinating prospect of a high fidelity class 31, and the potential of an 08 and J94. With the Hornby announcement both 08 and J94 were listed as products in development and Heljan have subsequently taken the decision to withdraw from the TT market due to the potential of duplication and the obvious negative impact that could have on sales. Of interest was Rails of Sheffield, also copying the same withdrawal announcement onto their Facebook page. I do wonder as Rails have commissioned their own products and limited edition liveries, if perhaps they were considering entering the market and hadn’t yet shown their hand. Needless to say all the above have nearly filled the internet with froth and wibble, so I’m very fortunate in having a little area of clear space here! Its understandable that Heljan, Rails and perhaps others are not considering entering this new scale, the cost of developing a new model across the scales isn’t far apart, so entering a new scale with duplications in ranges, could hamper the development of all ranges, Hornby’s included.

Also different is the marketing approach from Hornby, with them going direct, rather than sales via a dealer, high street presence.This is interesting on two fronts, it has the potential of restricting the market in that other manufacturers and retailers may decide that if there isn’t a critical mass in the market place with TT being widely available ‘on the high street’, there’s little point in developing accompanying ranges.

Peco TT

Peco have taken a very astute way forward in using wooden laser cut kit technology here, thus reducing the financial burden which injection moulding tooling would add to the new scale. They have also invested in tooling for the track ranges, and in the event of the scale not gaining commercial traction in the UK market, that track range sits well in their portfolio, and would sell into the existing European market at the very least.

Warley in a few weeks time is going to be an interesting show in terms of trade announcements. As the headline act in the exhibition circuit its a good place and time to grab a headline. Its possible that some of the other smaller agile manufacturers and commissioners may show their hand in developing new products. Accurascale have already commented via social media that they aren’t contemplating the new scale, and others like Rapido, Cavalex, RevolutioN Bachmann to name just four off the top of my head haven’t yet passed official comment that I’m aware of.

As far as Hornby’s direct sales approach goes its not hard to see the value of it to Hornby, it sort of makes it a captive market. That can have a benefit in that it could drive the majority of TT sales into the Hornby bank account, so good for the shareholders, and Hornby’s bottom line. Obviously retailers would be excluded if we understand the business model announced so far. There’s been plenty of wibble saying this approach won’t work, but the general public won’t have an appreciation of the subtleties of the tie in to the retail trade for other components. I’m very conscious of the way the Low Cost Airlines tore up the travel market twenty years ago. At the time there was plenty comments that people wouldn’t book direct etc etc, but very quickly the public did adopt these new business models and decimated the travel agent industry on the high street, and internet development has radically change business and communication practices, part of the reason I can write this here and you read it!

Hornby have clearly spent a large sum of capital in the development of this range, and we can expect a large amount of advertising to give the range traction both inside the hobby, and to appeal to the public to visit the Hornby website to purchase the products. Over the past few years, even prior to the current economic and political turmoil the world is in, supply chain issues and delays in manufacture have affected all the key players. In the presentation this is addressed with the assurance that there will be a regular flow of product to be available. This supply chain is vital, particularly track. Whilst Peco have introduced flexitrack and the large radius points they’re not the elements that will be required by the public when entering this hobby. I do wonder with Heljan stepping back with an intriguing TTFN sign off, if the industry will wait to see how well the new sale takes off? The online only aspect cuts down the visibility of the scale, particularly on the high street, and if you include ‘box shifters’ web presence and magazine advertising, potentially cutting out those high profile attention grabbers too. The 3D printers such as Modelu may well see an easy niche market to trade in, but its possible that the larger players will step back and see if Hornby is ‘right’, before cutting tooling of their own to currently ‘support’ Hornby’s new marketing drive and product range. There’s little point in range duplication at this point of the development due to the costs involved and limited idea of the scales acceptance by either the public or the established hobby.

Do I think this a good move in the hobby? Overall yes I do. I’ve often thought that TT would offer meant others like me the balance between capturing scenery, and being able to model ‘more railway’ more effectively than either N or OO/HO can provide in the space available. In response to this I have pre ordered an 08 in BR blue as a trial, to see the effectiveness of the new scale. I also have some of the Peco products to build and try out too. The Hornby presentation makes note of the scale and space available conundrum, and the pricing of the models looks reasonable compared to other RTR products, and I think the points are well presented. If the scale works commercially I could see it becoming my primary modelling scale, particularly for the Forest of Dean project I have in mind.

Modelu 1:120 TT figures

The big question though is have Hornby judged the market right? Do they have a robust supply chain and flow of new and ‘existing’ product to support a new scale? I hope they do, its a good news story that the hobby is seen as being able to accommodate a new scale, and a major player is putting a huge amount of money and effort into this new direction. If it takes off it’ll be an excellent boost to the hobby and for Hornby. If it doesn’t go well, it has the potential of significant damage to the Hornby business, and potentially to the overall hobby in the retail sector. Hornby have rolled the dice, lets see what numbers come up!

This entry was posted in 3d, 3d printing, accurascale, Bachmann, blog, British Rail, Cameo, Cameo layout, DC, DCC, dcc sound, Exhibition, finescale, flying scotsman, Forest of Dean, Great Western, Hattons, heljan, HO, ho scale, Hobby, Hornby, Inspiration, internet shopping, Layout, man cave, media, model, model photography, Model Railroad, Model Railway, Modelling, Modelu, n gauge, Narrow Gauge, news, O Gauge, o scale, OO, OO Gauge, peco, Peco TT, product news, railroad, Rails of Sheffield, railway, Rapido Trains, scale, scale modelling, shelfie, throwback thursday, thursday throwback, toy train, train set, TT, TT Gauge, Uncategorized, warley, woodland scenics. Bookmark the permalink.

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