Another one bites the dust

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Does anyone see a future for model railroading?
I have only recently returned to this hobby - my HO stuff was in boxes for 3 decades and most was largely obsolete. My beloved A/F trains from the fifties were rediscovered in a basement and not in such great shape. So I have been working with both simultaneously - very surprised at the changes in the new trains (DCC, ready to roll) and equally amazed at the quantity of trains from our collective past that are commanding such nice prices on eBay.
Still... I don't see any youth in this market. The pages of Model Railroader are filled with beautiful, high-priced equipment that no kid could reasonably afford - assuming that he was interested in trains over video games. The local hobby store stocks little, demands list price while the owner bemoans the loss of business to the internet.
At 54, I think I represent the "tail end" of the baby boomers. When I mention model railroading as a hobby, I get those weird glances. The kids at the train shows appear to be in the company of their grandparents.
The linked article confirms what I suspected must be true... and I can't imagine who will be buying model trains 20 years from now. How much can you do with a "Thomas The Tank Engine" wave of nostalgia?
=DC
Reply to
eüphemism
I don't think Model Railroading has ever been a hobby that has massive numbers of people involved with it.
The club I belong to has a 14 year old junior member. He is totally into it. He is also a in the advanced programs in school. There is a 12 year old whos parents bring him every Friday. Then there is a 9 year old, who shows up every other Friday or so and should be in the advanced programs. We all expect that they will go off to college. Somewhere in that sequence they will discover girls (if girls are their sexual preference), life will drag them away from the hobby from time to time. That's not a lot of young members.
The previous junior member is a conductor for BNSF. If we could just get him to go to college instead of playing with those trains!!!
This club has been in existence for 35+ years and has never had more members than it has right now. It's not for everybody, it never has been and probably never will be.
Is the hobby dying, maybe?
Paul -- Excuse me, I'll be right back. I have to log onto a server in Romania and verify all of my EBay, PayPal, bank and Social Security information before they suspend my accounts.
Working the rockie road of the G&PX
Reply to
Paul Newhouse
When I started in the early 60's I read "Model Trains" (long defunct). I remember that the railroaders were defensive about the hobby because the public perception was that only kids played with trains, and the hobbyist were trying to demonstrate that adults modeled railroads as well, though teenagers and males in their early 20's predominated. It was definitely a youngster's hobby.
Now it seems that the average age of model railroaders is probably over 60. I think the hobby is literally dying out in that its practitioners are aging and are not being replaced. I don't think it's just railroading only but model building in general. The days of kids building things is mostly over. It was once common for kids to make model boats, cars, airplanes, and trains. Now all is pre-packaged electronics. But there's no reason to bemoan it. It is out of our control. Times change.
Bill
Reply to
WillG
Been to a Makers fair?
Paul -- Excuse me, I'll be right back. I have to log onto a server in Romania and verify all of my EBay, PayPal, bank and Social Security information before they suspend my accounts.
Working the rockie road of the G&PX
Reply to
Paul Newhouse
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I believe it's dying out in areas where it's not promoted or advertised. In areas where it is, from what I'm seeing it's growing. Especially when shop owners take advantage of the kids interest in 'Thomas', 'The Polar Express', and the "due out real soon now" 'Hogwarts Express'.
How many shops still have operating layouts to grab kids, and adults, attention? How many have a demo track (A shelf with a small switching layout is perfect) for showing off starter DCC systems? How many go out of their way to not act annoyed the 1,000th time they are asked the same simple question by a beginner?
Len
Reply to
Len
I suspect it is a term that describes a show for the toy/model industrries and dealers.
Like the Nurenburg Toy Show or one of the big Toy Exhibitions in the US. Or
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.
Peteski
Reply to
Peter W.
On 8/10/2007 6:06 PM Peter W. spake thus:
Wrong.
It's something completely different:
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Kind of like a combination of a giant science fair, a big do-it-yourself extravaganza, and a place to watch homebrew robots battle each other.
I missed the one here (San Mateo fairgrounds) this May, dang it.
Reply to
David Nebenzahl
Ah, I see. But I still think that in the end if one were to compare the amount of people interested in this type of activities, they would be in a very small minority compared to all the video game playing youths.
Hey we even recruited a 20-something guy into the round-robin layout operator's group last year. He is even planning on building a train layout someday. But that still doesn't mean that this hobby is growing. Overall, I think that most non-instant-gratifying activites are on the decline nowadays. Why spend years building a layout when the next generation train simulators will be so good that you'll feel like you're in a real locomotive? :-) Personally I would be intersted in both the similator and a physical model train layout, but that's just me. . .
This wasn't directed at you specifically, but just a response to the entire thread.
Peteski
Reply to
Peter W.
But are there enough new HAMs joining the ranks to replace the ones dying out? If the balance is negative, eventually there will be no HAM operators left to communicate with (unless you find some extraterrestrial ones). :-P
I think that in model railroad circles we have negative balance. More model railroaders are dying out than joining the ranks. This is my (totally unscientific) opinion.
Peteski
Reply to
Peter W.
Actually, there's already several amatuer operators whose given location aren't on Earth. Callsigns of manned stations not located on Earth are KD5PLA, RS0ISS (Given address is "International Space Station, Low Earth Orbit, Russian Federation"), RZ3DZR, NA1SS, and DP0ISS and most of them can be looked up on qrz.com.
Save for the Intel and NASA folks, there's not many people involved in HAM radio of my generation.
Reply to
Paul Johnson
...and I had to open my mouth about extraterrestrial HAMs... Oh dear. :-)
So, you just confirmed my suspicion: number of new HAM operators overall is most likely declining. Not much "new blood" is coming in. SImilar to what I think is happening in this hobby.
Not that I really worry. Even if model railroading hobby dies out, I also have another hobby - plastic model kits. Yeah, that one seems to be dying as well. But I have enough unbuilt kits to last me very long time. Maybe my lifetime. :-D And if not, I'm sure that I can find another fun hobby. I'll never be bored.
Peteski
Reply to
Peter W.
MR won't die out. It'll just return to where it was in the early '50's. It'll be a scratchbuilder's hobby.
Bill
Reply to
WillG
Too bad, iit was good.
-- Excuse me, I'll be right back. I have to log onto a server in Romania and verify all of my EBay, PayPal, bank and Social Security information before they suspend my accounts.
Working the rockie road of the G&PX
Reply to
Paul Newhouse
Could it be the price of models and material be running people off? Just today I purchased 2 bottles of Floquil Polly-s for a project I am working on. The kit was $15.95 ( a Bowser caboose, undercoated ) and $9.98 for paint came to $23.95 plus $1.50 tax for a total of 25.45. Thats for one kit. Wow.
Reply to
J. Murray
No, it's not the price - consider how much youngsters spend on computer games, pizzas, DVDs, cars, ...
$25.45 is only expensive compared to the price of kits 10/20/30 years ago. How much would you pay for a night out at the movies? For a decent book? A magazine? A tank full of petrol, ...
Greg.P.
Reply to
Greg Procter
I've recently finished re-reading some Model Railroaders from the mid-50s. That's when I was a teenager, and starting out in model railroading. A kit with wooden body, printed sides, wooden, metal and card details, with trucks but no couplers, was advertised at $2.49. Using the most common inflation factor of 15, based on prices (the "cost of living"), that's about $35 to $40 in today's money. But wages have increased by a factor of about 20, so that cheap kit would be about $50 in terms of today's wages.
BTW, Eric Stevens began his series of $1 models around that time. So even a scratchbuilt model made with cardboard and wood, plus few details parts such as trucks and couplers, would cost at least $15 in today's money. But people built those $1 models to save money...
The notion that model railroading was cheaper in the good old days infects only those crania who remember the low prices but forget the low wages.
HTH
--wolf
Reply to
Wolf Kirchmeir

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