Dear Rapido Customer,
Sorry it's been so long since our last newsletter! Things have been mad the last few weeks, but Dan and I have settled down into our new digs, Bill made it home safely through the storm of the century, and it's time to bring you all up to date. Sit down, relax and enjoy the read. It's a thousand pages, give or take a few.
In this issue of Rapido News:
New N Scale Freight Cars!
You N scalers are amazing. You have been reading each newsletter in the hopes of seeing some N scale content, and you have been EXTREMELY patient. Well, it is finally my pleasure to bring you some big N scale news! I am delighted to announce THREE exclusive Rapido products in N scale:
(OK, the last one was announced a while ago but you've probably forgotten about it by now.)
- Canadian 52'6" Gondola
- CN Bulkhead Flatcar
- CN Pointe St-Charles Caboose
All three N scale models are being made exclusively for Winnipeg-based Prairie Shadows, a well-known Canadian dealer specializing in N scale models. You can order these direct from Prairie Shadows by clicking here. Although Prairie Shadows is primarily a direct retail operation, dealer inquiries are most welcome. The proprietor is Jeff Arnold, whose family have been successful business owners in western Canada for over 50 years.
The prototypes may be Canadian, but any serious US freight fan could tell you that all three of these cars - even the cabooses - were well travelled in the United States. The bulkheads and gons could be found on freights right across the country, and especially in the northeast. The "vans" were particularly prevalent in the Midwest.
Canadian 52'6" Gondola
The drop-end 52'6" gondola was built in the 1950s for CN, CP and TH&B. The model features: fully detailed sides and interior (including the interiors of the sides!); full underbody detail with separate piping; die-cast floor for optimum weight; and body-mounted Micro-Trains couplers. Gondola interior detail is so hugely visible when watching real trains pass, especially from bridges, yet because of the tooling complexity involved it is extremely difficult to do on a model gondola, especially in N scale. We're very proud to have pulled this off.
Initial paint schemes are CN, CP and TH&B. More info can be found on our web site or at PrairieShadows.com. Retail price is $32.95. To guarantee delivery, you need to get your order in with Prairie Shadows by the end of this month.
CN Bulkhead Flatcar
The bulkhead flatcar was built by Hawker-Siddeley's Trenton Works in 1974 for CN as well as DW&P and BC Rail. Our model features: etched ladders applied at the factory; full underbody detail with separate piping; die-cast frame for optimum weight; body mounted Micro-Trains couplers.
Initial paint schemes are CN, DW&P and BCR. More paint schemes and numbers will be announced for the second run at a later date. As above, more info can be found on our web site or at PrairieShadows.com. Retail price is also $32.95. To guarantee delivery, you need to get your order in with Prairie Shadows by the end of this month.
CN Pointe St. Charles Caboose
Ths tooling for the N scale CN caboose is finally finished and we are ready to enter production for Prairie Shadows. Never before has such a crazy quantity of detail and features been attempted in an N scale caboose. We're talking working marker lights controlled by magnetic wand (visible in the photo above), incredible underbody detail (see below) and even interior detail.
The caboose lighting is powered from the track and has a capacitor for reliability over slightly dirty track. The caboose also features fine support wires around the exhaust stacks, separate wire grab irons applied at the factory, seats clearly visible in the cupola, body-mounted Micro-Trains couplers, and of course that amazing underbody detail.
Just look at that beauty. It is hard to believe it is N scale. Paint schemes and numbers can be found on our web site or at PrairieShadows.com. Retail price is $49.95 for now, but it is sure to go up in the next few weeks. To guarantee delivery, you need to get your order in with Prairie Shadows by the end of this month.
Rapido has Moved!
We've finally moved to our new location, and it's not my basement! In the photo above you can see Dan, Janet Golfman (our bookkeeper and office manager) and me in front of:
|500 Alden Road, Unit 16|
L3R 5H5 Canada
|Toll Free 1 (855) LRC 6917|
Local (905) 474-3314
This is a huge step forward for us... we have a SIGN! Wow! And it only took EIGHT YEARS to get one! We've really done our best to keep the train theme front and centre in our new office. Have a look inside:
Those are genuine ex-VIA/CN Heywood Wakefield seats under Dan and me, and you can just see a 1972-vintage CN Dayniter food service cart sticking its nose out from behind our seat. It's nice to have a place to display the piles of original train parts we have kicking around.
Actually, some of those train parts are in fact for sale. You can visit the KingstonSub.com Shop where I have an always-changing supply of original train parts for sale. In addition to those, Dan and I discovered three lengths of stainless-steel radiator covers from heavyweight Club Lounge "Gaiete" sitting in our warehouse. Gaiete was originally built for CN in 1929. I had completely forgotten about them. If anyone would like to buy them, please contact me directly with an offer. The total length is about 24 feet, and they are an essential detail of any train car mockup in your basement!
We don't sell direct to the public from our office as we're just not set up that way. There is a great model train store across the street if you're in the area and looking to buy some trains. If you wish to drop off something for repair, please call to make an appointment first as Dan and I are often out on field trips or in meetings.
That being said, we do plan to host open houses several times a year, likely on a Thursday night, in which you can drop in and talk trains with Dan, me, and your fellow model railroaders. Please stay tuned to Rapido News for info in the coming months. The first one will probably be in May.
Public Service Announcement from Boaz Shron
My son, Boaz, is just as nuts about trains as his Daddy. One of the things that bugs him is the misconception in the popular media as to how trains really sound, and he decided to make a video about it. Please click on the image below or click here to watch Boaz's brief Public Service Announcement.
Speaking of videos, there has been an incredible reaction to my last newsletter and the video of The Guy with the Train in his Basement, which just passed 350,000 views! One of the results of the video was a piece on the Discovery Channel all about Rapido and how we make models from the R&D stage to the final product. It includes some exclusive footage of our factory in China and the R&D for our forthcoming FPA-4 locomotive. To watch the Discovery Channel piece, please click here (it takes a couple of minutes to load). More videos about the train in the basement can be found on the Videos page at KingstonSub.com.
The Canadian has Arrived!
The final shipment of The Canadian finally arrived this morning! The looks on our faces in the photo above was not staged - Janet had the camera ready when we opened the box. Here's what we were drooling at:
When I took The Canadian on tour, everyone went nuts over the Action Red Park Car I had with me. I was regularly told, "I remember the Action Red paint scheme when it was worn out in the 1970s - I never realized it looked so good!"
When CP introduced the Action Red scheme in 1968, it really did look amazing. I think we've captured that in the model, and Dan and I were completely blown away. Our warehouse was also completely blown away...
The Canadian and the LIRR and PC Osgood Bradleys have completely filled up our small warehouse. Well, there would be more room back there if I wasn't storing so many full-size train seats... It is going to be an interesting week trying to get these out the door without defying the laws of gravity or smushing my spare train seats.
The KingstonSub.com Shop is now open!
I've finally got my act together and launched the shop on my personal web site, KingstonSub.com. Here you will find train-related items that bring new definition to the term obscure, from real Pullman reading lights to Amtrak T-Shirts to Scotch glasses and ticket folders. No Bar Mitzvah or wedding reception is complete without CPR cocktail napkins and VIA swizzle sticks! You can also order books, including Sidura's critically-acclaimed novel, Holding My Breath, at the amazing price of $14.95 including world-wide shipping.
A shop run by a model train nut would not be complete without some model trains, so I have two exclusive VIA FP9A locomotives for you. Two of VIA's FP9As received a unique paint job with a larger yellow VIA on the sides as well as angled yellow paint with a late-style wraparound anti-glare panel. And both of them are famous for different reasons.
6524, seen above, was photographed in 1977 and used in VIA publicity materials for the next decade, including the timetable shown in the inset. 6537 has the same scheme but without the VIA on the nose, and became infamous for cracking open like an egg when it hit a stationary freight train in Ingersoll in 1982 (nobody was seriously hurt). Both of these unique locomotives are available in the shop. I only have about 19 of each left - I might be getting more in a few months but I'm not sure yet. Please click here to visit the KingstonSub.com shop.
I'm not getting into the full retail business and you won't find regular Rapido products at the KingstonSub.com shop - please order our standard products from your dealer. But I do plan to make more unique and oddball train-related items in the future to help pay off my mortgage before I'm 200, so please sign up now for the KingstonSub.com newsletter to find out when new items arrive.
Shipment and Production Schedule
Below is a tentative shipping schedule. Click on any link to read more about that product.
We will extend the order deadline for the CN F9B locomotives until after the A units have arrived. You should get a chance to see the A units before committing to buy the B units! More information on the F9B can be found here.
We hope to have our first sample of the GMD-1 Locomotive (link to our YouTube video) next month and then we can finally make the official announcement. We will only take orders until September and then it enters production. I do plan to take the pre-production samples on a western Canadian tour of hobby shops in August. Stay tuned to our newsletter for more info.
Final Update on HO CN Caboose by CMT
For those of you interested in the HO scale Pointe St. Charles caboose project commissioned by CMT, here is a final update. It is our understanding that CMT is no longer in business. Despite repeated efforts, we have been unable to contact the owner of CMT, Tom Tomblin. We must therefore assume that CMT has abandoned and cancelled this project. For those of you who have sent a deposit to CMT, you will need to contact Tom Tomblin to obtain a refund. The email address we have for Tom is firstname.lastname@example.org. We regret CMT has not responded to our numerous attempts to find out more information and that this project will not be going forward.
Upcoming Shows and Some Interesting Reading
We have three shows coming up in April and May, and Bill and I will be missing all three as we'll be in China. Our timing was less than ideal... So please say hi to Dan and Matt (and Jakob) for us when you come to these great shows:
All of the above shows promise to be exciting, and all going well we will have a GMD-1 sample in time for all of them. Click here for a $2 off coupon for the Ottawa Train Expo.
Bill and I have both been busy with our blogs. The top image in this section is from Bill's blog about his adventures along the eastern seaboard in January and about why we do shows and proto meets. It's an interesting look behind the scenes at one important aspect of our business. You can read it here.
The gorgeous photo above is one of many from Fred Lagno's Allegheny Central layout, the topic of my latest blog at KingstonSub.com. It's been a long time since I put my art history training to work, but Fred's layout is a work of art and deserved a proper critique. You can read that blog here. Be sure to visit Fred's web site and order his book.
Personal Request: Publishing Help Needed
I have a request of a personal nature. As many of you know, my wife Sidura is a published author. What you probably don't know is that her Canadian publisher and distributor both went out of business, her US publisher went out of business, and her UK publisher was bought by a conglomerate. The last few years have not been kind to the publishing industry, and this leaves Sidura with a second novel finished and a third well under way but without a publisher.
If you or someone in your family is involved in the book publishing industry and you can help Sidura navigate through this situation, please contact me. She doesn't know I'm including this in the newsletter (well she does now) so I'm toast tonight.
The Perils of Preordering
Finally, for my essay this newsletter I'm going to address the elephant in the room. Or at least I'll try.
We manufacturers have been chanting the preorder mantra for years now: "Preorder. Preorder. Preorder." There is a very real reason for this: because very few stores or distributors order any inventory, we can't make inventory. I've mentioned before how we used to make inventory but when the recession hit we had no cash and 3000 cars in our warehouse that nobody wanted. Once an item is a few weeks old, it seems like you can't give it away. Everyone's cash is tied up buying the latest new releases from other manufacturers.
But the whole CMT fiasco highlights the trouble with the preorder process. What if you order in advance and then the retailer goes out of business? Will you still get your model? What if you put a deposit on something? How do you get your money back?
These are tough questions to answer. First off, a manufacturer very rarely requires a deposit. The Canadian is the only project I can think of from any manufacturer recently that required a deposit. None of our other models have ever required deposits, so if your dealer is taking a deposit he or she is not passing it along to the manufacturer. There are hundreds of dealers who do not require deposits, so you have plenty to choose from.
(As an aside, I should mention that our partner, Prairie Shadows, is not taking deposits on their new N scale Rapido models.)
However, if you are ordering something from a dealer without placing a deposit and they call you to come pick it up, you can't say "I don't want it any more" or "I bought it online for cheaper." That leaves your dealer stuck with the merchandise and is almost as bad as the dealer running off with your deposit. In fact, that is the main reason a lot of dealers do take deposits. They have been stuck with inventory because customers went elsewhere after placing a special order.
But what if your dealer goes out of business? That is a tricky situation. The best solution is probably to contact the manufacturer directly as soon as you hear that the store you ordered from is out of business. That way you can (hopefully) obtain the models either direct from the manufacturer or have them ship the models to a new dealer of your choice. If a distributor is involved, it's difficult but not impossible to still get your models.
So why don't we just forget about the whole preorder thing?
We've all been burned by a bad deal at some point - if you buy a car that turns out to be a lemon, do you swear never to buy a car again? Of course not! You are just more cautious the next time you buy a car.
I think the same approach can be taken with preordering. Don't be in such a hurry to part with your money until the goods arrive, and be judicious about where you place your advance orders. Talk with your dealer before placing the order to ensure that they would be willing to return the model to their supplier if it arrives from the manufacturer and is of substandard quality. You can also check this with the manufacturer as well. Most manufacturers stand by their products. We certainly do. But if you decide never to preorder again just because you got burned once, you might end up cutting off your nose to spite your face and missing models that you have always wanted.
The preorder culture isn't going away any time soon. If too many people decide to "wait and see" rather than preorder, then the manufacturer gets the message that nobody wants the model and they cancel it.
I don't have a perfect answer to the issue of preordering. I wish I did. I'm just trying to show you both sides of the preorder discussion and I hope that bad situations like the CMT caboose don't turn too many people away from our hobby. You can continue this discussion over on the CanModelTrains discussion group, where it is an ongoing topic. This is an issue that isn't going to go away.
Thanks to the three or four of you still reading. I really have to make these shorter. The next newsletter will be short, it will have a new HO scale product announcement, and it should be out in two to three weeks rather than two to three months like this one.
All the best,
Rapido Trains Inc.
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