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Very unscientific poll analysis

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  • jmac_han <jmac_han@yahoo.com>
    Hi Gang, Our annual Z_Scale Omnibus survey has come to a close. As usual I will share with you my highly subjective and wholely unscientific analysis of the
    Message 1 of 6 , Feb 2, 2003
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      Hi Gang,

      Our annual Z_Scale Omnibus survey has come to a close. As
      usual I will share with you my highly subjective and wholely
      unscientific analysis of the results. This may be entertaining
      nonetheless.

      Number of respondants in 2002 = 110
      Number of respondants in 2001 = 110

      Despite the fact that there are 300 more members this year than
      for last year's poll, we have exactly the same number of
      participants in the poll.

      How did I come up with the number of participants? I tallied the
      number of responses to 2 sections: the scale type which
      equaled 106 and the money spent section which totaled 114.
      The average of the two = 110. I assume that a couple of
      members voted for more than one spending category and that
      perhaps a few did not answer the scale preference category.

      Now on to the interpretation of the results...

      Primary scale:
      Z scale = 82
      Other = 24

      It's good to see that such a large proportion of participants are
      first and foremost Z-scale enthusiasts. Considering the poor
      rate of participation (13%) by the membership, it is extremely
      hard to extrapolate to the entire group. More on this point later.

      Scale preferences:
      - European prototype = 37
      - American prototype = 64

      Coupler preferences:
      - Märklin = 72
      - Micro-Trains = 57

      These results tend to suggest that many members who prefer
      US prototype are using Märklin couplers. I suppose that is
      because they are running Märklin US protoype equipment. It is
      probably safe to say that most layouts will find a mix of Märklin
      and Micro-Trains couplers on the rolling stock.

      This would suggest that some enterprising manufacturer might
      actually be able to sell a conversion car (one Märklin truck and
      one Micro-Trains truck on the other end). I would suggest that
      these cars be sold in a two-pack for obvious reasons.

      Layouts:
      - home = 73
      - modules = 17
      - portable = 37

      This is interesting for two reasons. First, the number of portable
      layouts suggests that many members have the means to take
      their layouts to train shows and exhibitions. Whether or not they
      do is another story. Second, the number of members with
      modules is impressive. Although still rather small, the module
      builders must be gregarious in nature considering that modules
      are usually built to be set up with other Z-scalers' modules.

      Runner vs collector:

      - runner = 66
      - runner & collect = 48 Total = 112
      - collector only = 7

      Being chairperson of the runners committee I am happy to see
      so many respondants playing with their trains. I suspect that
      most of us have something of a collection going although that
      doesn't appear to be our primary interest by a long shot.

      Subscriptions:
      - ZClub92 = 15
      - Marklin Club = 25
      - Ztrack Magazine = 66 or 60% of respondants

      This should be an eye-opener for our magazine editors and
      publishers. The obvious conclusion is that there is a lot of room
      for improvement in the subscription rate amonst our members.
      If I were a publisher (hint, hint) I would be thinking about
      announcing a promotion of some sort to encourage the 40% of
      members who are not subscribers to sign up.

      Aside: I'm disappointed that so many members have not been
      enjoying my "The Last Spike" column in Ztrack. ;-)

      Spending habits:
      - 0-$1000 = 60
      - 1001-$2000 = 11
      - more than $2000 = 19

      It appears that the majority of Z scalers are not big spenders.
      According to the Model Railroad Industry Association, as
      reported in a recent New York Times article, the average model
      railroader spends $1500 annually on trains and supplies.
      According to my rough calculations (using the max amount per
      cell), our average spending is $1300. So we're on the low side
      of the spending curve. This doesn't seem to support the high
      end locomotive producers but then again, our poll turnout was
      so low that our results can not be used reliably for
      extrapolations. However, from anecdotal evidence, we know that
      several members spend large amounts on high-end
      locomotives and rolling stock.

      Poll participation and group activities:

      Club membership = 26
      World's Greatest Hobby membership = 8
      Poll participation = 110/830 = 13%

      Last year's participation rate = 17%

      This is a surprising result to me. I expected our participation rate
      to increase rather than decrease. With 300 more members than
      last year only 10 more members voted in this year's poll. Along
      with the weak figures for club membership and the dismal
      number of Ambassadors in the World's Greatest Hobby
      campaign, I am tempted to draw a very large generalization.
      Z-scalers are loners!

      OK, you're laughing to yourselves. Gee, Jeffrey, when did you
      wake up and figure that out? There appears to be a pattern
      emerging that our poll tends to confirm: i.e. low group affiliation.

      We rarely see Z at shows or on public display. It is a rare thing
      indeed to see it in hobby shops in North America. I am having a
      devil of a time finding anyone at all to contribute Z material to the
      model railroading press and the vast majority of Z_Scale
      members are content to lurk. No more than 50 or so members
      contribute on a regular basis to the discussions.

      This seems to be in keeping with a general impression outside
      Z-scale that Z-scalers are highly individualistic and discreet.
      This may in fact be the case. However, a hobby segment that is
      made up of a very large silent majority will not have a significant
      influence on the evolution and growth (if there is to be continued
      growth that is) of the scale. The more of us who are vocal,
      visible and gregarious, the better our chances of interesting
      others to join our ranks. As has been said often in messages to
      the list, the more of us there are, the more money will be spent
      and manufacturers will be encouraged to continue to support our
      scale.

      Since according to our poll results, we are mainly concerned
      with having more toys to run, rather than collect, this is a major
      issue for us all. If there is one generalization to be made from
      this year's poll, it is that more of us need to be banging the drum
      for Z, at train shows, in letters to the editors of mainstream
      magazines, in our participation in Z_Scale discussions and
      polls, in preparing articles for publication in Ztrack and
      mainstream hobby publications and in subscribing to our
      favorite Z magazine(s).

      And remember, the few of us who are making all the noise about
      Z, may not reflect your particular interests. Let the world know
      what you enjoy about Z and what you'd like to see produced. Z
      will be better off if we all chipped in. Z can grow much faster with
      your help.

      Think about it.

      ****************

      Your comments and observations are most welcome.

      Enjoy your trainZ,
      Jeffrey MacHan
      Poll spinner
    • zbendtrack@aol.com
      ... In order to spend money, there has to be product to buy. When I started in Z in the mid-1990 s, manufacturer s were dropping items (Kibri, Noch, etc.),
      Message 2 of 6 , Feb 2, 2003
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        Jeffrey:

        > Spending habits:
        > It appears that the majority of Z scalers are not big spenders.

        In order to spend money, there has to be product to buy. When I started in Z
        in the mid-1990's, manufacturer's were dropping items (Kibri, Noch, etc.),
        not increasing the number of items. Fortunately, in the past three years a
        host of new items from new manufacturers have turned up. I have hopes this
        will spur sales to higher levels, and the increase in choices encourage new
        modeler's to enjoy Z scale.

        > This seems to be in keeping with a general impression outside
        > Z-scale that Z-scalers are highly individualistic and discreet.

        Good news. Because of the communications afforded by THIS list, we have been
        successful in finding a number of "closet Z scalers" and getting them
        involved to a greater extent. Prior to this list, it was difficult or
        impossible to even find out who they were and where they were at.

        It was absolutely delightful to see several Z_Scale list members turn up at
        GATS last weekend, run trains and even bring their latest masterpieces in
        modeling along with them. (Strong Hint: A certain person urgently needs to
        post photos of their museum quality buildings he made with Scratch and
        styrene).

        We will continue to do 10 (plus) shows a year with the Z-Bend Track layout.
        And it looks like the Dallas group(s) will continue to "smoke 'em out" as
        well. San Antonio has a Z-Bend Track group coming online as well. Z does
        well in Texas (the state with of no basements for trains).

        Our latest technique is to approach Train shops who sell Z to allow us to set
        up a small Z-Bend Track layout right in their store on a Saturday (a 5 meter
        long layout). It seems they are more than willing to move furniture and
        displays to make room for us. It will increase the exposure of Z scale, and
        perhaps stimulate the store's sales in Z. Ask your train shop if you can set
        up. You very well may get "yes" for an answer.

        Regards,
        Bill K.
        Houston







        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Ron Ratliff
        ... up at GATS last weekend, run trains and even bring their latest masterpieces in ... needs to ... Well, at the risk of losing my professional lurker status
        Message 3 of 6 , Feb 2, 2003
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          Bill K. wrote:
          >It was absolutely delightful to see several Z_Scale list members turn
          up at >GATS last weekend, run trains and even bring their latest
          masterpieces in
          >modeling along with them. (Strong Hint: A certain person urgently
          needs to
          >post photos of their museum quality buildings he made with Scratch and
          >styrene).

          Well, at the risk of losing my professional lurker status ;-) I have to
          thank Bill for his kind words. I'm not sure I would call these two
          buildings "museum quality", but admittedly I was rather happy with the
          way these first attempts at scratch building turned out.

          One of the first things I noticed after getting into Z was the lack of
          American style industrial buildings. I tried several ideas for doing a
          brick curtain building, but was never satisfied with the bricks, the
          doors or the windows. All that changed when Reynard introduced his
          Z-Scratch. I've got to tell you, I was like a little kid at Christmas
          waiting for that first delivery of Z-Scratch. Thanks, Reynard, you made
          this old dude feel young again! Anyway, once I had Reynard's highly
          detailed brick, doors and windows, I added them to the styrene walls I
          had previously worked out and finally got the building I had been trying
          to do all along. These windows were actually made from the Z-Scratch
          1/16" mesh but I think the new windows meant for the Pennzee buildings
          will make this building look better.

          Since I had already built most of the Micro Structures downtown
          building, I was thinking about buying more of those buildings and trying
          to kitbash them into something different. Once again it was Reynard to
          the rescue! The downtown building was inspired by some of the buildings
          I had found in San Angelo, Tx. when I was there over Christmas.

          I've uploaded a couple of pictures of each building to the Photos
          section in a folder named Ron's Buildings. I'm working on several more
          and will upload pictures when they are completed ... and I've learned
          more about using this new camera.

          Ron Ratliff
          Richmond, Tx.
        • David Stoyles
          Hi All, I ve been lurking for a while. I live in Toronto. I ve only been interested in Z scale for a short time, however, I m very interested in it now! I
          Message 4 of 6 , Feb 2, 2003
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            Hi All,
            I've been lurking for a while. I live in Toronto. I've
            only been interested in Z scale for a short time,
            however, I'm very interested in it now! I recently
            went on a trek through the mountains of BC stopping at
            the road side every few kms admiring the train scenery
            (and amusing my wife who is very supportive). Although
            my primary interest is to model CP, I'm looking for
            any z-scalers in the Toronto area. I'm currently
            planning my first layout - a 2x4 foot from 101 track
            plans. I have a dreams of a Z-Bend module at some
            point too (and perhaps a Toronto Z Club). I'm not sure
            how these kinds of contacts are usually made, if it's
            appropriate to reply to me on the list then go for it
            - if not, I'd like to hear from you at
            dastoyles@...
            Cheers everyone, keep up the good work!
            Dave

            P.S. I love Z-Scale Magazine, I just got a few back
            issues in the mail, and am looking forward to the
            arrival of the next issue.

            ______________________________________________________________________
            Post your free ad now! http://personals.yahoo.ca
          • Reynard Wellman
            Hello Ron, Your second batch of Scratch shipped out on Thursday and I was curious as to what exactly you were building. Well, I went to the
            Message 5 of 6 , Feb 2, 2003
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              Hello Ron,

              Your second batch of Scratch shipped out on Thursday
              and I was curious as to what exactly you were building.
              Well, I went to the http://photos.groups.yahoo.com/group/z_scale/
              and found your photos. I am very pleased with the results!

              This is what I had intended all along: a way to use materials
              wether brass, styrene, balsa wood, paper, etc to create very
              authentic, enjoyable structures and accessories for Z scale.

              You have really done an excellent modeling job. Not only is
              there preciseness in execution, there is a great deal of architectural
              charm in the design.

              I hope that others will take a look at the various kits and Scratch
              materials Ron has so aptly used to create these authentic looking
              mid-twentieth century factories. I would even send diorama photos
              to Model Railroader for the photo contest once you have mastered
              your photographic skills. You already have the modeling skills.

              Best regards and thanks for sharing your structures with us.

              Reynard
              On Sunday, February 2, 2003, at 07:43 PM, Ron Ratliff wrote:

              > Bill K. wrote:
              > >It was absolutely delightful to see several Z_Scale list members turn
              > up at >GATS last weekend, run trains and even bring their latest
              > masterpieces in
              > >modeling along with them. (Strong Hint:  A certain person urgently
              > needs to
              > >post photos of their museum quality buildings he made with Scratch and
              > >styrene). 
              >
              > Well, at the risk of losing my professional lurker status ;-) I have to
              > thank Bill for his kind words.  I'm not sure I would call these two
              > buildings "museum quality", but admittedly I was rather happy with the
              > way these first attempts at scratch building turned out.
              >
              > One of the first things I noticed after getting into Z was the lack of
              > American style industrial buildings.  I tried several ideas for doing a
              > brick curtain building, but was never satisfied with the bricks, the
              > doors or the windows.  All that changed when Reynard introduced his
              > Z-Scratch. I've got to tell you, I was like a little kid at Christmas
              > waiting for that first delivery of Z-Scratch.  Thanks, Reynard, you
              > made
              > this old dude feel young again!  Anyway, once I had Reynard's highly
              > detailed brick, doors and windows, I added them to the styrene walls I
              > had previously worked out and finally got the building I had been
              > trying
              > to do all along.  These windows were actually made from the Z-Scratch
              > 1/16" mesh but I think the new windows meant for the Pennzee buildings
              > will make this building look better.
              >
              > Since I had already built most of the Micro Structures downtown
              > building, I was thinking about buying more of those buildings and
              > trying
              > to kitbash them into something different.  Once again it was Reynard to
              > the rescue!  The downtown building was inspired by some of the
              > buildings
              > I had found in San Angelo, Tx. when I was there over Christmas.
              >
              > I've uploaded a couple of pictures of each building to the Photos
              > section in a folder named Ron's Buildings. I'm working on several more
              > and will upload pictures when they are completed ... and I've learned
              > more about using this new camera.
              >
              > Ron Ratliff
              > Richmond, Tx.
              >
              >
              >
              > "Z" WARNING! HANDLE WITH CARE!  Highly addictive in Small
              > DoseZ!
              >
              >
              > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.

              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Reynard Wellman
              Hello David, A 2x4 foot layout will give you plenty of fun. That was the size of my first Z scale layout as well. But now I m reaching for broader curves in
              Message 6 of 6 , Feb 2, 2003
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                Hello David,

                A 2x4 foot layout will give you plenty of fun. That was the
                size of my first Z scale layout as well. But now I'm reaching
                for broader curves in a wider layout and hoping that AZL
                (American Z Lines) will release the Southern Pacific GS4
                Daylight locomotive soon so that I can run my long collection
                of SP Daylight coaches behind it. Why Marklin went to all
                the trouble and expense of making these beautiful cars and
                then never followed through with one of the crowning glories
                of the US steam era, the SP GS4, I'll never know. Surely they
                would have sold every one they made.

                I suspect that they found that those four big driver wheels on
                the GS4 were not compatible with their briefcase radius
                track and turnouts. Derailments would have been a big
                embarrassment to them and could have driven enthusiasts
                to the doorsteps of competitive manufacturers. Well, it's
                happening anyway.

                Welcome to the group.
                Regards,
                Reynard


                On Sunday, February 2, 2003, at 10:20 PM, David Stoyles wrote:

                > Hi All,
                > I've been lurking for a while. I live in Toronto. I've
                > only been interested in Z scale for a short time,
                > however, I'm very interested in it now! I recently
                > went on a trek through the mountains of BC stopping at
                > the road side every few kms admiring the train scenery
                > (and amusing my wife who is very supportive). Although
                > my primary interest is to model CP,  I'm looking for
                > any z-scalers in the Toronto area. I'm currently
                > planning my first layout - a 2x4 foot from 101 track
                > plans. I have a dreams of a Z-Bend module at some
                > point too (and perhaps a Toronto Z Club). I'm not sure
                > how these kinds of contacts are usually made, if it's
                > appropriate to reply to me on the list then go for it
                > - if not, I'd like to hear from you at
                > dastoyles@...
                > Cheers everyone, keep up the good work!
                > Dave
                >
                > P.S. I love Z-Scale Magazine, I just got a few back
                > issues in the mail, and am looking forward to the
                > arrival of the next issue.
                >
                > ______________________________________________________________________
                > Post your free ad now! http://personals.yahoo.ca
                >
                > "Z" WARNING! HANDLE WITH CARE!  Highly addictive in Small
                > DoseZ!
                >
                >
                > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.

                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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