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

Metro Red Line Jan 6, 2010

  1. Train Kid

    Train Kid TrainBoard Member

    Bottom line? The sky is falling. :p :rolleyes:
  2. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Member

    Drat! I had this nice, long, well thought out response to you, and a browser glitch tossed it into the ether.

    Short version: I recognize that there is a real risk of your future becoming a reality, but I see some rays of hope in the gloom.

    • Trains, having been basically forgotten for many years, are experiencing growth not seen for a while. Commuter and light rail are in the increase, and all those passengers (and their children) are potential future modelers
    • I think Pete Nolan is closer to right on the effect of technology and the internet. Assuming the NMRA and the manufacturers make some reasonably smart moves, there's a lot there that can be positive.
    Just one example. I would love to run a train on OC Engineer JD's layout from my home, using a virtual throttle and a webcam mounted *inside* the lead engine's cab. That technology is available NOW. And it's the same kind of stuff that young technology geeks will eat up. Let's not forget that many of the computer innovations that *created* the internet in the first place were developed by members of the MIT Model Railroad Club.

    Anyway, like I said. There's a great risk that things could turn out badly. But there are still reasons to hope.
  3. jpwisc

    jpwisc TrainBoard Member

    On a lighter note, I would like to see a smoke generator added to digital decoders, so I can make my N scale Alcos smoke as badly as the real deal. Atlas already makes the motors so they are the right volume...
  4. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Member

    My response to NYW&B will be kept to this statement:

    The optimist believes we live in the best possible of worlds.

    The pessimist fears the same thing.

    Me, I'm more in the middle, leaning towards optimism. Were I to be so pessimistic about this hobby (and I have no doubt there will be both positive and negative changes), I'd be living in a cave in the mountains right now, awaiting Armageddon.

    MOPMAN TrainBoard Member

    I believe that some of the changes come with age. We have a interest in trains as kids. That interest wanes in our late teens as our thoughts turn to getting a job, higher education or maybe military service (god bless them) and last but definitely not least a significant other. After marriage (sometimes more than one) kids and all that goes with family, there isn't a lot of time for the hobby (unless it can be family oriented). Then as the kids get older, go off to college (train room maybe?) we start looking at later years, we have more time to pursue a hobby, retirement is in the near future and hopefully we are better off financially. Something rekindles that interest in trains and modeling. Maybe its taking the kids to a train show or seeing a holiday train display. I know from working at the Trains @ Northpark during the holidays, there is no shortage of kids that love trains. Some get so excited they almost "wet" themselves (that sounds like some of us when THAT new engine or fill in the blank gets released... come on, you know your guilty). Those kids are the real future of this hobby and they will dictate where it goes when they start spending their dollars at the LHS. If we as model railroaders help develop that interest in our youth, then this hobby will sustain itself just fine.
  6. cmstpmark

    cmstpmark TrainBoard Supporter

    I went to the Huckleberry Railroad this past December. It is a narrow guage railroad/turn of the century town/museum located NE of Flint, MI. Yeah, that Flint. The whole area is down..more so than the State o ' Michigan itself. Yet, almost every train was sold out. We got into the earliest run at 5-and barely made it on to that train.

    The train was chock full of parents and young kids. The kids around me were asking all kinds of questions about the car they were in, the engine, the water tower, etc. Plenty of parents were giving their kids the details.

    Now, either I was on a train full of closeted foamers, or trains still hold a huge attraction to kids and parents. Whether this will translate into model sales-time will tell.
    But, as evident from what I saw, even in a horrible economy-kids like trains.
  7. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter


    I have not read the whole thread. Here is what I think will happen during the next 10 years:

    • A steady but quiet growth in all scales.
    • Out door "Garden" layouts will increase faster than expected fueled by a greater selection of rolling stock and locos.
    N Scale, (I can't speak for HO). I feel there will be a steady progressive increase in the:
    • Detail
    • Over all quality
    • Reliability of locomotives
    I expect:

    • Continued growth in the variety of "inexpensive" plastic, (vs brass), steam locomotives availability.
    • At least 10 members from Trainboard starting their own small business in N Scale.
    • DCC will continue to get easier and less expensive to the point "DC" fades out.
    • A new standard modular system will be developed that will challenge and eventually supersede "N Trak" I have no rational explanation for this gut feeling.
    • Collecting will continue
    • The use of generating anxiety in people to buy limited runs (or loose out), will continue will grow
    There is more but the over all theme will be innovation.
  8. Triplex

    Triplex TrainBoard Member

    Without reading everything that's already been said...

    - An ever-increasing number of highly detailed, limited-run plastic locomotives cut away at the brass market. However, these will (and already are) force modellers to accept higher prices, therefore leading to a decline in "entry-level" equipment.

    - Some unexpected models will be released. However, in 2020, we may still be waiting for a new N scale S-2/S-4, H-10/12-44, RSD-15 and C636.

    - Z may be a major scale in 2020, but I doubt most of the current major HO/N manufacturers will have got into it.

    - I agree that small manufacturers will make a larger percentage of the models we buy.
  9. jagged ben

    jagged ben TrainBoard Member

    And GP60M, GP60B, CF-7, and California Cars. Hopefully we will get an MP36PHI. ;)
  10. NYW&B

    NYW&B Guest

    In the light of pointing out to folks how misleading simple observation can be, or in accepting the information one reads in articles at face value without understanding just what the info honestly might indicate, I would offer the following in a fashion largely without any pro, or con, connotation.

    When seeing a train park ride heavily attended by families, one can't simply assume that it serves as any particular influence on a child's potential future participation in the hobby, any more than that a similar single visit to an aquarium will result in the child becoming interested in oceanography. In 99.99% of the cases, the experience will be viewed as nothing more than a family outing and the reactions the same.

    The difference between such a visit and the experience of the Baby Boomers is that for the Boomers, encountering real trains was often an almost daily experience. This, together with their own playing with Lionel/Flyer/Marx trains (found in at least 25% of all the 50's American homes!) being associated so closely with joyous Christmastime, created a totally different degree of influence. It resulted in a dramatic nostalgia factor for these Boomers later in life and accounts for the resurgence of interest in tinplate and scale trains seen in adults in the late 1980's to the early 2000's.

    Someone earlier brought up an article indicating that toy and model trains have seen increasing sales in the past decade, or so, indicating a resurgence in such interest by today's children. But is this really true? Therein the point is again missed that there is nothing in such reports to indicate who the trains were being purchased for. Based on the previous paragraph, one can easily draw the more likely conclusion that they were mostly bought by middle-aged, or older, Baby Boomers for themselves, not for children at all.

    Now in their peak earning years, the Boomers find themselves in a position of buying and owning the toys they might have dreamed of and perhaps were denied in their youth. The WGH program strongly backs up such a conclusion by the fact that its stated objective is not to reach out to younger people and get them involved, but rather to entice men between the ages of 45 and 64 - the Baby Boomers - back into the hobby.

    Interesting when one examines the underlying facts driving a situation, no? :tb-ooh:

    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 14, 2010
  11. Stourbridge Lion

    Stourbridge Lion TrainBoard Supporter

    May be so, but they are Baby Boomers

    Then again you might be very wrong in your assumptions and/or your assumptions are based on limited/local information and not be what others of us in other areas see. You (respectively) remind me of older Baby Boomers that have been saying for years that the sky is falling as the youth of today don't give a woot about this or that and we are all id doomed. Trust me, I'm speaking of what I have heard from my own family over the generations and know others have too...

    Well, I can tell you that I see more and more GEN-X'ers (a.k.a. 13th Generation) and GEN-Y'ers (a.k.a. Millennial Generation) getting into the hobby all the time and seeing kids of all ages enjoying Train Trips, Hobby Shows, Train Museums, etc.; so, as the Baby Boomers slowly get older, there is youth filling in the ranks behind them.

    Over the centuries, the generations have broken down into about 4 categories (Prophet/Idealist, Nomad/Reactive, Hero/Civic, and Artist/Adaptive) that tends to come in rotation so by the time the same category comes around again, ~100 years have past. So, the next generation that will more closely match the Baby Boomers will likely be their Great or Great-Great Grandchildren. What folks such as yourself might not know, the oldest of the GEN-X'ers are approaching 50 Years old now and the oldest of the GEN-Y'ers are approaching 30. The next Silent Generation (a.k.a. GEN-Z'ers) is approaching 10 years of age now so the next "Prophet/Idealist" generation that will more be like the Baby Boomers won't be born yet for another say 10-30 years.

    So, that so called "middle-aged" person you are referring too just might not be a Baby Boomer after all, it's the GEN-X'ers and more and more of them are joining us on TrainBoard as well as a few GEN-Y'ers... This hobby will survive the Baby Boomers as it is not a "fad" that has a short half-life, but a hobby that pre-dates the Baby Boomers by several generations and will still be going as each new generation learns of the enjoyment we experience today. Yes, it will change; but, it will continue to evolve just like all things do...

    Recent Generations

    • Lost Generation (1883–1900)
    • Greatest Generation (1901–1924)
    • Silent Generation (1925–1942)
    • Baby Boomer (1943–1960)
    • Generation X (1961–1981)
    • Millennial Generation (1982–1998)
    • Generation Z (1999–2019)

    :tb-wink: :tb-wink: :tb-wink: :tb-wink:​
  12. NYW&B

    NYW&B Guest

    With all due respect, I would have to say that your takes on the situation is the one that are more likely mistaken. No survey taken in the hobby's make-up in years has indicated any groundswell of new hobbyists coming from any generation other than the Boomers. Likewise, model railroading was NOT a widely practiced hobby among adults at any time prior to WWII and the advent of the Baby Boomers. As late as 1944 Model Railroader magazine was estimating that there were no more than 16,000 hobbyist in the United States. By the mid 1950's it was already far in excess of 100,000. The same evolution and generation-related situation is demonstrated by the average age of hobbyist steadily increasing over the years. So I'd say simply seeing a handfully on new, younger participants come into a site such as this is hardly any indication of the hobby's resurgence and diffusion into younger generations.

    As I indicated earlier, most folks who insist that the hobby is faring so well today and its numbers increasing yearly have never even taken step one in looking into what the actual circumstances and numbers are, or what trends they indicate, and that's really the great shame.


    P.S. I'd check out those generation names and eras, as nearly all are in error!
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 15, 2010
  13. Stourbridge Lion

    Stourbridge Lion TrainBoard Supporter

    There are several various of the Genreation Names/Dates (but they don't vary much), here is the resource of what I posted:

    :tb-rolleyes: :tb-rolleyes: :tb-rolleyes: :tb-rolleyes:​
  14. Benny

    Benny TrainBoard Member

    Children used to run around chasing hoops with sticks. Today we run around playing with trains. They didn't bemoan then that their habit might die out with them, so why do we cry now? Are we Insecure much? Because if you enjoy the hobby, then this problem of future propagation and perpetuation are of true nonissue. Hence, you will see true modelers breaking off on strange tangents like 3/16" scale or 7/8' or any of those other strange model scales that are peculiar except for that one piece that is the end result of much hard work.

    If you're worried because you bought a whole lot of trains while you were young and you were depending on future demand to fund your retirement...yeah, I'm sorry.
  15. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member


    As a Gen-Xer myself I can tell you that we are that last generation that grew up with Tyco/Bachmann/Life-Like/AHM/Model Power train sets being available at all toy stores.
    The train sets are the gateway into the hobby.

    Gen Y and beyond, they are the "Thomas The Tank Engine" generation :)
  16. lexon

    lexon TrainBoard Member

    Not to worry. The hobby will evolve. My predictions are not even important.

  17. Stourbridge Lion

    Stourbridge Lion TrainBoard Supporter

    Long Live the Greatest Hobby in the World!!!!!!!

    Would you look at that, I think the last three posters are from ~3 different generations (Y, X, & BB)...

    :tb-wink: :tb-wink: :tb-wink: :tb-wink:​
  18. DragonFyreGT

    DragonFyreGT TrainBoard Member

    Hey Stourbridge, I'd smack wikipedia around for that "listing." Because I was born in 1984 and people keep calling me part of Generation X. A lot of that doesn't seem right to me. The problem is, when it comes to "Generations" people have created so many listings that the lines get changed too much. Also whether or not I get classified as Gen-X or Millenia, I don't really care. Just pointing out an observation.

    I remember when all you could buy in places like Walmart and KMart was Bachmann and Tyco. That's all I had before finding out other companies existed. Even my local hobby shop carried the above mentioned brands. My first HO Layout was 4x8 plywood with track on it. Still have it. It was an oval with a switch. Standard. All Tyco Trains.
  19. Stourbridge Lion

    Stourbridge Lion TrainBoard Supporter

    I've seen variations of GEN-X starting from 1958 to 1964; so, I look at anyone born "near" this zone as being potentuial part of both or either. It's more your life experiences that will impact which you more relate too. The only reason I brought it up was that it seems that as folks get older they tend to get more pessimistic and down on youth, at least that is what I see allot of...

    After getting away from "pure" toys, my first true operating train was my Dad's O and the floor at Grandpa's was what I had for a layout. I later got my own O and again the floor was the layout in my parents basement. When I got back into the hobby again I too had Tyco/Bachmann/Life-Like/AHM/Model Power as my primary choices. I got out of the hooby again for awhile and then came back in with all sorts of new choices and my interest in D&H as my roadname of choice. Things have changed over the years; but, the hobby keeps going strong!!!!!!!

    :tb-wink: :tb-wink: :tb-wink: :tb-wink:​
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 15, 2010
  20. jagged ben

    jagged ben TrainBoard Member

    Well, there will always be sticks...those kids didn't have to worry about hobby shops or manufacturers staying in business.

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