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I've gotten back into the hobby after many years away and am building my collection once again. I am staying with DC for now, and working
within a small budget. Most of my locos are Athearn BB's, Atlas, Bachmann Spectrum and a couple of AHM (Yugoslovia). While on the lookout
for bargains it seems that prices lately have shot into the heavens. A year ago I was able to get Athearns for $30 - $50 shipped to me and now
similar units are $60 and up before shipping! Same for rolling stock.
Anyone else going thru this and offer any explanations?
 

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Hopefully, it will get back to normal some day or the hobby might just die off like others
Blah blah. People have been predicting the death of the hobby since the 1950s.

The fact is there are more variety of products and companies out there than ever before - yes, some of them are very expensive and fairly limited runs, but there are still more "economical" options out there...
 

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You are still in a pandemic where people are home, cooped up, and wondering what in blue blazes they're going to do to keep themselves from going stir crazy. Some got back into the hobby and started building their empires. Personally, I started an O scale layout in the basement for my 3 boys.

Prices have been on the rise ever since the arrival of DCC. Now you have every bell & whistle, literally, along with operating ditch lights, in some instances smoke, and separately applied details galore....which you pay through the nose on. In my humble opinion, the younger generation, kids, are being priced out of the market as who really can drop $200+ on a single locomotive cutting grass these days? Same goes for rolling stock which now has Kadee-esque (some are absolute junk) couplers already installed along with separate details.

We can argue until we're blue in the face about whether or not the hobby is dead. But look at how its called...."Model Railroading". I'd argue that beyond building a layout, the "modeling" part is largely cut out now as you can simply open a box and drop it on the track. There's no customizing left in that scenario. Gone are the days of milling a Varney F2/F3 shell to accept an Athearn F7 drive. Or working up a Hobbytown kit with the proper gearing and actually breaking it in to run smooth as glass. Or cutting up an Athearn DD-35 frame, extending it, and dropping it under a Bachmann DD-40 shell as that was the best it was going to get as Athearn (Genesis) and Bachmann Spectrum didn't carry it - look for my article in RMC back in the early 90's on the subject :)


FWIW: I still prize my Varney, RPP, and Athearn GP30's (Yes I have about a half dozen growlers that I adore).
 

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New kits are still being sold, see Labelle, AMB, BTS, JB Models. What I haven't found is new locomotive kits. I've been buying used but I don't think anyone made any new ones since the 90's or so. Kind of sad, nothing more satisfying than getting the valve gear working properly.
 

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Like Mes. said, we're in the middle of a pandemic, people are locked at home with nothing else to do, so they get back into their old hobbies or enter into a new one. Just about every market in the world has been crippled in some way or another, and in this scenario, there's both a shortage of raw materials, and people are buying more than in previous years. This applies mainly to retail, but of course the second hand market will happily join in the gouging if they see that people are paying more elsewhere.

I'm not trying to be the "um, actually" guy here, cause I know how you feel. I'm a newbie still getting all the things I need, and if my LHS doesn't have something, then I'm screwed more often than not, because said item will usually be up to double the price online, or sold out, and thats without factoring in the ever rising shipping fees.
 

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Besides apparently surging demand, the manufacturers are upping the fine details and accuracy ... And folks are willing to pay for it. Or that's my take.
 

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Some products are in short supply which directly results in increased prices until supply catches up with demand or demand declines to the level of supply. Wages are going up, as companies suddenly begin the process of restarting full production...Labor Costs, not retail prices to consumers, are what economists and industrialists like Warren Buffet worry about. Transportation costs are rising as speculators buy into energy futures.
This all took a little over a year to get to this state, and it will take another year for things to settle down, (give or take a few months).
There are still some bargains around, in answer to the OP's question. Won't be long until train shows resume in real places with real buyers and sellers. As old timers expire, collections go on the market for the best offer...Expand your search.
 

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We can argue until we're blue in the face about whether or not the hobby is dead. But look at how its called...."Model Railroading". I'd argue that beyond building a layout, the "modeling" part is largely cut out now as you can simply open a box and drop it on the track. There's no customizing left in that scenario. Gone are the days of milling a Varney F2/F3 shell to accept an Athearn F7 drive. Or working up a Hobbytown kit with the proper gearing and actually breaking it in to run smooth as glass. Or cutting up an Athearn DD-35 frame, extending it, and dropping it under a Bachmann DD-40 shell as that was the best it was going to get as Athearn (Genesis) and Bachmann Spectrum didn't carry it - look for my article in RMC back in the early 90's on the subject :)
You are, of course, entitled to your own opinion, but the fact that you don't HAVE to do these things anymore doesn't mean the hobby is dying. Far from it. It's becoming more accessible to more people, and it allows hobbyists to CHOSE which aspects of the hobby they enjoy, and concentrate on that, while leaving the drudgework that they don't find particularly fun to someone else (a factory worker). You are, however, wrong about the "modeling" . A model is a "representation, usually in miniature, of something else". It does not imply that it has to be built personally by the modeler. A model structure is a model because it is a representation of a full size building, not because it is assembled from scratch out of a box of sticks and a photocopied set of plans. There are still opportunities to buy locomotive kits and modify them into something else (or start with a fully assembled model and break it down), but the fact that I can buy that fully assembled model INSTEAD of building it myself doesn't mean anything bad is happening to the hobby. If you enjoy tinkering with the innards of locomotives, or modifying them to make a different one, go right ahead. I don't, particularly, and I'm glad I don't have to.
 

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I don't think it's dying either but some parts are doing better than others. Apparently during the pandemic a lot of folks have gotten interested, or re-interested in it that had been in it before. That doesn't mean they are buying 100s the latest things, but it all adds up. American O seems a bit worst off than the others -- HO seems the most vibrant with N slightly behind that. But that's just a feeling.
 

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Agreed. Two things that have kept me out of Scale O, (or for that matter hi-rail O), are cost and lack of space. I'm into HO, and occasionally wish I had gone into N instead. HO has a great variety of products, which makes it very popular....
 

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Agreed. Two things that have kept me out of Scale O, (or for that matter hi-rail O), are cost and lack of space. I'm into HO, and occasionally wish I had gone into N instead. HO has a great variety of products, which makes it very popular....
N has always been tempting for me, but the way my vision is now I'm glad I still have HO.
 

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Same here. I could do a lot in N with the space I have, but N is too small for me to work with. Even with the level of detail that is available these days it's wasted if you can't see it.
 

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Alas I like all the scales -- but I admit for an inside layout in a room which is not a dedicated room that is pretty big but not huge... N is very very tempting. However I stick with HO because not only is it great, it seems to be the vibrant scale. But N is coming along there, no doubt about it.
 

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I could do a lot in N with the space I have, but N is too small for me to work with.
Likewise. My layout isn't done, but I have everything I need to complete it (unless I do that yard expansion). Then I come across a cool feature that I'd really like to add, but there's no room for it. Then I get to thinking I'll just start over with N. Then I go to the LHS (like I did yesterday) and actually see the size of the N stuff in person and... Uhhh, no.
 

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Yep, N is small. And I have a little bit of trouble with HO as far as that goes too. But it doesn't come up too often. I guess it depends -- well this is the way I think about it. It depends how much you really like the actual layout building, populating it with buildings, trees, grass shrubs and -- how big of an area you'd like to cover there. If you are lucky and you have a very large room or space -- perhaps just not an issue. But if you have limits ... the space I have is pretty big I admit but if I went with N, I could probably cram a lot more into it for all that "layout stuff" and take up less space. And since its a dual use room -- that's appealing. Not doing anything yet though, maybe never will -- but its an idea. (a simpler option than a complete redo is to build a actual real but limited small N layout sometime and just how I like it)
 
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