Your predictions for the model railroading hobby in the new decade?

Metro Red Line Jan 6, 2010

  1. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

    The 2000s gave us:
    - DCC
    - The rise of the online hobby shop
    - "The Polar Express" getting a new generation excited about trains/train sets
    - The death of Athearn Blue Box kits
    - Styrofoam as an accepted layout scenery material
    - LEDs replacing incandescent bulbs in our trains
    - Laser cutting/etching
    - Higher detail level in the smaller scales (N and Z)

    So what do you foresee in the new decade for the hobby? Trends, practices, innovations, etc?
    Let's hear it...
  2. Jack28

    Jack28 TrainBoard Member

    I see 2.4 ghz radio control as a future entity. RC is beginning already, but very much in it's infancy.

    I see sound getting less expensive.

    I see the decade of the small business person adding more than usual to the hobby.(any hobby)

    More computerization.

    I would like to see more Brass in On30.
  3. Bruce-in-MA

    Bruce-in-MA TrainBoard Member

    We'll see hover-trains and TCC (Thought Command Control). :fingers-crossed:

    Actually, I can predict more angst over all the all the nice things I probably won't be able to afford.
  4. Fishplate

    Fishplate TrainBoard Supporter

    I predict rapid prototyping (3D printing) technology will be the next big thing, going way beyond laser cutting. It will become affordable for small manufacturers, and maybe even individual hobbyists.

    (By the way, hasn't styrofoam scenery been popular since the 1970's?)
  5. jhn_plsn

    jhn_plsn TrainBoard Supporter

    Foam may have been used but it gained in poularity and many more modelers accepted it as an alternative. IMO it gained ground because of the popularity of modular clubs that were looking at ways to lighten their modules.

    One thing I think will broaden in scope is since more detail will be easier to obtain the rivet counters will be walking away from shows with more black eyes than ever before.:tb-tongue:
  6. HappyValley

    HappyValley TrainBoard Member

    I can't predict, but my observations:

    I was into trains as a kid/teen, the 70s. I got out of it in college and such and back into it in the late 80s. Prices had pretty much doubled on everything and N was practical. Better quality locos were appearing (detailing, running)

    I'm not getting back in for the first time in about 5 or 6 years and prices seem to be the same - a good thing IMO. I am disappointed that DCC seems to have stagnated, at least as far as computer interfacing is concerned. I have computers that don't have serial ports on them, but that's still 'the standard' in DCC, although I see lens offers a USB connection.

    I see online hobby shops but am less than impressed with their websites and finding things. The ones that specialze in a small area (tony's train exchange for example on DCC) isn't too bad, but finding things on most sites is just about impossible unless you already know what your looking for. And the specs/info listed is practially non existent. I searched for loco w/ DCC installed and I'd say in over 1/2 the cases I had no way to know if they were DCC locos or not, what was supported, etc.

    So what I'd like to see is:
    better online shopping sites. More info. better searching. better shopping carts (some sites forget what's in my cart day to day - I've not had that issue on any other site I visit).
    Newer DCC options. This is prolly up to the NMRA to update their specs, but have then done that in 10 years? I"m out of the loop so I don't know. The Duplex radio (digitrax) is a step in the right direction, but the cost is way high if you ask me ($50 extra in the handheld? I can buy cordless phones for my house for 1/5 th that price and get an LCD, memory, sound...)
    I'd love to get into manufacturing products for the hobby. Perhaps one day.
    I'd like to see more RTR narrow guage stuff out there. I'm really surprised it's not.

    With more competition for time these days I'd expect to see more ready to run type products like the snap track with roadbed, dcc equipped locos, etc. I don't what's out there in buildings, but faster build with great detail would sell well IMO. Instant gratification always has a market.
  7. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

    Hate to disagree on the Foam, but I have to. Styrofoam for scenery became popular with the masses in the 80s and particularly the 90s. Driven largely by MR's near exclusive use of it in project layouts.

    From a business perspective, I agree, we're going to see a renaissance in small manufacturers as the ability to rapidly produce copies drops along with the access the internet provides.

    I also think we will see significant advances in computer control of DCC. It's already very much an easy thing to do for a computer aficionado, but I see it becoming easy for the simple user as well. I'd also like to see a better integration between computers and DCC in the since of a move to ethernet/wireless or USB for communications.
  8. moffo

    moffo E-Mail Bounces

    I think 3D printing is gonna come to detail parts in a very big way.
  9. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I wonder if 2011-2020 will bring some further steam engine production for N scale? Otherwise, I can't imagine where we'll' be. It's all come so far, since I was a boy with my Lionel....

    Boxcab E50
  10. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Member

    Dunno about predictions, but one thing I'd like to see is less-expensive DCC. As a cab-and-block-control guy, I've operated on DCC-equipped layouts and am becoming enamored with the idea of converting my small N scale layout to DCC. The features that have come out recently are nice features (drop-in decoders, sound decoders, wireless, etc), and with the way electronic gadgets go, I foresee less-expensive DCC systems, even cheaper than the starter systems on the market now.

    Hey, if you can go from 6 gigabytes to one terabyte on a desktop hard drive in 10 years or less, who's to say this isn't possible?
  11. atsf_arizona

    atsf_arizona TrainBoard Supporter

    Friscobob, I agree with you on the DCC front. Somebody mentioned on another
    forum that the cell phone industry is a big driver behind the kind of processing
    decoder chip advancement that we get to use in DCC model railroading.
    With that kind of commodity / worldwide manufacturing and innovation,
    we got tons of chip horsepower coming our way for the DCC manufacturers
    to utilize, and tons of software.... all of which means price of entry
    DCC systems could come down over time.

    (although approx $150 street price for NCE PowerCab or Digitrix Zephyr
    or MRC Prodigy is pretty good so far. Just like DVD players or computer
    printers, there's a floor below which the price may not be viable to fall
    below given the size of our model railroad marketplace).

    Unfortunately, high fidelity sound isn't one of the things that cell phone speaker
    phones focus on. The iPod-style earphone's clarity/fidelity is great, but an earphone
    is a very different engineering than an external speaker. Listen to any speakerphone
    on any cell phone and you can tell they're tuned for clarity, not for high fidelity.

    So it'll be up to some other technology area for us to get the sound speaker
    quality that we all want and deserve.

    Perhaps we can increase the bass response by ganging together multiple
    speakers, in phase, across multiple units/speakers in a train.
    (i.e. what Bose mini-speakers do). That would solve the bass response
    issue, maybe, for the small scales. In other words, model railroad "MU cables"
    for our own purposes of sound!

    Other advances - we've already seen the WiThrottle: WiThrottle

    That direction sounds very promising as well.

    So, in 2010+, more power to DCC and to sound in model railroading!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 6, 2010
  12. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

    This is another example of how computers should be integrated. You shouldn't need a controller at all. a $5 USB dongle to convert to DCC, a power source and some software should be all you need to buy.

    As for sound, I think the next step will be surround sound. You don't really need bass response out of the unit, you need a subwoofer or at least strategically placed woofers on the layout. Since bass is about reverberation it will create the echos and rumbles that are really what will make sound come alive. Again, this is very cheap for a computer to do right now.
  13. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

    I was specifically referring to extruded styrofoam carved scenery and commercially-available styrofoam scenery products. I've been in the hobby since 1980 and I didn't hear about extruded styrofoam rock carvings until just a few years ago. Besides, Woodland Scenics introduced their foam products just in the last decade, so I was also referring to commercial availability.
  14. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

    Here's my predictions:

    - Nanotechnology: It already exists, it's just going to be useful for modelers. You know those fans on top of your SD70ACe? Now imagine them spinning. In Z scale.

    - Wireless. Wireless DCC is also already here, but like telephones, it's going to be the norm rather than a gimmick.

    - Interfacing with other technologies. How about using your iPhone or Blackberry as a (wireless) DCC throttle and programmer?

    - Continued popularity of smaller scales. As population increases and the average size of households decreases, N and Z gain even more in popularity, with N virtually equaling the popularity of HO by the end of the decade.

    - Holographic animation. Wanna see people walk your model streets? Automobiles drive around your layout town? Wanna see steam, smoke and diesel exhaust in your layout without having to breathe it? Holographic technology can make it all possible.

    - Surround sound. Scale model sound units will enter leaps and bounds with a sound system that combines current sound technology methods with surround sound (picture a subwoofer under the layout and speakers in various locations around the pike. Prototype trains are mostly lower frequency rumble, which the current systems totally lack, and this can be simulated with the new sound technology.

    - Mag-lev models. Not just mere models of magnetic levitation trains, but models that, like the prototype, run on magnetic levitation as well!

    - Semi-Prefab Scenery. Kato will partner with Parvia in manufacturing a semi-prefab structure/scenery system for the masses as a compliment to the Unitrack system. Think of the midway point between LEGO and fine-scale modeling. Will be popular with children who are mature enough to handle smaller scales, yet still too young for truly detailed modeling.
  15. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter


    If you're referring to the Woodland Scenics stuff, then OK,
    But extruded Styrofoam insulation (blue or more recently pink board) sanded and Carved became a big deal in the late 80s.

    It may all have to do with where you're from and such. I don't ever see styrofoam layouts down here in SoCal, because for some reason, you can't buy styrofoam sheets down here at home stores at any price.

    But in the midwest and the PacNW, you can buy 4x8 sheets easy.
  16. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

    Yes that's true. I do have an extruded styrofoam layout, and you can find it here in Southern CA, but it's neither cheap nor easy to find. They don't normally sell blue/pink foam at Home Depot or Lowes, and if they do, it's in ultra-thin 1/8" sheets. I bought my foam at a supply house in Burbank whose primary clients are Hollywood TV/film studios who use the stuff to make sets and props. For a 2x8', 2"-thick sheet, it was about $40.
  17. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member


    Kato and Athearn have blown the steam option wide open with their heavy innovation this past decade. Granted they're making mostly large steam, I see the next decade introducing a boom of steam products that run the rails with reliable quality. :D

    No one has mentioned remote uncoupling yet.

    Also, dont forget about Bull Frog Snot as an achievement from last decade. Could we see the death of traction tires being replaced by manufacturer applied snot in the next decade?
  18. atsf_arizona

    atsf_arizona TrainBoard Supporter

    Metro Red Line, great list of predictions :) .
  19. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

    That gets my vote!! Though.. Id hate to have a crisis moment interrupted by a phone call... :p [​IMG]
  20. subwayaz

    subwayaz TrainBoard Member

    I think the DCC will get even more user friendly, Computer control of Trains increase, Radio Control to come into play as is in RC hobby, Sound to become cheaper,small manufacturers increase, & 3D printing play a larger part in our hobby. If those things occur I will be even more pleased with progress than I am already.
    We shall soon see i'm sure:tb-wink:

    Good topic for the new Decade

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