10 January 2023
“The year to press the reset button,” says Hornby’s Simon Kohler as manufacturer tackles product backlog.
Hornby has outlined its plans for its 2023 range, revealing a number of newly-tooled items. World of Railways attended its annual presentation to the model press last December, where plans for the year ahead were laid out – this time, in addition to its TT:120 range announced in September, 2022.
The year 'to reset'
With numerous issues affecting manufacturers in the Far East recently, from a shortage of electronic components used in the printed circuit boards of models to the many lockdowns during 2022 in China, Hornby’s supply chain has also had to ‘weather a storm’. The manufacturer’s Marketing and Development Director Simon Kohler led the 2023 range presentation with a round-up of 2022 projects that have been subject to some delays.
These include its BR Class 2MT, Industrial 88DS, 4-VEPS, Turbomotive, Trans Pennine Class 802/2, Lumo Class 803, Class 755/3 – 4, LNER Class P2 and LMS/BR ‘Black Five’.
Simon said, "As you are more than aware over the last couple of years there have been delays with several new and exciting products. These items have proven rather a challenge for the Hornby Development team, for example, the design of the Black 5, Coronation coaches, steam generator not to mention products already tooled but waiting for a manufacturing slot.
Forthcoming Hornby (R40227) LNER 'Coronation' 'beavertail' observation car for 'OO'.
"What with delays with Covids, plus producing ever more complex models, we have taken the decision that this year will be a ‘reset’ year, a year where we can catch up.
"Before anyone blames the introduction of ‘Hornby TT:120’ can I stress that as will be seen this is not a pessimistic message, far from it but one making you all aware that we cannot keep making promises that are becoming ever more difficult to keep and therefore causing frustration with the modelling fraternity.
"Be assured there is no let up, we already have models designed and ready to go for 2024, we just need this year to catch up. Our passion is to be in a position where what we show new in the catalogue will appear in that same year."
Simon Kohler emphasised that Hornby intends to return to announcing models that it can deliver within a year. Though at first glance, new tooling for Hornby’s 2023 range might appear streamlined, taking into account the many variations of tooling on its newly-announced products, combined with its recently-launched TT:120 range sees Hornby’s design team kept more than busy. “We’ve recruited many new designers” said Simon, adding, “we’ve kept the design team working on TT:120 separate from those working on the OO gauge range, so that capacity isn’t reduced.”
Hornby's 2020 venture into the genre of Steampunk as part of its 2020 new model range announcements saw a range of locomotives, coaches and wagons around the fantasy genre. Late last year, however, it was revealed to World of Railways that for now at least, the Bassett-Lowke Steampunk has been "parked".
Simon Kohler explained, "Hornby are always looking for ways to attract people into the world of model railways and one such route was with the interesting genre of SteamPunk.
"Steam Punk has a huge following with conventions being very well attended and with the natural synergy of steam, plus a little imagination supplied by several Steam Punk enthusiasts we complied a range at little cost to test the water. The range was originally shown at the 2020 London Toy Fair and was received with a great deal of positive response both inside and outside of the modelling world.
"Plans were laid down to attend various Steam Punk conventions around the UK and then came Covids and all plans came to a grinding halt. As we all know Covids affected all our lives and it seems the interest for Basset-Lowke Steam Punk was not immune and we have had to reluctantly park the idea.
"Of course, that does not mean it will be forgotten, far from it but we will just have to wait for the right time to try once more. The interesting thing is that over time the Bassett-Lowke Steam Punk items will become very collectable. With their rarity so the value will increase – such is the way of the World."