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Written by
Christian Vinaa - February 2017

"That's how I see it . . ."


Model railroad trade fair




Should the model railroad manufacturers create a trade fair exclusively for model railroads ?

Today there is only the very traditional Nürnberg Toy Fair which has been held every year ( in January-February ) since 1949.

It is by far the largest toy trade fair world-wide, but somehow I think that, regarding the model railroad manufacturers, it has become more a "tradition" and a "we have always done this" than actually a real necessity.

Of course it is "practical" to have one single promotional event every year where new items are presented and the model railroad magazines have all the model railroad manufacturers in one place, but I think that that was how the world was before the internet.

The old days where toy shops carried every kind of toy from model trains to dolls and model cars are long gone.

Now there are branded toy stores ( Lego ) and specialty stores like model railroad shops. The multi-toy stores are now chain stores - like in Germany the idee+spiel

There is almost no interacting going on between the companies in hall 4A and the companies in the rest of the Nürnberg Toy Fair. Overseas visitors to the Toy fair coming from i.e. USA - Japan or China come, like the European visitors, either to the rest of the Toy Fair or to the model railroad community in hall 4A. Very few - if any - come for both.

When you look at the model railroad exhibitors in Nürnberg it strikes me that it is almost only German companies.

Yes - there are a few from England and Italy and France and USA, but hardly representative of the rather huge model railroad community in each of these countries.

So yes - Nürnberg is a world-wide toy trade fair, but regarding model railroad it is basically only European if not just German.


The total price of attending the big Nürnberg Toy Fair ( Fair - Transport - Hotel - 5 days ) makes it impossible for many smaller companies to be at the Nürnberg Toy Fair.

Compare the lists of participating manufacturers in 1970, in 1990 and in 2017 and you can see that the trend is unmistakable : Fewer and bigger manufacturers.

But all over the world there are many one-man, small and medium-sized companies that basically are producing items for the model railroad "con amore". It is such a shame that these products are left out in the cold instead of getting mentioned in the reports from the Toy Fair in the many model railroad magazines that often devote whole issues to the news from the Toy fair.


I have been watching the general news coverage of the Nürnberg Toy Fair and have been dismayed to see how little publicity - if at all any - the model railroad hobby was getting. Lets face it - for the time being model railroads are being drowned by all the other toys - publicity wise.

Model railroad is simply not news-worthy in this 10 second sound-byte media-world.

If there was a Trade Fair for only model railroads it would get the same publicity from the speciality magazines / TV crews and the amount of general publicity could in all honesty not get smaller !


One could argue that the last thing Märklin need in these lean years is more competition.

I politely would dis-agree. In this world where the model railroad, as a hobby, is being pushed back into almost oblivion by computer games and Star Wars / Lego / Disney mega merchandising, Märklin would benefit from being part of a diversified hobby.

Märklin need the rest of the model railroad industry to form a model railroad hobby. A "Nürnberg Toy Fair" where Märklin is the only one in hall 4A would be devastating for Märklin.

Yes - Märklin would then sit on 99 % of all the model railroad market, but it would be 99 % of an 100 euro market. Märklin would be better off with just having 50 % of an 1000 euro market.

Or in layman's terms: Instead of getting a bigger cut of a cake that gets smaller and smaller, getting a cut of a cake that gets bigger and bigger.


So I would not be surprised if Märklin, as the "markenführer", could - perhaps even should - try to arrange a yearly model railroad trade fair - a "Toy Trade Fair" with only model railroads.

Märklin has - as used at the Märklin Tage - the "Werfthalle" and the "EWS Arena" in Göppingen as possible locations.

If Märklin took this initiative with the goal to promote the model railroad hobby as such, it should be possible to keep the costs on an reasonable level making it possible for - also - the many small manufacturers to attend.

And then it would be a real win-win situation for everybody.

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