Pupolarity Of The Hobby

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Play-Doh, Jul 18, 2006.

  1. Play-Doh

    Play-Doh Member

    I got to thinking today what is the future of model railroading? I read in a book im reading that the average model railroader is in their 50s and that stat has gone up significantly in the last few years.

    So are we seeing a the tide turn? Are more young people getting into the hobby or are we a dying breed? I would hate to be unable to get supplies for my hobby 40 years from now.

    Any thoughts?
  2. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    There are young people in the hobby, but I think the nature of the beast is that new modelers seem to join the hobby at the age of 40-50 or so. I think that because of the space it takes to model and the demands of family, that many folks start modeling in their 40s and 50s after the family has grown, they have some hobby money available, and most important a little space to build a layout in the home after the kids have moved out. I started getting interested in the hobby again in the late 1980's. It seems to me that the demopgraphics were about the same then as now.
  3. Cornreaper

    Cornreaper Member

    I was actually touching on this recently on another site. My point was that it seems that there is a general conception that you have to be either 6 or 60 to be into trains. If you're in the in-between age, people seem to give you a funny look if you "play with toys". I'm 32, and pretty much all of my friends mock me for my hobby!

    Anyway, I think this perception helps keep younger people away for the most part. Also, I think retired people just have more money and time, cuz let's face it, it ain't a cheap hobby if you want something a bit more elaborate than a train going around in circles. Geez, I've already spent a considerable amount on just getting my door layout to the point of being able to run trains. It's not just the trains, but the cost of everthing else really adds up too. There's the door, the pink foam, the folding legs, toggle switches, wire, tools etc. It's a lot to take out of the budget of a young person paying off school debts or starting a family.

    I don't think there'll be a problem getting supplies in 40 years, but I really don't think we're gonna see any drop in the average age of a model railroader either!
  4. Relic

    Relic Member

    I had to have a long debate with myself before posting this ..BUT..I think a lot more people would "play with trains" (or anything else ) if they didn't worry so much about what other people thought . Why is individualism now a thing of the past?
    Bikers used to be individuals, now any goomer with a gold card can be a "biker"..I think model train people are the last of an endangered species.
    Too deep? Too bad
  5. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I think that the "distant" future of model railroading is indeed the kids, but the "immediate" future is mostly guys (with all due respect to Spitfire, aartwmich, and others) in their 30s and 40s who have a bit of disposable income, and a moderate increase in their spare time due to the pressures of young family/career lessening a bit (hmmm... sounds like me, except of course the disposable income - there's never enough of that ;) :D :rolleyes: ).

    These guys most likely had a train set when younger, but it wasn't a Lionel - more likely a Bachmann HO set. Their dads did not work with steam locomotives, nor for the railway at all, although their grandfathers might have. They might have seen some steam or 1st/2nd generation diesels in museums, or possibly "railfanning". They might have built airplane or car or military models when they were kids.

    Of course, some have a gold card, and can get the R-T-R stuff and have an (almost) instant railroad; rather than being model builders they can be railroad operators. I think that this trend may mean that kits will be harder to find, and the days of the "blue box" are numbered. Craftsman kits will continue to be available, although at higher and higher cost.

  6. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    Wow - some interesting points here....... Where are we headed??? The collectors are running the show IMHO..... It's whatever any and all manufacturers can sell to make that "bottom line" stay well in the black...

    The gold card holders are there - yes, and that does seem to make the days of the kits numbered, or at least, shrinking... but there are still people out there that simply can't leave anything alone :D they have to create things, (Weather, detail etc.)

    In all walks of life, there is nothing that compaires to the "overall" scope of this hobby... You can buy a boat, you can buy a bike, or a car.. and keep using them as dual purpose (family or single hobby) but you can't take someone in (on) a train ride on your layout.

    That's where it falls apart.... I could always get someone into the antique car and i could always give them the first hand inpressions of driving it and "the energy involved" but people grow up and change and as has been said -- need money for other things (Kids, houses etc) but if you are interested in railroading, there's always model railroading... The kids come in and see the layouts the older folks build, then they go to cars & girls and family, then come back.... How do i know this?? Because I did exactly that :) I was into trains until i was in junior high school.... (Homework, model cars) then high school (real Cars, Girls and homework) then real work.. then finally got back into modeling at the age of 26, now I'm 47 and have never regretted a second of it :)

    The detailing, modeling, operating, and "Watching them run" are all different stages and levels of model railroading... everyone has to find their comfort level... but the 3 things you really need are time, money and an imagination..... Something video games have taken a huge chunk out of.....

    You can use real world things to ride in and build models of them... but there are very few who will just buy a railroad layout R-T-R and then not get hooked in to some manner of building.... Another aspect is, that you have to be an electrician, a woodcrafter and have a lot of patience.... something that definatly comes with experience and getting older (30??? as compaired to 18) :) :) :) Oh... and dedication to the hobby helps too :)
  7. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    Something else to think about....... Where do you see the Model railroading hobby in 5 years... in 10?? in 50????? As far as age groups and popularity within those groups?????
  8. scottcn

    scottcn Member

    I am one of those "getting back into the hobby after 15 years" people but I'm still only 32 now so I'm doing my part to bring down the average age of model railroaders. The limitations of space/income/time are certainly valid but there's also the matter of priorities. Folks will spend their limited resources on model railroading instead of gardening/kniting/fishing/insert other hobby here if the World's Greatest Hobby (TM) is *their* greatest hobby.

    One point that Play-Doh made that hasn't been touched upon yet is that the average age of model railroaders has been steadily increasing. It's not necessarily a problem if the average age of model railroaders is 50; the problem is when fewer and fewer (younger) people are joining the hobby to offset the inevitable aging of the current model railroaders. I'm not sure if that was clear, but it would seem to be cause for concern if the average age continues to increase.

  9. jflessne

    jflessne Member

    I've been thinking about this a lot in the last year. My old module club had a goal. Simply promote the hobby.
    So I said what's the best way to do this? How do we attract the kids.

    For the most part I think the club understood what attracted kids but we still fell short in a lot of areas.

    Here is what I came up with
    - Long Trains.
    - Sound Loco's & DCC controlled devices.
    - Interesting modules. Simple scenery is ok but will a young kid be impressed?
    - Interesting equipment.
    - Layout automation.
    - Not discouraging the young kids from purchasing the less exspensive equipment. Sure it doesn't do what you want it to do. But it should guage thier interest without spending a lot of money.
  10. 13Mtrainer

    13Mtrainer Member

    i have been in the hobby for 3 years now and i am only 15. at a family's friend house and he let me run trains on his layout. so i got hooked and now i plan on staying with it.
  11. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    Same here, but I'm 16, and sure Girls are Great! :thumb: but I make sure I have time for my hobby. I can model while I talk to my girl friend on the phonefor 3hrs! (Fortunately that hasn't happened yet!) :rolleyes: I believe I'm too involved in this hobby to leave it now, plus I don't see any benefit of doing so. (I habitually check the gauge twice a day... :rolleyes: :D )

    Also, I only buy r-t-r things when I know it surpasses the kits in quality, paint, and printing. A good example would be the difference between the BlueBox Athearns (pre 1998) and today's modern R-T-R stuff, same kits astronomical jump in quality. (Tiny print, metal wheels, knuckle couplers, and other goodies..) I also have noticed that Walthers Charges the same for the R-T-place buildings as the kits (in some cases, and maybe not anymore) So, I opted with ONE R-T-R building. As I said I only buy r-t-r things when I know it surpasses the kits in quality, but finally also because I feel I don't have the skills to apply decals, paint of build my own rolling stock, which is quickly changing.

    I usually scratchbuild, or kitbash otherwise.
  12. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    13Mtrainer and Miles...

    ~~ What happens when you start dating and are not able to be home as much with the trains :)

    ~~ If you move - are you prepaired to change your layouts and/or rearrainge them to fit in a new location.. (Or change scales completly, like I did)???

    ~~ I admire your dedication, and I truly respct you both for the opinions you have submitted here and elsewhere on The Gauge.. I hope we can all see your dedication to The Hobby in the future... :) :)

    ~~ Just remember that you don't have to spend hours with the trains... I work on mine when I feel like it... sometimes it goes untouched for weeks and then I'll get a chance to do a bit of a little something :) :) Sometimes it takes one of our challenges to get me to work on it.. Like now :D
  13. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    having been in the hobby for way more years than I like to admit I have seen it come and go several times but this time the old line co's arn't gona be there when the RTR dies out .when i started in thes hobby scratch building was not a want it was a need as i see more and more of the hobby co's swinging toward the almighty dollar it saddens me. model RRing is going the same path as fly fishing when i started both they were full of individuals that had a love of doing now a large % are the gota have it now's thats why RTR is king .since I got intothe hobby the the age it has been the same the majority of modelers have always been in the 45 and up bracket.I'm gona git down off my soap box now.
  14. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    I had my first train when I was 2 years old (Maybe my father had it). As I grew up my father and I continued in the hobby until I got my drivers license. Then cars & girls after that Marriage & kids. No time no money, I built a small layout for my first son when he was little but that didn't last long. I like to say life got in the way. When my 2 sons got to be about 19 I started to get back into it. Now at 50 I have a rather elaborate layout, love the hobby and have the funds (most of the time) to get what I desire. My sons had no real interest in it as kids, so will they as old men get into it? I don't know, I doubt it. I am thinking maybe my grandsons might as they seem interested but still very young. I guess I said all of this to say I agree with most everyone 40 and up seems to be it with kids tagging along for the ride. The only thing I will add is VIDEO GAMES.
  15. Play-Doh

    Play-Doh Member

    Well im 24, and amzingly enough I was NEVER exposed to trains at all. My father never spoke of it (he was a slot car guy in his youth) and I never even saw a model layout. Luckily, I came across an issue of MR and it changed everything....I just hope my future children will be able to buy the items necessary to do this hobby (if they pick it up)
  16. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    I think its like some of you are saying. "What do other people think?". When your in the young age(20's to 30's) it seems they have an iamge they have to keep up. And having your friends over and seeing your "Toy trains" might put a kink in things. When you reach the ripe old age(40's and beyond), the kids are gone, there's that empty bedroom upstairs, and I'm at the age where I don't care what others think.Thats when you start building a real layout. Look at it this way, those that are in their twenties and thirties today, are soon going to be in the ripe old age time frame and the kids are gone, and there's that empty bedroom upstairs....
  17. i myself 27 have been in the hobby for going on 13yrs got to set up my first layout 4yrs later. all my friends thout i was nuts then but 2 layouts ;ater they see my curent one and they all just stare in aww and now 70% wish to join in on my opperations or build one of there own but lack space. so i just think its all on who sees the real world in the palm of your hand and want to be there away from todays trouble.
  18. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I also like to build kits, and thought r-t-r was going to be a passing fad that was in danger of destroying model railroading. It seemed it was kind of like turning scale modelers into "tin platers". I remember a few years ago at a GAT Show, one of the Lionel guys was talking about a guy in their club that they just couldn't figure out. It seems that if this guy got hold of some scale lumber or styrene, he would build something! Interestingly, they don't talk about "modules," their "modules" are called "boards." I then asked one of the guys in the module club I belong to about it, and he said he just didn't have the time to build stuff, but he wanted to operate trains. On the other hand, some members of the club are really outstanding modellers.
  19. zedob

    zedob Member

    It seems like there's a new hobby born every minute and most of those are RTR. Well, after the real pioneers worked out the bugs.:D If you look at the variety of hobbies available in 1930 to the ones in 1950, then compare them to those in the 70's, then the 80's, 90's and so on you will see that the number has increased expotentionally. Not good for the ADHD kid.:D

    MRRing may not be as exciting as say bungee jumping (does anyone do that anymore?), or racecar driving, but I don't do neither one, or a few other hundred, who cares, I don't, so there.

    When it come down to the people who think I'm nuts for playing with trains, great, so "what the heck do you do for a hobby, or do you even have one that's worth talking about?":thumb:

    Honestly, I respect any person who has a real hobby. Doesn't even matter what it's all about, as long as they are happy.

    Oh yeah, one last thing, this IS the greatest hobby in the world.:thumb:
  20. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    I bought my first pieces of Nscale track and rolling stock at a garage sale (still have everything but the power pack). Put them in a box and didn't take them out again for 25 years when my kids asked me about them. Now I'm 42, busy like everyone else, little time and money like everyone else, but I make time to do something on the layout every day...even if it's picking up a stray piece of ground cover or adding/removing one car or engine just to look at something different for a while. I hope to involve my kids enough that they'll stick with it instead of so many other things less worth while. My 9 year old is already starting to plan "his" layout (I think I'll be financing it though...I'm waiting for him to tell about that). And, you may think this is crazy...but I tie in the trains to schooling for the kids. Follow any and I mean any track and you'll discover a lot of interesting history behind it. History that so many don't know or even stopped to wonder about (like why do we have a standard time for the country and who really started the first ski resorts in the Rockies). A little bit of information and history makes a train book come alive and feeds the imagination and interest for our layout. So my guess is they'll always have a those that start this hobby young, leave it for a while then come back. Far fewer will start it and stick with it, and the rest will discover it later in life and jump in with both feet till their trains are passed down to another admiring generation. Ok...it's late and I need to stop rambling.

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