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Bachmann Industries is a Bermuda registered company that is based in Hong Kong, with its founding base and North American headquarters located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania specializing in model railroading. Bachmann's fully owned plant is located in Dongguan, China. The plant is a joint venture with the Chinese Government.
The original company was started in America in 1833 by Henry Carlisle. He was a manufacturer of products made from horn, ivory and tortoise shell. A large part of this business in that era was the manufacture of high-back Spanish combs for the ladies of the Southern States. After the American Civil War this business was lost. The manufacture of side combs, dressing combs, barettes, and other hair ornaments was continued on a large scale from both horn and tortoise shell. Hand carved ivory umbrella handles were also made at that time.
In 1899, Carlisle decided to merge the company with another similar business being run by Henry G. Bachmann, a German immigrant and his son, Walter J. Bachmann. Adapting to changing times, in 1912 the company began using a new material, celluloid, to manufacture eyeglass frames. After Henry G. Bachmann's death in 1914, the company changed its name to Bachmann Brothers. In 1929, Bachmann Brothers moved to more spacious headquarters at 1400 East Erie Avenue, Philadelphia, where it remains to this day. It continued to specialize in injection molding and was the first American company to manufacture prescription sunglasses.
During World War II, the company manufactured products to support the war effort including sunglasses for U.S. Army and U.S. Army Air Force personnel along with protective eye devices and submarine battery caps. The growing company came under the control of J.C. and B.H. Crowther, nephews of the Bachmanns. To extend its market outside of glasses, combs and brushes, in 1947 Bachmann made a miniature plastic fence that was originally designed as a decoration to be placed under Christmas trees. However, this item would soon completely change the direction of the company. It was discovered that people were using this Christmas tree decoration item for fences on model train layouts. Bachmann began to remarket the "fence" under the brand name 'Plasticville� U.S.A.' It was so successful that the brand moved full scale into producing a complete line of easy-to-use snap-together plastic molded miniature buildings, scenery, and accessory kits for model train layouts.
Bachmann did not become important to tinplate and model Railroaders until the 1950's when they mass produced this large line of injection molded plastic buildings. They even applied for and received a patent for the design of the snap together parts. The buildings are roughly 'O' Scale but also looked good with 'S' gauge. As accessories to Lionel and American Flyer trains, the Bachmann Plasticville� brand experienced substantial growth. In the late 1950's Lionel actually licensed the products and packaged them in their own famous orange boxes. The Plasticville� kit molds were also half-sized in the 1960's in order to produce HO scale versions. Most of the original kits in both sizes are still produced. There are hobbyists who specialize in collecting Plasticville� kits.
Determining it had established enough brand name recognition with the success of its scenery and accessory products, Bachmann moved into producing actual working engines and rolling stock in a variety of scales. They turned to Kader Industrial, Ltd. for manufacturing support. Founded in 1948 in Hong Kong, Kader was established to produce models and toys for export.
In 1952 Kader made the first Model Trains for Bachmann�s American market. Primarily working in 'O' scale (1/48th size) and HO (1/87th size) scale, they steadily worked into other scales. Bachmann entered the 'G' Gauge market starting with battery operated trains and moved up to track current driven trains. They became the leader in the low price range of the 'G' market.
Bachmann continued to diversify in the '60s and '70s, including among its many ventures slot cars, toy airplanes, plastic animal sets, robots, and cassette cases. As model railroading became more popular, the company supplied everything from trains to scenery to whole villages. Bachmann Bros. entered the N scale market in 1968. The items were made in Bachmann's Hong Kong factory. Early models included an oversized F9A and GP40. The Budd Metroliner was one of the models offered in 1969. A Northern 4-8-4 steam engine also came out in N in 1969.
Scale locos and rolling stock in HO gauge were first introduced in the 1970's. Bachmann released its HO gauge version of the F9A in six different roadnames in 1970. Released in 1972, the Saddle Tank was the first HO scale steam engine offering. In 1974 Bachmann added the U36B diesels to its HO product line. U33B's were first cataloged in 1976. In 1978 Bachmann introduced its F40PH diesel in a couple of variations - red-nose Amtrak Phase I and a Phase II scheme with red and blue bands. A variation on Bachmann's General Electric U36B tooling, the BQ23-7 was a 1981 addition to the HO-scale diesel roster. Two roadnames, Chessie and Family Lines (SCL/L&N), were offered. Other notable items that Bachmann made were the United Aircraft Turbo-Train and the Auto-Train. In the 1980's, Bachmann introduced the TGV Train, Brill and PCC streetcars, EMD DDA40X, EMD SD40-2, GE 35 Ton Switcher, and an EMD GP50. They also added several steam locomotives to their line, including a Consolidation 2-8-0, a N&W J 4-8-4, a NYC Niagra 4-8-4, a Santa Fe Northern 4-8-4, and a GS4 4-8-4.
The Kader relationship developed and prospered until 1984, when Kader acquired the Bachmann Company in its entirety. Bachmann introduced its premium Spectrum� line in 1988, which emphasized highly detailed, faithfully reproduced locomotives and train sets.
The Kader Company also produced Model Railway equipment for other model brands. Most notably, a GP30 diesel which was part of Lionel's second venture into the HO scale train market from 1974 until 1977. Kader also sold GP30 shells to Bev-Bel and Front Range in the 1980's through the 1990's.
Bachmann Industries (Europe) was set up in England during 1989. It�s initial product range, called Branchline, consisted of molds used to produce the Mainline range of Railway models. The Kader Group produced model trains for the whole world; being accredited with ISO 9001 certification in 1999 as recognition to the high quality of its products and services. It employed up to 18000 workers and annually produced over 1.3 million train sets for the U.S market alone.
In 1990, Bachmann created the Big Haulers� line in Large Scale. In 1992 Bachmann Industries (Europe) purchased the continental manufacturer Liliput and a German sales office was established, to handle all marketing, sales and product development for the Liliput brand. Liliput trains had been made in Austria for years, but production was moved to China after the Bachmann acquisition. The start of the new millennium heralded yet more acquisitions and growth for the Bachmann group of companies. 2000 saw the British 'N' scale manufacturer Graham Farish purchased by Bachmann Europe plc. This range of models has also had its production transferred to the Kader factory, joining both Branchline and Liliput.
The company became the distributor of Thomas & Friends� in the United States in 2002, and delivered these locomotives, train sets, and accessories to aspiring engineers in both HO and Large Scale. The Bachmann brand is the largest seller, in terms of volume, of model trains in the world. Bachmann continued to specialize in inexpensive high quality entry-level train sets sold in the mass market, while at the same time, it expanded into manufacturing high quality products for the hobbyist as well. The turnover for Bachmann model trains for the year ended December 31, 2006 was approximately $46.87 million, a slight increase of 3.36% as compared to 2005.
In October 2007 Bachmann acquired Williams Trains, thus adding a three rail 'O' gauge product line to their portfolio. They promoted the Williams name as "Williams by Bachmann" to capitalize on both brand names. Bachmann is the only model train company to offer HO, N, O, and G scale product lines.
In late 2008 Kader acquired Sanda Kan Industrial Company Limited (Sanda Kan) for US$8.5m. The acquisition created strategic synergies between the two companies, making more resources and facilities available, and also providing clients with a solid financial backbone. Sanda Kan alone occupied a total floor space of 1,200,000 square feet, and employed around 8,000 staff including more than 400 toolmakers and over 300 designers, product and production engineers. Established in 1973, Sanda Kan was a highly recognized developer and manufacturer of precision models in Hong Kong. It produced a full range of model train locomotives, from the very small 1:220 scale to the large 1:22 scale products. Other hobby items included electronic slot racing cars, sophisticated digital controls as well as accessories such as scenery, promotional cars and trucks. Sanda Kan worked closely with some of the world�s leading brands from concept to mold construction through to final production. Sanda Kan's biggest client had been Bachmann's dominant rival in the UK market Hornby Railways, which had concentrated production there since 1997-2001. Other manufacturers included the likes of Weaver, S Helper Service, Life-Like, Brawa, American Models, Bowser, Micro-Trains, Aristo-Craft, Wm. K. Walthers, Atlas and M�rklin/Trix. Sanda Kan also owned American 'O' scale K-Line Trains and licensed the K-Line train line to Lionel. As a result of this acquisition, Sanda Kan announced that it was going to stop supplying trains to several of its US and European train manufacturers.
Between 1996 and 2009, Kader�s products won more than 30 'Model of the Year', 'Manufacturer of the Year' and many other awards sponsored by Model Railroader, BahnProfil, Eisenbahn and other various magazines and industry organizations.
Link to Bachmann Industries Web Site.
|Industry||Ivory, celluloid, plastics, and accessories for model railroading|
|Founded||1833; 188 years ago (1833)|
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Hong Kong, China
|Henry Carlisle, Henry G.(father of), Henry Edward, and Walter John Bachmann (founders), additional key people include: Joseph Chester Sharpless Crowther, Bayard "Bud" Henry Crowther, Arthur Henry Crowther and Chester Walter Crowther|
|Products||Model railway trains|
Bachmann Industries (Bachmann Brothers, Inc.) is a Bermuda registered Chinese owned company, globally headquartered in Hong Kong; specialising in model railroading.
Founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the home of its North American headquarters, Bachmann is today part of the Kader group, whose model products are made at a Chinese Government joint-venture plant in Dongguan, China. Bachmann's brand is the largest seller, in terms of volume, of model trains in the world. The German company MÄRKLIN had sales of $129m in 2017/18. In the past, Bachmann specialized in entry level train sets. In 1988, the Spectrum line of high-quality, detailed models was introduced to cater to more experienced hobbyists. In the past few years, Bachmann has retooled most of its product line, increasing the quality of its standard line products and discontinuing most of the Spectrum line. Many of the Spectrum products have been slightly modified and are now sold as higher-quality standard line models. Bachmann produces models in HO scale, N scale (1:160 and 1:148), On30, 00 gauge, HOn30 (H0 scale on N tracks) and G scale. They also own the Williams line of tinplate O gauge trains and related products. The turnover for Bachmann model trains for the year ended 31 December 2006 was approximately $146.87 million, a slight increase of 3.36% as compared to 2005.
Founded in 1833 by Henry Carlisle, the company originally specialized in vanity products such as parasol handles and Spanish combs made of ivory horns. Its target market was aristocracy in the American South and Louisiana. After the Civil War it continued to make other types of hair ornaments and handles for walking canes now out of Tortoise shell and ivory. In 1899 Carlisle's firm merged with a competing firm run by Henry G. Bachmann and changed its name to Bachmann Bros. By 1902 Bachmann Bros. started to use celluloid for its products and by 1912 introduced optical frames that were made from it. It was around this time that Bachmann Bros. began experimenting in plastic. In 1927, shortly before they moved to their final Philadelphia address, they became the first American manufacturer of sunglasses. The line, "Solarex" would become very popular worldwide and would later be purchased by the US Army and United States Army Air Forces for their personnel during WWII. During WWII Bachmann Bros. was awarded the coveted Army-Navy "E" Award for outstanding contribution to the war effort by an American company.
Other notable products include Birds of the World Model kits, Plasticville USA, shooting glasses for Winchester Repeating Arms Company (now the U.S. Repeating Arms Company), and Stein Eriksen ski goggles.
Model railroading products
Because of the sudden popularity of N scale model railroading around 1966, Bachmann entered the trains market by starting its N scale trains products in June 1968, with cars packaged in white jewel cases. However, problems of initial run led to a retooling the following year. In 1970 Bachmann entered the HO trains market. A second retooling occurred around 1973, when trains started to be packaged in black jewel cases . In 1978 Bachmann changed its logo to the present one. Trains began to be packaged in blue jewel cases. Bachmann Bros. held exclusive licenses to produce models of trains manufactured by Budd Company Passenger trains and United Aircraft's high-speed train.
Several product lines are produced under the Bachmann name including:
In 1988 Bachmann introduced the "Spectrum" line of higher quality equipment, including updated motors, more realistic paint schemes, and better detail. Spectrum was considered a totally different company from the regular Bachmann company. The initial offering was a GE 44 Ton Diesel. Later on, the Spectrum line expanded to include a Pennsylvania Railroad K-4 Pacific, an EMD GP30, and a General Electric Dash 8-40C. In 1998, Bachmann introduced their Spectrum H0 scale 2-8-0 Consolidation, which was selected "Model of the Year" by the readers of Model Railroader magazine. By 2000 Spectrum was no longer considered a separate product and became one of the Bachmann product lines, as Spectrum was finally included in Bachmann's regular catalogues.
In recent years, Bachmann has begun phasing out the Spectrum brand, moving most of the products in the line to the Standard Line (sometimes with minor changes).
Big Haulers and Spectrum large scale models
In 1988 Bachmann started to produce large scale (also known as G Scale or garden scale) train sets called the Big Haulers. They were first introduced in sets consisting of a locomotive, one or two freight cars and a caboose, Set 90100 was the first set. The locomotives were battery powered and were radio controlled. In 1989 they began making train sets using track powered electric locomotives. In 1989 Bachmann also began selling locomotives, freight Cars, and passenger cars as separate items. Since the early years Bachmann introduced a high quality line of prototype 1:20.3 locomotives and rolling stock in their Spectrum Line.
In 2007 Bachmann purchased the Williams Electric Trains company, which has allowed the company to expand into the O scale market. Williams offers a more "traditional" train layout reminiscent of the 1950s, with diesel engines, and rolling stock similar in look to the same O gauge products introduced by Lionel Trains during the golden ages of model railroads. Steam engines include semi-scale and scale representations, and their classic scale "Hudson" engine is a beautiful, high quality, die-cast engine offering terrific performance and value. Williams by Bachmann has produced a new 44 ton switcher that has been introduced in 2015 to rave reviews, with new tooling to produce a highly detailed version, advancing Williams to higher levels of detail, but still remaining a value leader in the O gauge segment.
Today and DCC
In an effort to fill the quality gap the between the Spectrum brand and the regular Bachmann trains, Bachmann introduced a mid ranged "Bachmann plus" series in 1992 when production was moved to China. Eventually the entire standard product line would be upgraded to the quality level of the plus series, which led to the drop of the plus series and the birth of the current silver series in 1997. Bachmann doubled the MSRP of its products, and cars are now packaged in clear plastic display jewel cases. In 2001, Bachmann started to produce trains in On30 scale (O scale on HO tracks). In 2002, Bachmann introduced its Thomas and Friends range in H0/00 scale. New products have been released since 2005, usually new rolling stock and engines which have moving eyes. In 2007, a new line of structures was released. In 2010, Bachmann released several Garden Scale models of Thomas & Friends characters, a range which has seen steady releases since. In 2019, it was announced that the Thomas license would also see releases in N scale beginning in 2020.
Since 2006 Bachmann has been concentrating on implementing a Digital Command Control ("DCC") system and products in its product lines, with the help and partnership of the German company, Lenz Elektronik, GmbH. Bachmann released its Dynamis DCC system in 2007 which enabled Bachmann to catch up technologically with other DCC companies. Currently Bachmann HO Spectrum lines are DCC on board, while the vast majority of its N Spectrum lines are DCC-ready.
Following the war's end, Bachmann came up with the product which made their name a household word..."Plasticville USA"...an assemble yourself kit of homes, stores, and other buildings to enhance train layouts. Plasticville USA products are still popular accessories for Lionel and American Flyer trains. Bachmann's Plasticville products, originally in O scale, and later expanded to HO scale, and N scale were originally manufactured by Bachmann in Philadelphia, but later manufactured in Hong Kong. They have been made exclusively in China by plastics moulding manufacturer Kader Holdings Company Limited since 1999. The hobby of collecting Plasticville has increased in recent years to the point that the Plasticville Collectors Association was founded in 1999 and incorporated in 2001.
Originally like most other train manufacturers, Bachmann's train sets used conventional snap-track (originally in brass, then switching to steel in the early 1980s.) In 1994, Bachmann introduced the then-revolutionary E-Z track, that featured HO track built onto a moulded plastic roadbed that could be assembled like typical HO track. This allowed for operating HO trains on the floor without worry of dust, lint and carpet fibres, though traditional tabletop layouts could also be designed using this track system.
While integrated-roadbed track was not invented by Bachmann (foreign train manufacturers such as Kato Precision Railroad Models and Märklin Trains all had their own types of roadbed track), the E-Z Track was still new and innovative to the North American HO train market. Originally offered only in steel, a nickel-silver version of the track line came out in 1996, and a wide variety of track length and turnout selections became available in the line, including E-Z Command DCC turnouts. After the success of the HO track line, E-Z Track was also made available in N scale as well.
Train sets manufactured by Athearn also come with E-Z Track, as they do not make their own HO track.
During the 1960s Bachmann produced plastic models of animals (Animals of the World series, Birds of the World series, and Dogs of the World series) called Nature Craft Kits. They also produced their own Mini-planes, Slot cars (to compete better with former rival Tyco Toys's own HO-scale trains and slot cars) marketed in both HO and a slightly smaller version of 1/32 scale cars and sets, with 1/32 scale track purchased from Strombecker Corporation, whom by the early 1970s closed down its slot car business; military models (with Fujimi) that include fighter planes, helicopters, and Tanks; and toy robots called "Toys of Tomorrow" (with Tomy). Bachmann would drop the toy robots within a couple of years. The Bachmann-Fujimi models would be dropped during the 1970s. Bachmann dropped Slot Cars and Mini-Planes from its product lines after the Kader takeover (see below) but instead entered the Radio-controlled model market. In 1982 they revived their Nature Craft Kits as Birds of the World. By 1987 they have dropped all other toys and only concentrated on Model Trains and Accessories. In 1998 Bachmann did try to sell a short lived product, a radio controlled motorcycle.
Bachmann's Mini-planes list included several commercial airline models, such as Boeing 707 in American Airlines, Pan American World Airways, Trans World Airlines and fictional Bachmann Airlines marking, ConvairCV880 in Delta Air Lines and TWA marking, Boeing 727 in Delta, Eastern Airlines TWA and United Airlines marking, Douglas DC-9 in Delta, Eastern and TWA marking, Douglas DC-8 in United and Japan Airlines marking, Boeing 747 in Japan Airlines, Pan Am and Lufthansa marking, Douglas DC-10 in American marking, Ford Tri-motor in TWA marking, and Douglas DC-3 in American Airlines marking.
Complete list of 22 Bachmann Birds of the World officially released to the public: Baltimore Oriole, Goldfinch, Bluebird, Scarlet Tanager, Woodpecker, Robin, Parakeet, Cardinal, Barn Swallow, Blue Jay, Canary, Painted Bunting, Hooded Warbler, Parrot, Hoopoe, Kinglet, Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, Bohemian Waxwing, Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, Screech Owl, Meadowlark, European Goldfinch. [Announced but never put into production: Evening Grosbeak, Pitta, Weaver Bird.]
Complete list of 11 Bachmann Dogs of the World officially released to the public: Collie, German Shepherd, Pointer, Wire-Haired Terrier, Poodle, Basset Hound, Cocker Spaniel, St. Bernard, Boxer, Dalmatian, Mongrel.
Complete list of 9 Bachmann Animals of the World officially released to the public: Squirrel Monkey, Giant Panda, Deer, Cow and Calf, Tiger, Lion, Zebra, Morgan Horse, Leopard.
In light of dwindling interest in model railroading, the Crowther brothers decided, in 1981, to sell to their manufacturer, the Kader Group. Kader changed the name to Bachmann Industries and used the new brand to expand worldwide, such as the European market. It is also part of the strategy to take over other failing companies in Europe and put them under one single name. The packaging changed from plastic jewel cases to white paper boxes with cellophane window. Starting from 1982 Bachmann began to slowly retool individual product lines one by one. A typical example would be the replacement of metal gears to cheaper plastic ones in the Diesel locomotives. By 1992 all cars were manufactured in China.
As well as introducing its own brands to North America, Kader, under the Bachmann brand, built itself up as the largest volume seller of model railways by purchasing other failing companies, using the Bachmann name to front a series of purchases in the rest of the world to combat the then poor perceptions of Hong Kong-based production quality.
By 1985 Bachmann had established agencies in Corcieux, France, and also in Bologna, Italy.
In 1989 a European division was set up initially reusing the moulds previously used for the Palitoy Mainline model railway products to create the Bachmann Branchline models. It took over Palitoy's location and established its European headquarters in Barwell, Leicestershire, England, which continues today as the Bachmann UK headquarters.
In 1991 Bachmann established a sales office in Ontario, Canada, but had it closed down in 1996.
In 1992 it bought Liliput of Austria, and established its Continental Europe headquarters in Fürth, Germany. In 1997 it moved to Altdorf bei Nürnberg, Germany, which continues today as the German Liliput headquarters.
In 2000 it bought Graham Farish.
Bachmann started to work with the Chinese National Railway in 1999, and in 2000 started to produce its first model "East Wind 11 Diesel". Chinese outline models under the Bachmann China name, opening the world's first Bachmann speciality retail shop in Shanghai in 2005. Bachmann China is based in Shanghai.
Kader's business model for each take over, from its original purchase of Bachmann to the present day, is to buy a perceived quality brand in the target market or country. The company then closes local in-country production facilities. Armed with state-of-the-art manufacturing machines and AutoCAD systems, Bachmann then improves quality by re-engineering the models in Hong Kong, and reduces cost by producing the models in its jointly owned plant in Dongguan, China.
Presently Bachmann offers trains in H0 scale, N scale (1:160 and 1:148), On30, 00 gauge, HOn30 (H0 scale on N tracks) and G scale around the world, in addition to buildings and accessories:
- "About Us." Bachmann China. <http://www.bachmannchina.com.cn/aboutus/aboutus.html>.
- Bachmann Brothers Catalogue 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1978
- Bachmann Industries Catalogue 1982, 1985, 1987, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2006
- Bachmann Industries European Catalogue 1985
- Bachmann Industries Spectrum Catalogue 1997, 1998, 1999
- Bachmann-Liliput. <http://www.liliput.de>.
- Greenberg's Price Guide to N Scale Trains. 1981.
- Kader Holdings Limited. <http://www.kader.com.hk/>.
- Kader Holdings Limited. 1999 Annual Report.
- Kader Holdings Limited. 2000 Annual Report.
- Model Railroader. June 1968.
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