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Spinning the Omnibus Poll results

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  • Jeffrey MacHan
    Hi Gang, As promised, here are my interpretations of the 2001 Omnibus Poll results. Feel free to take issue with anything I write. First, let me thank all of
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 2, 2002
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      Hi Gang,

      As promised, here are my interpretations of the 2001 Omnibus Poll results.
      Feel free to take issue with anything I write.

      First, let me thank all of you who took the time to vote. It wouldn't be
      much fun if no one came out to play! Second, at least 100 members voted.
      How did I come up with this number? Well, the first section totals 100 and
      the last section ($ spent) totals 102. These are the 2 sections were
      answers are mutually exclusive and should actually give the same totals,
      that is if all voters answered both sections. A 2% error rate is very
      comfortable (as if it made any real difference but I like to pretend). 100
      is a nice round number which makes generating % values simple.

      This represents a very impressive response rate of 17%. In some quarters
      this would be considered statistically significant but we won't debate that
      here. Let's just see what we can invent, I mean, infer from the votes....

      POLL QUESTION: Time once again to delve into the
      habits of Z_Scale members. Please
      vote for all choices that apply. Happy


      Section 1. modeling scale

      - My primary modeling scale is Z., 80 votes.
      - My primary modeling scale is other than Z., 20 votes.

      80% of our voters are primarily Z scalers. I suspect that the remaining 20%
      are Nn3 modelers. This would suggest that the remaining votes are a good
      indication of "Z" scale interests.

      Section 2.

      - I consider myself 1st a collector., 11 votes.
      - I consider myself 1st a runner., 59 votes.
      - I run trains and also collect., 53 votes.

      I'm not surprised by the 'unusual' tally of votes in this section. The
      items were not well defined and are definitely confusing. I would
      personally vote for both the second and third items which is probably what
      happened here in a few instances. So it is reasonable to take the 11 votes
      for 'collector' as being the most reliable. That would suggest that a total
      of 89% of respondents can be considered 'runners' rather than 'warehousers'
      for Z products. No offense to our collector friends. If we extrapolate this
      result to the full group we can conclude that the members of Z_Scale have a
      preference for 'running' their trains. Manufacturers may take this
      characteristic into consideration when developping new products for this
      market segment. Locomotives and cars should be produced that will satisfy
      the runner market segment. Manufacturers would then be expected to produce
      excellent running locos (such as AZL products) and choose car body styles
      that can be purchased in large multiples with a variety of road names and
      numbers, much like the strategy of Pennzee for example.

      Section 3. Where do you run your trains?

      - I have a home layout., 74 votes.
      - I have a Z module., 18 votes.
      - I have a portable layout., 35 votes.

      Here again it is possible to vote for 1, 2 or all 3 items depending on the
      individual circumstances. Each item can be considered as a valid % of the
      total voters. 74% have home layouts. 18% have modules and 35% have a
      portable layout. This means that at least 35 of our voters can physically
      take their "Z" to a train show or exhibit on an individual basis and that 18
      can join forces at a module meet. This is great news. With a little
      encouragement if these members took their portable or modular layouts to at
      least 1 train show during the year we'd have a huge impact in terms of
      national visibility. Imagine what progress we might make with the public if
      "Z" were present at 35 to 50 events in 2002!

      Section 4. What side of the Pond strikes your fancy?

      - I prefer European prototype., 49 votes.
      - I prefer US prototype., 54 votes.

      Normally this section should reflect the totals from sections 1 and section
      11. The total is 103. Maybe there were 102 voters after all? Or then
      again, maybe some voters like both and voted for both selections. Probably.
      Anyway, it is obvious that our preferences are evenly split. My
      hypothesis is that this is a right-brain, left-brain thing as well as a more
      limited motive power choice for US prototype in the marketplace. For
      example, I run US prototype based on personal experience and collect
      European for its simple beauty and charm.

      Section 5. What hooked you?

      - I use M�rklin couplers., 77 votes.
      - I use Micro-Trains couplers., 44 votes.

      Okay, I admit that this result surprised me a bit. I thought that MTL would
      get more votes. This must mean that Micro-Trains sells a good deal of
      M�rklin equiped rolling stock. Then again, knowing how hard it is to
      convert M�rklin passenger cars to MTL couplers, I only bothered with the two
      end couplers on the train. I wouldn't even consider modifying M�rklin
      European prototype cars. That reminds me: I wish that MTL would offer
      replacement passenger car trucks with couplers for the M�rklin passenger
      cars. Are you listening George, Eric? Oh and make them short shank to get
      them to couple as close as possible. Thanks. ;-)

      Section 6. Club membership

      - I belong to a model railroad club., 20 votes.

      I don't blame you! I recall a discussion way back that deplored the poor
      reception that "Z" scale had received from established railroad clubs. No
      matter, we'll just have to start our own groups - modular or otherwise just
      like the protogroup that is forming in the US Pacific Northwest. It's hard
      to join groups as a lone "Z" scale modeler. That's one of the fundamental
      reasons that this group was established...to provide the fellowship between
      "Z" scalers that is extremely hard to find in the "real" model railroading

      Next time I'll ask how many belong to a "Z" club or group in addition to the
      standard question.

      Section 7. Party anyone?

      - I would like to attend a Z themed train meet in USA or Canada., 46 votes.

      As a corollary to the preceding question, I was curious to see how many
      members would be interested in a gathering in North America. 46 is a
      healthy number and I would welcome meeting every one of you. How about Ft.
      Lauderdale, FL next July? That will be the major party for the summer but
      there are other possibilities for a "Z" meet...Emaus, PA, Seattle, WA ,
      Portland, OR or Dallas - Houston, TX . If you plan on getting together,
      please inform the group at least 6 - 8 weeks in advance so that those who
      can make it have enough forwarning to make plans. Last year, the Emmaus, PA
      event wasn't mentioned on the list until it was much too late to make plans.
      Let's open things up to the "Z" community via Z_Scale.

      Section 8. Any Volunteers?

      - I am registered as a Z ambassador., 9 votes.

      Wow, 9 Z Ambassadors. This is Great. The next thing we can think about is
      developping "Z" specific promotional materials such as hand-outs and
      information packets that you can use at train shows and meets. I will try
      to put together a "Promo" folder on Z_Scale with texts and pdf files that
      you can print out and photocopy for use at public shows and meets. I don't
      expect to prepare all the materials myself. Your help will be most
      appreciated. Full byline credit will be given for all contributions. This
      could be the beginning of a "Z" Primer for newcomers to "Z" and to the

      Section 9. What are we reading?

      - I subscribe to multiscale model railroad magazine., 42 votes.
      - I am a member of a M�rklin Club., 28 votes.
      - I subscribe to ZClub92., 17 votes.
      - I subscribe to Ztrack Magazine., 56 votes.

      This section should be an eye-opener for the publishers. I infer that our
      members prefer "Z" specific magazines to the general railroading
      alternatives. Although Ztrack has the highest number of subscribers among
      our voters, Rob Kluz still needs to reach another 44% of the membership.
      Hey, Rob, how about a special incentive to Z_Scale members like a 10% rebate
      on the annual subscription rate? Just a thought ;-)

      Section 10. Web enabled?

      - I have a personal website., 30 votes.

      This is a good starting point. We'll see how the number changes by the end
      of 2002. My hope is that evey one of these personal sites provides a
      prominent link to Z_Scale and that the owners of these sites take the time
      to add their URL to the "Bookmarks" section.

      Section 11. Where does all the money go?

      - This year I spent $0-$250 on Z., 12 votes.
      - This year I spent $251-$500 on Z., 18 votes.
      - This year I spent $501-$750 on Z., 18 votes.
      - This year I spent $751-$1000 on Z., 14 votes.
      - This year I spent more than $1000 on Z., 40 votes.

      Hoowee! Look at all the $ being spent on "Z" scale. This has got to be
      encouraging to our manufacturers. My magic calculator came up with a rough
      figure of $119,500 spent by our voters. (I counted $2k for the 40 big
      spenders which is probably very conservative.)

      The average amount spent by the voters is $1,172 USD which comes to $683,376
      spent by the 583 members of the group. In my experience the amount of money
      'invested' in the hobby grows in direct proportion to the number of years in
      the hobby. Once the layout is built the amount might, I said might, drop to
      hover around an annual outlay for new locos, rolling stock and other 'must
      have' items. I'll leave it to you to reflect more on this section. If I
      were a certain manufacturer, I would try to provide a complete solution for
      the new modeler that would help to confirm the newcomer in "Z" and continue
      to provide items that would accelerate the progression to more sophisticated
      modeling and committment to the hobby. Hey, here's an idea for NTS2002...we
      could organize a manufacturers panel to debate the development of "Z" with
      audience participation ;-) It would make a heck of an article for someone's
      magazine, don't you agree?

      That's it for this year's Great Omnibus Poll. I hope that you have enjoyed
      my reading of the results. You are entirely free to disagree. Let the
      debate begin.

      All the best for 2002 (got it right this time),

      Jeffrey R. MacHan
      Chief Imagineer - Val Ease Central RR
      NMRA NTS2001 "Best of Show"
      Z_Scale SIG Coordinator & Moderator:
      Columnist - Ztrack Magazine:

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