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

Metro Red Line Jan 6, 2010

  1. Benny

    Benny TrainBoard Member

    I'm not Gen X but I'm not Gen Y. Gen Y is marked by the era beginning with the Apple and the Nintendo system. this generation has never known a world without video game consoles, while gen X still rememebrs when the games came out and htey got the new release for their 9th birthday or Christmas.

    Like I said, I'm kinda in between, because I still remember the world before these things came out...

    Generation Z is marked by the Internet. As in, this is the group that has never known the world without social networking websites - or the internet...
  2. Stourbridge Lion

    Stourbridge Lion TrainBoard Supporter

    Non-RR Terms
    RR Terms
    From a model railroader perspective I like the "Thomas The Tank Engine" generation definition better.

    :rn-laugh: :rn-laugh: :rn-laugh: :rn-laugh:​

    MOPMAN TrainBoard Member

    I'm with you when it comes to Thomas. Hey, while ya'll are into this generation thing, could you run my family tree for me. All my pertinent information us under MOPMAN.[​IMG]
  4. DragonFyreGT

    DragonFyreGT TrainBoard Member

    What about the Atari 2600 Explosion then? That would make Generation Y starting _AT_ 1980. Thing is, I don't fully agree with that statement because while yes I am the NES Generation, I am into Tech, I don't exclusively know anything but tech. In fact to me, internet and social networking and video gaming are simply a past time, it doesn't dominate my life. Internet is mostly used for my job because I have remote access into my job's servers so I can do inventory from home if need be.

    But even further, what do you call generations who use digital tech to run their model railroads? And I don't mean young people, I mean the older gents who are doing it too. I understand your point, but I respectfully disagree. But Benny I agree on one thing, I am like you, I'm in the middle. I'm not X or Y. I guess I just see the whole "Generation" thing as a legal caste system for society.
  5. Parvia

    Parvia New Member

    Hi, y’all. This is my first post.

    I’m the designer of the Parvia System, mentioned in post #14 above in connection with “semi-prefab scenery”. I hope you won’t mind if I weigh in with an outsider’s perspective – I’m not now a model railroader, although I have been twice in my life: as a kid in the 1960s and again in my 20s, sharing a small apartment with my Dad after his divorce. He still has the layout we built together, and it still runs fine.

    The inspiration for the Parvia System, way back in 1994, was a mixture of love for and frustration with model railroading, LEGO® and SimCity®. I’d love to have a huge model railroad, now that I have an empty basement for the first time, and I have the money, but I don’t have the time, the skill or the patience. I’d also love to have a huge LEGO city in my basement, and I even had the material, but again it’s time, skill and patience that I lack.

    I travel quite a bit for Parvia, and keep abreast of developments in the world of model railroading, and it’s hard to imagine there are modelers among you who don’t see the evident signs of decline: diminishing sales, hobby shops closing, fewer and older practitioners. Even Märklin and Fleischmann, the two biggest manufacturers, were finally obliged to acknowledge the problem (and both have since failed or sold).

    I hope you will forgive me for pointing out two problems that I didn’t see mentioned in the discussion above. Again, I speak as an outsider, and one with a self-interested agenda, but maybe it’s exactly the non-participant perspective that needs to be voiced.

    First, the hobby seems to be suffering from an obsession with hyper-realism that can’t help but scare most people away, partly because it’s beyond our reach to achieve models as perfect as what we all see in the magazines, and partly because it makes model railroading seem like an arcane cult that makes otherwise sane older men descend into the basement for months at a time, only to emerge with a crazed look of triumph to announce that they have exactly replicated the Wabash and Monongahela as it passed through Uniontown, KY in 1964.

    When I was a kid, I used to spend every cent I made as a paperboy buying more track, so that I could run my Lionel trains through more loops to more imaginary stations. Those tracks had THREE RAILS, and I’ve never seen a real train with 3 rails. But if someone had said to me that my train set wasn’t realistic, I would have laughed at them, saying « It’s only a model, not the real thing, and it’s fun ! » And frankly, I think that’s what model railroaders need to learn to do now, as well.

    Second, a model railroad still takes an unbelievable amount of time, space, money, skill, patience and planning, more than it ever did before despite the advances in technology. And all that, just as we all have less of all of those things, and there are far more alternatives competing for our attention and interest.

    I bet that for every model railroader with a finished, operating layout, there are ten who have an unfinished one on which they’ve been working for years, and a hundred who are only dreaming of being able to devote the necessary resources to it one day, not to mention the tens of thousands who used to have a train set when they were kids, but are scared away by the barriers to entry. Every time we raise the bar, we exclude many potential hobbyists.

    Obviously, Parvia is my proposed solution to these problems, and I’ve put my money where my mouth is. But I’m not the only one : Fleischmann is now owned by an Austrian holding company whose president said the following at Nürnberg this year :

    "Children are really model train freaks. There has to be a way to get them introduced to the hobby," said Leopold Heher, director of the Austrian-German company Modelleisenbahn Holding. He sees the solution in a "miniature world as a building block" meant for children over the age of 12.

    (Here’s a link: News : Makers of model trains, want to return to children's rooms)

    I disagee with him on one important point: our future is not with children. We tend to think so because we started out with it as children, but it hasn’t been a children’s hobby for decades. And let’s remember that 50% of American boys had a train set in the 1950s, but that didn’t carry over to make adult model railroaders of the vast majority of them. Our problems are in the present, not the past.

    In my opinion, accessible modeling systems like Parvia are no more for children than are frozen dinners, furniture kits or pre-made tiles of hardwood floors. Maybe there are hardcore do-it-yourselfers out there who lay their own flooring, board by board, but I hope they don’t patronize the rest of us as “children”!

    Most of us don’t make our own clothes, either, but that’s because the alternatives are so much cheaper, easier AND BETTER than we could do, and the existence of a tiny minority who can sew better than the factories doesn’t mean the rest of us have to go naked! (my apologies for the tormented metaphors)

    I hope that Parvia will appeal to the 99% of model railroad fans, LEGO alumni and SimCity players who just want to build a miniature world without making it a huge project, and I sincerely think they’ll be pleased with our product. I also think the photos demonstrate that you can build a pretty realistic model city with Parvia, especially if you’re willing to detail it like a model railroader. But I see the pleasure of construction and the satisfaction of building something that you’re proud of as the real payoffs, even if it’s no more realistic than an architectural rendering.

    Thanks for letting me share my two cents, and I hope that those of you who don’t agree with me will forgive my passionate presentation.
  6. mogollon

    mogollon TrainBoard Member

    a very few words

    Since everyone is writing about their visions of the future, I just have one and it seems that each time I mention it, I take heat for my opinion. Future? How about onboard batteries and radio control. I am not thinking "TV tuner clicker" technology (infra red) but true omni directional radio control. If I was a kid interested in trains, I wouldn't want to spend time learning about CV's, interfaces, track wiring issues, programming-just to run a train. I would love to get that train set, open the box, put the track together in any way I want, put batteries in the transmitter and locomotive (or charge those batteries), place the train on the track, and RUN. No hassles, no manuals, no tutorials, no learning curve...just have some fun.
    This is possible now, but there is no support from the moment..but the real problem is the "can't do that" mentality of many model railroaders. In 20 or so years, maybe things will change in this hobby but the "can't" crew needs to be collecting china or ugly art for that to happen.
    My views, Woodie
  7. lexon

    lexon TrainBoard Member

    Not to worry. The hobby will continue to evolve like it has since the beginning.

  8. DragonFyreGT

    DragonFyreGT TrainBoard Member

    Even if it's not physical, there is one way that _MAY_ bring generation z into the hobby, and that's through the evolution of V-Scale. I never thought a train sim would be a time consuming thing, but I'll start an explore route on MSTS and next thing I know, I've lost 9 hours. V-Scale not only has the advantage of appealing, hopefully, to tech heavy kids, but can bridge that gap between computer and physical.
  9. Larry777

    Larry777 TrainBoard Member

    What does the future hold...?

    I recently took my grand 2 year old grand daughter on a cross-country train trip. Sunset Limited from Los Angeles to New Orleans and return. Guess what? Papa, I want a "choo choo train!" Got her a Thomas the Tank loco and some track and the little girl knows how to assemble the track, place the engine on the track (with all the wheels on) and start that engine up! And that has led to ToT DVD's and books. How did I begin? At the same age, my mother took me on a cross-country trip aboard the Empire Builder, Seattle to Chicago and return. I think I even remember a couple of things. Been loving trains since. My point: Exposure! Years ago, people took trains everywhere and children then developed an interest in them, among other things. That doesn't happen these days. It's either the car or the plane and flying in planes nowadays is like taking an air-bound bus. Nothing special about it.

    If young people aren't exposed to trains as we were in the forties and fifties, you'll see the numbers continue to decline.
  10. Shortround

    Shortround TrainBoard Member

    From my point of view, not much. I've had to sell off everything. Including my house. I haven't had a full time job since 2003 and will soon be 61. So there's probably little chance of getting a good one. I will just have to live vicariously off others set-ups.
  11. Smithsr

    Smithsr TrainBoard Member

    I'll echo the comments about Radio Control and battery powered locomotives. The RC car/buggy/trucks at market right now have AMAZING power, speed, and battery life.. and the battery technology continues taking giant leaps every 6 months.

    Wiring is what scares away many folks from building a railroad empire. Simplify and eventually eliminate wiring, replaced with modern RC and battery tech, and the hobby will be born again.
  12. FLG

    FLG TrainBoard Member

    Its not an all doom and gloom kinda thing but rather you wont see as many of the social gathering type events that you would find today or in the past. As a whole i think society is closing itself off in terms of the internet and other daily devices we use so that people arent forced to interact or come out of their shell. Look at a city or college side walk, everyone is listening to an IPOD or MP3 player with their eyes down and walking forward unless they are with their best friend of five years. Things are turning internet centric (look at what you're on right now) to include media, shopping, and research that you can do from the comfort of your own home instead of going out. Plus the demands of work no matter your occupation are ever increasing.

    1. fewer local hobby shops as a company can send a mass order to a chain store and make more from then a mom and pop
    2. increase use of the internet sites to shop....look at MR's and Walther's new sites
    3. fewer clubs
    4. as long as there are trains, Americans will love them...granted video games take a bite out of that.......but a long drag with the whistle sounding off will always turn heads

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