Is the cost of our hobby scaring away younger people?

 
  LaidlayM Chief Commissioner

Location: Research
The price of modelling has scared me away. (I'm young)
andrew1996
Modelling or collecting?  That's a question, not a criticism.

Mark

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  robertc Chief Train Controller

This question was being asked when I was a kid in the 50/60's.
In a way, it is good to see it is still being asked.

regards
Bob Comerford
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
This question was being asked when I was a kid in the 50/60's.
In a way, it is good to see it is still being asked.

regards
Bob Comerford
robertc

But how did you deal with it back in the 50/60s period Bob?

Speaking for myself, in that same period, I did a paper delivery run in the morning, then went and sold papers at the local hospital before going to school. In the evening I did another paper delivery run, then worked behind the counter in the newsagency. When I saved enough from those activities, I went down the road to the toyshop and bought Triang.

At night, after I was sent to bed, I took a torch under the bed clothes and read a Triang, Hornby, Marklin or Faller catalogue.
  robertc Chief Train Controller

Geoff, I got a cheap battery train from Japan built to standards unknown.
Our household couldn't afford expensive toys like Triang or Hornby so I got to read friends catalogues and books out of libraries.
Batteries were also expensive for reading under the blankets..... not good when I needed that torch to find my way down to the dunny and make sure I wasn't sharing my visit with a tiger snake on a dark and stormy night. :>)

The relative pricing, let alone the quality, of today's offerings was nothing but a dream.
Didn't scare me off.... nor many others of mine and other generations.

regards
Bob Comerford
  glagsniffer Junior Train Controller

Location: near liverpool, sydney
I see the biggest problem is poor quality, But still having a product that fits the purpose for example if you want a four year old to enjoy a model, a Thomas the tank engine is the obvious first point of interest, they are on the outside a reasonably robust model but the driving gears are woeful, I was buying them fairly often to replace my sons habit of striping them. This sort of replacement is easy enough with a good set of tools but most dads buying their son (or daughter) a first set won't be so well set up. What's needed is everything that comes in that kind of basic set and it to be strong and reliable, you could almost get away with a timber model if it went reliably, kids would still want to get the whole set, my son now five has just saved his pocket money to buy 'Henry' and is $5 into saving for  'James' he loves his trains but its because I can keep them going, if I couldn't his layout would be a storage space for something else. These models are made so they can't be passed down like the old Lima slot car 44's but limiting the life span so much is just sheer greed and it is something that would put most off when considering buying more of the same.
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
I see the biggest problem is poor quality, But still having a product that fits the purpose for example if you want a four year old to enjoy a model, a Thomas the tank engine is the obvious first point of interest, they are on the outside a reasonably robust model but the driving gears are woeful, I was buying them fairly often to replace my sons habit of striping them. This sort of replacement is easy enough with a good set of tools but most dads buying their son (or daughter) a first set won't be so well set up. What's needed is everything that comes in that kind of basic set and it to be strong and reliable, you could almost get away with a timber model if it went reliably, kids would still want to get the whole set, my son now five has just saved his pocket money to buy 'Henry' and is $5 into saving for  'James' he loves his trains but its because I can keep them going, if I couldn't his layout would be a storage space for something else. These models are made so they can't be passed down like the old Lima slot car 44's but limiting the life span so much is just sheer greed and it is something that would put most off when considering buying more of the same.
glagsniffer
Yes you have hit on something that until pretty recent times was not the case everything today is made to be thrown away after it packs up. I used to be able to get spare parts for the cheap LifeLike locomotives that we use on the NRM layout with parts the same loco could last years or more. But When Walthers took over Lifelike suddenly the parts dried up, they wont even repair them themselves either just telling you to buy a new one. At only $30 each in the States I suppose you cannot blame them, but those that still buy their trainsets are in for a shock when it finally goes though.

At the NRM we simply buy whole Locomotives new and either use them as they come in most cases or take them apart to use to repower other locomotives we have by Lifelike. Still cheaper this way than replacing top of the range Locomotives every quarter though.
  Railnthusiast Chief Commissioner

Location: At the computer
As a young adult hoping to eventually find reliable employment, I have had model trains a large portion of my life. One of the large issues is the amount of support, both moral and financial that as a kid you receive from your parents. My family was the type of family that would have preferred me to have an interest in computers like my brothers, but I fell into an interest in trains that I basically never grew out of. Of course, they were kind and understanding about it, but eventually it was inevitable that they expected me to grow out of model trains and start to blend into many of the modern interests. My uncle especially had a bit to say about playing with 'toys'.



Also the straw that broke the camels back for me with model trains, was when I first started working, and I saved up some money and bought an expensive model train. I have five trains, and funnily enough, the best train was the cheapest, and my relatively recently bought (about three years ago) expensive model train was the worst model train I bought. About $350 wasted! This was really disappointing, as I spent so much money buying it, and the train was totally incompatible on my second radius curves, despite the packaging telling me it was. As a result, I rapidly list interest once my DCC system started showing faults, and it hadn't seen too much use. The quality of model trains, regardless of price, should match that shown on the box, and I can't understand why quality of running wasn't incremental on the scale of cost?



Before I left school I was responsible for setting up a functioning Model Club, which had included trains as a focus, but was only a part of what we did. The club still operates, but I have to volunteer my time to prop it up. It really bothered me that students wanted to be involved, and they would decide that remote control planes were more interesting than trains, so we would go and spend the little money we had and expand into planes, but the students wouldn't take responsibility for the upkeep of the planes. Of course, once the planes broke, it was onto another facet of modelling, such as remote control cars, and the same thing would happen.  They seemed to come only because someone was supplying free of charge entertainment, students didn't want to learn or have a go at the practical wiring, fixing and building. Also, schools don't see the educational benefits in running or supporting programs like this, and of course the students didn't help to raise funds. It still angers me to see sports programs, which I personally despise, receiving millions of dollars, and money distribution, comparatively, is unequal. Sports programs give the typically obnoxious 'Footy Jocks' their moment to shine, where in actual fact some of the more note worthy and intellectual pursuits were being overlooked. The sports fund wouldn't even prop up the well attended special education coquet club. The point I was trying to make, however, was that the costs of running a small club, like the one at my old school, were prohibitive. It has never had enough money, post or pre money raising drives, to supply enough of the simple things such as paint. Of course, a can of paint wouldn't last long in a school anyway!



Last but not least, I think it is safe to say that by observation of many of today’s teenagers, the interest isn't there. I have realised that trains are seen as out dated. Has anyone ever talked about their model trains only to hear the listener say "Oh my Grandpa had 'toy' trains"? I assume today’s teenagers' declining interest has prompted a fall in the supply/demand trade for model trains and so therefore less are produced.



This is a very good thread, I am enjoying the results it brings.

EDIT; Spelling errors
  SAR523 Assistant Commissioner

Location: Chicago, IL
Also, schools don't see the educational benefits in running or supporting programs like this, and of course the students didn't help to raise funds. It still angers me to see sports programs, which I personally despise, receiving millions of dollars, and money distribution, comparatively, is unequal. Sports programs give the typically obnoxious 'Footy Jocks' their moment to shine, where in actual fact some of the more note worthy and intellectual pursuits were being overlooked. The sports fund wouldn't even prop up the well attended special education coquet club.
Railnthusiast
You should try the US if you think there's too much money being spent on Sports in Australian schools!  Not really relevant to what you're saying of course but couldn't help the observation.  My (American) wife likes to compare what is spent on football with how her debate club had to raise its own money to hire (as opposed to owning like the football team) a a bus to go to debates.

Otherwise your observations are similar to mine.  In the US I am quite a young modeller in my late 30s;  the retired or close to are over-represented in the mix of clubs and conventions I go to.  But that being said, I know of a number of people who went looking for a hobby when they retired and chose trains;  must be nice to have both the disposable income and the time!
  Railnthusiast Chief Commissioner

Location: At the computer
Hello,



I would also like to add further to my comment, that clubs admittedly can be sometimes exclusive. I myself can't say I have had any bad experiences trying to join clubs, but my friend has reported an exclusive attitude to Model Railway clubs.



Someone previously was comparing costs of technology to the costs of model trains, and I can very well agree with what is being said. Further to add to my story of the club that I help run, whilst I was still at school, I saw students refuse to wear the uniform.  Of course, some students would claim that they 'couldn't afford a school uniform'. This annoyed me as majority of students (or their parents) could afford the newest 'trend'. I think it used to be not a matter of 'can't afford' but more a matter of won't afford.



It is unfair to directly compare the costs of gadgets however, because it's a bit like clothing. Some parents pay for there child’s technological 'needs' because the comparative costs of an Iphone and an ordinary phone probably would be lower (?). I can say in my family, my parents paid for my phone, because it was the only way I would have no excuse for not having a phone.  I was really put off mobile phones many years ago, when phone were relatively rare amongst teenagers, and my cousin had one of these things, which was really cool. In actual fact  I found it terribly annoying, as he was always receiving phone calls from his father, always texting, and the constant nonsense left me a little disappointed with our day out.

  a6et Minister for Railways

I agree with Blacksmith on this.  In general terms model railway items are cheaper today than when I got started back in 1964 but that is/was based on wages of the time along with the overtime etc, & how many hours it took to work to buy a RTR Australian Model of reasonable quality on that score it was a Model Dockyard second run 38cl.  Compare the price then to even a Eureka 38cl, & the later comes out cheaper.

What is the killer is the overall amount of items that are generally desired/wanted to make up something akin to a decent operating layout, including Loco's, R/S, track, scenery & the rest, not discounting the issue of DCC/Sound etc.

What I honestly see with the hobby these days is that many areas are of higher quality while others still need a lot of work to be done.  The actual cost of items such as Loco's & many of the current range of R/S, especially those in the RTR & some semi kits are, at least for me reaching the point whereby they are very much on the borderline as to whether I desire them enough to pay for them.  I personally believe that a lot of models, & it is not helped by the almost constant stream of new product announcements, are now out of my reach.  A lot of the reason for that is that I doubt if I will see most of them released while I am still alive, especially given the time its taken to get some models here now, so when are all these new models questimated to be here?  Thus I do not think its necessarily a price issue for the younger modeller, rather the older ones, as the young ones have more chance of seeing them arrive than the older ones.

Mind you there is a bit of jealousy in that for me.
  tj81 Beginner

I think exposure at a young age is what will keep the hobby going, I am a prime example of this as like most I had a train set as a kid, and still own that set, as I got older other things took over, but the passion was always there, and it took me helping build my young nephews train set to reignite my passion for model railways, so much in fact that I brought a train set and some ply wood and now have the basis for a nice lay out, it is far from finished but does provide me with enjoyment.  As for the cost of the hobby yes it is a progressive cost and the best bet to get younger people to take it up is when the major shows and displays are on show some basic layouts, that way people will be able to see that you don't need a huge and complex layout to get enjoyment from the hobby. yes all model railway operators have desire's to have large lay outs but providing proof that for a small out lay of funds can provide you with hours of enjoyment, and it does not take long once this lay out is done for someone to become hooked and want to expand the original lay out, and as mention previously in this thread individual component prices are quite reasonable, all that would be required is patience,  and knowing that you can't have the ultimate lay out of your dreams straight away and that it takes time to get things to where you want them to be.
  tyce Beginner

Im only 17 and ive already spent over 1k in just one month on locos and track, i love this stuff! Smile
  Iain Chief Commissioner

Location: Concord, NSW
When I was younger there was a huge gap between the models - mostly kits of varying type and the locomotives which, with the exception of Lima, were all brass and very expensive. The real change has been that RTR models have arrived to occupy the middle ground between these price points and these have been heavily marketed and we have all rushed to pay our deposits and get the latest thing (or in the case of Eureka...).

I was fortunate comming into the hobby having started a salaried job but before that I was an avid plastic modeller and like Geoff had a paper run and spent all my money on kits and of course the Airfix magazine.

Iain
  Grantham Minister for Railways

Location: I'm with stupid!
If you're careful about how you spend your money, you can buy very nice machinery quite cheaply. This little fellow was $125 plus about $30 postage from the US.




There are good deals to be had on evilbay if you don't get carried away, and there are a lot of reasonably priced brass locos from online stores. I must admit that the price of Australian prototype locos makes me want to model overseas prototypes!




This Southern Railway PS4 was $154. One has to be patient to pick up the bargains.

M
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
I am also familiar with picking up bargain brass in the auctions, but you have to watch carefully as many people think old brass is worth it's weight in gold, and that is not the case any longer. In a lot of cases, the market is flooded with old brass, to the point where it loses it's investment value completely.
And another issue with those models is that they usually run like crap, and probably have never been down more than two feet of track in their life, so if you want to run them, often you need to re-build the mechanism.

Anything that is still in its original brass livery is immediately suspect, as it normally means it was bought for collecting, not running.

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