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The designated "This hobby is so expensive" thread
Posted by Steven Otte on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 1:56 PM

No matter how many threads there already are on the topic of how expensive the hobby is, people always want to start a new one, so here's what we're going to do.

If you want to complain about how much more it costs to be a model railroader now compared to way back when boxcars were selling for 49 cents and two Weetabix box-tops, this is where you do it.

Any other such threads will be merged into this thread, to make it that much easier to ignore.

Now, rant away. SoapBox

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Posted by BATMAN on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 1:09 PM

Likely the commodities bought to make the track were purchased months ago and the finished price reflects that. Pull up commodity stock charts from up to a year ago and there is your answer. Also currency fluctuations come in to play as well. Right now my monthly fuel bills for our vehicles are down by about about $400.00 a month. So bring on that expensive track, I have some extra shekels!Laugh

Brent

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Posted by cuyama on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 1:21 PM

wabash2800
Nickel Silver, Atlas Flex was about $.79 a section in 1983. It is now about $6.39 (retail).

Cherry-picking prices and comparing street price in the good ol' days with MSRP today makes it look worse than it is. A ten-pack of Atlas Code 100 NS from modeltrainstuff is $36.99. That's $3.70 per stick -- not $6.39.

The CPI calculator says that your $0.79 (from Standard Hobby Supply or similar) in 1983 is equivalent to $1.86 today. So yes, the price is up, relatively speaking, but nowhere near the percentage you claim.

But I guess it's been a week since the last hand-wringing "the hobby is too expensive" thread, so we were overdue. Bang Head

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Posted by trwroute on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 1:27 PM

I agree with the OP.  This hobby has gotten ridiculously expensive.  Two weeks ago I purchased 10 sticks of N scale flex and 4 turnouts.  Even with a 20% discount, it was still over a hundred dollars.

While all hobby forums have the threads about high cost, it is a subject that most everyone can agree on.

I feel it has become obscene what some companies charge for their items.  Almost a hundred bucks for a freight car at MSRP?  Crazy!

Chuck - Modeling in HO scale and anything narrow gauge

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Posted by ricktrains4824 on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 1:38 PM

Well, think of it this way: Those little scale employees have families to feed... Have you seen the prices of the scale size furniture and houses? Now, how about the scale size food? Those scale size supermarkets have employees too! So, someone has to pay all the scale size employees building our scale size Railroad equipment so they can feed and house their scale size families, allowing those employees who build those things and sell those things to feed their families..... Smile, Wink & Grin

 

Edit: Scale not important....

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 1:47 PM

Yes, you probably saw that discussion on TrainOrders.  Honestly the high price topic of the hobby has truly been beaten to death.

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Severe Price Increase
Posted by wabash2800 on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 1:47 PM

We were discussing this on another site. Nickel Silver, Atlas Flex was about $.79 a section in 1983. It is now about $6.39 (retail). That's a 809% increase! Folks, that's not all inflation. We speculated that the price might have to do with the increased cost of materials like the Nickel Silver used in electronic gadgetry and the petroleoum in the plastic. Anyone know for sure? Laying track for a multi-level, double-track helix is a major cost even if you can get the track discounted.

With locos and cars we received more for our buck with improvements and add-ons since 1983. But if Chinese labor has held the cost down on the track, I wonder what it would be without it???

Victor Baird

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Posted by wabash2800 on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 2:03 PM

"Cherry-picking prices and comparing street price in the good ol' days with MSRP today makes it look worse than it is. A ten-pack of Atlas Code 100 NS from modeltrainstuff is $36.99. That's $3.70 per stick -- not $6.39."

That's not Cherry Picking: I'm comparing retail with retail. And an increase from $.79 to $6.39 is 809% if you do the math (maybe you can't).  Cherry picking would be picking discount price to compare to retail or vice versa. And I can't see that that Atlas flex track is made any different than it was in 1983.

Victor Baird

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Posted by Heartland Division CB&Q on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 2:04 PM

Hello Steven .... I know what you mean about "the hobby is is expensive". 

Your thread about saving costs was a good one. Maybe it is time to move it to the top again. 

If I look at the subscription price for MR, it has gone up over the years too, but I think it is still a reasonable price.  

GARRY

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Posted by BATMAN on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 2:07 PM

We will likely have to start a new thread every month so as not to overload the server(s) Just like the "Show me something" and "Diner" threads.

 

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

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Posted by cuyama on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 2:09 PM

wabash2800
That's not Cherry Picking: I'm comparing retail with retail.

$.79 was not retail, it clearly was street price for each stick in a quantity of ten. Check the ad from discounter Standard Hobby Supply on page 142 of the January 1983 MR.

"Rave on, children ..."
    -- "Dixie Fried" by Carl Perkins and Howard "Curley" Griffin

Done here.

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Posted by Steven Otte on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 2:10 PM

BATMAN

We will likely have to start a new thread every month so as not to overload the server(s) Just like the "Show me something" and "Diner" threads.

 

Or, people could just look at this thread, and realize it's all been said before... (what are the odds of that?! Laugh)

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Posted by mlehman on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 2:11 PM

Well timed!Smile, Wink & Grin

I just fanned the flames with my post about the new Micromark laser cutter. That will cause some sniveling. SighLaugh

I can't afford one right now. Does that mean my Xacto knife is no longer functional? Not hardly, even when I sometimes have to think about what a pack of replacement blades will cost me. I still manage to have a heck of a good time. If you're worried about keeping up with the Joneses, you're really going about the hobby the wrong way anyway.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 2:20 PM

There are ways to cut prices..I bought 2 Atlas/Kato RS3s for the price of one Athearn RTR.Sure,they may not be detailed to the max like Athearn's RS3 but,where I come from 2 for the price of one is a good buy--and the Atlas units are still decent locomotives.

I have bought several used locomotives and a unknown number of used freight cars and saved a ton of money in the process.I buy new from various on line shops and that saves me money.

Another way is to build a layout that fits your hobby budget.My Slate Creek cost around $400 to build including the industries,Peco switches,ballast,foam road bed,ballast and Miro Engineering flextrack.

My DCC system is nothing more then  MRC Tech 6 with its handheld throttle..Grand cost? $130.00 and yes it fills my DCC needs.

Expensive hobby? Only if you want it to be.

Larry

Conductor.

Summerset Ry.


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Posted by Steven Otte on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 2:32 PM

Heartland Division CB&Q

Your thread about saving costs was a good one. Maybe it is time to move it to the top again.

Smile, Wink & GrinYeah

Though perhaps a better idea would be to link to it here on the first page of this thread, so people can find it anytime. Tips for Model Railroading on the Cheap: http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/88/t/239243.aspx

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 2:32 PM

wabash2800

We were discussing this on another site. Nickel Silver, Atlas Flex was about $.79 a section in 1983. It is now about $6.39 (retail). That's a 809% increase! Folks, that's not all inflation. We speculated that the price might have to do with the increased cost of materials like the Nickel Silver used in electronic gadgetry and the petroleoum in the plastic. Anyone know for sure? Laying track for a multi-level, double-track helix is a major cost even if you can get the track discounted.

With locos and cars we received more for our buck with improvements and add-ons since 1983. But if Chinese labor has held the cost down on the track, I wonder what it would be without it???

Victor Baird

Fort Wayne, Indiana

 

This was the original post in the now deleted thread, which I thought was a bit unfair because the OP made some valid points.

One, if you are laying a lot of track for a large layout, be prepared for sticker shock.  100 pieces of Atlas Code 83 flex track will set you back $400.  If I rebuilt my current layout from scratch, flex track alone would approach $1,000.

Two, if the price reflects Chinese labor costs, imagine what the cost would be if manufactured here in the good ole USA.

Over the weekend, I needed 6 pieces of Atlas Code 83 flex track, so I made a 60 minute round trip to the closest LHS.  It cost $5.50 per stick before tax.

Sure, this notion has been repeated many times before, but every time someone buys something like flex track and hasn't had to do it in quite a while, it is sticker shock revisited.  I thought Victor's thread deserved better treatment than it got.

Rich

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Posted by Paul3 on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 2:51 PM

Take a look at this ad from Atlas in 1953:
http://www.hoseeker.net/Atlasinformation/atlastrackflier1953.jpg

A single piece of fiber-tie flex track (in Code 100 brass) 3 feet long was 75 cents (MSRP).  Using an inflation calculator from the US BLS, that would equal $6.59 in 2015 dollars.

Going over to Walthers.com, a single piece of plastic-tie flex track (in Code 83 Nickel-Silver) that's 3 feet long is $6.95 (MSRP).

Likewise, completely assembled brass Code 100 fiber-tie Atlas switches were $1.95 (MSRP) in 1953.  In 2015, that's $17.14.

Back to Walthers.com, Atlas plastic tie Nickel-Silver code 83 are currently $21.95 (MSRP).

Today's prices ares not out of line historically, especially when one considers the improvements made over the 1953 versions.

Paul A. Cutler III

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Posted by blownout cylinder on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 3:00 PM

Where did that thread about low cost modelling go anyways?

Oh well....I spent about $15,000 on a recording studio...and still building that up.

Mischief Whistling

[edit] just seen where it is...teaches me to look further down the page[/edit]

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Posted by mobilman44 on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 3:03 PM

I began several paragraphs about the absurdity of comparing the cost of the hobby with prior times of lower wages, availability and so on.......... but deleted them all as they were a waste of my time.

But the short version is, if you can't afford the hobby, get another.   Or, do what those of us have done for many, many years..... start with less, go used, improvise, recycle.    But that is just sacriledge for so many today.

 

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, formerly modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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Posted by LensCapOn on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 3:11 PM

This hobby is so expensive........

 

 

That Warren Buffett bought the Real BNSF because it's cheaper.

(who's next?)

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Posted by blownout cylinder on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 3:18 PM

Gee...how about a Buchla 200e modular synth...a small example of the module prices...I have a modular synth here...total cost for this was in excess of $10,000

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Buchla-291e-Triple-Morphing-Filter-Module-for-200e-and-200-Systems-/131458500293?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item1e9b8986c5

 

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Posted by rrebell on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 3:20 PM

I have this discusion all the time and not about this hobby per say. As far as the hobby is concerned I can buy Sinohara turnouts for around $7, buy rtr boxcars etc. in better names for $10 to $12, engines without decoders for Altas are regularly around $50. If you want to pay more, that is up to you and I have on certain items I really wanted like a pair of Intermountain Caswell cars at $16.90 a piece out the door new in box.

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Posted by trwroute on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 3:45 PM

I can't help but wonder why those that are happy about the prices in the hobby read threads that complain about the prices. 

I especially like the comments such as "find another hobby".  Why can't that person just find another thread?

There is no denying the fact that a lot of the pricing is out of hand.  Sure, if one digs around, they can find something that has been discounted or marked down.  Everyone knows that.  Nothing new there!  But when the MSRP of a freight car nears $100, they have totally lost me as a customer.

Not sure that really matters, though.  I have always been a kit builder and am happy to continue.  I'll take my LaBelle kits anyday.

 

Chuck - Modeling in HO scale and anything narrow gauge

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Posted by NittanyLion on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 3:47 PM

The only cheap hobby is staring out the window. 

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Posted by wabash2800 on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 3:50 PM

Thanks Rich. I thought I was just comparing apples with apples, the $.79 1983 price was what someone quoted on Trainorders. If the retail was not $.79 per stick, what was it? I came up with the new price by looking it up on the Walther's site. A piece of code 100 flex from 1983 made again in 2015 couldn't have changed that much.  I am very disappointed in Mr. Ott's responses too (not one but two). I thought more highly of him than that and will probably not resubscribe to Model Railroader.

Victor Baird

Fort Wayne, Indiana

 "I thought Victor's thread deserved better treatment than it got."

Rich

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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 3:51 PM

My psychiatrist is a model railroader. He has increased his hourly rate by a whopping 150% - now I can´t anylonger afford to see him. Should I take up model railroading instead?

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Posted by blownout cylinder on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 4:00 PM

Sir Madog

My psychiatrist is a model railroader. He has increased his hourly rate by a whopping 150% - now I can´t anylonger afford to see him. Should I take up model railroading instead?

 

I always thought going to a psychiatrist was much more expensive than modelrailroading...

Smile, Wink & Grin

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Posted by ricktrains4824 on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 4:06 PM

Well, here is where I jump in yet again....

I would much rather have the topic here, in one thread, so that I can ignore these as "new threads" and get back to the "regularly scheduled program" of giving and receiving help on the hobby of model railroading/model trains. Less ranting about prices I see, the better... Yes the hobby is expensive, but so are cars, gas, groceries, etc.... For crying out loud, just living is expensive! But don't dare think of dying.... Have you seen the cost of that lately?!? Can't afford to live, die, or play with trains.... So I'd rather not see complaints about it here, and one designated thread will accomplish that for me... I can now move on to better, more interesting threads.... Such as the free intermodal containers thread... There are ways to make the hobby less expensive... Just takes some work and doing... But, on this topic, I like where it now sits....

So, Thanks Steve! I, for one, appreciate this getting one, and only one, designated area!

And that psychiatrist? I don't feel like spending a few hundred to lay on someone else's couch to talk, I got friend that let me do that for free!

Ricky W.

HO scale Proto-freelancer.

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Posted by cuyama on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 4:24 PM

wabash2800
If the retail was not $.79 per stick, what was it?

$1.50 (Atlas ad, Model Railroader July 1983, page 151). CPI calculator equates that to $3.53 in 2015. Atlas' own site shows the MSRP price of a single stick of Code 100 NS flex track today as $5.95. That seems to me to be a lot less than an "809% increase". But you'd better check the math.

OK, now I'm really done.

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Posted by angelob6660 on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 4:41 PM

I have a few freight cars I want to get, but the price is high.

I decide to buy a diesel instead of two ESM boxcars that costs about the same.

There are others, I would like to get Red Caboose auto racks, Kato maxi well cars and BLMA spine cars. 

I never had a problem with prices before until this year. I'll talk about this later.

Modeling the G.N.O. Railway, The Diamond Route.

Amtrak America, 1971-Present.

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