New Editor for MR

On Sun, 11 Mar 2007 22:40:52 GMT, I said, "Pick a card, any card"


Jack,
Perhaps I have a different Malcolm Furlow in mind. Sorry. -- Ray
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Don't expect that sort of change in content to come anytime soon, Jack. First off, the current editorial staff simply isn't up to it. Unlike the situation years ago, except for Popp, there's little evidence of any real modeling talent from the newer guys on the staff. More importantly though, over the past decade the magazine's focus has increasely become the entry-level, RTR crowd. MR seems to feel that this is their niche and obviously have no intent to change direction...even though they're readership is down by one-third or 80,000 over the past dozen years.
Look for the hobby to clearly divide itself into two decidely separate interest groups in the not too distant future: the basic RTR'ers and the traditional multi-talented modelers. MR, with its readership consistantly loosing ground by 5k-7k readers per year will continue to champion the former, while RMC, with a smaller but now stabilized circulation, will cater to the latter. One might even see the ranking of these two publications swap about 2015.
CNJ999
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CNJ999 wrote:

Sure, there will always be people who want to build detailed models (and not just of trains). But chew on this:
a) I tried to sell simple, shake-the-box freight car kits to a father (30 something) and his son (12-ish) last year. No go. They preferred to buy two RTR cars by Atlas instead of four kits by Accurail. They did buy a simple building kit, though. But only because I had no ready-builts in stock. IMO, they are a portent.
b) Walthers is producing more and more ready-builts and RTR. they no longer make or offer craft kits. They used to be a major source of craft kits for the "traditional multi-talented modellers".
c) Labelle and others (Mainline, Silver Streak, etc) used to be hobby shop staples. They've either disappeared, or been reduced to direct-to-consumer selling. And the cruel fact is that it takes a heap of effort to convert one of these craft kits into a model that even at a distance looks as good as its plastic RTR counterpart.
d) The better quality craft kits available these days are limited run, very pricey, and clearly targeted at a very small (but very dedicated) niche market. By "better quality" I mean those that will result in models that rivals the RTR ones.
e) My fellow club members, all of them retirees in their 60s and up, are increasingly buying RTR rather than kits, because they don't want to spend the time to build. They also note that the price difference between kits and RTR is shrinking, non-existent, and even reversed. When a resin boxcar kit sans trucks and couplers costs more than an Atlas Trainman car, what do you think they will buy?
f) Recent newbies in the hobby hereabouts prefer ready builts and RTR, and buy kits only when they can't get anything else. They're quite happy to pay the price premium.

IMO, the main reason MR is losing readership is the same as the reason all craft and hobby magazines, all magazines in fact, are losing readership. It's several reasons, actually, if recent studies of people's reading habits are valid (and I see no reason to doubt them.)
a) The Internet: Notice how many people here want a website about some subject or other, a subject usually well covered in books and magazines easily available at the drugstore and/or the local library and/or the local hobby shop?
b) A couple of studies done by industrial psychologists indicate that most people reduce their leisure reading from about the mid-20s on, so much so that their reading skills in general suffer, and hence their work performance suffers too. One of the reasons for this reduction? The astonishing increase in the amount of reading that must be done as part of the job, which averages 2 hr/shift for all job classes. People just don;t want to read more when they get home.
c) The pressure of time. People expect to and try to do many more things than they did some decades ago. So they for ways of reducing the "prep time" for each activity, so as to concentrate on the essence. The essence of model railroading is running trains. Building models is part of the mix in model railroading, but for most people it's something you do because otherwise you can't have the trains you want, be it for budgetary reasons or for some otherwise unappeasable desire for some specific (often nostalgic) prototype.
Final comment: the differentiation between "traditional multi-talented modellers" and "the entry-level ready to run crowd" sounds more than a little elitist, and does the hobby no good. If you want the hobby to thrive, you can't afford to alienate the newbies with that sort of disdain.
--

Wolf

"Don't believe everything you think." (Maxine)
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The situation is not at all true of the two major model railroad magazines. While MR continues to hemorage readership, RMC's circulation has been stabile for the past five years. Peruse any forum and you'll hear longtiime hobbyists say they are dropping MR and switching over to RMC because is much more aligned with what traditional model railroaders are interested in. In a time when the hobby is shrinking anyway, MR's expected readership losses are being greatly increased through hobbyists dropping them for RMC and other more suitable publications.
Regarding the Internet, I regard it as largely a crutch for the lazy, those looking for quick answers with no effort involved and without regard to accuracy. Ask a question on a forum and you are likely to get a dozen differing answers...from folks who's actual knowledge of the subject is often highly questionable.
As to people being turned off by reading, or the pressures of time, if that is indeed the case, I'd suggested that they would do a lot better looking for a hobby other than model railroading, because both of these aspects are necessary if you really want to participate beyond the roundy-roundy, bare plywood, Lionel, level.

If speaking the truth about the situation is being elitist, then I guess that's the case. As can be seen by the skill level displayed by typical members of MR's forums, they are increasingly folks one might consider more or less dabblers or fellas incapable of serious modeling to any degree. Accomplished modelers seem to represent only a small fraction of the on-line participants there, unlike those frequenting more advanced forums.
Although it may have been well before your time, Wolf, in days long gone by MR split off less accomplished splinters of its readership so as to remain true to the advanced and craftsmanship aspects of the hobby. It outright dumped tin-platers and Hi-railers not long after mid-century (they did give them CTT about 15-20 years ago) and they likewise spun off a totally separate publication designed just for those folks who's abilities and interests weren't regarded as really serious but more basically playing with scale model trains generally on plywood centrals.
However, over the last dozen years or so, MR, and infact much of the industry itself, has steadily leaned further and further over toward catering to those with an excess of money and little or no hobby talents. Prices are increasing dramatically while production runs are dwindling in size, situations that do not encourage either hobby growth nor endows the talents and craftsmanship needed to created an overall quality layout. MR is even starting to publish layout tours of commercially-built pikes and even a commercial "project layout". Perhaps their slogan in the future should read,"Dream It, Plan It, Buy It...(Because you can't do it yourself!)."
CNJ999
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CNJ999 wrote:

I don't know that the hobby is shrinking. I do know that it's changing.

"a crutch for the lazy... no effort involved..."
CNJ, you're looking at the hobby from the p.o.v of someone who takes the hobby rather too seriously IMO. If a guy wants to be "lazy" about his pastime, who are you to judge? You appear to believe that there's only one right way to be a model railroader, and you come across as someone who looks down his nose (and over his bifocals?) at those who do things differently. Worse, you're one of those sad souls who feels guilty if he can't persuade himself that he's doing serious work, not just having fun.

There you go again. I make a general comment about all pastimes (not just model railroading), and you make a judgement about those who aren't, er, what did you call yourself? Oh yeah, a "traditional multi-talented modeller."
Pardon me if I sound mite testy, but I'm getting rather pissed off at this "You inferior modellers are spoiling the hobby for We Who Walk The One True Path."

There you go again - you put down people who like to play with trains their own way as "dabblers" and accuse them of not being "incapable of serious modelling."
It does not make you look or sound good to put down people who might, just might, mind you, become "serious modellers" if people like you didn't repeatedly whinge about the Good Old Days that are no more, and generally complain that you don't get the recognition you seek.

I have been reading and subscribing to Model Railroader for 53 years this fall.

There you go again, pissing all over people who don't share your vision of what a serious modeller should be doing.
I'm getting really, really pissed off at your self-aggrandising terminology when referring to yourself.
So you like to build detailed, as close to scale models as possible, and you do it well (I assume.) Well, now, if you weren't to goddamn conceited about that fact, you might actually get some of those less serious and less capable modellers to listen to you, and maybe even try some scratchbuilding.
I note that Bill Walker, who is a great scratchbuilder, if the pics in his series are any proof, has nothing of your whingeing, put-down, self-important, and self-righteous tone. His articles are a delight to read because he wants to share his pleasure and pass along his skills and knowledge. All you want to do is share you anger at a world that has changed.
Well, you shared your anger with me all right. Bet you didn't think it would bounce right back at you, eh?

--


Wolf

"Don't believe everything you think." (Maxine)
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Well said! If this issue ever comes to a vote, I'm with Wolf. Thank you.
Jerry
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Wolf wrote:

Whoa! I swore I wouldn't respond to this thread because we've had it before many times, but the above tweaked my typing urge.
Model railroading implies being a modeler. A modeler builds models. Yes, all of us buy some of our layout pieces. For example, few build their own locomotives from scratch although some do build from kits and add details to RTR locos. A somewhat larger group builds rolling stock from scratch or from kits, and even more seem to build structures.
Until recently, almost all of us built our own benchwork, roadbed, and scenery. I suppose plywood COULD be considered a kit :-).
But someone who buys everything, including getting someone else to build the layout, is NOT a model railroader! A "miniature railroader" perhaps, or a "railroad simulator" if operation is the be-all and end-all, but not a modeler. I mean nothing derogatory by that, it's a perfectly acceptable hobby. It's just a different hobby.
--
It's turtles, all the way down

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Larry Blanchard wrote:

Good comment, that's a sensible distinction, or rather two ends of the spectrum. I think most of us wander around somewhere about halfway between those two extremes.
--


Wolf

"Don't believe everything you think." (Maxine)
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Gee, I don't know. I always thought the "model" in model railroader was to point out that it wasn't the real thing. Whether the model is obtained by construction, purchase, barter or theft is (except as regards law enforcement agencies) immaterial. To paraphrase Churchill:
We are two hobbyists viewing a situation differently because we share a common language.
Luckily, no harm should be caused by this. Thank you.
Jerry
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On Mon, 12 Mar 2007 14:35:17 -0500, Wolf wrote:

Yep; built it. During a move it got, er, uh, crunched - makes a good wreck, though.
--
Steve

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*snip*

I find it interesting that even though the corretness of the information is in question, in my experience it's been right more than it's been wrong. Still, you shouldn't do anything potentially destructive if you question the infomation...

*large snip*
Commercials are great for reading a magazine a page or two at a time. It's not so great for building/painting kits, but that's what intermissions are for. (If you're watching hockey.)

Puckdropper
--
Wise is the man who attempts to answer his question before asking it.

To email me directly, send a message to puckdropper (at) fastmail.fm
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Wolf wrote:

Wolf, your sense of egalitarianism is commendable, but I think it's misplaced. There *is* a differentiation between "traditional multi-talented modellers" and "the entry-level ready to run crowd". It's not based on elitism, as you always insist, but on levels of skill, knowledge and ability.
If I may use a sporting analogy, it's like the difference between a professional footballer and a bloke kicking a ball around at a family picnic. It's not elitist to point out that one is more skilled and committed than the other.
Cheers,
Mark.
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Mark Newton wrote:

A judgement recognising differences in skill and commitment is one thing. Putting down those who don't have your level of skill or commitment as "lazy, dabblers, roundy-roundy plywood central builders" etc etc is another.
Of course there's a difference between the pro footballer and the Sunday kicker having a good time with his family and friends. But pro footballers don't put down the amateur. They're happy that other people enjoy the sport at their own level. They _want_ people to enjoy the sport at their own level. That's what football is about, at an level: the joy of play.
CNJ and others of his persuasion are annoyed that others enjoy model railroading at their own level. Not only are they unhappy, they whinge and whine about it. And insult those who are quite happy to be dabblers and to build roundy roundy plywood centrals. There's an implied moral judgment there. The premise seems to be that if you don;'t work at having fun at least as seriously as you work at work, you're wasting your time, and wasting time is a sin. And it's even worse if you +spend money_ on toys, instead of building them.
Good grief!
What's with these guys? Why can't they be happy that other people share their love of trains, even if they don't feel moved to hone their modelling skills, but decide that _for them_ buying nice looking models is the right trade-off between time, talent, and money?
I'll take the Bill Walkers over the CNJs every time.
--

Wolf

"Don't believe everything you think." (Maxine)
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On Mon, 12 Mar 2007 11:14:39 -0500, Wolf posted in article

Indeed, but Bortle fails to recognize in his rants that traditional multi-talented modelers began at the entry level no matter what magazine they read (if any) and developed skills with practice. Instead, he apparently believes that the talents displayed by True Craftsmen arose _de novo_ into the now musty and wine-stained pages of his MR collection. All the while he curses the 21st century for offering to today's entry-level crowd reasonably detailed RTR equipment (which, of course, said crowd will never abandon for the challenge of kitbashing and scratchbuilding) and MR for fostering the RTR attitude (nevermind that in each issue MR displays examples of superb modeling that could only be achieved through skill development), at least when he isn't yelling at the kids to get offa his lawn. The elitism is manifest in McBortle's No True Scotsman- based argument.

Fortunately, they're few in number. Most of the skilled modelers I'm acquainted or correspond with, recognize that modeling skill is something developed over time. 'Course, their memories remain fairly sharp and non-selective, more so than that of a self-professed Model Railroad Historian(tm). The Rx for Bortle's chronic annoyance might be to get a life in the present day and a daily dose of prune juice.

If that premise is true, perhaps Bortle lacks talent and has had to work really really really hard to develop what skills he has. Doesn't mean he isn't kind to animals and small children, though, just to those who for whatever reason haven't tested their own talents or don't spend as much time as he once did in his modeling.

Well, you see, focusing your hobby skills and maximizing your hobby enjoyment on modeling prototype operations, or scenery through which prototypes pass, or intricate prototypical trackwork at the expense of what's deemed appropriate by Bortle, or running your plywood Pacific while dealing with degenerative nerve disease or some other physical malady that restricts your productivity and attention to detail, means that you can't be a True Model Railroader. Everyone knows that.

That would depend on where you're taking them, wouldn't it?
--
OvC

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Wolf wrote:
"A judgement recognising differences in skill and commitment is one thing. Putting down those who don't have your level of skill or commitment as "lazy, dabblers, roundy-roundy plywood central builders" etc etc is another.
Of course there's a difference between the pro footballer and the Sunday kicker having a good time with his family and friends. But pro footballers don't put down the amateur. They're happy that other people enjoy the sport at their own level. They _want_ people to enjoy the sport at their own level. That's what football is about, at an level: the joy of play."
They do if the amateur gets in their face about how they're runing the game by demonstrating a level of play that's too high AKA as being able to operate at a level that the amateur can not.
"CNJ and others of his persuasion are annoyed that others enjoy model railroading at their own level. Not only are they unhappy, they whinge and whine about it. And insult those who are quite happy to be dabblers and to build roundy roundy plywood centrals. There's an implied moral judgment there. The premise seems to be that if you don;'t work at having fun at least as seriously as you work at work, you're wasting your time, and wasting time is a sin. And it's even worse if you +spend money_ on toys, instead of building them. "
I've found that high level modelers don't put down lesser modelers UNLESS they insist on shoving their work in their faces, asking them what they think of it and then getting upset if they receive an honest appraisal.
"What's with these guys? Why can't they be happy that other people share their love of trains, even if they don't feel moved to hone their modelling skills, but decide that _for them_ buying nice looking models is the right trade-off between time, talent, and money?"
What's with them is that they, rightly, resent those who harrass them the because they have skills and abilities that the harrassers do not. High level modelers can do what the low level modelers can while the LLM can't. Both know that.
If you know that someone is a better modeler than you and you know they're going to respond on their level why would another othe than a mental deficent insist on asking them their opinion about a models which won't measure up to their standard and then getting upset when they get the answer they know that they're going to get.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
.
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Wolf wrote:
"A judgement recognising differences in skill and commitment is one thing. Putting down those who don't have your level of skill or commitment as "lazy, dabblers, roundy-roundy plywood central builders" etc etc is another.
Of course there's a difference between the pro footballer and the Sunday kicker having a good time with his family and friends. But pro footballers don't put down the amateur. They're happy that other people enjoy the sport at their own level. They _want_ people to enjoy the sport at their own level. That's what football is about, at an level: the joy of play."
They do if the amateur gets in their face about how they're runing the game by demonstrating a level of play that's too high AKA as being able to operate at a level that the amateur can not.
"CNJ and others of his persuasion are annoyed that others enjoy model railroading at their own level. Not only are they unhappy, they whinge and whine about it. And insult those who are quite happy to be dabblers and to build roundy roundy plywood centrals. There's an implied moral judgment there. The premise seems to be that if you don;'t work at having fun at least as seriously as you work at work, you're wasting your time, and wasting time is a sin. And it's even worse if you +spend money_ on toys, instead of building them. "
I've found that high level modelers don't put down lesser modelers UNLESS they insist on shoving their work in their faces, asking them what they think of it and then getting upset if they receive an honest appraisal.
"What's with these guys? Why can't they be happy that other people share their love of trains, even if they don't feel moved to hone their modelling skills, but decide that _for them_ buying nice looking models is the right trade-off between time, talent, and money?"
What's with them is that they, rightly, resent those who harrass them the because they have skills and abilities that the harrassers do not. High level modelers can do what the low level modelers can while the LLM can't. Both know that.
If you know that someone is a better modeler than you and you know they're going to respond on their level why would another othe than a mental deficent insist on asking them their opinion about a models which won't measure up to their standard and then getting upset when they get the answer they know that they're going to get.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
.
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On Mar 13, 2:50?pm, " snipped-for-privacy@bigfoot.com"

NYCfan - A fact that must also be appreciated is that today's Internet general hobby forum participants are largely made up of entry-level hobbyists, hobby dabblers, and the no-can-do's looking to have a voice. One sees very, very little evidence of accomplished modelers among their ranks. Most of those with actual skills, if they initially participate in the general interest forums at all, soon move on to more specialized groups far outside the realm of those perused by the usual run of hobby dabblers.
The general forum's novice, strictly RTR, and no-can do crowd, are often desparate to justify their fringe association with the hobby and to be looked upon as true model railroaders...even thought their participation may be nothing more than running RTR trains on Plywood Centrals. If any concept of craftmanship's actual place in the hobby arises, their posts immediately attempt to fall back on the idea that lack of time and excess capital in every way justifies RTR - rather than it honestly being just an excuse for lack of personal modeling talent/ability. That being so, many of these same folks will become insulted and highly verbal if it is pointed out that what they are doing has little in common with what traditional model railroaders can and do accomplish. And they are especially threatened if asked to display examples of their work to backup the views expressed in their posts, i.e. "The time I save by not building benchwork, cars, structures, etc. I can apply to building of my scenery"...which, more often than not, looks like some juvenile has done it. Yes, there are exceptions, but in my experience, relatively few.
I'm afraid that there is little hope of altering this situation, encountered on so many general forums, simply because of the very nature of those participating. Hearing the truth about some facet of our pastime, be it scratchbuilding, aging of hobbyists, DCC vs DC, will be dismissed or be challenged if it disagrees with the naive group opinion, which is always at the most basic, uninformed, levels of the hobby. The only real answer to this is to deal just with the more select forums, on which advanced and accomplished modelers interact.
CNJ999
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CNJ999 wrote:

Must be wonderful to be able to bolster one's self esteem by putting down other people.
So much easier than offering actual help and advice.
[snip the rest of self-aggrandising drivel]
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