Why S Scale is Almost Dead – a rant…

A couple weeks ago on one of the O gauge forums, someone posted a question in the S Gauge section:

Now that MTH has bought out S Helper Service, what product(s) would you like to see them introduce first?

I replied that I’d like to see classic American Flyer track, a classic American Flyer style steam locomotive, and a scale (i.e. similar in detail and quality to Athearn’s Genesis line) GP-9. Almost immediately there was negative response to my answer. Some questioned why we “need” classic style track when Lionel has “better” FasTrack available. Most of the negativity was regarding that I dared to suggest a GP9 – after all, American Models has already done one. Well, Big Effing Deal. In fact, I already have the American Models GP9 and while it looks great on a classic AF-style layout, it looks like crap next to my River Raisin brass locos or even my Showcase Line SW1500. It’s a toy, not a scale model. It’s also a 20 year old design. Surely we can have something new or updated after 20 years???

The “idea” that if some company has already made a particular model, no other company should ever make the same model, is STUPID and it limits the growth of S Scale. So what if American Models made a GP9? How many people outside of S Scale know about it? Even if you do know, how easy is to get one? Well, if you want one painted in SP’s Black Widow scheme, you have to buy an undecorated one and have it painted (or paint it yourself, if you have an airbrush and talent and you can find decals). They are out of stock on other road names as well. And what about detail level? Do you tell someone that’s new to the hobby that if they want a locomotive that is detailed to modern standards the have to build it themselves or do without? Guess what? They’re probably not going to do either – instead they’ll move to HO or O scale.

I know some S Scalers would be happy for that to happen. For some reason, they’re proud of the fact that S Scale has a high entry bar. I think that attitude is selfish and self serving. After all, if S really is the ideal scale that so many claim it is (and I agree) why do some want to keep it for themselves? Does it make them feel special??? Sadly, I think it does – at least some of them. I’m calling BS. I want S Scale to grow. I love S Scale and I want to be able to buy nice models that I can put on the track and run. I’d like to be able to walk into a hobby shop and have a nice selection of S Scale locomotives and rolling stock to choose from. I’d like to NOT be the only S Scaler in Sparks because I’m the only one who was lucky enough to find some outdated equipment or I’m the only one willing to put up with a lack of detail.

As long as this stupid idea exists – “it’s been done before, therefore no one else can do it” – S Scale will never grow. Instead it will continue to shrink and eventually die, except for collectors and those who can afford “collector” prices. The rest of us will just be SOL. I’m not trying to pick on American Models here – I like a lot of their stuff. A lot of their diesel locomotives look great on a classic style AF layout but not so great (at least not without a lot of work) on a scale layout. If AM doesn’t want to produce highly detailed scale versions of their locomotives, then WHY NOT let another company do it – preferably MTH?

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