“All hat, no cattle”

As I’ve been migrating the photos for this blog off Photobucket, I’ve had the opportunity to re-read all of my posts. It’s been an interesting review.

Today, I came across my post from May, 2012 about MTH buying S Helper Service. At the time, I wrote:

Perhaps MTH will have the clout to overcome S scale’s manufacturing challenges, too, and bring fresh product to market.

Well, that sure hasn’t happened.

In hindsight, the MTH acquisition has turned out to be pretty disappointing. It’s been more than five years, and we’ve seen little out of MTH to support scale 1:64 modellers – or even those doing American Flyer. As an example, S Helper Service offered almost a dozen locomotives, offered in both scale and hi-rail:

SHS Locomotives from the NASG product gallery.

Today, MTH’s S scale locomotive offering is the F3 – and that’s it.

I realize we’re a niche of a niche, but S Helper Service’s Don Thompson seemed to find a way to support us (and thanks for that, Don!)

Fortunately, at least for those willing to build kits, other manufacturers are stepping up. There are rolling stock kits in resin, laser cut wood, brass, and other media. I’m happy to do my part to support those manufacturers who are supporting my hobby…

6 thoughts on ““All hat, no cattle”

  1. One could argue that S would compete with their 0 lines for new “tinplate” entrants rather than providing incremental sales to their bottom line. They wouldn’t be the first manufacturer to smoother competition by purchase.

    • One could argue lots of things, William – and unfortunately, it would all be speculation.
      I’d really like to know what the strategy was at MTH – but I doubt we’ll find out.
      Regardless of their strategy, the result is disappointing.

  2. Trevor,

    It’s just like PRS: a determined S Scaler starts it off and invests a lot of time and money, but the market is not big enough, it seems*, to sustain the momentum. As the joke goes, the easiest way to make a small fortune in S Scale Railway Modelling is to start with a large fortune…

    * That said, there seems to be a good market for limited production runs (circa 500 units) of ready to run locos in the U.K., and I don’t just mean in terms of paint schemes.

    • If you click through and check the listings, the SHS RS-3 listing reads…

      Initially financed by S-Helper Service and manufactured by American Models, with the initial run sold in an S-Helper Service box.

      … while the GP-35 listing reads:

      Produced by American Models, this road name was one of the exclusive road names available only from S-Helper Service during the initial production run.

      So, it seems the two companies were open to working together – a wonderful endorsement of the community that is S scale!

      • I had forgotten that! SHS started specifically to pump-prime projects that went into the AM range. Also true of the FA2.

        What a shame the whole range didn’t go that way!

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