Re: Random Thoughts from my two articles in Volume 3 of Speedwitch's Modeling Journal


Actually, I am listening.

I had been separating brick and mortar sales from Internet sales................. With an eye on those that now only buy from hobby swap meets because retail and discount sales are costly for them.

Let me offer a narrow example....

About 9-months ago you could buy the power trucks from the Bachmann trolley-doodlebug line for $12-$15. The price had been around that for some years by then.

As of last week, they are now $30-$35 in sub-assemblies instead of the lower priced complete assembly of the last few years.

As for the increasing numbers of RTR freight cars, is it a good sign that they are topping $60-$70 for some and are only available in small quantity runs that are soon sold out?

Are they better than the premium kits selling for $15-$19 a few years ago? I can dig up specific examples for this. But you know that in general, this is, as it is.

Well, this can be debated forever.

Lets just agree that many people can no longer afford the hobby and it's compounded by restricted runs increasing the rarity of individual models. Thus a great many potential model railroaders will never even enter the hobby, as it now stands.

Or rather as it is presented to them, being of hard to find and relatively expensive commercial models [ use the Internet or you'll miss out]............ Order in advance of production, or wait some years for the next run, and do pre-order to get it then.

Yet......... new makers offering small runs of models in limited distribution is not quite as positive as you think. Give it about three years and a lot of offerings will be in highly detailed, mostly pre-decorated 3d printings from even more new sources using the new much faster 3d printers that are just arriving.........

Maybe I'm too optimistic about the pre-decorated aspect. But look at and see how the newest 3d printers make prints in six-minutes that other makes take over an hour to make. Then consider what a small maker can do with a bunch of those machines running at once.

I'll bet this hobby will have a tidal wave of new offerings five years from now.

I'm pessimistic about the state of the hobby today and very enthused about what it will be in the near future as the new tools and processes go on-line.

Now lets see if we can finally get this nation going again and get the under-30's out of their parents basement bedrooms and into a vibrant future where they afford to have places of their own and spend freely on hobbies.

Best to ya,
Mike Bauers
Milwaukee, Wi

On Mar 21, 2015, at 7:47 PM, Tony Thompson  wrote:

Mike Bauers wrote:

The trends are not positive and have been steadily negative for far too many years.

Look at the numbers over time and see if book sales match those of the past. I think if they had stayed very strong, so many bookstores would not have closed over the last several years.

I just think the hobby has changed radically around us. Its still there, just very changed.

     You're still not listening, Mike. Total hobby sales and trends are NOT negative, just store sales. Books likewise have held up, even hardbacks, and e-books, though no longer growing by leaps and bounds, continue to show strong sales. The book business is FAR from failing, though physical stores are struggling.
     Your last statement is the key. Our hobby, and much else in the world of retail, is indeed changing, in some ways radically. But to understand it, you have to recognize Internet sales. It won't be long before people react the same way to remarks about hobby shops, as some already do to the idea of a camera store. One person said to me, "what camera stores?"
     With respect to freight cars, Richard Hendrickson was fond of saying, "THESE are the good old days." Look at the selection and quality of today, and the fact that there are NEW manufacturers offering ready-to-run freight cars. Doesn't sound to me like "the trends are not positive."

Tony Thompson             Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, tony@...
Publishers of books on railroad history

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