To Buy or Not to Buy (in UK)

New toys to show off? Projects you're working on? Want advice on what (and what not to) get? Try here...
Post Reply
User avatar
BrianMoore
Posts: 384
Joined: Fri Jul 03, 2009 7:05 pm
Location: Plymouth, UK

Re: To Buy or Not to Buy (in UK)

Post by BrianMoore » Fri Jun 21, 2013 11:49 am

Personally, I've found that advance-ordering from US-based dealers like Toy Train Heaven, where they give quite big discounts, is the cheaper option of "buying new", despite the subsequent ghastly custom charges. As an example, I advance-ordered two Athrearn SP GP9s last year. I had them in my hands in early January 2013, three weeks after they were released in the US, and paid, including postal and customs, just over £250 in total. UK dealer ModelJunction had them advertised at £135 each, not including postage, and they were still "in transit" to the UK in mid-February. So to get these same two locomotives from the UK, and much later after their release, I'd have had to pay £270 plus postage.

The place I buy stuff most often from is UK eBay, and I do a few searches of my interests every week, always limiting them to "auction" and "UK only", as money is very tight just now, but there's still a few items I manage to pick up each month: even in the last two months I've won some really specialist scratchbuilt models someone else was disposing of (completely "signature" for my SP 1954 layout), a few boxcars and tank cars (Proto 2000, Red Caboose, IM) and some decals. Patience is the watchword.

In the past, I bought a lot of stuff from US eBay, and many of the dealers are happy to... cough... put the "value" of the goods at a lower amount, to save you on import duties.

You can also get some good deals from UK dealers. The NMRA(BR) convention is the best place by far to pick up really good bargains on the Saturday tables, much of it almost brand new. Most of us have got far too much stuff, and many will be disposing of big quantities of unwanted stock, either because it doesn't fit their needs, or they're replacing it with better quality.
Brian Moore

User avatar
torikoos
Posts: 850
Joined: Mon Nov 09, 2009 10:46 pm
Location: Newton Abbot, Devon, UK .
Contact:

Re: To Buy or Not to Buy (in UK)

Post by torikoos » Fri Jun 21, 2013 11:56 am

Welcome to the US modelling hobby Penssyman! :-)
HMRC are great people, but also Royal Mail is of no help as they add a generous 'handling fee' for such shipments.
It really depends but the surcharge for handling fees etc is out of proportion for lower value items.
Depending also wheter you buy new or used (for example from e-bay) you could save some money, but truth be told I normally order/purchase my locos (when new) from a UK stockist. If it's an advanced reservation, there's often also a discount to be had over the advertised price, often in the region of 10 to 15%, which could tip the balance in favour of the UK stockist anyway, but it all depends who you plan to buy it from, both in the US and UK. Research it before buying is key.

I normally buy DCC ready, and buy a decoder at a later stage to spread the cost at one end, but also to be far more flexible in it's functionality. Many build in decoders (not all) are somewhat restricted versions of those decoders, and although decent enough, they might not have the additional function outputs you need, if you intend to modify your model , for example adding additional roof beacons or ditch lights etc and the factory model is lacking these (or you want to model the locomotive at a different time in it's service life).
Also it leaves you flexible in which brand decoder you prefer. Tsunami's are great, but ESU has better (and easier to set up ) motor control, so if your model comes with a Tsunami, you end up spending twice if you want an ESU decoder in your model, or vice versa.

so for me, buying in the US makes sense only if the amount is such that it offsets the handling fees by Royal Mail, or you can come to an agreement with the shipper that a low enough value (or the mark commercial sample without value or gift ) is written on the box to save you being hit by it all, but this is often only possible when buying from a private person.

If flexibility , spreading cost, and or additional features are important to you, buy your loco and decoder separately.

my two cents.

Koos
Koos Fockens -Devon UK. North American Model Railroading
Age is just a case of mind over matter. If you don't mind, then it doesn't matter.

Mike_R
Posts: 388
Joined: Fri Jul 03, 2009 7:05 pm

Re: To Buy or Not to Buy (in UK)

Post by Mike_R » Fri Jun 21, 2013 6:29 pm

Brian did you allow for MJ's 5% vouchers? £270 would give £12.5 of vouchers lowering the difference. As Koos said they often have a lower price for an advance order.

I normally buy from the UK if possible. I don't buy decoder fitted locos as I fit my preferred decoder and wire the lights my way.
For structures I've found Gaugemaster useful.

UK dealers do seem to get stock a lot later than the US.
Mike Ruby

User avatar
torikoos
Posts: 850
Joined: Mon Nov 09, 2009 10:46 pm
Location: Newton Abbot, Devon, UK .
Contact:

Re: To Buy or Not to Buy (in UK)

Post by torikoos » Fri Jun 28, 2013 11:24 am

it is true that in many cases a US retailer has a bigger stock (particularly the better known ones or giants like Caboose Hobbies in Colorado) , receives new models (new releases) quicker than a UK stockist, and can therefore ship sooner.
There is also the advantage that these might have a bigger stock in trade in items, giving you a better chance to find that particular model you were after or at a good price.
However if delivery time is not an issue, or you want to see the model in the flesh before you buy, a UK stockist is a good alternative. As said, I don't often buy in the US currently, as I've been hit by customs and royal mail a couple of times, but I will not rule it out. I often resort to US stockist if I'm looking for a particular detailing part, if I can't get it here, and ebay is a good source for that.

Good luck, Koos
Koos Fockens -Devon UK. North American Model Railroading
Age is just a case of mind over matter. If you don't mind, then it doesn't matter.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest