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KOHLER CONFIDENTIAL Is variety the spice of life? Way back in the late Sixties, early Seventies the world of modelling railways appeared to be so much less complicated than it is today. The RTR ‘00’ scale models that were available in the UK during that time were mainly supplied by either Triang, later Triang Hornby and later still plain Hornby, Wrenn, utilising the old Hornby Dublo tooling and Trix Trains with their rather dubious take on what or was not classed as ‘00’ scale. In those days the choice was really straightforward for the modellers. If the locomotive they wanted was not part of either of the existing R-T-R company portfolios the modeller had three simple choices. Firstly, he or she could see if either Wills or Ks produced a kit of the desired locomotive, which they could then attempt to build or pay someone else to make the model. Secondly, they could try and scratch build the model themselves, or three, do without! Three simple choices but in those days the modellers, one could argue were less demanding than they are today but on the other hand possibly more resourceful. Trix eventually and inevitably disappeared but Hornby in the Seventies gained new life and went from strength to strength. They gained new and fresh impetus linked to major investment. At the beginning of the Seventies Hornby were able through some very memorable marketing activity, including harnessing Bernard Cribbins and reducing him to Hornby size, to dramatically expand the UK model railway / toy train market and take it to new heights. As the decade progressed and Hornby continued to develop their range with new locomotives fitted with the latest tender drive mechanisms and increased their overall offering with an abundance of new rolling stock, buildings and scenic accessories the success of the Margate firm caught the eye of two major companies who were not at that time connected to model railways. Quite independent of each other each felt that there were major financial opportunities available in this segment of the model industry. They also believed that there was a section of the market that Hornby were really not catering for and that was to provide enhanced product for the more discerning railway modeller. Being fair to the management at Hornby, from the very beginning of Tri-ang Railways in the Fifties and up to the Seventies Hornby’s main market was with the younger train set and accessories user. The modeller was obviously considered but when faced with financial decisions it is not unusual for any company to steer their products towards those markets that actually pay the lion’s share of the bills. However, that is not to say that Hornby ignored the modeller. I 55

Model Railway Express Issue Two January 2017  
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