Welcome to Prototype JunctionWe are a couple of guys (John Drake and Randy Hammill) that want to manufacture model trains. With a decade of experience in manufacturing model trains, and established relationships with factories in China, we're ready to produce some unique freight cars starting in HO scale.
But manufacturing is front-loaded expensive process. It requires a manufacturer to have a significant amount of money up front to fund a project, with the risk that the models won't sell enough to recoup the cost. While there are a lot of fantastic companies producing models in this manner (see the Manufacturers tab for a listing), that's just not something we can do.
But what if we can turn a disadvantage into an advantage?Many other hobbies are turning to crowd funding so a large group of Backers can provided the needed capital. In our experience, two of the largest risks/challenges in manufacturing is the lack of cash-flow, and insufficient sales after the model is produced. This approach eliminates both of those problems right up front.
A significant risk that many crowd funded projects have, though, is the lack of expertise on the part of the Creators. That is, they have a great idea for a product, but have never actually worked with manufacturing. Or they underestimate the cost of the project.
Randy has a decade of experience working with several factories to manufacture model trains and are well versed in the process from start-to-finish, primarily for True Line Trains. The factory we have chosen has produced highly detailed model trains for other companies as well. We've already started the process, and have the quotes and the factory ready to start the design and production of the tooling and the models. John's extensive business and financial experience ensures that there will be no surprises on the business side.
We can take care of the major risks and challenges on the manufacturing side What we need are a couple of thousand modelers excited not only for the models we've announced in our first project, but also in the possibilities of what we can produce - together - in the future.
You, the Backers, can address the biggest challenge - the funding. You decide what you're willing and able to contribute to the project now.
We feel strongly that we must protect your contribution, so we've chosen to use IndieGoGo, a platform designed for crowd funding. They handle all of the financials and hold the money during the process. If we raise enough pledges to reach our funding goal, they release the money to us within 15 business days after the funding period ends. If we don't reach the funding goal, IndieGoGo automatically refunds the pledges within 5-7 business days.
Building a CommunityWe're approaching our business in this manner because it's really the only way for us to do what we love and want to do. It's been a very successful approach in other hobbies, and we think it will open up other possibilities in model railroading too.
This isn't a commentary on, nor are we trying to replace, other companies in model railroading. They have their established business models, and produce fantastic models, and we want them to keep doing so. But it is a different approach, and we think that we need to do more than just ask for your money to help us produce these models.
We really view this more as a community of modelers, than us as a manufacturer with customers. As we work through the projects, there will be decisions to make. For the second project, the decision starts with what the project should be. But even within the first project, there are other variations we haven't announced that could be done if we raise sufficient funding. There are also a number of different ways to produce the models, and we'll be looking for your input there too. One of the biggest advantages is that we can look at prototypes that most companies wouldn't consider because they think that they would be unable to sell enough cars to make the project viable.
In other words, we really want to know exactly what the Backers want. There's no reason for us to assume we know what you want. It makes more sense for us to ask.
Over the years, we've already seen a lot of what modelers have been asking for. So we've already stated that we're happy to produce decorated and undecorated kits in addition to ready-to-run models. We've designed the project with kitbashers and resin kit manufacturers in mind, with separate ends and roofs. Resin manufacturers are welcome to use our parts to make patterns for their kits.
Others have asked about reweigh dates. We'll apply a reweigh date as close to when we know a given paint scheme was first applied. But we can also include a set of decals, with a variety of background colors (which doesn't need to match the original car color), so you can alter them as you'd like.
We know that there will be other things we haven't thought of. So once the project is funded, we'll start finding out exactly what your expectations are.
Pledge NowOur news feed will keep you up to date with the project and new announcements. You'll also find tabs for each of the cars for this project with lots of prototype information and photos.
It is vital that you make your pledge to back our project on our IndieGoGo page by March 9, 2020 or it will not move forward. We were able to extend the funding period once. The IndieGoGo terms allow a maximum 60-day funding period, and we cannot extend it beyond that date.
So join our project as a Backer and let's make some models.
More on the WebWe want to know what you think. We welcome your comments on our posts, and come join the conversation in our Facebook group and tell us what models you want us (or somebody else) to make.
Listen to Randy on Crew Call with Mike Rose (Vol 2-1)
See John and Randy interviewed by Otto Vondrak and the RMC crew.
Discussion on Model Railroad Hobbyist about crowd funding and our project.
Marty McGuirk's thoughts on his blog. (Full disclosure - I asked Marty if he'd consider writing a post. He's worked in the industry for some time, and I've known him for at least 6 years, although we generally only see each other at shows. Actually, I suspect it's been almost a year since I've seen him. He is well known (much better than me), and well respected in the both the industry and hobbyist circles. I like his perspective (as I figured I would), and the personal endorsement is both unexpected and greatly appreciated. )