Sidebar: Dealer Predictions from 1968

In June of 1968, Model Railroader magazine published the results of a large survey they conducted among hobby shop owners across the country. One question was, "Do you have any comments on the present and future of Lionel-size trains? HO, N scale, others?" Here are excerpts from some choice responses specific to N Scale, both positive and negative; a few are surprisingly prescient.

"N scale might stay for a while but on a small market."

"N scale will die out moderately in 2 years' time, as did slot racing."

"N should continue to grow. It is very big in this military area."

"N scale has added more enthusiasm to model railroading
[and] is not taking anything away from HO."

"HO on top for now; N scale on top in next 2 years. Lionel out
except for nuts and collectors."

"N scale is of more interest to those in the 20- to 35-year range, young apartment dwellers."

"N scale is fantastic and will become bigger than ever.
It will replace O, S and TT, but never HO."

"N scale has much potential but sells mostly as an adult toy.
There is a need for N, and we are glad to see it supplementing HO."

"N scale should amount to one third of my train business in a year or so
if ample accessories are available."

"People like N scale because it doesn't take up space. However, we find people end up using as much space as for HO, and spending twice the dollars to fill it."

"N customers are operators; HO are builders. The operators seem to fall off in interest in summer; the builders stay with the hobby all around the year."

"N scale will be good if some good steam locos come out,
and if it is kept out of the hands of children."

"N scale was very slow with me because most of my customers like to build."

"N scale is a big seller in Florida because most houses lack basements."

"N will be popular with apartment dwellers and those who do not have the time to build."

"Operations problems of HO are multiplied in N scale."

"I expect HO to sell along with N for a good time to come."

"If Rapido would get together with Atlas on uniform track, it might save a lot of sales."

"N had a poor showing after all the ballyhoo on how terrific it was going to be."

"N will be a passing fad not quite as big as slot racing."

"N scale seems to be a whole new market."

"N has extreme adult appeal."

"N scale is cute, but has developed no character."

"N scale, like slot cars, is a gimmick. Here today, gone tomorrow."

"N scale customers seem to buy track switches six and eight at a time."

"N has too many kinds of track that are incompatible."

"N scale is a real surprise."


Copyright 2018 by David K. Smith. All Rights Reserved.
Corrections and contributions gratefully accepted!
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