SlotForum banner

1 - 20 of 47 Posts

·
Russell Sheldon
Joined
·
2,855 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Yet again Hornby have posted fantastic half year results. Yet again North American sales are quoted as being disappointing. In fact, Hornby's sales in the USA have declined for the third year in a row. Why?

Curious.

Russell
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
89 Posts
MY guess, and that's all it is, is that RC is very popular over here. I can walk into any hobby shop or big box store and find RC cars, but the nearest place that sells slot cars other than HO scale, is an hours drive away, and they just started offering them recently.

My local hobby shop even races the HO (?) scale RC cars in the back of the shop on the carpeting.

Zippidee
 

·
Brian Ferguson
Joined
·
3,652 Posts
Well, my corner of North America is pretty tiny, but Scaley has a rather minor presence here. I don't know if Scaley marketing and distribution is to blame, or if it's just that dealers have found Scaley to be less popular with the buying public.

Fact is, shops (when you can find one
) do not seem to carry Scaley sets at all, though Carrera is quite common. Likewise for cars, with the order of common stuff being Fly & Ninco, then Carrera, and lastly, Scaley and the minor players.

Obviously, if it isn't in the shops, it doesn't sell.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,398 Posts
D'oh! Read the title and thought it might be a diatribe against supposed freedom of speech or democracy.

What is wrong with America? Well I guess someone at Hornby Towers has been mulling that one over recently, hence the appointment of that yank.

Fergy's note about the pecking order suggests that there must be some history to it all, I mean, Fly and Ninco haven't been around half as long as Scaley, yet they apparently have the jump on 'em.

I would guess at it either being related to poor margins offered by the distributor, a historically poor distributor (ain't Hornby themselves now in charge of that?) or the fact that until recently Scalextric product was very UK centric; go back a few years and what was there in the catalogue to excite the US palate?

Still, I would have thought the Nascars have been around long enough to have some impact. The Trans Ams certainly ought to have had an effect. What have they got to do to appeal to Uncle Sam?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,634 Posts
in my recent holiday to san francisco, it was a lot easier to find Carrera than scalextric. Carrera seem to be having a very active campaign there, and good network of retailers.

It was interesting to contrast how much attention Carrera are giving to american slot racers compared to their blase dissinterested attitude to UK slotters
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,593 Posts
Perhaps Dubya will repay Tony all those points on his loyalty card by throwing Hornby a few Tax breaks Stateside.
Maybe that was the secret manifesto that got him re-elected?

Never underestimate the power of slot racers.
Actually I have no idea what this is about. Just waiting for the paint to dry on Rail Racer's Cunningham...
Sorry.
 

·
Brian Ferguson
Joined
·
3,652 Posts
As an add-on note, I should say that where Scaley does appear here, the price seems to be reasonable. It isn't that they are outpriced - especially against Fly! - but I see more Fly than anything. Perhaps it's a Toronto area bias toward the detailing, but that wouldn't explain why Carrera or Ninco easily outperforms Scaley here. I honestly don't have an explanation for the market trends here, and can only state what I see as the number of products in shops. Even the top shop (in terms of racer knowledge terms, RaceWorld) carries less Scaley than other brands, though more perhaps than most. One shop didn't have any Scaley at all last time I was there, but Fly, Ninco, and Carrera were all present in considerable numbers. Revell/Monogram probably has more presence here than Scaley, and the R/M presence will likely increase with the quality of stuff that they are producing.

Maybe Scalextric should market under a different name here.... and then they'd become a new, sought-after player? I don't know.... I can't explain it....
 

·
Fast Co.
Joined
·
1,240 Posts
There's a lot wrong with America. Just look at who got re-el...

Well, let me keep this about slots. There are pockets where 1/32 scale slot racing is alive and well. The Pacific Northwest and South San Francisco Bay Area come to mind. Otherwise, judging by internet sites it appears to be a basement phenomenon. Guys, like me, build a track, collect lots of cars, maybe scratchbuild some, but have very limited opportunities for club type racing.

I am quite envious of the club racing in Europe, Australia, South America and even South Africa and parts of Asia!

I know of one guy in my area that has his own Carrera track and he's about an hour's drive from me. I suspect there are others. A local hobby shop carries some Scaley and Carrera cars and sets and I notice recently that the pair of new Scaley Classic F-1 cars has disappeared, so there is at least one guy in town into slots.

I'm semi-retired looking for a second career and I've often thought of opening a track in town. But I know I would have to create the market or alas I'm doomed to failure.

On that note, is there anyone out there who could give me some advice on how to operate a commercial track and create a market for slots in my area?

Is it possible to run a track with the commercially available sets from Scaley, Ninco or Carrera - you know, sort of as a showcase of what's available in the 1/32 scale world?

NASCAR is huge here in North Carolina and throughout many of the states and Scaley has NASCAR well represented. Sportscar racing (of which I'm a huge fan) is, I think, relegated to small pockets near the 1:1 road circuits. F-1 only recently has made a small presence here in the States. It's history here has been sporadic. It does get some coverage on the Speed Channel (and the ALMS, and Grand-Am to some extent have helped sportscar racing), but the Speed Channel is 90% NASCAR.

Racing cars in a circle in a football type stadium? I think it's pathetic. With all the land in America, why can't we have even more beautiful road circuits?

Anyway, any advice on running a commercial slot track would be appreciated. I might still consider it if I think there's some chance I could make it even marginally successful here.

Thanks,
Steve
 

·
Fast Co.
Joined
·
1,240 Posts
QUOTE I would guess at it either being related to poor margins offered by the distributor, a historically poor distributor (ain't Hornby themselves now in charge of that?) or the fact that until recently Scalextric product was very UK centric; go back a few years and what was there in the catalogue to excite the US palate?

Still, I would have thought the Nascars have been around long enough to have some impact. The Trans Ams certainly ought to have had an effect. What have they got to do to appeal to Uncle Sam?

Wankel, You make some good points. As far as I know there are two major distributors of 1/32 slots in the States; Scalextric USA and REH distributing. There may be others that I'm not aware of.
Until recently, there really haven't been many American makes represented in anyone's line. I think Fly changed that with the introduction of the Viper, their first model. Now we have quite a bit - Viper, C5R, Chapparals, Scaley Nascar and Trans Am issues and VMG's Can Am cars. (Ain't life grand?)
With the news of Rev-O-Gram back on scene I thought that 1/32 has finally really come to America. And to see a Cobra Daytona Coupe, a GS Corvette and Mustang in their line-up! (Yes, life is grand!!)
But here in Winston-Salem, I've yet to meet a slot car buddy.
The United States in large part is very isolationist when it comes to sports. We have our own national Baseball, Football and Basketball series (none of which I'm a fan) and share hockey with the Canadians, and are only minimally involved in the world sports. It's always bothered me. Maybe because I have travelled quite a lot in my life I find many Americans who haven't to be quite close-minded.

I really do hope that 1/32 scale slot racing takes hold here in the States. Maybe I can champion the cause.

Regards,
Steve
 

·
Fast Co.
Joined
·
1,240 Posts
QUOTE Fact is, shops (when you can find one ) do not seem to carry Scaley sets at all, though Carrera is quite common. Likewise for cars, with the order of common stuff being Fly & Ninco, then Carrera, and lastly, Scaley and the minor players.

I have to disagree with Fergy's note, but that's probably just a difference between the Canadian and US markets. Since 1997, when I got into 1/32 slots I have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, travelled up and down the Pacific Coast, and lived in Washington, DC and now (of all places) Winston-Salem, NC.

In general, it is hard to find 1/32 slots of any manufacturer on a retailers shelves. If a hobby store carries them at all, it is usually in token amounts. California was an exception to that. Hobbies Unlimited in San Lorenzo had a very good selection from all the major players. Most hobby shops that carry slots though, carry either Scaley, Carrera or both. Very few carry Ninco or Fly.

Most of my stuff I bought online. That's where I learned how huge the hobby really is. For years I had a standing order with MRE. Now that the foreign exchange rates are less favorable (thanks, well you know who) I get most of my stuff from Fantasy World in the Seattle-Tacoma area.

Regards,
Steve
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
do the figures in the hornby accounts for the usa relate to the entire scalextric usa operation?

specifically does it include their dealings as a distributor?

maybe the poor trading could be related to brands other than scalextric.

it does sound like carrera have been making major inroads in the usa possibly at the expense of scalextric though.

i dont know what use there is in making a comparison between the uk and usa though. hornby are very strong in the uk with little real competition. i would imagine that 99% of shops in the uk that sell slot cars stock scalextric and the same with hornby products.

this means that with slot cars (maybe model railways as well) growing in popularity hornby would have to do something really really stupid to see a decline in sales.

im not saying there is anything wrong with other brands. just that hornby have availability and placement of their product which other brands can only dream about.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,634 Posts
Mr Blue - in about 1995 (I forget the date), hornby were thinking of selling or closing down scalextric as a pointless and dated exercise in a bygone toy. New management and initiative (and cost cutting by relocating production to china) has built it back up tremendously to the state it is in now. Take nothing for granted in the dynamic and cut-throat world of toys!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
32 Posts
QUOTE (sacesta @ 14 Nov 2004, 09:13)Just curious. What are the volume of Hornby sales in Australia?
Steve
<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Here in Australia Scalextric seem to be selling better than the rest of the manufaturers.
I would have to say this is mainly due to an ongoing price war between the two major retailers here and the fact scalextric are now up to scratch with Fly and Ninco.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,147 Posts
QUOTE What's wrong with America?

Actually Russell, everything and nothing.
There are just too many other hobbies available and racing model cars has not been that popular lately compared to others, and there is hardly any mix between them. R/C racers have no interest in slot cars, HO racers none in 1/32 scale and vice versa.
There are of course many other reasons, the same as why other apparently great products fail why other succeed.
One of the biggest reason is because it is a very large country. Would it be the size of England or Belgium, I am convinced that things would be quite different. The biggest problem is how difficult is is to communicate the message so that it will stick, because it is so expensive. Another reason is a lack of a printed, available medium on newstands that would appeal to the average hobbyist. At this time the only available mag is Model Car Racing, and while being a good effort by Bob Schleicher, it could a bit off the mark. Then again, MAS-Slot International, a pretty decent affair, was a commercial failure in the USA.

One of the problems I see is that once someone has purchased a racing set and unless he builds a permanent table or board in a dedicated place inside a dwelling, there is little chance that the set will be used for more than a couple of weeks before it is put away, permanently. Also these set come with cars already, making the sales of more cars questionable for the average buyer, most such sales being made to static model collectors and hard core racing enthusiasts. Problem is that there are less of them, not more, as the youth have now other interests than bizarre British racing cars they do not know a thing about. From looking at the constanly increasing waist line of younger and younger people showing utter lack of physical exercise and really bad eating habbits, I would assert that the time spent on front of computers is the true killer of slot car racing. On this, I am now going to take a lap around the block in hope to shed the fat from that recently ingested yoghurt parfait.
Regards,

Dok Pea
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
899 Posts
Actually Old Skool, there is only one major retailer in Oz, the rest compete way down the order. No disrespect to any of the smaller ones, they provide a great service to enthusiasts and running race centres are always a good thing. But the biggy pretty much has the Southern Hemisphere under control. That came from the only bloke who would know about Oz figures.

I think the figures on all this are irrelevant. What we need are Scalextric slot cars on every toy shop shelf. Spares are always a problem for the man on the street and everything revolves around the ability to support the product across this wide brown land. Australia's an outdoor place, sell an indoor toy to the masses and you've got it covered. To put it into context for the UK guys, you've more chance of buying a Surfboard in England than a slot car in Oz.

QUOTE the fact scalextric are now up to scratch with Fly and Ninco.

Again, neither readily available in Qld. 100% no chance of a spare part for either at a retail outlet within an hour of where I live here, 25 mins from city centre. Both on a hiding to nothing out here.

We can only hope for their success. That will be good for everyone who likes toy cars in Oz..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
32 Posts
QUOTE (uksqueezea @ 14 Nov 2004, 10:04)Actually Old Skool, there is only one major retailer in Oz, the rest compete way down the order. No disrespect to any of the smaller ones, they provide a great service to enthusiasts and running race centres are always a good thing. But the biggy pretty much has the Southern Hemisphere under control. That came from the only bloke who would know about Oz figures.
<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I have to dissagree, although armchairracer may be the biggest, scalexworld was established long before and defintely plays on a similar level (just alot of people, including me, dont like the man behind scalexworld). If this was not the case, why would we have this price war thats resulting in some ridiculously low prices? And since the distributor for scalextric is actually in Adelaide, I also have access to some pretty reliable figures that would confirm this, assuming there's only one man who knows the state of slotcars in Australia is pretty ignorant.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
349 Posts
US...

Slot Cars = niche hobby
+ niche doing well, in a boom, still small though
+ hard to take next step into mainstream vs PS2/XBOX etc
+ Hornby = British = Pound Sterling
+ US $ = -20% vs GBP = sales down 20% at equal volume
+ US in financial funk, call it a recession if you please, consumer spending and consumer confidence figures confirm less money is being spent

all adds up to lagging US performance for Hornby.
 

·
Fast Co.
Joined
·
1,240 Posts
Ken R makes some good points. Although Hornby has made a valiant effort with the release of Nascar, Trans Am and other goodies like the Cadillac LMP, it could just be a case of bad timing. The US economy is in a bit of a tailspin. And the US dollar is certainly weak compared to the British pound.
Steve
 
1 - 20 of 47 Posts
Top