Where are the Great Young Model Railroaders?

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by riverotter, Mar 13, 2008.

  1. riverotter

    riverotter Midwest Alliance Rail Sys

    I just found out from another thread that the legendary V&O (Virginian and Ohio) that was built by Allen McClelland is no more. On this month's Scotty Mason podcast he interviews Tony Koester and Tony says that Allen and his wife have bought a smaller home in a retirement community and are moving. As one poster put it, "It is more than just losing a layout - it is a realization that another generation of model railroaders is reaching their golden years."

    Which got me wondering: Where is the next generation of great, young model railroaders?

    The Baby Boomers, many of whom grew up with model trains, were born between 1946 and 1964, which means that the youngest of us are in our mid-forties.

    I can't remember the last time I saw a featured layout in MR or RMC that was built by someone of the next generation. (Doesn't mean it isn't happening - I just don't remember seeing them.)
  2. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    I am only 32 :D

  3. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Mr has an annual "Young author's contest" or at least they used to run it. I haven't subscribed to MR in 10 years or longer. The next generation of model railroaders is out there. Just typically, young people lose interest in trains as they discover the opposite sex. Later after marriage and children come along they typically get back into the hobby. I suspect Thomas is getting kids interested in trains the way Lionel used to do it back in the old days.
  4. scubadude

    scubadude Member

    I think a lot of them are right here on THE Gauge....Trucklover and MilesWestern come to mind, among quite a few others :thumb:
  5. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    Chasing girls while they're still young. This is a hobby that's traditionally not taken up until retirement or a midlife crisis. The focus in the media through the years on the youthful side of it is a result of this. Model Railroader had a column for students because they were a niche within the hobby. Never once in the years I've subscribed has I seen a regular feature on retiree's in the hobby.

  6. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    A few thoughts in no particular order:

    Life today is about instant gratification, which does not mesh well with the long-terms goals and patience required for model railroading.

    The working world of today is based on total mobility, forcing people to veer away from hobbies requiring relatively permanent layouts. Yes, you can build a small layout or a modular one, but moving it by U-Haul is a risky business at best, and a lot of younger types don't think it's worth the effort.

    There are a lot of hobbies out there that are off-the-shelf, out-of-the-box and up-and-running, most notably the RC field, and it satisfies the urge to do something outdoors.

    The retiring older generation of modelers in a unique generation who began their lives in a different time and to whom "retirement" holds a different meaning than it does to the later generations. Their values do not apply to the Gen-X'ers or the MTV'ers.

    The hobby is not going to promote or preserve itself, but unfortunately, the current MRR clubs and a lot of the LHS's are run by older types who have little or nothing in common with the new, young, instant-gratification crowd, nor do they particularly wish too.

    What younger people see when they open a model railroading magazine is older people with huge, expensive layouts. These mega-layouts and their presentation do nothing encourage anyone to enter a hobby that appears complex, space-and-time consuming, and very expensive.

    What it will take to promote the hobby to future generations is active effort by everyone currently in the hobby, from modelers to LHS owners to the manufacturers themselves. Everybody sinks or swims together.

    Just my humble opinion, and I'm probably wrong anyway. :cool:
  7. hobokid

    hobokid thebull

    for six years i was "homeless" on the rails, i spend many nights sleeping in boxcars and abandoned units, and any thing else that offered shelter. aimlessly going from city to city but there was one thing i realized that always kept my interest... the trains. most people feel that hobos are things of the past, but i assure you my friends, kids are always riding freight trains, its true freedom. now i know this post is about models so back to that, i was fortunate to settle down, only thing is its on long island where theres hardly any trains:( so i started working on a layout, nothing to fancy, but i think a good attempt, ill be posting more pics up soon so you can see my progress. im 24 now and ill be around trains til the day i die. and theres thousands of others like me who simply just love trains.
  8. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    28 yr old, happily married with a newborn daughter. Current permanent shelf layout in our new house has been in the works for just over a year now. With my line of work and the baby, I expect (and hope) it to take several more. :)
  9. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    I turn 35 this summer. I also don't consider myself old either.

    I agree with just about everything MM says too. For me this is something to do during the winter months to keep me from going snakey. Pretty soon I'll be spending most of my time outdoors...and the trains well...they'll have to wait.
  10. riverotter

    riverotter Midwest Alliance Rail Sys

    That's a very interesting point. We see a lot of articles about people (mostly men) of various ages, and their "About ..." blurbs refer to what they do or where they work or if they're retired, but few if any articles focused specifically on railroad models created as a result of retirement. Maybe there's a whole new recruitment campaign available: "Retired? Sick of watching bowling tournament reruns on ESPN Classic? Try Model Railroading!"
  11. roch

    roch Member

    The kids in my neighborhood are always catching free rides on trains and seem to love it.
    Once I get my layout looking better I plan to show it off to some kids around here that are into gangs and spray painting trains. I hope they think its cool and get into it and away from the gang and drug world they are slipping into.
    Whenever I go to the local train hobby shop I see lots of kids with their parents or grandparents buying stuff for their layouts. The kids layouts. :mrgreen:
  12. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Once upon a time, only about two years ago, the DYI Network featured a half-hour series on model railroading tips and techniques. it got pulled for lack of interest.

    There are entire channels devoted solely to golf, bass fishing and a host of other activities that play 24/7. Not a single channel featuring model railroading, or any other modelling hobby, for that matter.

    The hobby does not generate the level of interest and excitement that golf, or even remodeling your house does. Plenty of DYI building shows, too.

    By itself, the hobby will not prevail, unless an intensive effort is made to generate new generations of modelers. Simply taking your kid to the LHS or to see a train isn't going to do it. And never, EVER, underestimate the amount of time and effort necessary to educate the general public even a tiny little bit. It takes countless millions of dollars to sell a presidential candidate, and most Americans at least interested and care who gets the job. This hobby is a flyspeck in that world.
  13. iis612

    iis612 Member

    If you are refering to "Workin on the Railroad" with Chris Chianelli, it is still on. They are even in production with new episodes. The problem is, it is on later, usually after the youngsters are in bed. Thank goodness for Tivo and other such devices. My daughter and I watch that show religiously.

    A few freinds in the neighborhood and I have, who share a common interest (Trains and MRR) have started inviting teenagers over to check out the layouts. Naturally we invite the parents as well, we don't want to get parents spooked. We have had some success in recruiting some folks under 20 into the MRR world. We have one kid who is 14, and he is a wizard when it comes to scenery.
    Some of the parents love it, it keeps there kids off the street and gives them an interest that encompasses many facets of professional life. Other parents hate it, it costs too much, too many trips to the LHS, no internet shopping, etc.
    I have even heard of intercity youth groups that are building layouts. Let's face it, it teaches skills, allows for artistic expression, and keeps them focused on something productive and out of trouble.

    There are some of the younger generation that go under-appreciated for there efforts in MRR. Cody Grivno from MR comes to mind. I don't know how old he is, but he looks like he may be in his 20's.

    The hobby is not dying off at the rate that I hear alot of people say it is. The internet has made people far less social, and introverted. Many people keep there accomplishments to themselves. Despite that thought, the hobby is cost and space prohibitive. Many kids that are having thoughts of "Leaving the nest" are not going to want to pack up a layout and hope to get it back together safely. Nor are they going to want to spend there money on Locos that sell for hundreds of dollars.
    Just my 2 pennies.

  14. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Interesting - haven't seen a single episode on the dish schedule here in Colorado for over two years, and I'm awake from early in the day to very late at night. When, I wonder, does it come on?

    I haven't seen a young person in the LHS's for quite a while, except to shop for Tommy the Train for a kid.
  15. iis612

    iis612 Member

    It doesn't seem to have a standard time slot, the show that is.
  16. scubadude

    scubadude Member

    I think each "older" generation says the same about the current "younger" generation. When I was a kid (I'm 48) I remember the older folks talking about us younger kids and our need for television. Before that, I imagine the talk was about kids needing radio. Today we talk about the kids' need for video games. Same stuff, different era. For us it was Lionel, today it is Thomas, tomorrow it will be ?????

    MRRing will survive, it's never been that big of a hobby comparatively anyway.....
  17. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    And yet the newest generation is nothing at all like the older ones, including the patience, sense of history and moral values, and the gap keeps growing.

    The youth of today regard WWII as ancient history, even though veterans from that was are still around in fair numbers. Even Viet Nam is some vague thing from the past. Model railroading, however, is quite a bit "about the past", and requires both a knowledge and appreciation of history.
  18. chooch.42

    chooch.42 Member

    No Great young MRRs ? Just my $.02 through now-clouded memory; who were the Great Young Model Rails of 40 or 50 years ago, when I got seduced into scale models by a 40+ year old uncle? Most of the modellers in MR and RMC were 30- or 40-somethings with good monetary circumstance or connections to the "Industry". Whit Towers, John Allen and other leaders in the hobby were getting on in years, Lynn Wescott was no Kid, Dave Frary, Malcom Furlow were just arriving on the scene, and were unknown quantities. There may be a lot of nascent masters among us who just haven't gotten it together yet, or stumbled on "the opportunity. The challenges and diversity of the hobby and the current world, despite (or because of) the Internet, are making it more difficult to achieve Master status, but some will astound us and continue the hobby for some time to come. All ain't lost yet! I'm Done, now...Thanks. Bob C. :oops:
  19. riverotter

    riverotter Midwest Alliance Rail Sys

    Here in the Kansas City area, Dish shows it on the DIY channel (111 here) at 4am Central Time on Sunday mornings.
  20. NIevo

    NIevo Member

    Our PBS stopped running Tracks Ahead:cry:

    I am only 28 but with a full time job and 2 kids under 3 it is very hard to find time for the hobby. Doesn't mean Im not dreaming and planning for future grandeur but for now a small shelf layout will have to suffice.

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