End of the line for model trains?

jim30

LE
Interesting link on the quiet decline of model railway enthusiasts in the USA here from the Wall Street Journal.
End of the Line for Model Trains? Aging Hobbyists Trundle On

Its actually very interesting as it focuses on the shift in kids interests from wanting to build and collect something into wanting it virtually and the lack of time for research. There is a constant refrain I've heard in other hobbies (e.g. as a long time tabletop gamer) that things are greying out and that fewer people than ever are taking up hobbies like this.

Not sure if I'm a convert or not - the problem is too many of these hobbies are stupid expensive (have you seen the price of Hornby or Games workshop recently?) and the people that can afford their prices are generally not those with kids, or who are kids. Add to this a hugely cliquey set of groups that are suspicious of 'young people' turning up, and perhaps some hobbies deserve to die out as a result of the owners own pigheadedness?
 
Interesting link on the quiet decline of model railway enthusiasts in the USA here from the Wall Street Journal.
End of the Line for Model Trains? Aging Hobbyists Trundle On

Its actually very interesting as it focuses on the shift in kids interests from wanting to build and collect something into wanting it virtually and the lack of time for research. There is a constant refrain I've heard in other hobbies (e.g. as a long time tabletop gamer) that things are greying out and that fewer people than ever are taking up hobbies like this.

Not sure if I'm a convert or not - the problem is too many of these hobbies are stupid expensive (have you seen the price of Hornby or Games workshop recently?) and the people that can afford their prices are generally not those with kids, or who are kids. Add to this a hugely cliquey set of groups that are suspicious of 'young people' turning up, and perhaps some hobbies deserve to die out as a result of the owners own pigheadedness?
Model railways link us to an artisan past.

Yes, the prices are stupid to buy quality models but the Hornby Railroad is good value for money allows bonding between a parent and son, typically, but can also be utilized as a method of instruction for employees of the future Rail Baltica. Long live model railways.
 
I think you are right - I'd like to get back into rail modelling - this time in N gauge, but I know I'll need a good £400 to get a decent layout. That's ok, I've plenty of time. The trouble with modern youth and to some extent adults too is the lack of attention span that hobbies demand. Int he digital age everyone wants it NOW! The one ray of hope that I do see is that old men still want to pass things on to their grandchildren, maybe sowing a seed that will come to maturity in years to come.
 
The same in amateur radio. I'm, at 50, one of the youngest members of our club. Many young ones don't have an interest in building things anymore (I still build accessories and the antennas for my radios) or to study for the licence exams (it took me one year back then, before I was ready for the test).
But there exists a new movement called "makers", manufacturing gadgets, often including computers themselves, mixing modern methods, like 3D-printing with traditional crafts.
I like to relax doing metal work, including blacksmithing (build my own forge).
 

Royal Red

Old-Salt
I had a small collection and an attic as a kid, but grew out of it during my teenage years. Too time consuming and uninteresting, and in all honesty, a hobby which attracts too many oddballs, at least within my own age group! This was before the dawn of the internet/online gaming age.
Luckily I found ebay and managed to sell most of the stuff for much more than I'd paid, a nice benefit of the price inflation mentioned by the OP.

It's a hobby for retired gentlemen with time and patience on their hands!
 
The same in amateur radio. I'm, at 50, one of the youngest members of our club. Many young ones don't have an interest in building things anymore (I still build accessories and the antennas for my radios) or to study for the licence exams (it took me one year back then, before I was ready for the test).
But there exists a new movement called "makers", manufacturing gadgets, often including computers themselves, mixing modern methods, like 3D-printing with traditional crafts.
I like to relax doing metal work, including blacksmithing (build my own forge).
The German Verein system helps but also hinders.

I can't be bothered to study for my fishing licence, as it is stupidly cumbersome, so there is a potential member lost,despie being active in my local UK coarse fishing scene, but on the other hand many verein have multi generational members.

Money is a big factor, when virtual membership is free, why pay real money to be belittled by older members?
 
The German Verein system helps but also hinders.

I can't be bothered to study for my fishing licence, as it is stupidly cumbersome, so there is a potential member lost, but on the other hand many verein have multi generational members.

Money is a big factor when virtual membership is free, why pay real money to be belittled by older members?
I agree. I'm not a Verein person, I get enough BS at work, why should I deal with the same issues during my off time? (this is btw. the one thing that keeps me from target shooting, as by German weapons law I would have to join a club). The Vereins system often encourages those to run for functionary positions, who are total failures in real lifeand they become too selfimportant. Also, many of these old, long retired geezers don't understand it anymore that someone is still working fulltime and hasn't got as much spare time as them.
 
Its not just models that are expensive, have you seen the total cost of a complete set the Disney Infinity stuff? Also the cost of a few console games can easily get you a good start at any tabletop game. I think it is more that consoles and the like are easier to get into with being near ubiquitous in most social/age groups.

How do you get into modelling? Usually by somebody already into it, that is how most start. So you have a small fan base to begin with and a small growth rate because of it. That is why I try (with good success) to get friends into pen and paper games. A £30 rulebook with a night of beer, curry and a little imagination leads to plenty of hilarity. It is a very good combo. And I am looking to get the kids into gamebooks as an experiment.

As for GW. Just buy stuff cheap on ebay. Even if it is painted horribly you can strip it easily and safely with Bio paint stripper and this includes plastic. You save a fair chunk and you give back to other fans instead of greedy GW.
 
The same in amateur radio. I'm, at 50, one of the youngest members of our club. Many young ones don't have an interest in building things anymore (I still build accessories and the antennas for my radios) or to study for the licence exams (it took me one year back then, before I was ready for the test).
But there exists a new movement called "makers", manufacturing gadgets, often including computers themselves, mixing modern methods, like 3D-printing with traditional crafts.
I like to relax doing metal work, including blacksmithing (build my own forge).
I still build all my own radios, RX and TX from single chip or 3 transistor CW TXs. Great sitting at my bench and knocking something up. Magic look on the faces of the grandkids when I built them all a crystal set and they are still scratching their heads about how it can work without power. My interest started in junior school, a teacher being ex RN telegraphist.
I also build model railways. Expensive sure, but they can be sold to keep the hobby going. And if you're handy with tools, scratch building can save a fortune.
Link below for a computer railway, bit of a learning curve but very cheap. :cool:
Railway Operation Simulator - Homepage
 
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As for the short attention span and instant reward culture, I see this also with people learning how to play an instrument. Many youngsters don't have the patience to practice for an hour or so every day until they develop the ear and the muscle memory. If they can't get to concert level within two weeks, they lose their patience and give up.
 
But there exists a new movement called "makers", manufacturing gadgets, often including computers themselves, mixing modern methods, like 3D-printing with traditional crafts.
My 10 year old is, fortunately, into this kind of thing. It's relatively cheap to get started in (Arduino, Raspberry Pi, etc + some motors, LEDs, etc) and even Lego Mindstorms at £300 offers considerable bang-for-buck. They have the advantage of letting children get something physical up an running in a short time, yet are flexible enough to allow them to find quite disparate uses. He reads through the CPC catalogues and choose bits and pieces he'd like to "play" with. The great thing is watching him grin and his eyes light up when he has a whizzo idea and starts putting stuff together ... it's probably the same kind of look that appeared on my face and had my troops diving for cover when I had a bright idea for solving some tricky problem. :twisted:

My wife, for some reason, tends to object to the growing stack of components, multimeters and soldering irons that appear on the kitchen table ...

My older two are useless - it's either girly facechatwittering or Global Bloody Elite ... if I hear "Terrorists Win" one more time, I'm going to call in a real airstrike on his blessed computer. :evil:
 
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Troy

LE
The same in amateur radio. I'm, at 50, one of the youngest members of our club. Many young ones don't have an interest in building things anymore (I still build accessories and the antennas for my radios) or to study for the licence exams (it took me one year back then, before I was ready for the test).
But there exists a new movement called "makers", manufacturing gadgets, often including computers themselves, mixing modern methods, like 3D-printing with traditional crafts.
I like to relax doing metal work, including blacksmithing (build my own forge).
I have noticed too that many of these "makers" have youtube channels where they share their projects and invite comments. So as well as doing their thing, they are making and editing videos too. Not really an activity that you would associate with the Hornby 00 fraternity.
 
Interesting link on the quiet decline of model railway enthusiasts in the USA here from the Wall Street Journal.
End of the Line for Model Trains? Aging Hobbyists Trundle On

Its actually very interesting as it focuses on the shift in kids interests from wanting to build and collect something into wanting it virtually and the lack of time for research. There is a constant refrain I've heard in other hobbies (e.g. as a long time tabletop gamer) that things are greying out and that fewer people than ever are taking up hobbies like this.

Not sure if I'm a convert or not - the problem is too many of these hobbies are stupid expensive (have you seen the price of Hornby or Games workshop recently?) and the people that can afford their prices are generally not those with kids, or who are kids. Add to this a hugely cliquey set of groups that are suspicious of 'young people' turning up, and perhaps some hobbies deserve to die out as a result of the owners own pigheadedness?
A few points from me:

1. I've found the WSJ to be a bit left of centre and that's not to my taste. As a Murdoch rag, one might expect the opposite, but that's not been my experience of it, thus I distrust what they print. That said, it's behind a paywall and I can't see the article.
2. I've seen plenty of young people at Model Railroad events in the US, I don't think it is dying out, but it is certainly changing. Here are two locos. One is a Hornby Hymek that is 43 years old. Old Triang design with self colored plastic body, enormous couplings and crude wheels - but it was a leap ahead from the Hornby Dublo range. It goes fast, but couldn't pull the skin off a rice pudding (like the real thing!). The other is a new Roco DB BR218. Pick up on all wheels, all wheels driven. Centre motor with flywheel and digital control (but no sound). Lights in direction of travel. Massive weight surrounds the innards.

IMG_3223.jpg


Here are the chassis.

IMG_3224.jpg


Both locos came out of train sets. One when I was 4, the other at 46. So they cost in real terms about the same.

3. Like anything else though, there are bigger and better things out there. Here is my pride and joy, a Brawa DB BR265. It has all the features of the Roco, plus sound, remote control working couplers, working fans and super detail. The handrails and footplates are a work of art. The sound is a real recording of the prototype, c/w air brakes, brake squeal when stopping, engine notching etc. This makes a huge difference. Once you've had trains with sound, they all have to have it. But it costs money. To say the least, this was not cheap.

IMG_3225.jpg


Fans:

IMG_3226.jpg


Last point - I don't think it's the end of the line at all. I think with the advent of things like iPad control etc, we're just getting started on a new era.
 
I still build all my own radios, RX and TX from single chip or 3 transistor CW TXs. Great sitting at my bench and knocking something up. Magic look on the faces of the grandkids when I built them all a crystal set and they are still scratching their heads about how it can work without power. My interest started in junior school, a teacher being ex RN telegraphist.
I also build model railways. Expensive sure, but they can be sold to keep the hobby going. And if you're handy with tools, scratch building can save a fortune. :cool:
I repair my sets occasionally, if they need it, but I mainly build accessories, like e.g. a modem to connect the set to a PC for digi modes (RTTY, PSK etc.) or a remote controlled antenna tuner for HF. I also build my own antennas and masts (knowing how to weld helps).
My amateur sets are mostly from the 1970s, with a technology I still can understand and repair, or ex military or government sets (e.g. a Clansman PRC-320, an East German commercial HF transmitter the size of two refrigerators etc.).
I play the five string banjo, mouth harp and the guitar and I'm trying to teach myself how to play the fiddle.
And I like to make things out of metal, especially blacksmithing.

With the last I also try to make a bit of money, as we have a tourist attraction here in the village, and often when I have my forge going, there are tourists coming and asking if they could watch me forging something. I plan to make stuff like fireplace set (coal shovels, pokers etc.) or old style candle holders for them. I also got a bunch of old car springs from a neighbour, which I want to make knives from. What also sells well are handmade nails as souvenirs, especially when the tourists see them being made. I also had an order from a guy who was restoring a century old farmhouse and needed some large handmade nails for some visible structure.
 
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I have noticed too that many of these "makers" have youtube channels where they share their projects and invite comments. So as well as doing their thing, they are making and editing videos too. Not really an activity that you would associate with the Hornby 00 fraternity.
I have learned a lot from these videos, especially those about blacksmithing. I have done a metal apprenticeship, and on my paternal grandmother's family they were all blacksmiths, but for me it is like doing an apprenticeship again.Two weeks ago my neighbour dumped a huge lorry spring outside my door. I immediatelly found a video describing a homemade trip hammer with a 50 kg drop weight using such a spring, but then I discovered that in Germany you need a permission operate such a machine and you'd never get it in a semi-residential area, like the one I live in.
 
A few points from me:

1. I've found the WSJ to be a bit left of centre and that's not to my taste. As a Murdoch rag, one might expect the opposite, but that's not been my experience of it, thus I distrust what they print. That said, it's behind a paywall and I can't see the article.
2. I've seen plenty of young people at Model Railroad events in the US, I don't think it is dying out, but it is certainly changing. Here are two locos. One is a Hornby Hymek that is 43 years old. Old Triang design with self colored plastic body, enormous couplings and crude wheels - but it was a leap ahead from the Hornby Dublo range. It goes fast, but couldn't pull the skin off a rice pudding (like the real thing!). The other is a new Roco DB BR218. Pick up on all wheels, all wheels driven. Centre motor with flywheel and digital control (but no sound). Lights in direction of travel. Massive weight surrounds the innards.

View attachment 235264

Here are the chassis.

View attachment 235265

Both locos came out of train sets. One when I was 4, the other at 46. So they cost in real terms about the same.

3. Like anything else though, there are bigger and better things out there. Here is my pride and joy, a Brawa DB BR265. It has all the features of the Roco, plus sound, remote control working couplers, working fans and super detail. The handrails and footplates are a work of art. The sound is a real recording of the prototype, c/w air brakes, brake squeal when stopping, engine notching etc. This makes a huge difference. Once you've had trains with sound, they all have to have it. But it costs money. To say the least, this was not cheap.

View attachment 235266

Fans:

View attachment 235267

Last point - I don't think it's the end of the line at all. I think with the advent of things like iPad control etc, we're just getting started on a new era.
Nice! I like well made models, but I'm not a model type myself.
 
Have you noticed that all the Youtube how-tos are made by Canadians? It must be their national pastime.
There are quite a few videos out about blacksmithing techniques made by Germans, but to find them you'll need the right terminology in German.
 
I just checked Hornby, they are well in the poo. Their share price collapsed to 25% of its value last week after Christmas didn't pan out for them. Losing 75% of the company's value in a week is a bad thing. New CEO and CFO at least, I should think.

Hornby | Share Price Graph

Hornby's shares tumble as sales fall - BBC News

It might well be the end of the line for model railways in the UK. And Airfix and Humbrol, and Lima and Rivarossi, all part of Hornby. Or an opportunity for acquisition at a bargain price. If only I had 13 mil in the bank!

Modelleisenbahn GmbH crapped out a few years ago, Roco & Fleischmann producers. But they did a restructure and are somewhat in renaissance.
 

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