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Rumors of the hobby's demise...

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Rumors of the hobby's demise...
Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Monday, November 14, 2022 7:12 AM

...are pretty exaggerated (in my opinion) if what I saw at TrainFest 2022 in Milwaukee this past weekend was any indicator.

Multiple thousands of people each day - hard core modelers (both older and younger), the curious, families with wide-eyed kids...  It was packed.  Especially Saturday.  My father, who tagged along with my youngest and I, described it affectionately as a "madhouse".  We all loved it and had a great time.    

I made a huge jump forward in my layout in terms of items I was looking for (crossed off TONS of items from my list) and the icing on the cake is that my better half didn't even bat an eye about the cost.

I will plan to sort and upload some photo and video to my Flickr account for others to enjoy.

Finally, it was great to meet Dave Nelson in person near the CNWHS booth and have a brief chat.  He was correct when he commented in my previous TrainFest thread from a few weeks ago: I had no trouble AT ALL finding him.

Andy

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Posted by rrebell on Monday, November 14, 2022 8:21 AM

As a percentage of the population, model railroading is fading but the population contines to go up and so the accual number of model railroaders is gradualy increasing in this country and elsewhere.

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, November 14, 2022 9:14 AM

The argument has been made that the number of modellers isn't dwindling so much as the demographics have changed. Model railroading used to be something people did for their whole lives. It seems like now many people don't take it up until later in life. I think MR and RMC have had articles recently from guys who didn't start modelling until they had retired and felt the need for a hobby to fill the time.

Stix
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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, November 14, 2022 11:27 AM

The Milwaukee Road Warrior
I will plan to sort and upload some photo and video to my Flickr account for others to enjoy.

Please also share in Weekend Photo Fun next weekend!

Big Smile

-Kevin

Living the dream and happily modeling my STRATTON AND GILLETTE Railroad in HO scale. The SGRR is a freelanced Class A railroad as it would have appeared on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954, in my personal fantasy world of plausible nonsense.

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Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Monday, November 14, 2022 11:28 AM

wjstix

The argument has been made that the number of modellers isn't dwindling so much as the demographics have changed. Model railroading used to be something people did for their whole lives. It seems like now many people don't take it up until later in life. I think MR and RMC have had articles recently from guys who didn't start modelling until they had retired and felt the need for a hobby to fill the time.

Absolutely correct imo.  It's all demographics.  That's why it was so encouraging to me as a middle-aged guy to see teens scrounging thru bins to find good deals and pre-teens in awe of the layouts.  

Andy

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Posted by York1 on Monday, November 14, 2022 11:55 AM

wjstix
I think MR and RMC have had articles recently from guys who didn't start modelling until they had retired and felt the need for a hobby to fill the time.

 

That's me!

York1 John       

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Posted by DonRicardo on Monday, November 14, 2022 12:13 PM

Always loved trains, and had two layouts previuosly, with modeling interupted by marriage and five kids and 11 grand children and great grandchildren. Now retired, getting back into trains, in n scale. I gave two of my sons some good working old rolling stock, engines and power packs, and they are both readying their basements for their own layouts. (n scale for them too)

One way to ensure the hobby lasts is to pass it on as well as possible.

 

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Posted by wrench567 on Monday, November 14, 2022 7:54 PM

  I'm sure one can find threads that go back to the beginning of the forum about the hobby dying off and the younger generation can't be bothered. The hobby isn't dying, just the old timers. Gladly they are being replaced by more that have finally found the time, space, funds, and supportive partner. Our kids grown up and moved out giving me a lot of room. Just as I was getting started filling that room. One moved back in with a couple little ones. My stuff went in storage. Now I can get it out again.

    Life happens.

     Pete.

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Posted by BATMAN on Monday, November 14, 2022 10:07 PM

wrench567
Just as I was getting started filling that room. One moved back in with a couple little ones. My stuff went in storage. Now I can get it out again.

You're a good man.

Watching Rapido trains grow, including expansion into the British MRR market, money talks. If the MRR market was dying it would be the upstarts that fail first. I think Rapido is doing quite well. 

All the young people I see at train shows has me convinced we have nothing to worry about at this point in time. What's old is new again, I see the generation that grew up on video games starting to find creating something other than an electron universe appealing. Maybe it is they are reaching an age where reward in electron creation is diminishing as it is short-lived.

Where the electron universe meets the MRR world I am in constant catch-up mode, good thing I am surrounded by wizards.

Brent

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

https://www.youtube.com/user/BATTRAIN1/videos 

You can never ever out-train poor nutrition.

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Posted by crossthedog on Tuesday, November 15, 2022 12:05 AM

I attended the Boeing Employees' Model Railroad Club's swap meet this past weekend. At one table was a very young couple -- she was selling repaired rolling stock and he had set up a repair service. He had goggles on and his head down, working on a locomotive. A kid about 17 years old came over to collect his  locomotive, a brass Great Northern Consolidation, beautifully detailed and weathered, that he had bought for $200 just an hour earlier at the other end of the room. The young smith had repaired some aspect of it, and after the kid paid the small repair fee they put it on the test track and it ran beautifully. I was a bit surprised that a kid not even out of high school could afford two bills for a locomotive that wasn't even working completely. I was also surprised that there was such a young craftsman entrepreneur making a business out of a love of repairing model train equipment. It was startling and hopeful all at once. 

-Matt

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by crossthedog on Tuesday, November 15, 2022 12:10 AM

BATMAN
good thing I am surrounded by wizards

A saying I could utter every day.

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, November 15, 2022 6:49 AM

It has been quite a while since the last "hobby is dying" topic.  So thank you for not letting it go longer without one.  

Clown

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by rrebell on Tuesday, November 15, 2022 9:06 AM

One hobby that has cut back alot is slot car racing which at one time was soposed to be the leading cause of the demise of model railroading. 

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, November 15, 2022 9:24 AM

Ya if you weren't around in the sixties, it's hard to imagine now how popular slot cars were - especially when they came out with "HO" slot cars (which were really closer to 1:64 scale as I recall). Some train companies fought back with HO train / slot car combination sets, some with grade crossing for the trains to cross the slotcar tracks.

Oddly enough, the slot car craze indirectly kept me a model railroader. I got very frustrated as a early teen with my HO trains (cheap engines, brass track etc.) and was about to give up when a friend sold me his old Lionel train set for $3. He didn't want it as he was 100% into HO slotcars. I spent 15 years in 3-rail, eventually transitioning to 'hi-rail' (now sometimes called 'scale three rail') using stuff like Atlas 1:48 scale freight cars, Weaver, etc. Eventually I went back to HO.

Without that $3 set, I may have not been a model railroader anymore. Course in the 50 years or so since, I probably spent enough on trains to buy a new SUV now....

Stix
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Posted by Lakeshore Sub on Tuesday, November 15, 2022 10:19 AM

The Milwaukee Road Warrior

 

Absolutely correct imo.  It's all demographics.  That's why it was so encouraging to me as a middle-aged guy to see teens scrounging thru bins to find good deals and pre-teens in awe of the layouts.  

 

 
I saw the same thing all over the place at Trainfest.  Dozens of groups of 18-25 years olds showing off what they found to their friends and exitedly telling everyone what they paid for the item. 
Still lots of older white bearded guys like myself but more of the younger crowd than I remember in the past.
 
Scott Sonntag
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Posted by Mike in NC on Tuesday, November 15, 2022 1:37 PM

Even though I  had my trains (Lionel and N-scale) packed away for many years (work & stuff & moving & life) and just recently unpacked them a few years ago it seems like the hobby is doing ok.   Last weekend at the Raleigh NRVMR train show the very large fairgrounds building was packed and the vendors seemed quite happy.

  I spent most of my time looking at the various club layouts and talking to the operators, make that operators of all ages.  I've considered joining one of the clubs but just haven't quite yet made that comfortable connection.  Still the show was enjoyable and a lot of my questions found answers.  I'm still thinking about another layout or perhaps new modules and one of the clubs.  

As for demographics here is what I found interesting.  The Sipping & Switching (HO) was mostly younger people similar to the LEGO group.  The 3 railers were a mix but,  N-scale was just really, really old guys.   I'm 72 and these guys made me seem like a youngster.  My old layout (and club) before moving 20+ years was N-scale and until recently I didn't think I could ever do much again in that scale.  Then, cateract surgery and I no longer even use reading glasses,..   

 

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Posted by wrench567 on Tuesday, November 15, 2022 2:49 PM

rrebell

One hobby that has cut back alot is slot car racing which at one time was soposed to be the leading cause of the demise of model railroading. 

 

  It was actually a slot car racing track that kicked off my model railroading. My dad used to take us boys to this indoor slot car parlor. We were heavy into the 1/32 slot cars. I carried mine in an aluminum briefcase with tools and spare parts. In the far rear corner was a highly detailed HO layout that was so much better than the Lionel setup we had at home. I was soon selling or trading Lionel for HO scale equipment. My dad was supportive but my mom was another story.

  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

      Pete.

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Posted by kasskaboose on Tuesday, November 15, 2022 3:21 PM

I can only speak about the Greenburg train show in VA's demographics.  There is a sizeable mix of folks there.  If a reflection of the hobby, it's changing far more than dying. 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 1:04 AM

wjstix
Ya if you weren't around in the sixties, it's hard to imagine now how popular slot cars were

Around 2004-2008 I was racing 1/25 slot cars with my girls.

There were probably a dozen world class 1/25 scale road racing eight lane slot car tracks in Florida back then.

Now I do not know of a single one.

-Kevin

Living the dream and happily modeling my STRATTON AND GILLETTE Railroad in HO scale. The SGRR is a freelanced Class A railroad as it would have appeared on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954, in my personal fantasy world of plausible nonsense.

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 5:52 AM

I think it was General Douglas MacArthur who once remarked, "Old hobbies never die, they just fade away".

Too many of us worry about whether the hobby is dying and/or whether there is any interest among the younger crowd.

Why do we care except for the fact that, if the hobby actually dies, we won't be able to find what we need to sustain our little niche in the hobby?

It is surely altruistic to want to encourage younger people to join the hobby. If not a single younger person were to join the hobby, then it certainly would die. But, there will always be some new entrants into the hobby, just fewer and fewer as time goes on and hobby interests change.

This hobby will simply fade away.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by rrebell on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 7:55 AM

richhotrain

I think it was General Douglas MacArthur who once remarked, "Old hobbies never die, they just fade away".

Too many of us worry about whether the hobby is dying and/or whether there is any interest among the younger crowd.

Why do we care except for the fact that, if the hobby actually dies, we won't be able to find what we need to sustain our little niche in the hobby?

It is surely altruistic to want to encourage younger people to join the hobby. If not a single younger person were to join the hobby, then it certainly would die. But, there will always be some new entrants into the hobby, just fewer and fewer as time goes on and hobby interests change.

This hobby will simply fade away.

Rich

 

Thats just it, the hobby is changing and gathering more people, just pecentage wise, less and less. Everything seems to change with time but in some ways, stays the same.

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Posted by nealknows on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 8:16 AM

If we think about it, the hobby isn’t shrinking, there’s more things for both young and old to do. Back in the 70’s when I worked in the hobby shop, you had trains, plastic models, slot cars, planes which were u-control or R/C and a small amount of folks doing R/C cars. Now, we have other things like video games, drones and more.

 

So while we think it’s at the end of the tracks, it’s not going away any time soon. The hobby as evolved with better trains, more electronics and more.

 

I sell at both the NJ Greenberg shows and the Amherst Show. We see both older folks and younger ones, and they have money to spend! The younger ones or the ones in their late 20’s or early 30’s are enjoying the hobby like their fathers or uncles or whomever they were around when they were little…

 

We wanted to go to Trainfest, but held off due to new ownership. Based on some feedback, we’ll probably go next year.

 

Enjoy the hobby – I know I do!!

 

Neal

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 8:20 AM

kasskaboose

I can only speak about the Greenburg train show in VA's demographics.  There is a sizeable mix of folks there.  If a reflection of the hobby, it's changing far more than dying. 

 

I can second that, the Greenberg shows I attend here in Virginia are VERY well attended, so the interest is still there.

Besides, train show are a HELL of a lot cheaper to take the family to than movies or ball games!

My club, the Virginia Train Collectors, has a show coming up this weekend in Midlothian VA, that's in the Richmond area.  Here's the clubs website for those interested.  Look under "Events."

https://www.vatraincollectors.com  

Or go over to the Classic Toy Trains Forum and check the thread "There's A Train Show Coming!"

And for a real pessimism-killer, search "YouTube Model Railroad Videos."  You'll be amazed! 

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Posted by NorthsideChi on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 5:08 PM

Said this in similar threads, but the barriers to entry are space and time. I know plenty of people  in my 30's age group that would love to build a layout.  Money isn't always a problem depending on the initial vision but having a dedicated space.  Home ownership is coming later in life and it sometimes takes a few years after that to plan out a space.  Anyone I know with kids doesn't really have time but will get small starter kits.

I've been fortunate to have a 2000 sqft basement in my condo building no one uses so I can make a big mess and build train stuff.  But I haven't settled on anything permanent.  Just a small 4' X 12' bench layout for testing and staging and about 150 buildings and 30' of elevated 4-track viaduct in storage that will Someday be set up...hopefully.  

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Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 9:45 PM

nealknows
We wanted to go to Trainfest, but held off due to new ownership. Based on some feedback, we’ll probably go next year.

I'd encourage you to go.  It was a blast.  The pictures I just uploaded to my Flickr acct don't really do justice to how busy the hall was last Saturday and Sunday, but give a good idea of what was there to be enjoyed.  Saturday was very crowded, and Sunday was busy in the morning (before the Packers game lol), and thinned a bit by the time I left about noon.

The biggest revelation to me: S gauge is pretty awesome!  If I weren't already so invested in HO I'd consider S.

Andy

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Posted by chipset35 on Thursday, November 17, 2022 8:13 AM

Now that we have runaway inflation with ever higher interest rates, all hobbys will suffer and many vendors will either go out of business or have low stock.

IMHO, HO seems to be the strongest market of all the gauges, how I wish I had gone HO back in 2005, as my layout would be done since 2008, I would have spent less money and less frustration.

O Gauge became a niche market once the average price of locomotives was between $500 and $1500, and now even higher.

Whereas, when I got back into N Scale in winter 2020/2021, I was paying on average $100 for a DC locomotive and $130 for a DCC equipped one, with some exceptions such as BLI electric box cabs etc.

This year, it is a struggle for me to find DCC equipped N Scale locomotives for less than $150, but I can still buy complete high quality 11 car passenger sets for $400 or less, some with engines included. Even less if I buy seperately.

I notice HO is creeping up like O Gauge did.

I wonder how many people with start with N Scale versus the larger scales just based on price?

One thing to remember, the baby boomer generation was the last "electric train" generation. I doubt newer generations make up even close to the market share they did. Thus, the writing is on teh wall for a eever increasing niche market at best.

All assuming everyone survives 2 more years of inflation, high prices for everything while getting less quantity, especially food.

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Posted by NorthsideChi on Thursday, November 17, 2022 10:50 AM

Indvivual interest in the hobby isn't tied to inflation.  That's because it's a creative hobby and people will pivot to the affordable tasks like buildings and scenery and shift back to track and locomotives when their financial situation improves.

Sort of like an artist that paints...they won't stop painting...maybe in the worst case choose cheaper paints and mediums   

The vendors on the other hand may struggle, but considering the market aggregation, individuals still have a lot to choose from, especially online. 

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Posted by Doughless on Thursday, November 17, 2022 10:59 AM

There are fewer train shows in the ATL area than there were back in indiana, but I am surprised at the number of people attending who are younger than me.  I am 59.

- Douglas

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Posted by fwright on Thursday, November 17, 2022 6:06 PM

I'm not too worried about the cost side of the hobby anymore.  I have settled on some ideas for future layout(s), now that we are settled in our retirement house.  Comes down to shelf layouts with maybe a 4x6 attached for some train running.  Possibly a Christmas O27 for DW's girlhood Marx set, and Free-mo module sets (one HO, one HOn3) that can mate with NCS&SS down the road.

Went through the stocks of kits that I brought with me and realized I had half a dozen road locomotives, but only need at most 1-2 road locomotives.  A little short on switchers but Ebay took care of that issue - only need 1-2 switchers on a shelf layout.

The only reason left to buy a locomotive is one that is a better match for the imagined prototypes than what I already have.  If I do buy one as a better match, I should be selling the one it replaces.

The same with cars - layout might hold at most 15 freight cars and 2 passenger cars.  And I have more than that on hand already in either kits or RTR.  Most cars and locomotives will need modification and painting/decaling, but there is enough operational for testing and pleasure while I work on building baseboard and laying track.

Fred W

....modeling foggy coastal Oregon in HO and HOn3, where it's always 1900....

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, November 18, 2022 3:23 PM

richhotrain

I think it was General Douglas MacArthur who once remarked, "Old hobbies never die, they just fade away".

Rich



I think it was Neal Young who once remarked, "it's better to burn out than to fade away".

Cheers

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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