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Whither Tom Yorke? WAS: Questions for this Group

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  • Mike South
    What follows is a strictly personal point of view, but it has been (I hope) carefully considered... :-) For the more general malaise known as the
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 1, 2007
      What follows is a strictly personal point of view, but it has been (I
      hope) carefully considered... :-)

      For the more general malaise known as 'the disappearing true modeller',
      there is no solution. Demographics and changed lifestyles mean that the
      'true modeller' (one who actually builds things for himself) is a
      shrinking breed. How many kids do you now see on a Sunday afternoon
      tinkering under the hood/bonnet of some 10 years old semi-wreck
      automobile with their Dads or brothers? The basic 'societal feedstock'
      has evaporated! I could go on and on, but this is neither the time nor
      the place.

      However, there is almost certainly a '10 year window of opportunity'
      that should see Tom well into (an equally well-deserved) retirement (I
      believe he is currently 57). That is in "Collectors Ready Finished,
      Limited Run, Finished 'Character' Buildings" market. Tom has already
      more than mastered the 'Character' Buildings bit, now we need a change
      in marketing and distribution strategy. A true master in this area is
      Timothy Richards....

      http://www.timothyrichards.com/

      Look at his prices, look at his payroll, look at his distribution
      'downline'. Yes, he has had some bumps along the way (selling via the
      'toys for spoilt and bored dilettante middle aged brats' outlets like
      House of Ascot was not a great idea, as they only ended up deep
      discounting once the 'flavour of the month' had gone stale). But there
      IS a good lesson here. There is in Europe and possibly even in North
      America a 'critical mass' of discerning, deep-pocketed, highly educated
      people who have traveled, have learned to appreciate the best in other
      countries' vernacular architecture AND are prepared to put their Credit
      Cards into action when they see something of QUALITY that piques their
      interest AND brings pleasant memories to the fore as well = 'The
      Talisman Effect'. But, please note, all Richard's buildings are
      FINISHED ready-to-DISPLAY items. The 'trap' that Tom is currently in is
      that, in order to make some sort of a living, his prices are seen as
      'high' by his typical profile buyers (compared to Far Eastern 'coolie'
      labour prices), yet - because these are KITS that still involve the
      purchaser in further high investments in both time and already acquired
      skills - it is the buyers who (in their eyes anyway) put in the true
      VALUE ADDED component of the final, finished product. So Tom totally
      misses out on the area of greatest possible financial gain! Answer?
      Sell only finished product to people who can and will pay for it and
      who are not necessarily remotely interested in the minutiae of how that
      product is made. They simply appreciate an artifact of intrinsic beauty
      and artistic integrity.

      To in some measure illustrate the point, my 'neighbour' out here in
      Calgary, deepest western Canada, is longtime professional modellmaker
      and artist Mike Breuer....

      http://www.erlebnisbahn.at/mbm/

      Mike builds delightfully atmospheric custom-ordered, totally finished,
      European-prototype station and lineside buildings in both 'HO' and 'O'
      scales. Mike's buildings are so darn good that, with only the tiniest
      bit of imagination, you can shrink yourself down to 1:87 or 1:43 scale,
      sit down on the bench outside the building, and listen to the birds
      singing, the cows mooing and the gentle pastoral sounds around you. And
      believe me, people PAY for models of such quality. As is the nature of
      such things, one-offs tended to become 'limited runs', with jigs and
      castings made for just one model being reused for later (near)
      duplicates, hence there are some economies of scale AND the 'learning
      curve' for each new prototype is drastically cut once you get into
      duplication of that specific prototype. I hope Mike won't mind me
      saying so, but he used to offer kit versions of some of his models and
      'key' castings from them. But, bluntly, there was no profit in it, most
      kit buyers were an (economic) pain in the butt to deal with (too much
      correspondence, too many ridiculous questions, too much requested
      'custom' work on what was after all supposed to be a standard KIT
      component). And, to top it all, there weren't nearly enough kit buyers
      anyway (sound familiar Tom?). Now, Mike faces the happy dilemma
      juggling with healthy queues of would-be buyers of 'ready-to-plant'
      buildings, sold at respectable prices that reflect the Value Added that
      Mike's very real design, manufacturing and FINISHING skills justly deserve.

      If Tom truly wants to stay only in the KIT design and manufacturing
      business, I earnestly would suggest looking at the European market. The
      American market for 'Depression Era' and 'Flyblown South-West/Mexican'
      buildings has run its course. Those who remember such buildings fondly
      (?) from their impressionable teen years (we ALL tend to fixate on these
      so-called 'golden years') are either (1) dead, (b) have advancing
      arthritis and crapping out eyesight, (c) are living on tight pensions,
      or (d) are a commercially insignificant body of would-be customers (10
      copies per prototype kit is a sure recipe for commercial suicide).
      Besides, for those who haven't noticed, North Americans have become
      terminally 'cheap' of late, as we have become satiated with quality
      goods from the Far East and now no longer understand or even care what
      goes into making them, just that Wal-Mart can supply them (and destroy
      our hard won manufacturing and skills base in the process).

      If you move to an INTEGRATED line of quality FINISHED items, to a
      recognised model railway scale (I would strongly suggest 1/35), then
      both Military and Railway modellers can admire, collect, use and/or
      'plant' them on their showcases (most) or in their dioramas (quite a
      lot) or their layouts (not many). The 'problem' with European
      vernacular architecture is that it tends to be pretty regional (d--n,
      how I hate all that Faller 'Black Forest' medieval half-timbered plastic
      c--p in HO :-), BUT differing designs from differing areas can be made
      to work together. But please, please don't end up making awful
      pastiches like VLS Custom Dioramics 'European' railway station in 1/35 -
      a ghastly mockery rather than even a 'flavour of' :-) If you want
      'atmospheric' station buildings, look no further than the 60 cm.
      Calvados system [the little gems at Lion-sur-Mer and Luc-sur-Mer
      immediately come to mind] or the metre gauged Tramways de la Corrèze (my
      friends will recognise 'special pleading' for Le Mortier Gumond coming
      in here :-) , whilst the once oh-so-numerous light railways of France,
      Germany, Italy and Spain have more than enough delightful lineside
      buildings to keep Tom going WELL into his [well paid] dotage :-) I'm
      certain that if more Europeans knew of Tom's Porto Vecchio Water Tank
      AND could buy it ready made on a wooden base, complete with indolent
      leaning figure in appropriate 'regional' garb, he would have sold many,
      many more of them.

      Enough rambling (courtesy of a delayed flight on Air Canada and air
      traffic control 'difficulties' courtesy of NavCan) :-)

      Mike South
      Calgary, Alberta, Canada
      ...who for 20 years has modeled the prototype two-foot(ish) gauge on
      3/4" gauge ('On3') track in 1/32 scale, but who has also built and
      enjoyed 13x 'O' scale, 2x 'HO' scale and 1x 'G' scale Tom Yorke kits
      over a 30 year span.
    • Woodie Greene
      Mike S-I don t believe the Southwest US/Mexican thing is worn out or tired. I suggest you check out what s being done in this area. Also, I am not a deep
      Message 2 of 2 , Jun 1, 2007
        Mike S-I don't believe the "Southwest US/Mexican" thing is worn out or tired. I suggest you check out what's being done in this area. Also, I am not a deep pockets baby boomer, just an almost 60 year old "retired" narrow gauge nut. I do appreciate great model building and believe it should be classified as artwork, not some craft or hobby thing. As such, artwork should be available to all who can afford it. This stuff takes time....lots and lots of time and those guys who do this for a living should be compensated properly. Any nutcase can litho some soup cans or splash paint on a canvas, but a true artist creates with heart, mind, and hands. Oh well, that's my 2 cents worth. I just have to keep up my image as a troublemaker and general crumudgeon.
        Byron Davey-Holy mackerel, it is you!! Give me a call & we can run some trains!
                                          Woodie C Greene

        Mike South <mikesouth@...> wrote:
        What follows is a strictly personal point of view, but it has been (I
        hope) carefully considered.. . :-)

        For the more general malaise known as 'the disappearing true modeller',
        there is no solution. Demographics and changed lifestyles mean that the
        'true modeller' (one who actually builds things for himself) is a
        shrinking breed. How many kids do you now see on a Sunday afternoon
        tinkering under the hood/bonnet of some 10 years old semi-wreck
        automobile with their Dads or brothers? The basic 'societal feedstock'
        has evaporated! I could go on and on, but this is neither the time nor
        the place.

        However, there is almost certainly a '10 year window of opportunity'
        that should see Tom well into (an equally well-deserved) retirement (I
        believe he is currently 57). That is in "Collectors Ready Finished,
        Limited Run, Finished 'Character' Buildings" market. Tom has already
        more than mastered the 'Character' Buildings bit, now we need a change
        in marketing and distribution strategy. A true master in this area is
        Timothy Richards....

        http://www.timothyr ichards.com/

        Look at his prices, look at his payroll, look at his distribution
        'downline'. Yes, he has had some bumps along the way (selling via the
        'toys for spoilt and bored dilettante middle aged brats' outlets like
        House of Ascot was not a great idea, as they only ended up deep
        discounting once the 'flavour of the month' had gone stale). But there
        IS a good lesson here. There is in Europe and possibly even in North
        America a 'critical mass' of discerning, deep-pocketed, highly educated
        people who have traveled, have learned to appreciate the best in other
        countries' vernacular architecture AND are prepared to put their Credit
        Cards into action when they see something of QUALITY that piques their
        interest AND brings pleasant memories to the fore as well = 'The
        Talisman Effect'. But, please note, all Richard's buildings are
        FINISHED ready-to-DISPLAY items. The 'trap' that Tom is currently in is
        that, in order to make some sort of a living, his prices are seen as
        'high' by his typical profile buyers (compared to Far Eastern 'coolie'
        labour prices), yet - because these are KITS that still involve the
        purchaser in further high investments in both time and already acquired
        skills - it is the buyers who (in their eyes anyway) put in the true
        VALUE ADDED component of the final, finished product. So Tom totally
        misses out on the area of greatest possible financial gain! Answer?
        Sell only finished product to people who can and will pay for it and
        who are not necessarily remotely interested in the minutiae of how that
        product is made. They simply appreciate an artifact of intrinsic beauty
        and artistic integrity.

        To in some measure illustrate the point, my 'neighbour' out here in
        Calgary, deepest western Canada, is longtime professional modellmaker
        and artist Mike Breuer....

        http://www.erlebnis bahn.at/mbm/

        Mike builds delightfully atmospheric custom-ordered, totally finished,
        European-prototype station and lineside buildings in both 'HO' and 'O'
        scales. Mike's buildings are so darn good that, with only the tiniest
        bit of imagination, you can shrink yourself down to 1:87 or 1:43 scale,
        sit down on the bench outside the building, and listen to the birds
        singing, the cows mooing and the gentle pastoral sounds around you. And
        believe me, people PAY for models of such quality. As is the nature of
        such things, one-offs tended to become 'limited runs', with jigs and
        castings made for just one model being reused for later (near)
        duplicates, hence there are some economies of scale AND the 'learning
        curve' for each new prototype is drastically cut once you get into
        duplication of that specific prototype. I hope Mike won't mind me
        saying so, but he used to offer kit versions of some of his models and
        'key' castings from them. But, bluntly, there was no profit in it, most
        kit buyers were an (economic) pain in the butt to deal with (too much
        correspondence, too many ridiculous questions, too much requested
        'custom' work on what was after all supposed to be a standard KIT
        component). And, to top it all, there weren't nearly enough kit buyers
        anyway (sound familiar Tom?). Now, Mike faces the happy dilemma
        juggling with healthy queues of would-be buyers of 'ready-to-plant'
        buildings, sold at respectable prices that reflect the Value Added that
        Mike's very real design, manufacturing and FINISHING skills justly deserve.

        If Tom truly wants to stay only in the KIT design and manufacturing
        business, I earnestly would suggest looking at the European market. The
        American market for 'Depression Era' and 'Flyblown South-West/Mexican'
        buildings has run its course. Those who remember such buildings fondly
        (?) from their impressionable teen years (we ALL tend to fixate on these
        so-called 'golden years') are either (1) dead, (b) have advancing
        arthritis and crapping out eyesight, (c) are living on tight pensions,
        or (d) are a commercially insignificant body of would-be customers (10
        copies per prototype kit is a sure recipe for commercial suicide).
        Besides, for those who haven't noticed, North Americans have become
        terminally 'cheap' of late, as we have become satiated with quality
        goods from the Far East and now no longer understand or even care what
        goes into making them, just that Wal-Mart can supply them (and destroy
        our hard won manufacturing and skills base in the process).

        If you move to an INTEGRATED line of quality FINISHED items, to a
        recognised model railway scale (I would strongly suggest 1/35), then
        both Military and Railway modellers can admire, collect, use and/or
        'plant' them on their showcases (most) or in their dioramas (quite a
        lot) or their layouts (not many). The 'problem' with European
        vernacular architecture is that it tends to be pretty regional (d--n,
        how I hate all that Faller 'Black Forest' medieval half-timbered plastic
        c--p in HO :-), BUT differing designs from differing areas can be made
        to work together. But please, please don't end up making awful
        pastiches like VLS Custom Dioramics 'European' railway station in 1/35 -
        a ghastly mockery rather than even a 'flavour of' :-) If you want
        'atmospheric' station buildings, look no further than the 60 cm.
        Calvados system [the little gems at Lion-sur-Mer and Luc-sur-Mer
        immediately come to mind] or the metre gauged Tramways de la Corrèze (my
        friends will recognise 'special pleading' for Le Mortier Gumond coming
        in here :-) , whilst the once oh-so-numerous light railways of France,
        Germany, Italy and Spain have more than enough delightful lineside
        buildings to keep Tom going WELL into his [well paid] dotage :-) I'm
        certain that if more Europeans knew of Tom's Porto Vecchio Water Tank
        AND could buy it ready made on a wooden base, complete with indolent
        leaning figure in appropriate 'regional' garb, he would have sold many,
        many more of them.

        Enough rambling (courtesy of a delayed flight on Air Canada and air
        traffic control 'difficulties' courtesy of NavCan) :-)

        Mike South
        Calgary, Alberta, Canada
        ...who for 20 years has modeled the prototype two-foot(ish) gauge on
        3/4" gauge ('On3') track in 1/32 scale, but who has also built and
        enjoyed 13x 'O' scale, 2x 'HO' scale and 1x 'G' scale Tom Yorke kits
        over a 30 year span.


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