Model Railroader mag -- observations and quesions

On Fri, 28 Oct 2005 08:55:49 -0400, Wolf Kirchmeir


I can't say a positive no, but remember that it was the center pages in the mag, Just pull the staples and I had all of the drawings. Wasn't highly detailed, very simple to build, no interior. IT's not really a problem, it wouldn't take much for me to measure one of the completed ones I have and redraw, maybe an hour, probably what I'll do.
Not that my search was for nothing, I did find a couple of others that are of more than passing interest, a small jail I can make latex molds and cast in plaster, and the "house at the end of the dead end street in the oldest section of town".
Thanks anyhow.
Rich
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"Jim McLaughlin" <jim.mclaughlin> wrote in message

MR covered that when they dropped the schedules from the magazine (...was it about a year ago?). As explained, they felt that putting the schedules on the Trains.com web site was more effective, considering the cost of publishing those pages and the lead time required.
The schedule is on-line at http://www.trains.com/community/events /
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houses
ad
it
Ah. About a year ago.
Since I haven't seen the magazne in about 5 years, I had no opportunity to see their explanation of why the dropping of the club show schedule.
Thanks for the pointer to the online resource.
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Jim McLaughlin

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Jim McLaughlin wrote: [...]

Open houses etc listed on their web site, and more timely, too, since clubs don't have to plan so far ahead.

I don't think P2000, BLI, Kato, Atlas, etc make toys. :-) The kits reviewed are mostly resin or laser cut craft kits - not toys by any stretch of the imagination.
I haven't seen the Dec 05 issue yet, but that one traditionally reviews entry-level train sets, etc, so maybe that's what you have in mind. In fact the Dec issue tends to be very much aimed at the beginner. Good thinking, IMO.

Mr has gone to shorter articles with more pictures, presented in step-by-step fashion. For the seasoned modeller they are reminders of techniques (s)he already knows, with occasional new tricks, and for the beginner are just right.
Fact is that if you've been in the hobby for a few years, you've encountered just about every method there is. You're more likekly to want proptoype information about your road, era, or region.

No, I've seen this yearning for the Good Ole Days many, many times here. I think it's nostalgia for the time when you and the hobby were young, and every issue of MR, RMC, etc contained unexpected treasures. Now you're older, wiser, know a lot more, and you notice the repetition in the material printed. You also notice that most of it is at a level that you reached or surpassed a long time ago. C'est la vie: you get older, sometimes wiser, and usually more skillful.

The same as to every other special interest magazine: it recognised that the market is chnaging. Did you know, for example, that ready to run cars outsell kits by about 10:1? And that Walthers sells several times more ready-built structures than kits, and that the ratio is increasing?
I operate a small, mostly-trains hobby here in a very small market. Recently, a family showed up who had visited friends near here, and were pleased with what I have on offer. But they turned down _all_ kits, even the Athearns and Accurails, which surely don't take much skill. Ready to run and ready built only, that's all they wanted. The boy was about 12, and the father in his 30s. That's the future of the hobby. MR has recognised it.
One other thing: an increasing number of people want on-line info, and ignore print. The effects of that are not clear, but they don't look good for the magazines.
HTH
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Wolf Kirchmeir wrote:

And those of us who are "modellers" rather than "operators" are faced with an ever dwindling supply of our addictives :-). I hope you still carry some scratch building supplies for the silent minority :-).
But your expertise confirms what I said in an earlier post. Very few people get any joy from building things any more.
I wonder how much is due to the "buy it, use it, replace it" mentality of todays consumer culture?
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of todays consumer culture?< Actually I think it's due to less time for leisure pursuits. We are worked more and therefore have less time for our hobby. Of course the additional work seems to generate more funds (for some) and the tradeoff is in building vs using!
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Larry Blanchard wrote:

[...]
Yes, I do, but it sure sits on the shelves a long time. :-)

That's why the NMRA's workshops for kids at the National Meets are so important. I helped out at the one in Toronto in 2003 (you know - the one that was jinxed by SARS), and found the kids loved getting their hands on the kits. Some of them needed a bit of help with the tricky bits. but Athearn and Accurail kits were done 90% or more by the kids themselves. Proto1000 kits were bit beyond them, though - too many small parts. -- I trust that regional conventions run similar workshops.

Oh sure, I've no doubt that's part of it, but you should remember that a lot of scratch building and kit building in the "golden era of modelling" was prompted by the lack of cash. Now that people have more disposable income, they are more willing to pay for finished goods rather than building them from kits or from scratch. When a car kit cost a couple hour's pay or more, the "Dollar Model" articles were very welcome. When a locomotive kit costs between a day's and a week's pay, you welcome the "Kitchen Table Locomotive" series. I still have a copy of that series, it is very detailed and thorough. But I don't think I'll build one now.
HTH
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Wolf Kirchmeir wrote:

Price increases in recent years seem to have maintained the status quo somewhat. A Kadee RTR model is *still* a couple of hours pay. A locomotive with DCC and sound is *still* a couple of days or more pay. It's a good think there's still Accurail and Walthers kits in the $10 range for those of us that aren't MDs or lawyers. Then there's the craftsman kits, or the nearly complete lack thereof, for those of us that prefer them. Unless a hobby shop is also in the business of buying up estates and selling them you can't find a nice wooden kit in one any more. Thank the Force for club swap meets where you can still find the *really* good stuff.
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Rick Jones
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Rick Jones wrote:
> Then there's the craftsman kits, or the nearly complete lack thereof, > for those of us that prefer them. Unless a hobby shop is also in the > business of buying up estates and selling them you can't find a nice > wooden kit in one any more.
No great loss. Very few compare well with modern kits.
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mark_newton wrote:

Except for the personal satisfaction factor. While a Kadee RTR *may* look better it comes *NOWHERE CLOSE* to being as satisfying as assembling an old Ambroid, Silver Streak, Central Valley, Athearn metal or Campbell kit and seeing it run on a layout. I'd rather have a 20 car train of Silver Streak PFE reefers on my [future] layout than any plastic thing being offered on the market today, because the satisfaction of putting those craftsman kits together and making them look good far exceeds whatever improvements in detail is now available in today's RTR or kits.
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Rick Jones
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Rick Jones wrote:
>>> Then there's the craftsman kits, or the nearly complete lack >>> thereof, for those of us that prefer them. Unless a hobby shop is >>> also in the business of buying up estates and selling them you >>> can't find a nice wooden kit in one any more. >> >> No great loss. Very few compare well with modern kits. > > Except for the personal satisfaction factor. While a Kadee RTR *may* > look better it comes *NOWHERE CLOSE* to being as satisfying as > assembling an old Ambroid, Silver Streak, Central Valley, Athearn > metal or Campbell kit and seeing it run on a layout.
That may well be, but I wasn't comparing modern RTR with craftsman kits. I was comparing modern kits with craftsman kits. To me, they are far superior in every way, including the personal satisfaction factor. YMMV.
All the best,
Mark.
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Rick Jones wrote:

Ah, but back then it was a *** kit ***, not a RTR, and the level of detail was merely acceptable, even then - that's why there were several suppliers of detail parts (most of which have shut up shop.) And a current loco with DCC and sound is way better quality in every way than the die cast loco kits of 40 to 50 years ago.
Price-quality ratios have improved enormously in all manufactured goods. The belief that They Made Quality Back Then is a distortion of reality caused by a haze of nostalgia.
Item: Tom McCahill wrote a column for Popular Mechanix or Mechanics Illustrated, I can't recall which. He routinely advised ring and valve jobs on engines with a mere 20,000 to 30,000 miles on them. Nowadays, we expect an engine to last a minimum of 100,000 miles with no major work, and are in fact annoyed if it does need more than an oil and filter change.
Item: A 17" b/w TV set with 12 channels of fuzzy reception cost about a month's wages. You can buy a 21" colour TV set for about a day's wages now. (The first colour TV sets coat almost as much as car!)
Item: my first pair of dress shoes bought with my own money cost me a week's wages at 1-1/2 times minimum wage. Now you can buy a pair of dress shoes for only a day's wage at 1-1/2 times minimum wage. At least in Canada you can -- the minimum wages in the US are pathetic.
Item: The best locomotives in the 1950s were Tenshodo's brass locos. I recall drooling over a Big Boy, painted, and with lights yet. It was marked at $400Can - or $4,000 to $8,000 in today's money, depending on whose calculation of inflation you believe. I would rate current Big Boys and Challengers as superior to that offering by Tenshodo, yet they cost a good deal less than $1,000. $400 was ten weeks wages at the rate I was making then, $1/hour. Min wage was 65 cents. (An Athearn kit cost 98 cents Can.)

I know there are people who prefer craftsman wooden kits. But the market for them is very, very small as a proportion of the total. And it's dwindling. That's why they are hard to find, that's why they cost so much, that's why the maker's website may be the only easily accessible source. And for them too, price/quality ratio has improved since the advent of CAD/CAM driven laser cutting tools. I have a couple wooden kits that have been sitting on my shelves for over 20(!) years; at the time they were made, they were considered state of the art. I have only one local customer who prefers wood - he hates plastic, actually. He buys on average two kits a year. I no longer order wood kits for stock - I special order what he wants when he wants it.
Fact is, market economics dictate prices for hobby goods: they are after all paid for with disposable income. A large proportion of the market is willing to pay what old-timers consider premium prices for quality models, so that's what's made. There are still entry level goods, but in my experience, once people get bit by the bug, they go for the quality stuff, and don't blink (much :-)) at the prices.
In comparison to other pastimes, such as golf and hunting, model railroading is cheap. It's cheaper (and healthier) than smoking. An evening "enjoying" the latest blockbuster movie at the Cineplex will cost you upwards of $25 per person, what with ticket, popcorn, soft drinks, and "souvenirs" that the (grand)kids just have to have or else they'll die of disappointment. And have you priced a season's ticket for any major-league sport lately?
Overall, this is the best of times for model railroading. Enjoy it while you can.
HTH
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Wolf Kirchmeir wrote:

I guess I originated this thread, so I'll point out that it's wandered a little bit. I wasn't complaining about the lack of kits from a point of view of saving money, I was talking about myself and others like me who enjoy the building process.
Nor was I claiming that yesterdays kits were "better" than todays - they aren't.
As long as I can find scratchbuilding supplies, I'll be OK. But that is getting harder and harder, especially detail parts.
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Wolf Kirchmeir ( snipped-for-privacy@sympatico.ca) wrote: : : Item: Tom McCahill wrote a column for Popular Mechanix or Mechanics : Illustrated, I can't recall which. :
Uncle Tom, as he called himself, wrote for Mechanics Illustrated.
IIRC, he was fired by Reader's Digest because of his favorable review of the Tucker, and went to work for Mechanics Illustrated.
--Jerry Leslie Note: snipped-for-privacy@jrlvax.houston.rr.com is invalid for email
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leslie wrote:

Thanks. I used to devour his articles, against the day when I could afford a car of my own. By that time, I had family, and it was easier (and more reliable) to take it to the professional mechanic. :-)

??? I didn't know Reader's Digest had staff-written articles back then.
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There is one Tom McCahill article I will always remember. When Oldsmobile first introduced their full-size front-wheel drive car, the Toronado, Uncle Tom pondered in print on the translation of that Spanish-sounding name. He said he could not find it as a word in Spanish...that as best he could tell, it was a combination of "toro" for bull and a form of the verb "nader" which means to float. Thus the Toronado was for evermore for me a "floating bull".
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Norman Morgan wrote:

Or could it have been a derivation of the Spanish word "nada" which means nothing. That would then mean "No bull". :-{>
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Rick Jones
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purred

    Toronado was Zorro's horse. The name means a high wind, a tornado.
                                cat
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On Sat, 29 Oct 2005 00:48:27 -0700, cat wrote:

I'd advising avoiding a wind high out of a horse.
--
Steve

"We kick the dog when she does that."
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Rick Jones wrote:

I think they wanted to call it "Tornado", until wiser heads (from Kansas, probably) prevailed. :-)
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