Pete Thornton said:
Do you have any hard information that they are 'phasing them out' ? Bachmann recently has slowed down production - possibly due to the Recession - but they often do a run and suddenly the stores are full of stock again. As Dave says, look at the Mogul.
I'm talking rolling stock here. Engines are anybody's guess. They have the advantage of being higher dollar items (meaning more profit at a fixed percentage of final price) and are often purchased by 1/22.5 modelers giving them a broader market.
Getting a firm answer out of any manufacturer is difficult in the best of times. Here is what I know. I spoke with Lee a few months before his death. After a few circular discussions which he was famous for he made the statement that there were no plans to expand the Spectrum line. This was also reflected on the Bmann forum discussions for new products. He should know, the spectrum line existed solely because of him. In his absence there is nobody interested in pushing for it.
Here is how that information has manifested itself. By the summer of 2015 Bmann was no longer introducing any new items into the line. Check their summer and Christmas releases and you will see only reissued Big Hauler items. The same is true for 2016. In conjunction with that most of the Spectrum line was listed on the Bmann site as sold out. Retailers still had these items in stock and they were prevalent in the secondary market at prices in the %50 of MSRP range (which I will dub as regular retail).
By the end of 2016 supplies at the retailers were beginning to dry up and the items were removed from their listings. Not something they do if they intend to reorder. At the same time "blow out" clearances in the %75-80 off MSRP were common on the auction sites. I bought flatcars for as little as $25 each and boxcars / tank cars for $49.99 each by the case from Al Kramer and The Favorite Spot. These guys are wonderful for hobbyists because of the savings but all too often their listings are the elephant graveyard of products. No business that plans on holding onto its market share is going to flood that market with items at closeout prices. Especially true if the market is ultra small to begin with. If you release a new run who is left to buy them in sufficient numbers and at a price to make a profit?
Now here we are in 2017. It has been just over one year since Lee passed. Another new product release has nothing for 1/20.3. Of the seven basic items with an 88XXX serial number that made up the line (boxcar wood roof, boxcar murphy roof, framed tank, frameless tank, flatcar, drop-side gondola, two bay hopper and long caboose) four are removed from the catalogue, three are listed as sold out and one is still available. Trainworld has five removed, none listed as sold out and three for sale at close out prices. RLD has six removed, one sold out and one available at regular retail price. ANA Kramer has three items for sale at close out prices. AL also has a bunch of dismantled cars, the last stop for items that nobody is buying. Favorite Spot has seven items removed and one item for sale at close out prices.
That much is fact. From here on it is opinion.
Here is what I see. The Spectrum 1/20.3 line is quickly coming to an end. Lee is gone. Bmann is existing this market because it is not profitable. The Fn3 community did not appreciate or embrace this line for several reasons but its demise is a great loss to the Fine Scale modeler who cannot afford high end kits or RTR from Accucraft. There is no "New Coke conspiracy" or "lets screw with our customers by teasing them with unreliable supply streams" scam. It is basic business. Something is only worth what the market will bear,,,,,and something is only worth making if the market is willing to pay reasonable profitable price. Remember this last part because it is the reason why we are loosing manufacturers and their products.
Pete this is the best answer I can give you. I hope I am proven wrong.