Something that has been asked by many of my fellow model railway enthusiasts as well as people who aren’t model railway enthusiasts will the hobby die if there isn’t enough younger people making model railway layouts etc or even collecting model railways and is it because of the high price of entering and marinating that interest?
There I think should be two answers to that. One that yes the hobby is expensive but it is very similar to when young people get a Wii console, PS3 or PS4, X-Box’s and get controls and games it adds up to being practically the same price as purchasing a train set of good quality with nickel silver track and add one more locomotive and some more track.
However, Wii games etc start from a low price of $19.95 and can go up to $99.95 for popular titles that have had to run continuation of first game like the Sim City series.
It is also looking at this the new PC games force players now to play on the Internet for their game and from what I have heard you can’t play by yourself in the comfort of your own room- something which model railways you can ‘play trains’ as some ill-informed idiots will say.
And yes our hobby is considered expensive for new comers and when a youngster gets a train set for his birthday and wants to expand upon that Thomas the Tank Engine Hornby train set he got for Christmas he is up for more costs for track, buildings, and I haven’t started on the Locomotives and Rollingstock. The thing we have to realise its usually the father that purchases the train set because it conjures memories of when he was a child and got a train set for Christmas and made a layout but then he got married move house and more likely than not the layout got dismantled.
Those that enter our hobby are more likely to be retired and can afford to purchase the $295.00+ for locomotives let alone the add on’s.
For example I got speaking to someone and they said Ausicision’s very popular VLP N Passenger cars retail for $400.00 and add to that a VLP N Class loco of $295.00 and all up you have a price of $695.00 and you haven’t even laid the track yet.
To Powerline’s credit whilst not publicised they do manufacture train sets of high quality similar quality exists for Hornby ones. Lima used to when it did Australian Prototype but was let down by its distributor when stock ran out at department stores or hobby shops I was told the waiting time for it to be ordered from Order to delivery to store was around 4-6 weeks and that was because the distributor used to claim there was none in stock in Australia and had to order from Italy and you guessed it back then there was no Internet so no store would be able to find out if it was true or not. Yes an overseas phone call would be rather expensive to do so they relied on the ‘good word’ from the distributor.
We all know that there are cheap and what some people call “nasty” train sets around the place and one modeller told me Life Like falls into that category but Bachmann on the other hand the exact opposite.
Just recently I visited a Toys ‘R’ Us store and they had these new plastic trains sets when combined with extra track as well as carriages the purchase price was even much cheaper than our own good quality train sets. However, what was not really well known was that these train sets are probably being tested at these stores and if they are popular they might expand to discount retail stores like Big W or K-Mart. Target on the other hand I don’t think has ever been too keen to stock train sets.
Let’s now look at Lego train sets they are expensive but the number of buildings and track is rather limited and yes people my age remember in the 1980s when it was all electric with a level crossing which had lights and you lowered the barriers at the flick of a switch including signals doing this- yes don’t tell Lego this because they don’t us to remember how advanced they were for back then.
Anyway, to encourage younger modellers will be hard because of the high price involved but it all has to do with priorities and what they prioritise their money towards.
So what are your thoughts are we getting more younger modellers to join our ranks is the price of the hobby scaring them away or is there something else?