It was very good to meet so many of you at the Kettering Show two weeks ago. It was great to renew acquaintance with those I had met before as well as meeting others for the first time. I very much enjoyed the conversation and all the questions that you all posed about Masterpiece Models, about the different tack gauges and aspirations for future models. Several of you were also able to clarify your requirements for our current range of models.
It was the first time that I had visited Kettering and the weather was bitterly cold, so perhaps attendance was a little lower than expected. Our stand was pretty busy all day and I only had about 20 minutes free to look around at other stands. So the layouts never really got a proper look from me, which was a mistake.
In addition to our new models there was a lot of interest on the models on display mainly Michael Brooks’ lovely Bulleid Pacifics, which from a customer viewpoint sadly have all been sold. I took expressions of interest from several of you for past MM models. If we do find suitable examples we will get in touch with you to see if we can meet your individual needs.
We also had identical locomotives in both O gauge and Scale7, so that customers could look at the differences. Most customers could tell the difference both in terms of the track and also the locomotive wheels, and most preferred the S7 versions as stand alone models. However it is for you to decide individually what gauge best suits your needs.
What happens if you do not have a computer or email address and you want to buy or enquire about a Masterpiece Models locomotive?
This problem has been posed to us by a number of customers who don’t have access to email. We have already taken a number of orders by telephone and letter and we are trying to improve the quality of our service for those who do not use (or do not want to use) Information Technology Systems (computers and email).
The easiest way is to contact us by phone on our landline or on our mobile phone. It is better to use the landline 01737 242073 (or +44 1737 242073 if you live abroad outside the UK) as it is generally cheaper and has a better messaging system. Please leave your name and contact details plus a short message on the nature of your enquiry if we are out. We can then ring you or send you the information you requested. Providing you give us sufficient contact details including a telephone number and/or postal address we can respond to your request.
I have to admit that it is not as easy to work around telephone and paper as is by email, but it is still possible to communicate using these channels, even if it takes more time and effort. We have taken at least three orders in recent weeks by letter, so it is possible to work this way. So for those of you who do not do email, please do contact us by telephone or letter.
45XX/4575 Customers: What do I have to do to confirm my reservation?
We have had a large number of prior reservations made before I took the helm of Masterpiece Models, and many of you have already paid deposits. We have now reached the stage where we have finally specified what we are going to build.
When Michael Brooks first offered the 45XX/4575, there were 19 different versions of the locomotive on offer. For 120 models that were initially planned for production, this worked out at an average of just over 6 models per series, which was clearly going to be uneconomic. So we have had to go through a difficult process of rationalising to reduce complexity and the number of different types. This has been a very difficult exercise as necessarily there are some variations that will not be made.
I appreciate that everyone who has expressed an interest or made a reservation will want to be able to check out what specification is available, and whether it meets their desired locomotive requirement. So I propose to email the specification to everyone who has made a reservation before I took over at Masterpiece Models, so that the necessary checks can be carried out.
Essentially we are offering 4 types of 45XX and 1 type of 4575 in 3 basic paint schemes: Great Western Green, BR Black and BR Lined Green. We will be able to adjust the labelling on Great Western to 'Great Western', 'GWR' Shirtbutton or 'Great <Shields> Western', and on BR versions with the totem or the Lion over the Wheel. We also expect to be able to change chimneys, buffers and safety valve types. So this arrangement should give us some flexibility to offer additional variations.
The 45XX models that are being offered comprise:
Type 1: The very early engines short square drop footplate, short smokebox, no struts and flat (small lipped low) bunker
Type 2: Early engines short square drop footplate, longer smokebox with struts short flared higher rear bunker
Type 3: Early engines in later life with short square footplate, longer smokebox with struts, extended higher rear bunker and packed wooden rear buffer beam
Type 4: Later engines with curved long footplate, longer smokebox with struts, extended higher rear bunker
For the 45XX, beyond the selectable items, the difference is primarily in the paint livery.
To try to cover the costs of all these variants we have had to increase the production from 120 to 170 models. Shortly we will have to commit to production and this means that we will not be able to change the mix once this commitment has been made.
What we need from you is confirmation that you still want to take out a reservation and which locomotive type best fits your needs. If you decide that none of the available locomotives are acceptable to you, then we would be willing to cancel your reservation and refund your deposit (if you made one). However, before you cancel, do remember that you have been offered a much higher specification locomotive than was originally promised still at the original price and that this model is unlikely to be re-offered by Masterpiece Models for a long time, if ever again.
20 March 2016