The Regression of Model Railroading

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Mountain Man, Sep 16, 2008.

  1. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    One pic says it all for me...


    If it rides on rails, it's all good.:thumb:

    ...ahhh...maybe two pics:mrgreen:

  2. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    This is an interesting topic and thread. I've only skimmed a few of the first entries and would like to ponder it more. Here are a few rambling comments:

    I recently read in a British MRR magazine that, 40-50 years ago, the hobby was more focussed on operation with a group of people. Scenery (if it existed at all) was very basic & details on locos weren't that great either. The magazine then went on to say that today the hobby is much more solitary. The average person will have his/her own well-detailed layout set up in his/her home, and will run very detailed, authentic-looking locos and stock.

    It certainly seems as if there is less of a focus on kit-bashing and building stock from kits -- although I still know that happens a lot (you can read about such projects here) -- and more of an emphasis on RTR fine-detailed locos.

    I also have several locos (about 8-10) that I inherited from my Dad. These were made in the 1960s through to the 90s. Most of the these (especially the 1960s ones) were made to last and still perform well today. In general, with most products today, the technology is good but the quality is only good enough to last a few years.

    So I'm not sure if my newer locos -- that were made during 2001-2007 -- will still be running in the year 2050! Yet I have several from the 1960s (that were made in Britain) that run as well as they ever did and arguably out-perform new ones.

  3. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    I think purchasing power is an enormous factor in the hobby's development. We are far wealthier now than 30yrs ago (despite what some would like to believe).

    We have more money spend on model trains. Model trains are cheaper than in the past, so we can buy both more and better quality (you can search for the thread in which squidbait pulled up statistics showing that a Bowser K-11 costs 30% of what it costs in 1955 or something like that). We also have larger homes...which means larger basements/ which to build our empires.

    I plan my model railroad on the space available...I presume others do the same. With a massive layout to work on...and plenty of nice affordable (not to me), RTR models, I suspect that people are spending more time performing basic construction (and hiring help) than building craftsman kits.

    In the past, their were two types of people whom built craftsman kits: those whom wanted highly detailed models and those whom enjoyed the craftsman kits. Now, even a minority scale like On3 can be 100% only those whom enjoy craftsman kits or can't afford a custom builder will build these kits. Beautiful models are no longer limited to those of us whom can assemble an intricate kit...I think that is great progess. With craftsman kits being limited to the sales of those of us whom either really like the construction or the prototype, there is a smaller market for them.

    It sure seems like there has also be a noticeable shift towards steam modeling since the mid-'90s...with the shift occuring after Bachmann introduced their spectrum 2-8-0. They were $70 from the discount stores in 2000...and they are $70 at trainworld today (which means that the real price has dropped)...unless you get the dcc & sound version which didn't exist in '00. The 2-8-0 was a huge breakthrough in running characteristics, detail, genericness, and for a lower price the many of the existing models...the HMS Dreadnought of model trains. Certainly a huge leap forward for the hobby.

    In summery, I believe that as our purchasing power has increased...we have chosen to buy larger homes, large model railroads, and large rosters. With less time available per boxcar...and a greater variety of equipment available stock...modelers aren't as interested in some of the now unessecary steps to create highly detailed empire.

    I'm glad that I'm scratch building today and not 30 years ago. There are more detail parts available and some amazing tools that were impossible back then. Further, more research is available now than ever before for railroads such as the DSP&P...far, far more. People tend to forget that some supplies, such as readily available scribed styrene didn't exist 30 years ago. Resin has come a long way as well. I definitely wouldn't trade laser cutting, hydrocal, dcc, and scribed styrene for reading camelback kits, metal boxcar kits, and tools I can find on ebay.

    Some links if you doubt my premise of our increased wealth...median income, home size, national debt, unemployment...
  4. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I think we also sometimes can get a bit of "tunnel vision" regarding our hobby. We think it has gotten expensive, but Ertl was making a lot of money producing die cast collectible cars. They thought the model railroad business would be a profitable sideline. They made some really nice structure kits, but priced them like they did the die cast cars and discovered that there was no market for a $50.00 plastic structure kit that was not any more detailed than kits costing 1/2 as much!
  5. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    On the topic of magazines...

    I think a lot of magazines regardless of what they publish tend to re-hash stuff over and over again th. I can point to cycling magazines as a reference. How often do I have to read an article about how many different ways to clean my chain? Kinda ridiculous.

    Plus whenever I read a how-to article in MRR all the skeptic in me sees is one big advertisement, Pollyscale this, Woodland Scenics that. Not that there is anything wrong with those products. I've used them myself, however it just reads as one big advertising plug. On the other side, I'm sure a fair number of readers have asked specifically what products they use in order to replicate the results that are seen in the magazine.

    Despite all that they are good for people who are new to the hobby, or getting back into it after a long hiatus. Just to get a feel to see where everything is at.

    On a personal note. I like kits with little hard to find parts and can't wait to start scratch building some structures. To me building it from the ground up is more fun then actually running the trains. Going one step further seeing everything work after getting it all done gives me a great sense of accomplishment.

    People will get out of the hobby whatever they put into it. To each is own, just have fun doing it.
  6. I agree with the statement that you can get out of the hobby what you want from it.
    If you want to snap some track together and run trains on the carpet - they still make that...go for it.
    If you want to handlay track...go for it. Want something in-between? Why not? The same goes for locos, rolling stock, structures, electronics, everything. DCC is at one end of the spectrum, but why not run a small layout off a car battery, trickle-charged from a windmill in an off-the-grid cabin - it all works.

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