How to Get yourself in Trouble with Model Railroad Pre-Orders

Pre-ordering, it’s the bane of the hobby and a necessary evil all at the same time.  As the quality of models have gone up, and the market has changed, manufacturers and retailers doing commissioned special products want to make sure they don’t get left with thousands of models that they can’t sell or have to discount.   It’s great for the manufacturers as they know exactly how many models to make, and if it will be profitable, but it has tougher impacts on retailers and customers.  The burden of bearing costs of stock have moved from the manufacturers (theoretically with the deepest pockets financially), to the Retailers (middle-sized pockets), and no doubt they are trying to find ways to move the customers (smallest pockets).  I understand this, and in theory I don’t have a problem with everyone bearing some of the risk, but it also means you have to make purchase decisions sometimes years in advance and then have to budget hundreds of dollars not knowing when you will actually have to pay it, or what the final price will be (assuming your retailer doesn’t honour the originally announced price). It also means, if you think you really need a model for a layout, and you don’t order it, you either will never get it, or have to pay a premium on the secondary market later, as no where will have stock sitting around. It’s a disincentive to people getting into the hobby as well in my opinion as people see models, and can never buy them if something would draw them in.  I’m not so smart as to think I have any idea how to fix this, but that’s my mini-rant for now.

The point of this post, was to tackle my own pre-order issues in the face of yet another announcement of a new product.

Early on after I started this blog in May 2016, I wrote a post on my over-abundance of projects.  In that post, under a category of maybe, I spoke of my love for the preserved locomotives of the Caledonian Railway in Scotland”

Caledonian Railway Locomotives.

  • I’d like to build a model of the first steam locomotive I remember, Caledonian 419 from Bo’Ness, but only tricky white metal kits are out there.  I’d also like a model of Caley Jumbo 0-6-0 812, then I’d have models of all three preserved Caledonian Railway locomotives with the Hornby No.123 I have.  Why I need these, well, I don’t, but I want them, which is dangerous.

I haven’t managed to fix my over abundance of projects, not entirely at least.  I’ve been working on it, and trying to stick to finishing things on my workbench rather than finding more, with varying degrees of success.  I have a lot of kits in the pipeline, but they are theoretically freight cars for the planned layout, not new projects that generate a need for more storage or display space

Well, this morning at Model Rail Scotland in Glasgow, the UK retail store Rails of Sheffield announced that they have commissioned Bachmann to produce an exclusive model of the Caley Jumbo 812 class locomotive, one of the two wants on my list quoted above.  As of this morning, they are taking Pre-Orders with a £30.00 deposit (see that comment above about moving the risk and costs to the smallest pockets).  And now I’m sitting here at work, working and blogging and trying to figure out how to convince myself not to place the deposit.

6210944064_f4f61c9d98_oLook at those lines, Victorian Railroading at its Finest (built in 1899 and still running today), and now announced in a Ready to Run exclusive model for the Rails of Sheffield store in England.  Seen here on the Severn Valley Railway in September 2011.

This is where getting into trouble comes into things.  I have a number of models on Pre-Order, some for projects which are “real”, some which are really just display/collection pieces, and I don’t have any room to display them in our current apartment (which poses a problem, and part of the reason I have a table to try to sell off some models in April at the Lakeshore Model Railroaders Flea Market, but I digress, more on that in the future).

My pre-order list maybe isn’t as long as some peoples, but its long enough:

  • Realtrack ScotRail Class 156 – This is a shelf model. I’ll probably regret this one, but its in and being billed sometime soon when.  My only justification was one of my earliest models as a kid was a Lima Class 156 model that my grandfather gave me. It’s a pretty rough model by today’s standards, and the new one is manufactured by Rapido Trains for Realtrack and is a real stunner in both looks and the DCC sound.
  • Rapido SW1200RS CNR – This is one that is due to arrive in Canada in March 2018, it’s on the water as I type coming from the factory to Rapido. At least this is a must have for my modelling era and will likely be a core locomotive on the Liberty Village Line layout.
  • Heljan Lynton & Barnstaple OO9 2-6-2 Locomotive. This pre-order also came from an idea for a diorama to use other models I own in that 2016 post, and it did prompt me to build a custom OO9 locomotive and start a narrow gauge shelf layout (that I haven’t worked on in a while…seems to be trend there). The first run that mine was a part of had all kinds of problems, leading to them being effectively recalled to be re-manufactured.  Allegedly due back to the UK in March 2018, that remains to be seen.  UK pre-orders are a real pain between the potential for price increase and currency conversion rates.
  • Bachmann Scotrail DBSO, a companion to a customized Class 47 #47703 locomotive I did to model a 1980’s ScotRail Push-Pull Trainset. They announced them in March 2013, I think I ordered mine in 2015 or 2016, could show up someday, there’s at least been an engineering prototype produced now.  This is probably one I could still cancel the order for without hurting the Canadian importer I use for some of my UK models.
  • Rapido Canadian Pacific Royal Hudson – Another display case model, as I’m ordering the 1939 Royal Train version of locomotive 2850. First samples look amazing, sounds like it may be in production by end of 2018.  This one’s also one I could cancel, but I’ve wanted a model Royal Hudson since I was probably 10 or 12 years old, and I know I’d kick myself until the end of time if I passed on it now.
  • Locomotion Models/National Railway Museum Great Western Railway 4-4-0 City of Truro.  A model that was released probably 8 years ago now that I’ve been kicking myself over missing that whole time. Another not for layout, but a locomotive that I find incredibly attractive and allegedly a record breaker.  This is another one I could maybe back out of, but I’ve already spent the better part of a decade wishing I’d bought one the last time it was made.

So six big items. Definitely not as bad as many people’s lists, but it’s still a lot of money to budget for, especially as if the rule of the land holds true, and they all show up at the same time!

So back to the just announced model. There is only one British locomotive that I have no layout for that I would want more, and every time someone starts a discussion about a new announcement, everyone expects someone to announce it…

01234_n_15amvrns7n1234The only thing that would have been worse than the announcement of 828, a Caledonian 419 at Bo’Ness, the first working steam locomotive I remember as a child.

A Caledonian Railway Class 439 0-4-4 Tank Engine.  One is preserved, by the Scottish Railway Preservation Society at their Bo’Ness and Kinneil Railway outside Edinburgh.  This was the first steam locomotive I can remember seeing in steam and riding behind, and it has a special place in my heart because of that!

If today’s announcement had been a 419, it would have been meme time…

takemymoneyThank you Futurama…the best most underrated cartoon of the 00’s, That Statement is Technically Correct, the Best Kind of Correct…I’ll stop now and show myself out..

As it is, I suspect in the next few weeks I will place a pre-order for an “As Preserved” model of 828, but I’m not rushing onto my keyboard to place the order. I’m typing a lengthy convoluted blog post to stop myself from doing that. See, good things can happen on the internet!!  Rails is apparently saying 18 months to delivery, or mid 2019. That means no need to rush and order today, can think about it, and make sure if I’m going to, that I get it in before orders close.  It would also likely be the furthest out of my current pre-orders, meaning all the other things I’ve committed to buy should arrive before it.

6213612559_a49b1964ff_oPreserved Caledonian Railways “Jumbo” 812 class locomotive 828 at the Severn Valley Railway in 2011. She’s a looker, and the “As-Preserved” model announced today is seriously tempting me.

9 thoughts on “How to Get yourself in Trouble with Model Railroad Pre-Orders

  1. Beautiful locomotive, that “Jumbo”. And it’s meaningful to you. I say “Go forth, and lay down that deposit!”
    – Trevor (who has way too many orphaned pieces like this, but who cares? It’s a hobby!)

  2. After reading your post, now I want to order a Jumbo and I don’t even model the Irish railways. Do you have any idea what the total cost for the engine would be? I didn’t see an anticipated cost listed.

    • Hi Benjamin,

      I could guess what the total will be, but I have no idea and I haven’t seen an estimated final total from Rails. For this particular Scottish locomotive, its one that I had to have. Similar sized new tooled locomotives have been in the £150 range of late, with rising costs, I could see by 2020, the total for a non-DCC would be somewhere between £150 and £200, hopefully less, but I’m prepared for at least that much.

      I also noticed that I had my classes wrong, 812 isn’t technically a Jumbo, I’ve updated the post to cross out my mistake, but it’s still a lovely locomotive.



  3. Thanks Stephen. I would pre-order it if I had an idea what the total would be, but to blindly sign up is something my wife would kill me for!

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