Z Scale has been on the market for a few decades now, and it still has not grown to the size that I think that it is capable of achieving. There are a few things that have been holding the scale back, and you can decide if the things that hold it back always will, or if it will break away from them to grow to a larger percentage of the model railroad market.
- The size is harder for older modelers: As we age, small, precise motor skills tend to get difficult for us. The general population of modelers being older, this can effect the choice that people make in terms of scale.
- There is a lack of producers in the scale: There are few producers of US Z scale products, the biggest being Micro-Trains Line and American Z Line. There are few others, which limits the products released. If AZL or MTL don’t release something, then it probably won’t be released. That is not to say that the companies don’t try to cover as much as possible, but there is only so much that they can do.
- There is not a reliable track system with a wide variety of pieces: Rokuhan track has been growing recently, but it still resembles Japanese track over US. Märklin track has been a staple, and Micro-Track has been manageable, but there is a glaring lack of long flex track and variety of switch sizes. Atlas is releasing long flex track soon, which could bode well for the future if it is successful, as there could be a market for
- It is expensive: This is mostly due to the lack of producers, but also the complications involved in producing the small scale. Z scale is simply more expensive than scales that are bigger, which is something that people would have to accept in order to get into the scale.
While I believe that there are downsides to the scale, I believe that it will progress and come to represent a larger portion of the market in the coming years.