No, the hobby is not dying.....and other thoughts

lars128 Jun 26, 2013

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  1. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

    In the 1950s, I lived in a part of Ohio where we had easy access to several hobby shops. I had a Lionel layout at that time and my next door neighbor...4 years older...had a beautiful HO layout that he and his father had built. My twin cousins lived in a different part of Ohio and my uncle had to drive over an hour to take them to the nearest shop selling model trains and even farther in the opposite direction to get to the second closest. When my cousins' kids and grandkids grew up decades later, there were more hobby shops catering to model railroaders in their part of Ohio; so, from my cousins' perspective, the '50s was a tough time to be in the hobby, but from mine, it wasn't.
  2. ScaleCraft

    ScaleCraft TrainBoard Member

    I remember. I remember my first "kit"...a SilverStreak boxcar, oh, 1955?
    What I am having trouble with is the date of Atlas Snap Track.....everybody used TruScale up until oh, 1960, when I remember seeing SnapTrack.
    However, Fibre Tied flex track was before that.

    I've watched the back side of the hobby for too long...still talk to folks in the biz....and they tell me train show attendance has dropped off a bunch, depending again on scale, gauge, and location.
    Some annual conventions aren't even getting bids from groups wanting to put on future conventions.

    The real indicator was when Kader bought Sanda Kan, and the "letters" went out telling some folks they wouldn't be building their stuff anymore.

    You know that the likelihood that so many were all punitive in their cancellation is about nil.
    Performance. Quantity. That's what they were looking at.

    Just thinking that way, and looking at those who have had to scramble for new sources for manufacturing, makes you wonder.

    As far as manufacturers in the 50's....Ambroid (Binkley?), SilverStreak, Comet, Megow, Globe, Athearn, Mantua, Varney, Ulrich (late), PennLine, English (later HObbyline), Roundhouse, DeVore, Gilbert, TruScale rolling stock, heck, I haven't even hit all the majors and none of the minors.
    ConCor wasn't until mid-sixties. Mantua (and the cheaper TYCO line) soldiered on...and on...yeah, they had slot cars, but kept the trains.
    As far as the nmra....I know folks who couldn't deal with the politics anymore and flat quit, so yes, you cannot look at membership, per se.
    But, you havfe to look at all of it. Club membership, magazine subscriptions, show attendance.
    I know of one show a year or so ago that set records, and is pointed out for their attendance....but locals told me (hearsay?) that it was because another show ceased to exist.

    Is the hobby dying?

    Come back in ten years and we'll discuss it.

    Maybe the Atlas track will be in by then.

  3. Dave Jones

    Dave Jones TrainBoard Supporter

    lars128 - Well constructed and intelligent with which I concur right to almost to the 100% mark.

    Remarks in this thread (as in the other two) are/will be subjective! I have yet to see where anybody has facts and figures that prove or backup various and sundry assertions. I can really only offer my opinions - not facts.

    I started the hobby seriously at the tail end of the "materials" wars; i.e. plastic was ruining the hobby as compared to "real" model railroad material - brass, wood, gunnite - whatever. Model railroading was doomed! Now, 50 years or so later, what do we have?
    More plastic, brass, wood, and (resin??) kits, r-t-r than one can keep up with. A failing or falling market does not support the almost monthly introduction of new and improved products that we've seen the past 20 years or so!

    Then came the slot car boom. And some few people predicted again, doom for model railroading. While I loved my '56 Chevy with that big, old Carter AFB 4-bbl. carb. on that 265 engine and in the drags I took part in (sanctioned, not hardly), acquitted itself very well. But the Chevy (and scale models thereof) replacing my model trains - don't think so! Then about 3 years later, slot cars - couldn't give them away. Model railroading, (pardon the near pun) just chugging away.

    For the next 20-30 years or so most of us ignored the occasional eruptions by the "real" modellers as to how the hobby was doomed if we didn't quit our, if not evil, then certainly dastardly ways. Probably we were too distracted by assembling all those "shake the box" Athearn BB kits. so we could "operate" our layouts.

    Lately I've noticed a resurgence among a certain sub-set of our population as in "if you don't do it our way - then you're dooming the hobby, or at the least you're not a model railroader." Now each of us (subjectively) will assign our judgements and for me it varies from ignorance to arrogance.
  4. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

    I just want to add that when I was 11, the two favorite things in my room were my a) 4x8' HO layout and my b) Atari 2600 video game system.
  5. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    LOL You forgot one Lionel HO. Junk pure junk.

    NYW&B doesn't disclose how old he is and I presume he's a New Yorker. Anyone could read an older MR wig wag of the time and come up the information shared.

    Little if any of the stuff available back then, was worth the price. Most of it didn't carry with it the quality of todays products. A lot of it was toyish in appearance. I have a friend that has recently transformed some earl Penn and Roundhouse stuff by pulling the old (worthless) chassis out and installed one of todays chassis. Now they run sweet and look good too.

    Sorry, no loyalty to the 50'

    I do agree, guys back from the war's opened up hobby shops and other business's all over the place and many...sadly...ended up closing them. Most sold Lionel 027. I'm all to familiar with the 50's and 60's. If you think that was the glitz of model railroading, you won't find me siding with you. The 50's weren't a good time by any stretch of the imagination. Not in the world of Model Railroading. There was a considerable amount of evolving in the area of quality that had to occur before building a layout could be constructed with ease.

    Why? We had to wait until the late 90's and 2000's is beyond me?
  6. JB Stoker

    JB Stoker TrainBoard Member

  7. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Well, enough for now. Time for folks to get back to the layout, modeling bench, etc.
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