To me model railroading is about more than the issue of scratch
building, building kits, or buying RTR. However the layout is operated
is up to the individual as well, as layouts get bigger they can
progress beyond the individuals ability to run them except with perhaps
a single train or 2.
Mine & I guess many others enjoyment in the hobby is with the building
& the running of trains, I think I have mentioned in this group before
about my abilities in the scatch building area, I have too many thumbs,
my soldering is not nice, so I choose to make up kits, or purchase RTR
models, especially when the kits are often the same price or dearer
than the kits. I cannot justify the extra cost no matter the item.
As I reflect the cost here in OZ I have been going over some old model
mags over the past week or so, some many years old, I saw a steam loco
kit advertised for $235.00 in a mag dated 1992,, today the same kit is
$245.00. In an earlier ag, of 1983, we had some wagon kits for $4.95,
today they are between $12.95 - $18.95.
The difference is that in the early kits, they had no wheel sets, no
couplers, & pretty poor parts & fitted together poorely. The kit that
retails at $18.95, is one I will not buy as the only difference with it
& the 1983 kit is that it now has wheels, but still assembles poorely.
On the other hand I can buy a RTR model of the same kit for $12.50, or
10 for $100.00, these have wheel sets, & couplers, good wieght & run
much better than the kit.
Later RTR models sell for $55.00 in packs of 4, but are of a different
variant, & have wonderful detail, such as side chains etc. Another set
of RTR models sell for $85.00 today, but when previously released sold
for $27.00, a kit of the same model sells for $18.00.
IS there really choice?
In the September 1968 Model Railroader Mag Walthers advertised a
Kemtron Switch machine at $2.65, what was the wage in 1968 compared to
today, when I see switches advertised in kit form for $6.95 in lots of
Gem models of a HO PRR Mountain $64.95, with long distance tender an
extra $24.95, yeas they are brass, but, how do they really compare with
what is available today, with dcc & sound. & then there is a U.P
4-10-2 for $99.50.
In saying this, there is little doubt that the hobby has changed, but I
think it is mainly in the way in which we source things, & I would
agree that we have lost the art of scratch building, but is this
something that is peculiar to just this hobby?
When I was in High school in the late 50's early 60's we had subjects
that would enable us to go into a trade courses such as woodwork &
metalwork. High schools had exceptional large class rooms fully
equipped with lathes & all manner of machines, as a teenager we learnt
the basic skills, by building basic items in metal & wood.
In fact I still have a kidney shaped coffer table I made in 1961.
Sadly these subjects are no longer taught as this country moved away
from being a manufacturing country, & trade skills were lost. We can
look back at a couple of generations that has not been introduced to
the art of manual work, or as an old saying goes
"many youg people think that Manual Labour is a Mexican Tennis player"
lost art is in also in the field of learning to construct, & plan.
I have turned my hands to scratch building generic types of buildings
for my layout, such as a Harman Coal hoist, rurals stations & houses,
as for the rolling stock. It will be & is mainly going to RTR & kits.
I honestly think that when I purchased my first locomotive a brass c38
pacific loco at $50.00 & my wage was $12.00 a week as a trainee
enginman, an engine that sort of looked the part "close enough, near
enough" & compare it with the forthcoming RTR model with DCC & sound
for $600.00, with my pension being $400.00 per week, I wonder at the
question of how much has things incresed in price?
I also agree that we are in a hobby that never really has been what we
could cheap. In some areas it is probably more expesive, in others
cheaper, but overall maybe it remains fairly stable