Is our hobby getting more expensive or what?

I just returned from an all day shopping trip with the family which included a trip to a larger train shop in a major city nearby. I won't mention
either the city or the shop as it is not the intent of this post to complain about prices.
But while I was looking at $30 and up preassembled buildings and preassembled cars that ran over $30 in some cases, I couldn't help but ask myself if our hobby is getting to be way too expensive. I mean, I still have some old Athearn kits that are priced at $2.50 each. I probably have some old AHM building kits that were about $4 each as well. Now, those same kits are three to four times that much... or more. And I can assure you that my wages haven't gone up three to four times in the same timeframe.
It seems to me that the rapid increases in pricing started about the time that many modelers quit assembling their own kits. While I realize that this is a part of the hobby that appears here to stay, it doesn't help keep costs down much for those of us who are still willing to swab some paint, turn a few screws and maybe even slide on a decal or two.
Perhaps I haven't kept up with the cost of living... but are we destined to become just another "rich man's hobby?" Kind of a scary thought to me. I'm just glad that I have more cars & kits than I'll ever really need.
Thoughts?
dlm --------------------------- Dan Merkel
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Yep! Prices sure have gone up.
It appears that "today's modeler" wants instant gratification and is willing to pay for it.
I always enjoyed assembling kits and customizing them to suit.
Like you, Dan, I have more than I'll ever use.
I suppose old-timers like myself should step aside and let the next generation of rail modelers have their day.
Bill Bill's Railroad Empire http://www.billsrailroad.net
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On 30 Dec 2005 21:43:36 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Why? This isn't a competition. I hope everybody can still get whatever they want out of the hobby. It's about as individualized as you can get. If you want to build N-gauge live steam while everybody else is running big Chinese-made Christmas sets, who cares? It's your hobby...
Dale
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Dale wrote:

A HOBBY ?
I thought it was an obsession.........
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Only our spouses look at it that way.
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Then I guess it's just like the oldtimers who built everything from scratch making way for those who took the easy way out and built kits back in the 1940's and 50's. Or, even worse, used that "plastic" stuff that was just ruining the hobby! Everyone knows that only wood and zamac are the only real construction materials model railroaders need... LOL
Paul A. Cutler III ************* Weather Or No Go New Haven *************
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For some, that's right...
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Not to mention that $30 to $60 for a box of pre-colored Walthers plastic is going to look pretty Plasticville-ish without extensive repainting, weathering and dulling down. Suddenly it's Lionel in 1950!
--
Steve

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Gosh! We can't allow that to happen to the hobby!
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On Sun, 01 Jan 2006 20:44:25 GMT, Mark Mathu wrote:

I'm all for weathering and dulling down the gleam of the poorly colored plastic, but the $60 is a bit high given the toylike quality.
--
Steve

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Are you referring to the Modulars? They do look interesting but you are right... they also look expensive.
dlm

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I don't mean for this to be a put down or anything, but after reading this NG for a couple of years I'm struck by one thing- this doesn't seem to be "model railroading" anymore. It's more like collecting RTR stuff and maybe putting together a layout, if enough prefab stuff is available. Whatever happened to scratchbuilding? Not just tunnel portals or a few structures, but locomotives and rolling stock as well? Are MRs these days just at the mercy of whatever is available in the latest Walthers catalogue?

Sounds like you'll get more out of it just finishing all the stuff you have than a "rich man" could ever buy...
Dale
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NG
"model
putting
It it was only about building models, then there'd be no differenct between model railroading and plastic armor, airplane, ship, or auto modeling. We'd all be going to IPMS meets instead of train shows...and we wouldn't be building layouts, we'd be building dioramas to display our models. The difference between model railroading and plastic model building is that we run our trains.

locomotives
whatever
I suppose it'll go the way of winding your own motor cores or casting your own smokebox fronts out of zamac. Sure, you can still do it, but if the point is to run the trains and not to build models, then why?

have than

Unless that "rich man"'s goal is to run his trains and have fun doing it.
Paul A. Cutler III ************* Weather Or No Go New Haven *************
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But "running" trains especially prototypically, is a relatively new phenomenon, isn't it? I'd think the point would be to run the trains AND build the models too.
dlm
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DLM wrote:
"But "running" trains especially prototypically, is a relatively new phenomenon, isn't it? I'd think the point would be to run the trains AND build the models too. "
Nope. I was re-reading my old MR from the early 1970s and they were talking about operation back then. Back then without accurate scale models that was the only way to approach modeling to scale as opposed to running toys in circles.
Eric
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snipped-for-privacy@bigfoot.com wrote:

NYCfan:
Oh, heck, I've got a book from 1939 that talks at great length about realistic operation, and the 1940's and 50's MR's are full of it. You've certainly heard of Frank Ellison? In some ways, too, the early operators were far, far beyond us. Look at the early books and you'll read about
dispatching trains by telegraph, keeping track of 'employee' seniority, and operating by the now thoroughly underused manual block system. I think they knew way more about flat switching yards and steam locomotive servicing than most of us do now, and as for the lack of accurate scale models, there was no such thing. Some of the kitbuilt stuff was crude, especially in the smaller scales like HO or TT, but craftsmen like Bill Lenoir were building models as beautiful as anything ever to come along.
Cordially yours: Gerard P.
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Guys, I don't ever remember the hobby as inexpensive. My income varies quite a bit from year to year so sometimes its difficult to afford higher cost items. During other periods I've been able to get stuff with out flinching at all. But the hobby has never been prohibitive from a cost stand point because I scratch build most all of my structures and rolling stock. There always seems to be some project available that does not require any current outlay of cash. While I only have three un-built kits I've got a ton of strip wood, plastic, detail parts, trucks, couplers, paints, glue and various hardware so I could go a stretch of two or three years and not drop much at at. That money would be mostly for knife blades, sand paper glue and maybe a re-supply of a few strip wood sizes. While scratch building over all is less expensive than RTR, scratch building rolling stock is still not so cheap. If you consider detail parts, good trucks, metal wheel sets, couplers, paint, lettering, bits of brass, strip wood or plastic its easy to have $15 or $16 in a single piece of rolling stock or about the same amount as some nice kits that are available. I'd rather scratch build anyway because I enjoy it at least as far as structures and rolling stock are concerned. After considering what it costs to build a car a price of $25 to $30 dollars does not seem all that out of line for RTR if its well made and highly detailed. The shift is defiantly going towards RTR, collecting and operating. I think that trend towards operation especially now that we have such excellent running models and DCC is where large segments of the more serious modelers are heading. Operation seems to get more and more press and conversation in recent times too. And why not?.........Its Fun.
Right now my concerns are more like how long will detail parts and certain supplies be available. Our LHS is regarded as one of the nations best. Its a train only store with a huge inventory. It has slowly evolved into a mostly huge RTR train store with hardly any kits as far as rolling stock goes and the supply of craftsman kit structures slowly dwindles. Some of the wood structure kits have been sitting on the shelves it seems for years. Detail parts selection grows smaller and smaller with every visit. Strip wood is almost gone with plastic modestly taking its place. There are now isles and isles of RTR and built ups in all scales. A lot of it is really nice stuff and some is not real expensive. I just hope detail parts and building supplies continue to be available at least over the internet and by mail order.
I decided to build a new Timesaver with some late 70's early 80's era cars and power. I did not want to spend lots of time on this non steam era side project so I decided to go with some kits and RTR stuff. I got an Athearn RTR CF7 for about $65 about three months ago. It runs fantastic and looks great. A month ago I bought an Atlas Trainman RTR car for $10.39 plus tax. That Trainman car came with free rolling trucks, metal wheels, nice detail even if some is cast on and a super paint job. I might get another Trainman car on my next visit. I still need at least four more of modern era cars, but what's the rush? I'll have all I need sooner or later. Nice stuff is still affordable. Not cheap but affordable if one does not have the mistaken idea the he must buy every thing all at once. This holds true for those who like to build and for these who like RTR. The one thing both types of Model Railroaders get these days is better quality, more accurate, and more detailed models or parts.
Its seems the craftsman side of the hobby is slowly fading away but then there are still plenty of things available for the builder. The things he needs may no longer be found in the LHS but they are plentiful from the more specialized internet / mail order shops or direct from the manufacturer. Maybe the craftsman or scratch builder is not a dieing breed but is being served by a new model of distribution that is a more efficient profitable way to supply a group of people who have never been large in number, and probably have been more of a drain on a hobby shops inventory budget that much of a profit center. I hope this is the case or we will be back to making or own detail castings and cutting to size our own scale wood or plastic. That's just a little more scratch building than this long spoiled scratch builder wants to do.
Yes there are many expensive models out there, and there is much more emphasis on RTR but if a guy likes to build he can with out spending an arm and a leg. If a guy wants to model with RTR on a budget there good affordable products out there for him too.We may all just have to look around a little more and not let the sticker shock of so many hobby items psych us out. Bruce
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wrote:

Almost, but you forgot to include those who are willing to pay someone else to build their layout for them! Talk about instant gratification...
It seems to me that we are too concerned nowadays about the "ends" and not the means. I happen to enjoy working on those new number puzzles (sudoku?). I recently found a site online where you can simply enter the given numbers and BOOM, the puzzle is solved. If the goal is to solve the problem, then I guess that is OK, but to me, it is the road to solving that problem that provides the enjoyment. And, the satisfaction comes from your using your head to solve it. Just the same as the real satisfaction of building a layout is using your hands to create the things that untimately end up on it.

Whatever happened to the satisfaction and pride of doing something, anything yourself??!?

Perhaps, but in the process, I'll become an "old man" by the time I get them all assembled! :)
dlm
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Well, I guess that keeps professional layout builders employed. That would be a cool job :)

I suppose the bottom line is that some people want to model equipment and right-of-way as accurately as possible- others want to do the same with operations. The latter group certainly spend as much time learning and doing as do the former group. Those of us who would rather build stuff need to appreciate that, I guess. It still bugs me to read posts from people dissatisfied because the exact variant or paint scheme isn't available RTR, but at least they care about prototype fidelity, and there are only so many hours in a day. Modeling equipment accurately and modeling operations accurately are probably each full time jobs. We each have to prioritize.
Neither is better or more valid than the other. On the bright side, the odds of winning an NMRA steam locomotive scratchbuilding contest are better than they were 20 years ago :)
Dale
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And why is that a bad thing?
The "ends" are the goals we'd like to achieve in our hobby and the "means" are what we do to achieve those goals. So if a person is in this hobby because their goal is to recreate a scene from their childhood or to operate in a protoypical modern manner, who are you or me to criticize what route that person takes to achieve thir goals?
The ends justifies the means. What a person does in this hobby should be judged by what they want to accomplish, not by what you want to accomplish.
--
Mark Mathu
The Green Bay Route: http://www.greenbayroute.com /
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