There's been a small amount of email response following my comment a couple of days back about 7mm being the future. This was aimed specifically at one or two writers based in Lincolnshire, but nevertheless it is a truth to behold. To some extent it is where we are all going.
There are several reasons for this; some personal, some commercial. The commercial reasons are that 1) the makers of toy trains have now well and truly breached the hundred quid barrier and unbelievably in 009 (!) have breached the £200 mark - and for a model that largely fails. I had two more conversations about this particular item on Saturday. Don't tell me about it; send it back!
My current RM states that a 4mm Bachmann Cl 37 with chug-chug noises will set me back £220.95. Sorry, but this is nuts. It's the same model as I paid £44 for (for Rhiw) a few years back with ten quid's worth of chip and speakers. That in itself is not my point, but flipping on a couple of pages I can buy an 08 for five quid less.... in 7mm scale; four times the mass/presence/weight; and that's not the cheapest RTR item available. Therein lies issue one. We now have rough parity in price in a similar physical space. The same applies to wagons, but less so with coaching stock.
2) The 4mm market is largely flooded There are a hundred possible steam locos to produce that have still not been done, but that ain't where the money is... look at the RRPs. The profit is in diesels. Where can your friendly manufacturer go? 7mm. CAD production makes the upscale easy and in the main the motors and gearing are much the same. The plastic and metal increase is negligible and for the short term (but who knows at the moment) we still have jolly cheap Chinese labour.
The personal reasons are predictable. It has been said that 009 is my natural default home, but this is no longer true. 1) Interests have changed slightly and 2) I'm now in my mid 50s and into varifocals. On Saturday I found myself pondering about new layouts as you do. I've stuck with some sort of 009 layout for years, almost because of social reasons - do these exist now? It used to be a cheap game and although I've got a mountain of suitable bits that would last me a few years I've pretty much exhausted the logical layout ideas. Orne is easy to carry and pack, but not much of an operating animal (it wasn't designed as such) and I drift into railcar operation fairly quickly.
Yes dear movers and shakers, 7mm may well be the future.