Are There Any "Good" Model Railroad Magazines?

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by riverotter, Apr 19, 2008.

  1. riverotter

    riverotter Midwest Alliance Rail Sys

    I've seen (and participated in) a number of threads over the last little while where the majority opinion of the posters is that "mainstream" model railroading magazines (like MR & RMC) are not worth the price of a subscription.

    If you subscribe (pun intended) to this viewpoint, are there, in your opinions, any "good" model railroad magazines? If so, which ones are they?
  2. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    I would say for a new person to the hobby, Model Railroader and Railroad Model Craftsmen are well worth the price of the subscription.

    After about 5 years, it seems that there is less and less of interest to the more experienced modeler. I was a model railroader subscriber for about 5 years as a teen, but now maybe only 3-4 issues a year is there an article that pertains to my modeling niche. When I see such an article, I will buy the magazine at the LHS. For only 3-4 magazines a year, it is definitely not worth the price (or environmental burden) of the subscription.

    With that said, the Narrow Gauge and Shortline Gazette very much is in line with my modeling niche, and I would very much like to have a subcription. Unfortunately, I am early in my career and my modeling budget is low. I would rather spend my money on modeling supplies rather than periodicals.

  3. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    I subscribe to RMC and buy MR at the magazine stand. I do find some repetition in articles but you have to remember that there are always new people who want basic info. Just look at the threads here on the Gauge that ask the same questions week after week. I find that there is something new in both magazines or a new approach to an old situation.
    I too like Narrow Gauge and Short Line Gazette. If you're into mainline contemporary modeling it may have limited appeal.
  4. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    Worthy magazines are also available from the larger Historical and Technical Societies of Particular railroads.

    Southern Pacific'c H&TS produces "SP Trainline" and The Santa FE HT&S produces a similar product. Most of them are well done and chocked full of useful information if you're modeling a particular railroad. Undoubtedly the Pennslyvania and the other major railroads have similar magazines.

    Good magazines can be had from MR's "Realistic Layout" Series. That's where ALL the new, excellently done how-to's went.

    The original Model Railroader is basically fluff nowadays, and recycles old articles regularly.

    RMC is interesting, they have some good scratchbuilding and kitbashing articles, and most of the articles are written by people who on the road to becoming a "NMRA Master Model Railroader" the highest achievement in modeling, so there's good articles in there.
  5. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    The answer to that lies within you. If the magazines carry information that you find useful, then they worthwhile; if they do not, they aren't - but only you can make that decision about any particular magazine.

    As for the magazine becoming fluff pieces, modelers are not breaking new ground and their layouts clearly reveal this. Magazines cannot present new concepts and techniques if they have not been developed.

    So - up to you.
  6. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    Mountain Man is exactly correct.

    I wrote straight from my expirence, not all MR's are fluff, and not all RMC's are good either. If you like Pennslyvanian Coal and Steel operations, you'll probably enjoy most if not all articles about that subject, and probably not care as much about an article that tells you how to model California's palm trees and orange groves, and visa versa.

    I loved MR when I was a beginner back in the 1990's, because it had a LOT of interesting articles, and my first layout, the Alkali Central. If you're a beginner, try to find the MR's from the 1990's, they're full of useful information on benchwork, scenery, and intro's into prototype modeling.

    It's just your taste, and personal expirence that adds to your like or dislike of a certian periodical.

    I suggest just spending an hour or so at a Border's and read or at least look through all the magazines on Railroading and Model Railroading, and see what you like best.
  7. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    I guess I echo most of the comments above. I don't subscribe anymore because I do see a lot of repetition and a good number of issues have content about railroads that don't interest me but I will occasionally purchase a Model Railroader or an RMC if I find the content appealing. I also like to check the latest issue of the quarterly The Railroad Press for proto photos.

  8. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    Like most here, I think that "good" depends on your perspective. If you're a newb, you'll probably find lots in MR and RMC that will be new and useful to you.

    OTOH, if you're like me, and you bought (and still have) your first MR from April 1971, and subscribed for years, you'll see that there haven't been many "new" articles in the last decade or so. There's been some advances in technology (DCC) and range and detail of models (thank you, China), and more focus on prototypical modelling, but you begin to notice there's an annual cycle to the articles.

    How many articles on "How to weather your whatzit" do you really need? How many glowing product reviews that never point out flaws or shortcomings do you really need? In the last 5 years, the amount of information available on the web has really made the magazines' job difficult, and I don't think they're rising to the challenge particularly well.

    I used to get GMR regularly, since the layout articles were about all I found interesting in MR and RMC anymore, but even then, I'm feeling it should be re-named "Some great, some not-so-great model railroads".

    But then some people feel I'm becoming a bitter, jaded curmudgeon, so take that for what it's worth. :p ;)
  9. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Or is the real problem because the magazines don't have any "babes"? :mrgreen:
  10. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    :) I recall an ad that regularly appeared in Model Railroader and RMC in the early 70's that featured a bikini clad model holding some plastic parts with the caption "Build anything with Plastruct!" below. It was like a milder version of the calendars you'd see in garages with a swimsuit model holding a wrench. As a young teen boy it caught my attention. I think those days are definitely gone in hobby magazines! :mrgreen:
  11. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Well,57 years in the hobby I still enjoy MR,Trains,Classic Trains and Railfan.

    IMHO if more modelers spent their hobby time doing what pleases them they would see a different hobby.
    Thanks to the Internet and the chronic bellyachers many have lost sight of what the hobby is to them and I dare say the fun they use to have.
    Why is this? Again IMHO many feel this hobby is competitive or they must measure up to modeler Joe D.Windbag. Worst is the chronic bellyachers that is unhappy with everything and wants everybody to feel the same way by posting negative replies time and again in every topic..He/she doesn't like this or that..Nothing works.Brand X is junk,Brand Y is junk MR is rotten,.RMC is rotten etc,etc..
    The thing to remember is simple..Remember your modeling roots and how much fun it was then..Hold fast to what pleases you regardless of modeler Joe D.Windbag says or says he does..
  12. CSXect

    CSXect Member

    I like CTT(Clasic toy trains) and OGR (O gauge railroading) sometimes if something in Mr or MRC interests me I will buy an issue. O scale trains (A two rail scale mag.) has a bunch of back issues to download for free some cool ideas for those who like to scratchbuild as well. S gaugian covers all things S from American Flyer and Modern S makers and even narrow gauge but with this nich the cover price is kinda steep. MRR news is 99 percent adds but the have reviews on products in every scale. Model railroad journal is kinda cool lots of prototypical info along with modeling info as well.:thumb:
  13. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    I almost let this go by but couldn't resist saying something. the last MRR I looked at was last August, a friend brought it to me at the hospital. I haven't even desired one since. Its OK but not for me.
  14. myltlpny

    myltlpny Member

    I think I agree with most of the previous posters. I don't subscribe to a particular magazine because one month, MRR may have something that interests me, and the next it's RMC. I don't mind articles outside of my modeling area because I can usually learn something or take something out of it I can use, but there needs to be something to grab my attention.
    Now, if you've got a particular road in mind, then a historical society is probably the best bet. I enjoy intermodal modeling and belong to an online group that has lots of great ideas and tips on modern intermodal operations, equipment, and offerings.
  15. Chaparral

    Chaparral Member

    Magazines and newspapers aren't about content, they'er about advertising.
    MRR mags aren't in business to help you build a MRR, they are in business to make money. They could just as easily be into a chain of Leprachaun Tattoo Parlours.

    I don't buy any magazines, except Canadian Cowboy Country - $4.50 Canuckian.
  16. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I subscribed to Model Railroader and Railroad Model Craftsman for about 15-20 years. I finally dropped the subscription because I went in the direction of prototype modeling the Santa Fe in California. The national magazines just didn't have enough content of interest to me or appropriate to my modeling interest. My only subscription now is to the Santa Fe Modelers & Historical Society. I still check out the various magazines on the rack to see if they have articles of interest, and buy them if they do. One of the most pleasant surprises to me is the "Scale Rails" magazine of the NMRA. A couple of years ago when I renewed my membership, I opted out of receiving the magazine to save the $12.00 because the magazine was more of a pamphlet than a serious magazine. Last summer I received the July or August issue, because all members receive that issue which contains the ballots for the officer elections. I discovered that Stephen Priest was the new editor, and the magazine is comparable to anything on the national model railroading magazines. The additional cost to receive the magazine is still $12.00, which is probably one of the best deals around.
  17. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    I have a MRR subscription, started around 2002, and I always enjoy reading them. Sure, some of the articles I'll probably never use for myself, or will never build a layout the size of my house, but I still always find inspiration from some of the how-to articles, and from pictures of scenes of the "basement size" layout.

    I also pickup copies of N-Scale Railroad and N-Scale Magazine from the LHS, and enjoy these as well since they are 100% dedicated to the scale I model.
  18. scubadude

    scubadude Member

  19. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    I find "Model Railroader" to be quite good. I enjoy the articles on actual layouts and especially the several step-by-step "how-to" articles (i.e. how to ballast, how to weather rolling stock). I find the latter to be very helpful and clear with their photos, diagrams and simple instructions.

    Since I'm into modeling British trains, I also regularly get the new "Hornby Magazine." It's fairly new (less than 2 years old?) and extremely good -- packed with lots of how-to articles, great for inspiring me with new ideas to try out. And they also have several articles on the prototype (pics and articles on real, historical trains ... detail that models can show on their layouts). HM also focuses mostly on 00 (the British HO) and steam era, which is what I model.
    I also like the British "Model Rail," but it's been upstaged recently by "Hornby Magazine."

    "Canadian Railway Modeler" is small and only published 6x a year. It's very helpful with lots of historical notes as well as news of what's happening currently with both contemporary and heritage trains.

    BTW, even if you're not into British trains, you can still take ideas from these British magazines and apply them to your American layouts. I do the reverse when I read "Model Railroader"!

  20. scubadude

    scubadude Member

    THAT'S it! :v8:

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