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Review formats in magazines

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  • Member since
    December 2003
  • From: Coldstream, BC Canada
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Review formats in magazines
Posted by RhB_HJ on Thursday, December 18, 2003 9:28 PM
Hi all,

Pet gripe of mine: Why are reviews always held in nice friendly (cozy would be more accurate) terms.
If 1:29 is the de-facto scale (supposedly) of standard gauge NA items, what's the problem with publishing how XYZ or ABC product scales out?

As one who writes reviews - complete with side by side measurement comparisons - it puzzles me to no end what "close to prototype" actually should/could/would mean.
I know it is Large Scale - mostly in the garden - but garden doesn't equate horse shoes, does it?[}:)][:D][:D]
Cheers HJ http://www.rhb-grischun.ca/ http://www.easternmountainmodels.com
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Posted by vsmith on Friday, December 19, 2003 10:07 AM
HJ

Welcome to the wonderful world of Garden RRing!

The only hobby where we have 5 different scales all operating on the same layout!

At last count we had 5(!) scales, 1:32, 1:29, 1:24, 1:22.5, and 1:20.3. Oh, there's also 7/8n2 but since no one sane runs Bachman boxcars with a 7/8" engine we'll ignore that.

The problem is that the manufacturers have had a pretty free reign in the past 20 years to do what they wanted. LGB set the standard based on the Meter gauge and there European stock reflects that accuracy. the trouble begins when you start to make the switch from Euro meter gauge to American Standard guage and Narrow guage, while using the same track. The makers decides to be somewhat close to accurate instead of dead accurate to avoid producing cars that were out of proportion to the rest of there product. The 1:29 stuff came about because there was a thought that the 1:29 stuff "looked" better because it was larger than the 1:32 stuff. 1:32 IS the accurate scale but the cat is out of the bag and getting Aristo-craft or USA to tra***here molds and retool for an accurate 1:32 engine IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN, so we ase modelers have to accept a certain "fudge factor" when we model or scratchbuild everything.

I believe that we are slowly standardizing the scale debacle, mostly due to modeler feedback for new items. Back years ago when Garden RRing was seen as more whimsicle diversion from "serious" model railroading, people were not concerned because scale was not a big issue. Afterall you were running your trains thru your plants and lawn, scale? How to you scale a petunia? So we got thinks like Kalamazoo's 4-4-0 which had no known prototype or scale. The "No Known Prototype" model in large scale has been another handicap. Look at Hartlands "Big John" or "Princesss or "Dutchess" locomotives, they remind me of Lionel trains in that they are VERY toylike. The first run of LGB's Mogul with its red boiler brass bands and garish colors was HIDEOUS too me. and it had that shiny plastic sheen to it that screamed TOY!

So the reviewers are coming at thier opinions based on this history of going from the "plastic in the Petunia's" era of years past, with limited manufacturers producing a limited product. to the bustling "Wild West" boom town of more recent years.

Would you rather have a 1:29 SD40 or nothing at all? Thats the quandry some of us are in right now. How to ajdust to doing finescale modeling when almost nothing is "true". Its called ADAPTATION and its something all of us who cam from the smaller scales had to adjust to. I came from HOn30 and am now working in 1:24, but I'll use items from 1:22.5, because its very close to scale. But not 1:20.3 (too big) or 1:29 (too small) items. Its a very mixed bag we are picking from.

Dont blame the reviewers because they are just the messenger, the issue has to be delt with via the manufacturer.

Bachmann has pretty much gone the way of 1:20.3 and future products will most likebe only in that accurate scale, they seem eager to provide what the modelers want, and thats accurate "scale" models. Aristo and USA while producing beautiful trains have chosen to go the "fudge" root so they can produce a slightly larger than "scale" engine that "looks" better on the tracks. Accucraft and Hartford have alway done "spot on" scale products. and Hartland just does it own thing.

Just my two cents worth, and its only worth about two cents. Vic

   Have fun with your trains

  • Member since
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Posted by RhB_HJ on Friday, December 19, 2003 11:03 AM
Hi Vic,

Actually on this one part (or most) of the blame belongs squarely in the reviewers' court.

I used to be an avid contributor on MLS ( 3620 posts, 'til some people were more interested in world politics and religion[:(!] ) and as part of that I posted the actual measurements of various and sundry pieces.

The following is the most basic table I've ever put together:
http://www3.telus.net/RhB_layout_Grischun/F/ChartF7_F3.gif

When was the last time you read in a NA mag that certain mfgs happily mix different scales; one each for length, width and height?

Perhaps the best illustration would be me receiving an email from a Kalmbach VP with a thank you for posting the actual stuff. He mentioned that he had no idea that .........mfg's supposed ........."scale" products were that far off the mark.

This is from someone who works in the industry and, one would presume, would have ready access to the "scale wonks" within the organization (I believe I would know who to ask at Kalmbach[}:)][:D][:D]).
Sooooooo it isn't the mfgs' doing that the real hard facts are not published, unless of course the mfgs wield enough power and influence with the publishers (via the advertising revenue) that the publishers/reviewers would be loath to give us the "Real MacCoy".
BTW I know that consistent harping on the scale issue shows positive results, I've been at it ever since I joined the LS fraternity 4 years ago. Of course it also gets certain "dyed in the wool" fans a bit hot under the collar. I've been in the hobby for 51 years and learned what scale, gauge, prototype measurements and how to measure a model are all about.
If I wouldn't have most of our custumers would be supremely ticked.
Cheers HJ http://www.rhb-grischun.ca/ http://www.easternmountainmodels.com
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Posted by vsmith on Friday, December 19, 2003 11:31 AM
I suppose thats the Publishers perogative to be selective about how they portray the product. I feel we are still in the "just getting started" mode in this scale, we have so few product that when we get something new, we go "Wheee! we finally got a SD40/Hudson/whatever " and the publishers are also going "Wheee!" and happliy review a new addition, they arent going to be too keen go on picking it to pieces because its scale is off, I have read performance criticisms but scale is a lesser concern than detail or running. I know where your coming from and what your talkind about . I took Bachmann to task on there forum about calling the new 2-6-0 industrial Mogul 1:20.3 scale, its far from it! its a retooled rebuilt version of the 2-4-2 Columbia, that one from my own measurements is much closer to 1:24 scale and the new indy using the same body and cab shell. at 1:20.3 the Cab is less than 5 feet tall! Whats up with that? is it an amusemant park engine? No but they are marketing it into their new 1:20.3 line. In fact they are having some problems with it, their Diesel switcher IS 1:20.3 and its had problems cause its TOO BIG for many layouts, fouling tunnels and bridges, it requires 1:20.3 clearences and most people have older 1:22.5 clearences.

I have noticed that its not publishers carping about how somethings out of scale, thats really not there job. They should mention if somethings not kosher, but its really up to us, the user to pester the manufacturers to produce better products. If one mag says they need to make a change, they can blow it off, if 30,000 customers tell them to change it, they'll change it.

   Have fun with your trains

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  • From: Coldstream, BC Canada
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Posted by RhB_HJ on Thursday, December 25, 2003 9:16 PM
Vic,

True enough, it's their mag so they can do reviews whichever way they like.
As for the "just getting started" mode; considering how many switch from or add to the smaller scales one would think most everyone would remember the "development curve" i.e. scale length cars in HO circa early to mid 70s. Because that's when the mags were getting a bit more "discerning". Same with the "tremendous" rail height.
My question would be: do the mags, manufacturers and consumers never carry over what was gained on insight in one scale to another scale?
If one always has to re-start from square one - other than the wheel, which is apparently suitably round [:)][:-,] - then that would mean approx. another ten years before "the message" gets through. Hmmmmmmm.........
To me that sounds like history, everyone learns "nothing"!
Cheers HJ http://www.rhb-grischun.ca/ http://www.easternmountainmodels.com
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Posted by Marty Cozad on Thursday, December 25, 2003 9:57 PM
On this one with HJ,,I agree. Like the LGB new grain hopper. I have acouple just because they are all around us here in the midewest. And they fit right in with my other Aristo/USA cars. So is it 1:29th? Or is LGB all 1:22? But if the product review has the scaled out what ever sizes that would help knowing if we should buy one. I'm sure I will eat my words here ,but sizing out the car would be nice. But some items I have before the review comes out to.
As to scale/ gauge issue. Just pick what you want. Be glad you can choose.

Is it REAL? or Just 1:29 scale?

Long live Outdoor Model Railroading.

  • Member since
    December 2003
  • From: Coldstream, BC Canada
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Posted by RhB_HJ on Friday, December 26, 2003 12:15 AM
Marty,[;)]

Yeah getting some indication of what the scales are - some times there are three different scales in a "model" - would help.

Despite many people mentioning "the cars come in all sizes" if a car is modelled after a given proto then it is reasonably easy to establi***he scale.
Get the proto info, a calculator, a large vernier and have at it.

I'm sure if one measures out a AMS car things will scale to 1:20.3; why would they goof on the basics if they seem to get the details right.
Cheers HJ http://www.rhb-grischun.ca/ http://www.easternmountainmodels.com

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