What's Going On With Toy Trains?
If you’re interested in toy trains, you’ve probably seen a lot of changes in the last five years. Your favorite toy train shop may have moved into smaller digs, or even gone the way of First Place Hobbies and disappeared overnight. You may wonder, what’s going on with toy trains? Has the last 15 years been that hard? Fortunately, not at FineTrains. Sure, every business and industry faces challenges, both long and short term, but is that endemic of the toy train marketplace or something else?
There’s been a lot of consolidation in the heavy industry end of toy trains. Some manufacturers folded. But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If heavy industry pulls out of the toy train market overnight, there are hundreds of little shops all over the world ready to jump in and fill in the gaps. Smaller, leaner non-conventional shops offer faster turnaround times on popular products that is needed in today’s market. They may charge more per item, but the quality and variety of offerings usually makes up for the higher costs.
Out of all the recent startups in the last 10 years, FineTrains is one of the few custom building and short run shops left. I’d like to say, we beat them all, but that’s not why we’re still here. We do what we have always done. Quietly, build the finest models we know how to build. So far, it’s worked. We’ve stood up to Chinese idea theft by moving faster than they can on new products. We prevented a hostile takeover attempt by an Indonesian wholesaler. This year a foreign government tried to steal our brand name by buying FineTrain.Com – without the ‘s’ in the name – and trying to leverage us out of FineTrains.Com, .Net and .Org so they could sell their financial services products. Along the way we’ve also had to handle personal threats to harm our employees, property, person and business by other non-toy train related businesses who think we shouldn’t exist and want to take us out at any cost. Yep, toy trains. A nice quiet business.
But, toy trains continue to exist because of modelers. And, we’re not going away anytime soon. If Bachmann thinks they can starve the On30 modelers into paying more, we’ll go back to what On30 trains has always been. Puffed up HO scale trains built by modelers. If Bachmann pulls their HO scale line, we’ll start making them here again just like we did before. This isn’t a time to give up on toy trains. This is a remarkable time of transition.
There has never been a larger variety of toy trains on the market. And right now, modelers are plugging train layouts into their laptops to control LED lighting, routing, signaling, sounds, animation and more. Now you can ride in the cab of your toy locomotive via tiny cameras and experience your train layout from the engineer’s perspective. And, this is only the beginning of possibilities for toy trains.
So go ahead. Call us a nontraditional source for trains. We’ve been called a lot worse. But if you’re putting off that toy train purchase because you’re not sure toy trains will still be here tomorrow, let me assure you. We’ll be here at FineTrains, whenever you’re ready to get started. Don't forget to visit us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and YouTube.