• Looks like google predicts the end of model trains

  • Discussion related to everything about model railroading, from layout design and planning, to reviews of related model tools and equipment. Discussion includes O, S, HO, N and Z, as well as narrow gauge topics. Also includes discussion of traditional "toy train" and "collector" topics such as Lionel, American Flyer, Marx, and others. Also includes discussion of outdoor garden railways and live steamers.
Discussion related to everything about model railroading, from layout design and planning, to reviews of related model tools and equipment. Discussion includes O, S, HO, N and Z, as well as narrow gauge topics. Also includes discussion of traditional "toy train" and "collector" topics such as Lionel, American Flyer, Marx, and others. Also includes discussion of outdoor garden railways and live steamers.

Moderators: 3rdrail, Otto Vondrak, stilson4283

  by green_elite_cab
 
Anyone ever try google trends? It says nothing good about Model railroads or model trains. Interest spikes in december, but has been slowly draining. I guess we knew that already, but it is kinda deperessing.

http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q= ... %22&cmpt=q

http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q= ... %22&cmpt=q
  by CNJ999
 
You think that's depressing? Just try to imagine what the number of "hits" probably would have been were there an Internet like today's available back in the 80's and 90's. Back then there were several hundred thousand practicing hobbyists, the bulk of them serious model railroaders. MR, which was a far more hands-on modeling magazine aimed at the serious hobbyist, alone had a subscriber list of well over 200,000 readers a month and a page count of 225-250 each December during the early 90's. This year MR is 100 pages, with very little real modeling content at better than twice the cover price! And aside from MR there were up to half a dozen good alternate magazine choices.

CNJ999
  by scottychaos
 
hmm..im not sure that actually means anything..
look at the search terms..the main one is "model train"..
well, who would search for that? its FAR too generic..its so generic, its essentially meaningless,
it wouldn't bring up anything useful at all..
people will tend to search for far more specific things than that..
for example, if I wanted to find out what models Aristocraft offers in the Lehigh Valley paint scheme,
I would google: aristocraft trains lehigh valley..I wouldnt start with "model train"..that would be a pointless search..

perhaps the decline just shows that people are getting smarter about using google over time?

Scot
  by Eliphaz
 
It's also true that there are far FAR greater selection and availability, and far higher quality model trains available that 20-30 years ago.
given that, I really have no interest in the broader social trend.
  by jmp883
 
I wouldn't worry too much about what Google says. Like Scot said, I think it just shows that people are smarter about using Google.

Since there are other threads here that are debating the status of the hobby all I'll say here is that the hobby may not be what it was 20-30 years ago but there is no doubt that the quality, and variety, of products has increased.
  by green_elite_cab
 
eh, but try other train related searches. They all seem to follow the same trend.
  by scottychaos
 
eh, I still dont think it means anything..
I honestly dont think the hobby is declining at all..
I am involved in two of the smallest niche-e-est scales there are (G gauge and On2)
Both are coming out with new products all the time..
and HO scale seems as popular as it has always been..

People have been predicting the end of Model Railroading for 60 years..
so far, they have always been wrong..they are probably wrong this time too..
the facts don't support the conclusion..

yes, its true that hobby shops are dying all over..
but we can blame that on the internet, not the decline of the hobby overall..
people are still buying model trains like crazy..they are just buying them differently than they used to.

Scot
  by CNJ999
 
scottychaos wrote:eh, I still dont think it means anything..
I honestly dont think the hobby is declining at all..

People have been predicting the end of Model Railroading for 60 years..
so far, they have always been wrong..they are probably wrong this time too..
the facts don't support the conclusion..

Scot
Scot, I hate being the purveyor of bad news, but as an admitted realist I simply cannot deny, or overlook as many attempt to do, the actual facts of the situation that most certainly do indeed point to decline. There are many solid indicators that demonstrate that the hobby of model railroading is both evolving away from its traditional roots and more importantly is shrinking. Let me point out just a couple of these.

The very fact that toy electric trains, once one of the basic elements associated in the public's mind with a classic American Christmas, have all but vanished from the public scene and thereby from the sight of potential future hobbyists. Likewise, the vanishing of hobbyshops removes the final media for wide public exposure to model trains, especially to youths. A person's interest in something rarely appears out of thin air and with zero exposure any hobby will decline and die out over time. Likewise, our hobby's demographic has been shifting steadily over the course of the past 50 years. Whereas the average age of hobbyists was 35 back in the 1950's and 60's, with a large teen following and virtually no elder statesmen, it is today a pursuit mainly practiced within the realm of the senior citizen. How any hobby can be expected to continue when the bulk of it participants are nearing their final years and its new blood comes few and far between, is difficult to imagine.

The availability of numerous products, touted by some as a supposed sign of the hobby's health, is very misleading. While product diversity may (or actually may not) be greater today, the volume of products is far smaller than has been the case at any previous period in the hobby's history. As a result, the length of time a particular item may be easily located and purchased is today often measured in just weeks before the limited stock is exhausted. Buy now or lose out has become the hobby's overwhelming motto. In the past items remained available in the marketplace often for years, allowing time for kitbashing articles to be written and modellers to purchase examples to modify as fun, skills building, projects. That entire facet of hobby enjoyment has largely passed into history. At the same time, while new items are indeed appearing in fairly rapid succession they are in limited numbers to insure a rapid turnover, best serving the manufacturer and not the hobbyist. The manufacturers introduce new items in quick succession just to keep the companies afloat because the customer base purchasing them has become increasingly limited. Brass train collecting evolved in exactly the same manner. Once it was a major segment of HO model railroading. But production declined and prices rose. Today that area of the hobby is all but extinct. What does that say about the modelling hobby's future? And just how many are going to be willing or able to pay brass prices for our plastic locos and cars in the not too distant future?

And elements of that last point also reflect on the current overall state of model railroading. Buying is not modeling. On the whole the shift in the manner in which much of the hobby is conducted today reminds me more and more of the Lionel hobby and that's a far cry from the hobby I became an enthusiastic part of decades ago.

CNJ999
  by scottychaos
 
Well, if you read things that say the hobby is declining, and you choose to believe those things..then you will believe the hobby is declining.
But there is also a lot of evidence the hobby is not declining, and in many segments, its actually growing.
If you read those things, and you choose to believe them, then you will believe the hobby is not declining.

I just got back from 6-hours of running G-gauge trains at a local garden center, (photos from last year)

http://scotlawrence.smugmug.com/Other/G ... en-Factory

The display was absolutely mobbed all day, as it always is..
Also, one of the major annual train shows in these parts, put on by the (college age) members of the Rochester Institute of Technology Model Railroad Club,
has been growing every year, ever since they started the show about 10 years ago..
So I simply am not seeing any of these alleged declines..my experience shows the opposite.
a quick google search brought up an interesting link, supporting the "the hobby is doing fine" viewpoint..

http://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/node/6302

So..there is evidence for both points of view, (decline and "not decline")..I dont think one can be said be absolutely true, or absolutely false..
it depends on what part of the hobby you look at..things always evolve, yes its true *some things* are declining in the hobby,
hobby shop decline is undeniable..but..the internet.
magazine subscriptions are declining..but..the internet.
So do those things point to a decline in the hobby overall? not necessarily..
they simply point to natural evolution..

Scot
  by green_elite_cab
 
but CNJ 999 isn't wrong.

The real problem is accessibility. It is EXHAUSTING trying to pick up models. More and more, specific cars and locomotives are available for a short period of time, usually for top dollar prices, before they become pretty much permanently unavailable.

Seeing a bunch of people visit hobby shows is really not all that convincing to me. People visit shows like that just to get out for the day to do something.

Its starting to seem like, unless you have big bucks, are are not to picky about what models you buy, then successfully modeling anything is going to be difficult.
  by CNJ999
 
I really don't want to belabour this topic, but there needs to be an appreciation of what is verifiable fact and what is personal opinion or just wishful thinking.

The growth of a certain few train shows in the Northeast cannot be denied, but the fact is that much of their growth is linked to the disappearance of the many, many local train shows that once were common. Hobbyists over a far larger region are now required to travel long distances to the few remain larger shows, bolstering their attendance. I would point out that the huge train show at the fairgrounds in Timonium, MD, started out as "scale only" back in the 1980's. It was far and away the best and biggest train show in America. But as time passed attendance steadily declined until it was necessary to allow in toy train dealers, an aspect of the show that has continued to grown while interest on the more serious model railroading side has declined.

Likewise, simple attendance at a model train display, like the G-scale one cited, is no direct indication of actual hobby interest, or participation. In many instances it may be just a inexpensive family outing, or a visit out of curiosity. Perhaps some small percentage may find an inspiration (if you don't mention the cost involved), but that is very different from claiming a broad public interest in the hobby of model railroading itself.

Model Railroad Hobbyist Magazine's editor, Joe Fugate (a really nice and well meaning guy) persists in taking unrelated situations and tying them together through wishful thinking in an attempt to show hobby health. In every case his arguments completely fall apart under examination. The Lionel article he cites first appeared in 2005 assessing Lionel sales over the previous half dozen years, not subsequently. It has been reprinted verbatim in newspapers a number of times since as a sort of "feel good" nostalgia piece at Christmastime. The full text of the article (and the 2005 Christmastime TV spot it generated) indicated that the rise in Lionel sales had resulted from purchasing by older Baby Boomer era men (i.e. in their 50's or older) who were attempting to recapture memories of Christmas from their youth. It is in no way reflective of any growing interest in the hobby of model railroading.

The graphs indicating sales of MR and RMC vs. his MRH e-magazine (a good publication, by the way) are equally from out of left field. Subscription numbers to MR and RMC are illustrated to be in significant decline, but that of MHR rises steadily. What he doesn't contrast is that those truly interested in the hobby are spending about $45 to subscribe to the two print magazines yearly, while MRH is a totally free publication! It is thus justifiable for anyone with the slightest curiosity about model trains to subscribe at no cost or strings attached. Honestly, in light of that I'm rather surprised at how slowly MRH has grown given such a policy!

Joe goes on to cite a market study indicating that Millennial births far outnumber those of previous generations and this has to bode well for the hobby's future by offering a large potential customer base. I have to ask, how and why? In the age of computer everything, what would draw children of that generation to model trains in the future? Model trains and model railroading are pursuits linked directly to the Baby Boomer Generation through a totally unique set of circumstances and to no subsequence generation. Now if Joe had suggested a future link of the Millennials to hobbies involving Wii games, or some such, it probably could be justified. But archaic (to them) model trains? That makes no sense at all.

The points I had offered previously are model railroading facts and statistics from publication directly associated with the hobby, verifiable by anyone who looks into the question. Such, I'm sad to say, clearly demonstrate a declining interest with the passage of years. I have yet to find a single solid indication that things are otherwise and I've looked long and hard. I love the hobby dearly and have been a participant for decades, but I fully realize that it is a hobby pursuit identified largely with one particular and now aging generation and that without their financial support it will shrink dramatic in size in years to come. This is not my personal opinion, it is simply what the published numbers and facts show to be the case.

CNJ999
  by scottychaos
 
CNJ999 wrote:I really don't want to belabour this topic, but there needs to be an appreciation of what is verifiable fact and what is personal opinion or just wishful thinking.
That's true..we do need to differentiate between opinion and fact..so thank you for pointing some more opinions (not facts) such as:
CNJ999 wrote:Likewise, simple attendance at a model train display, like the G-scale one cited, is no direct indication of actual hobby interest, or participation. In many instances it may be just a inexpensive family outing, or a visit out of curiosity. Perhaps some small percentage may find an inspiration (if you don't mention the cost involved), but that is very different from claiming a broad public interest in the hobby of model railroading itself.
That is a valid opinion, not a fact.. that might be a fact, or might not be a fact.
CNJ999 wrote: Model Railroad Hobbyist Magazine's editor, Joe Fugate (a really nice and well meaning guy) persists in taking unrelated situations and tying them together through wishful thinking in an attempt to show hobby health. In every case his arguments completely fall apart under examination. The Lionel article he cites first appeared in 2005 assessing Lionel sales over the previous half dozen years, not subsequently. It has been reprinted verbatim in newspapers a number of times since as a sort of "feel good" nostalgia piece at Christmastime. The full text of the article (and the 2005 Christmastime TV spot it generated) indicated that the rise in Lionel sales had resulted from purchasing by older Baby Boomer era men (i.e. in their 50's or older) who were attempting to recapture memories of Christmas from their youth. It is in no way reflective of any growing interest in the hobby of model railroading.
another good series of opinions, not facts..
CNJ999 wrote:Joe goes on to cite a market study indicating that Millennial births far outnumber those of previous generations and this has to bode well for the hobby's future by offering a large potential customer base. I have to ask, how and why? In the age of computer everything, what would draw children of that generation to model trains in the future? Model trains and model railroading are pursuits linked directly to the Baby Boomer Generation through a totally unique set of circumstances and to no subsequence generation. Now if Joe had suggested a future link of the Millennials to hobbies involving Wii games, or some such, it probably could be justified. But archaic (to them) model trains? That makes no sense at all.
all kinds of good opinions there..but no facts..thanks for helping us all understand the distinction between opinion and fact..
it basically goes back to what I said before..you can accept some data, and discard other data, to support any view..(Im doing it myself! ;)
I fully admit we are both intreperating opinions to form our own opinions of the overall situation..
we come up with different conclusions, because there are many conflicting opinions, and few hard facts that conclusively *prove* that the hobby is moving in one direction or the other..

Scot
  by CNJ999
 
Scot, while my comments regarding shows could be taken as to some degree opinion based, they do cite demonstrable events that have and are definitely occurring and restructuring show attendance. The end result perfectly explains your presumed show observations, as well as reflecting the long standing habits of the general public.

With regard to the MRH portion of my previous post, there needs to be a comprehension of the difference between real world facts, or information, that are documented and an illogical stance where one simply refutes anything that does not agree with their personal opinion of the situation. This is something one too often encounters among participants on the Internet when this sort of discussion arises and it really does not reflect well on the maturity of hobbyists in general. In the real world only opposing information and facts can serve to counter other presumed facts and information. Simple personal opinion without supposing evidence does not carry any weight.

I can see that as things stand it is pointless to continue here when the only counterpoint offered is that whatever I say is incorrect, or mistaken, yet this is claimed without offering any shred of opposing information in support of that conclusion, at least beyond personal opinion. Please let's take some time to actually look into/research and understand some of the available statistics, publications, and facts involving the situations cited. Upon doing so and coming back to offer a knowledgeable and objective opinion on the state of the hobby I would welcome being a part in further discussion. Until that time, I'll drop out of my participation in this thread and let it go where it may.

CNJ999
  by Desertdweller
 
Scott,

I have no irrefutable statistics to support my view, so I guess it is just another opinion. But I think CNJ999 may be correct. The basis of this hobby has changed from a craftsman's hobby to a collector's hobby. Sure, we still have real craftsmen in this hobby, but the emphasis (at least, judging by what is advertised in the hobby magazines) is in specialized, ready-to-run equipment. Apparently, the more specialized, the better.

Where are the scratchbuilding and modification articles we used to see in the 1960's and 70's? My local hobby shop doesn't even carry basic scratchbuilding supplies anymore. Where there used to be articles on heavy kitbashing projects, now there are articles on how to weather ready-to-run equipment. And more and more electronics projects.

Sure, I like the latest ready-to-run stuff, if it is a prototype I model. And I'll buy it if I can afford it.

The future of any hobby is not guys like you and me, but the youngsters. If they are not interested in model trains now, are they to suddenly develop an interest in it when they are adults?

Are there a lot of guys out there buying and collecting trains, but not running them? Will they wind up like die-cast models that you buy rather than build? Is so much money going into acquiring the models that there is nothing left to build a model railroad with?

The manufacturers are in business to sell models. What happens to them after the sale is secondary. Run 'em or put them on a shelf. I love this hobby, but its future does not look good to me.

Les
  by Flat-Wheeler
 
I totally agree... I cannot even find my basic scratchbuilding supplies anymore, let alone standard decal lettering to custom modify paint jobs on certain freight cars. I have a few custom scratchbuilt tank cars in HO I did a few years back after work/college, and now I cannot find the required decals to do simple "ACFX" or "GATX" numbering on them. Even when I find most simple lettering decals online, they are "old" and overpriced. Building structures, is not as much a scavenger hunt, but still many of the typical building supplies are missing from the market.

At any decent paying jobs I find accepting of my skillset, owners often ask where all my time goes after I leave the office. That is if they don't send me working out of state week after week. So, my hobby is not very well accepted. Only one hobby shop remains in the surrounding 5 zip codes.

Looks like thanks to the political climate I have to either work out of state for the next year again, or lose my house and layout to foreclosure or shortsale in January. Unless I find a buyout option that will allow me enough money to move to an apartment and put the rest in storage for the next five years. Several realtors I've spoken to, WILL NOT ACCEPT the magazine worthy layout as a selling feature for the house. Oh, but all the expensive cabinetry I built and installed is WELCOME.

And yes, other families kids of the past generations since 1990's have been over engrossed in video games and electronic crap such as flat screen TV and I-phones. Thankfully the under utilized and overweight teens will not see Twinkies for awhile.

How many more bits of evidence must I see to explain the hobby is not accepted mainstream anymore... outside of perhaps G-scale in Western New York ?
Plus... and politics aside, lookout for an even more bumpy ride for the mid aged working man over the next coming year. Unlike our hobby IS SUPPOSED TO BE, my life is about to be thrown under the "NO FUN ALLOWED BUS" our into the homeless trash bin.