• Carstens Publications closes, RMC and R&R to White River

  • 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 glennk419
 
From Carstens Facebook page:

It is with regret that Carstens Publicatons, Inc. will be closing permanently at close of business on Friday, August 22, 2014. Carstens Publications, Inc. has been a leading publisher of leading hobby magazines for over 50 years. Unfortunately the current economic climate has placed us in this position. Discussion is continuing with several parties who expressed desire to take on the continuance of the magazines. At this point there is still hope that all three titles will remain in existence. But I can offer no guarantees. We thank you for your patronage over the years, and wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.
--Henry R. Carstens, President
Carstens Publications, Inc.

So very sad at the loss of another long time cornerstone of our hobby. It's been a rough year.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Otto; I know "you'll land" Take care.

GBN
  by Bigt
 
So sorry to hear this news. Another of the great leaders in our hobby. I have
been a faithful reader and subscriber since 1973, and, always found Carstens to be
the leader in railroad model magazines. It is sad to see another loss in our dying
hobby.
  by CNJ999
 
Sad news indeed, since for the traditional model railroader RMC's content was long definitely head and shoulders above anything offered in the pages of MR, especially over the past dozen years. That being said, I truly have to wonder if we will see MR continue past the end of the current decade in any hardcopy format? Personally, I doubt it and it might well even go totally the way of the Dodo itself as the hobby continues shrink and price itself out of reach of the average hobbyist.

CNJ999
  by lvvlrr
 
Not surprising and it doesn't make me sad.

In my opinion, RMC had outdated content and couldn't keep up with the speed of the digital age.
I think RMC was stuck in old era modelling topics that were boring and I hadn't bought an issue in a couple of years - despite browsing it every month.

If I'm at a local supermarket or hobby shop where they actually had a copy of RMC, I'd rather put my $5 toward a 6 pack of beer or a new train car instead of 30 pages of ads and 30 pages of irrelevant topics. Topics such as the June Dremel Award winning "Fire Damaged Enginehouse". What a slap in the face to talented RPM quality modellers from the magazine that was supposed to be for hobbyists.

The problem with the print media is a lot of things, long lead times, production costs, and plain old interpersonal politics and opinions. This is why MRR Mag has ongoing print romances with Tony Koester and Pelle Soerberg and Cody whats his face writes articles every month. ( Probably because Cody is on staff and doesn't cost the magazine any extra for content - paying for content cuts into profits).

There are so many other talented modellers and ideas that never got their 15 mins of fame due to ignorance of gatekeeper editors to try new ideas from new sources.
But we all know how the world works - it's not what you know, it's who you know.
Conversely, on occasion, the opinions of associates of these publications can be a turn off to future sales from customers and advertisers.

I think MRR Mag will continue to print, as it's the "USA Today" of Model Railroading. The annual rotation of boring track, scenery, weathering, and structure basics, along with whatever else Kalmbach and Walthers want's them to push.

The digital age means change. Blogs and digital format magazines can do so much more than print media.

RMC was a once influential magazine who's time had come.
  by Desertdweller
 
I would like to add my sentiments to the ones already expressed here. I don't know what, if any, model railroad mag will take the place of RMC.

What I enjoyed most about RMC was its editorial balance. It was a great blend of prototype and model railroad articles, and was very inspiring to me back in the late 60's when I became interested in model railroading and, by extension, actual railroading. The articles inspired me to dig deeper on my own.

Outstanding features from back then that I remember from those days include the two-part series on the GTW; the long-running V&O series; the many humorous but ingenious structure projects of EL Moore, each with a creative supporting story; articles by David Winter on his Winter Park Regional Railroad, the inspiration for my long-lived (28 years) West Central Nebraska Railroad. Also a great feature by the same author on N-scale Diesel detailing using household junk.

This magazine taught us that one does not need to have a huge model railroad to enjoy realistic operations. It did not try to over-emphasize the latest gadgetry its advertisers were promoting.

RMC will be missed.

Les
  by Desertdweller
 
Ivv,

You won't miss RMC, yet you sound disgusted with MR too.

Kalmbach is capable of producing fine magazines. I am very pleased with Classic Trains and their special editions, and the occasional issue of Trains that have articles that interest me. MR has become a disappointment to me, and I no longer subscribe to it.

Maybe our hobby will support another print magazine before it prices itself into oblivion. I don't think model railroading has much of a future. In most parts of the country, young people do not have the positive exposure to railroading that sparks a hobby interest in it.

It is interesting (to me at least) that you consider the content of RMC to be "obsolete", and the content of MR to be "boring". It makes me wonder what it is you'd like to see. I have a good idea of what I want or don't want to pay to read about. I want to read about N scale projects and railroads, and a smattering of prototype railroad ideas. N scale gets a disproportionately small share of print. Even the Walthers sale flyer devotes less than 10% to N.
And when I read about an N scale project, I don't want to read about cramming a DCC reciever and speaker into a locomotive.

There was a publication out there, Model Railroad News, that was purely a review of new model railroad products. I have no problem with that, and in fact subscribed to it, because I knew up front what it was.

Interesting that you compared MR to USA Today. I don't read that either, because it has too much fluff.

Les
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
From private face to face sources, I have learned that "something could happen" and that both R&R and RMC could resume publication.

So who knows.

But should Carstens Publications petition for Bankruptcy, be it a "7" (shut'er down and divvy up what's left) or an "11" (let's continue but clip everybody a bit), that would be public record.
  by Bigt
 
Okay, maybe I will venture off on this a little bit. We all know there are many factors
entering into the decision by Carstens. I'm sure it was not an easy decision to make.
However, after reading a few comments here (and, my local hobbyshop), I think it is
safe to say that this loss can also be attributed to the direction that the few "big"
manufacturers, and their avid supporters, i.e., customers, are taking our beloved
hobby. I have read where the manufacturers are producing the high priced, limited
edition, low production numbers, etc. because that is what the consumer wants. I
counter that the manufacturers are forgetting about the majority of us in this hobby.
I see a lot of beautiful new products, but, one look at the price and I know that I will
never own it. I think that can be said for the vast majority of us in this hobby. But,
as long as there are those few (judging by the production /sales numbers) who will pay the
high (and, sometimes ridiculous prices), then, we majority will continue to suffer. I may
be wrong in my thinking, but, that is the way I see it. I only wish that the manufacturers
would take note of what is going on.............
  by Desertdweller
 
Gilbert,

I hope that these publications can be saved, especially RMC, by being offered by a different publishing company.

I used to subscribe to both Railroad and Railfan when they were separate publications. The quality of both magazines improved when Carstens bought out Railroad and merged it with Railfan.

Bigt,

Model railroading, for most of us, is an individual pursuit. I suspect most model railroaders do not join NMRA or even local model railroad clubs. The very nature of the hobby does not require the cooperation of fellow hobbyists, the politics of organizations, or competition between hobbyists. A lot of us actually prefer to avoid such things as a distraction to our enjoyment of the hobby. One of the things I found discouraging about MR was its constant beating of the drum for NMRA. Making model railroading into a competitive hobby is just one of those things that should not be done.

There was a time when I was tempted to climb on the NMRA bandwagon, but when they decided to hold their national convention in London, England it showed what an elitist organization it really was. Imagine, doing this to a hobby that was popularized during the Great Depression as an affordable hobby for the underemployed blue-collar everyman. MR, the Model Railroad Manufacturers' Association, and the NMRA all worked hard at taking the hobby away from a creative, affordable hobby. RMC did not forget that some understanding and appreciation of the prototype is important for growing interest in model railroading. Nor did they imply that modelers had to buy the gadget du jour if they wanted to be "serious" model railroaders.

If the manufacturers refuse to support the original concept of the hobby, that it is a craftsman's hobby involved in actually making things (or at least modifying them to suit), they will speed the demise of the hobby. The line between "modelers" and "collectors" will blur as people with the money will buy their models ready-to-run and refuse to put the effort into modeling. This trend has already taken over the market for locomotives and rolling stock, now is showing up in ready-to-use buildings, and is starting to appear in ready-to-use model railroads. I think you get out of anything- hobby, career, whatever- in proportion to what you put into it.

My local hobby shop (50 miles away) no longer stocks basic scratchbuilding supplies. The shop owner told me his customers are too lazy to go to the effort of creating anything on their own.

Les
  by Bigt
 
Les,

I agree with you 100 percent. I have never been a member of the NMRA, for I too feel the same way you do.
Nor, have I ever been involved in a club. I support their annual shows by attending, and, buying from the various vendors
who are there. However, even that little exposure to the club setting has shown me the politics that sometimes is present.
Don't get me wrong. Clubs are great resources for those who want to belong to one. I'm just not one of them.

I think RMC was the leader in the railroad model magazine field. MRR was a very good magazine too, but, that has
changed in the past 8 to 10 years. The hobby has changed, but, I believe MRR has lost sight of just what the hobby is supposed
to be about. Much too much attention paid to a few modellers, in my opinion. But, I used to be a faithful subscriber to Trains
Magazine too. However, along about the same timeline, Trains became a joke, no longer the great magazine it once was. I have
often said that David P. Morgan would be rolling in his grave if he could see what has become of his beloved magazine!

I guess we older model railroaders can only now sit back and relish the old days of the hobby. The days when it was a hobby,
not a gizmo glutted, high priced, limited run, this is the fad of the day, trend we now have. Irv Athearn, where are you when we
need you so badly?!
  by CNJ999
 
Bigt wrote:Les,

I think RMC was the leader in the railroad model magazine field. MRR was a very good magazine too, but, that has
changed in the past 8 to 10 years. The hobby has changed, but, I believe MRR has lost sight of just what the hobby is supposed
to be about. Much too much attention paid to a few modellers, in my opinion. But, I used to be a faithful subscriber to Trains
Magazine too. However, along about the same timeline, Trains became a joke, no longer the great magazine it once was. I have
often said that David P. Morgan would be rolling in his grave if he could see what has become of his beloved magazine!

I guess we older model railroaders can only now sit back and relish the old days of the hobby. The days when it was a hobby,
not a gizmo glutted, high priced, limited run, this is the fad of the day, trend we now have. Irv Athearn, where are you when we
need you so badly?!

Sadly, I think that your take on the situation is all too accurate. In recent years the manufacturing end of the hobby has been taken over mostly by ex-brass importers who are slowly attempting to bring back their market share by shifting their product from high-end plastic, to even higher-end plastic & brass combinations offered at more than old brass prices. At the same time I think that MR has lost all its value for the actual hands-on modeler, catering today almost exclusively to the RTR, non-modeling, and electronic gadget crowd. I dropped my sub to MR quite a while ago once it became a "modeler's" publication headed up by first one Lionel enthusiast as editor and then another! Were it not for the presence of David Popp on the MR staff I think that MR might well have reached its own demise ahead of RMC the way circulation was plumeting. And at a cover price of $6 for a very thin issue I can use the money elsewhere.

As you imply, the true hobby of craftsman model railroading is passing into history as we speak and just how long the RTR/high-end collector phase will continue is open to debate, but I don't believe that its run will be all that long.

CNJ999
  by Desertdweller
 
CNJ999,

MR used to be an inspiring magazine, well worth its cover price. I used to buy (or subscribe) to both MR and RMC because I could learn much and gain much inspiration from each of them. The first issue of MR I bought was the Jan. 1969 issue that featured a big photo essay: "A Local Run on the Gorre and Daphetid". It really blew me away! That feature used a formula found in both magazines: they would follow the action of a particular train around the railroad, much as a railfan might follow an actual train. RMC did the same thing with the V&O.

I was to find out later that both railroads used rather sophisticated electronic control systems, but mention was not made of that in the articles. I feel if such a story were to be done today, the main point of the whole feature would be the electronics. This would be too bad, as control systems are at best a means to an end. On a really good model railroad, the control system should not even be apparent.

The human element seems to have dropped out of the picture. RMC always incorporated some background on the builder in the story. MR, if it includes it, puts it in a sidebar. This is an editorial decision. One of the most memorable (for me) was the story in RMC of an operating railroad based on the O&W's Whitehall (NY) Yard. The retired gentleman who built it worked his railroad career in that yard, and knew how it should operate because he lived it. And his wife let him build this HO railroad in their living room! Now, that was inspiring!

There was enough prototype railroading in RMC to remind us what we were trying to model. In an article "Red Combine to Moscow", the author traveled to Texas to ride a mixed train, on a backwoods short line (Moscow, Camden, and San Augustine) that appeared on its last legs. Twenty years later, such an operation would be a tourist attraction. But there was a period between Mom and Pop short lines and tourist roads that claimed many of the former.

Another, extreme backwards operation featured the Edgemoor and Manetta. This swamp logger was crude in the extreme 45 years ago. It consisted of one or two saddle tank steam switchers and equipment that would not have been out of place during the Civil War. Cars were joined with link-and-pin couplers! In 2005, I was working on a railroad in South Carolina and would drive through Manetta, but I could see no sign of the little road.

Other RMC authors I found inspiring back then were Jim Findley and Bill Schopp. Jim had a regular column where he contributed articles based on his railfan adventures while being stationed as an Army Officer in South Korea. His interest in local railroading seemed to amuse the local train crews, who were still operating steam trains in the 1940's American style. Bill Schopp blithely butchered expensive HO brass steam locomotives to create models of commercially unobtainable locos. A cab here, a boiler there, a couple unobtainably expensive brass locos, and you wound of with an esoteric masterpiece (and a lot of parts in the junk box). For me, his articles were a great source of information about the particular engines he was modeling.

Another thing I really miss were the ads. There were pages of ads from mail order houses with discount prices on trains and equipment. Manufacturers would introduce new products that were actually affordable. I remember the ad Athearn put in magazines introducing the PA1. "The most beautiful locomotive in the world!" Who would argue?

My own model railroad was built to express the ideals of that time. It was not built to impress anyone (well, maybe my grandson) and for anyone who buys into the values expressed in MR it would be a disappointment. No DCC. No onboard sound. No computer. No car cards or switchlists (it's a passenger railroad). Sectional track with attached roadbed. 113/4 inch N scale curves. Smooth running Kato and Proto locos. Con-Cor and Kato cars.
No apologies.

Les
  by granton junction
 
The demise of Carstens Publications was not a complete surprise. I had picked up even last summer (2013) that there were problems at Carstens. I had noticed that RMC was showing up later and later, then not at all. But over the years I always enjoyed RMC and preferred it over Model RRer even tho I read both. RMC had decent articles and columns and had a 'homey' flavor that Model RRer did not have. I myself do not expect RMC and Railfan Magazine ever to reappear tho. Remember that RMC (and Railfan) depended on advertising. Historical society magazines are membership and dues based. I do not believe that any current discussions with other publishers are credulous simply because any other publisher would have picked up the titles long before today. Also subscribers have been now been stiffed with the demise of Carstens even tho it was still accepting $$ for subscriptions. No goodwill there! So sadly, and I would like to be proven wrong, I think now that after a few weeks RMC and Railfan (I never did like that title for a magazine) will join with the NYO&W and L&NE.
  by [email protected]
 
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