North American mags folding

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by RobertInOntario, Aug 24, 2008.

  1. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    I've heard that 3 North American MRR magazines have recently folded -- Model Railroad Hobbyist, Mainline Modeler and Model Railroading Magazine.

    Only the last one sounds vaguely familiar to me, as I generally read MR and Canadian Railway Modeller (plus 2-3 British ones). Apparently, these are mags for very serious modellers. Just curious if many Gauge members used to read these and if there are any suggestions on what is happening. Are web forums and web mags causing this?

  2. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Rob, I'm familiar only with Mainline Modeler. It was a nicely presented magazine, with good prototype info and pictures, and some excellent scale drawings of prototype cars and locos. They also featured some in-depth scratchbuilding, often by the editor/publisher, Robert Hundman, an accomplished modeller in his own right. The magazine started out, I believe, as a bi-monthly offering, then eventually became available monthly. They ran an excellent multi-part series on Pullman cars, with prototype photos and drawings, including elevations, floor plans, and underbody layouts for many cars, plus modelling ideas and examples.
    I'm not sure of the reason for the magazine's demise, although it was well presented, being printed on heavier paper than most, and the cover price, at least in Canada, was up around nine bucks an issue. I would say that their audience was not as widely-based as, say, Model Railroader. Hundman seemed to be directly responsible for much of the content, leading me to wonder if it just became "too much". They did have some accomplished contributors, too, including Mont Switzer, John Nehrich, Roger Hinman, and Ted Culotta.
    My eye was always caught by the cover pictures, but I eventually learned to browse through each issue before buying - sometimes the stuff inside was not of more than passing interest to me, an important consideration when I had only limited resources and was buying 4 or 5 other magazines every month. I was a sucker for those freight car drawings, though. :rolleyes:;):-D

  3. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks, Wayne. Sounds like it was a good magazine but a bit technical at times. It will be interesting to see what others have to say about the history of the other magazines. I know as well that it's hard to keep up with 4-5 mags a month, both in terms of having enough time to read them, as well as being able to afford all of them -- especially when my British ones are around $10-$12 an issue! Rob
  4. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

  5. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Interesting -- now I remember hearing about this one via The Gauge. It looks like it's completely online, although you can download articles as you need them. I must tell my source about this! Cheers, Rob
  6. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I think Mainline Modeler folded a year or two ago, the others just recently folded. I would not be surprised if the fact that the hobby has seen a shift away from scratch building and kit building to buying r-t-r models and structures may have contributed to the demise of the mags. It may also be that more modelers are in the same "boat" as Dr Wayne. I know that I am. The only subscription I have currently is to the Santa Fe Historical and Modelers Society. If a national magazine doesn't have an article on either modeling something Santa Fe or something from the Southwest, I don't buy it. I think the problem for me is illustrated by a workshop I went to attended at the recent NMRA convention. It was a workshop presented by mmr Miles Hale (frequent guest on "Workin On The Railroad") and his wife. The problem was that he is from Missouri, and so was showing us how to do scenery typical of Missouri. Scenery in the desert is unique to the desert. Even So Cal coastal scenery does not resemble scenery in other parts of the country. An area that only averages 10-13 inches of rain per year looks much different from every where else in the country. The national magazines are not able to please every body every month, and they tend to feature articles and scenery from the area where their headquarters are located. If an individual is modeling generic scenery, they are fine. If you are trying to model a specific area of the country or even a specific scene, and it isn't the North Eastern US or Canada, most national magazines are spotty at best in providing something useful for modeling inspiration.
  7. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Interesting -- thanks, Russ. You make good points about the regional nature of our hobby.

    I can relate. When I read MRR or other mags, I usually have to adopt many of the articles to the region that I'm modelling. Magazines having a lot of articles on desert scenery & desert layouts would not apply to my British layout :mrgreen:. I've actually never even seen a desert before! :eek: but I still enjoy seeing the occasional desert layout in MRR, for variety, etc.

    Canadian Railway Modeller is a good magazine for Canadians although we still have that regional problem.

  8. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Money is tighter. Modellers are pickier. Competition for readers and subscribers is stiffer, and advertising revenues go to those who attract the most potential buyers. I am always sorry to see a publication go; it reresents to me a loss of knowledge, skills and viewpoints that I might otherwise learn from.
  9. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    I too thought Mainline Modeler was ended quite a few months ago when Hundman couldn't find a buyer for it. Both CTC Board and N Scale were picked up by other publishers, however.
  10. RonP

    RonP Member of the WMRC

    Is this hobbyist magazine online or in print ? I think I read somewhere that in January '09 they will publish something.

    Sounds like a good concept, and I was thinking of doing this kind of thing yearly for the from the very start. Seeing as this is going on I will hold off and see how it pans out.
  11. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

    MRH is online, PDF format. It saves the cost of printing, thus allowing for free subscriptions.
  12. It's a shame - I cherish my back issues of Mainline Modeler and Model Railroading - they both offered a wealth of information.
    I find that I even prefer Railroad Model Craftsman over Model Railroader, as scratch building and prototypical information are much more useful to me than a 4'x8' project layout.
    I guess it makes sense though - Model Railroader is very good at presenting a broad overview of the hobby and growing it, and dedicated modelers are turning more and more to the web for information and exchange of ideas with like minded modelers in real time.
  13. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    It's commercial Darwinism - natural selection favors the most likely to survive over the too-specialized or uniquely slotted.

    It's still a shame, though.
  14. Art Decko

    Art Decko Member

    I know nothing about MRR magazines, but there is also the simple fact that the entire paper-based publishing industry is being shaken to its core by technology change. Printed newspaper readership is plummeting, people are beginning to read books on Kindles, and ... well, you are reading this post online. :)

    The business model behind printing specialized magazines is in flux. I think that getting information by paying someone to ship you a clump of papers to carry around and shuffle through is very soon going be in the same category as listening to music stamped on vinyl disks. There are just so many disadvantages compared to online digital media ... more expensive to produce, one-way information, no comments, dated, hard to search, bulky to store, environmental costs of paper production and printing, etc. Magazines (and other printed material) certainly have many virtues, but I wonder if you have you ever encountered a single MRRing magazine 1/100th as useful as The Gauge -- the free, searchable, inter-active product of an entire MRRing community?

    What I'm curious about: how many MRR magazines are folding, versus how many are moving online, versus how many new magazines or other MRRing resources are appearing online?
  15. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I'm a "gear head" as well as a model railroader. For a couple of years I have had a free online "subscription" to Winding Road. It is an online magazine like Car & Driver or Road & Track. The claim of Winding Road is that most paper magazines are paid for by the advertising they carry. The reason for the cover price and subscription cost is to cover printing and postage. If the magazine is offered online, they eliminate the printing and postage costs. You can go online and simply download the magazine each month or read it right from the web site, but they ask people to "subscribe" by email so that they can show potential advertisers how many readers they have. I suspect they also have some sort of counter built in to the web site to show how many times the magazine is either opened or downloaded. I don't think the print magazines have figured out how to capitalize on this new technology, yet. They are just too locked into the old technology. I think in the next few years the magazines that don't change their thinking will probably go out of business. At this time, I think the biggest challenge for a company wanting to do an online magazine for profit is figuring out how to promote it to potential new readers.
  16. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    No matter how it is done, someone has to pay for it. A simple glance at the home page of this forum and the extensive advertising sghould be enopugh to demonstrate how it works.

    No matter how sophisticated technology becomes, nothing is likely to replace the printed word and image any time soon. (ask Stephen King how his single experience witih on-line publication went) Reading an article on-line is nothing like reading it in print, and referring to an article in a back issue of a modeling mag is a cherished right of passage.

    Besides, when the power goes out, as it often does during severe storms here in the Rockies, my magazines can still keep me company by candlelight.

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