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Mainline Modeler from what I know
Earlier I made this statement and I should clarify something...
I have had a long standing (sometimes very trying) personal and business
relationship with Bob. But in my most humble opinion (and I have never beat
around the bush and would tell him to his face) Bob made several business
mistakes during the life of MM. The first in my opinion came in the summer of 1994,
when Jeff was editor of Mainline. Jeff wrote a commentary regarding issues of
manufacturers and their practices of offering freight car kits with molded on
details and one manufacturer in particular that when backwards with his
molds at the time and Jeff was critical. It came to an argument at the NMRA
Nationals in Portland when Jeff was "ambushed" by more than one, I was there at
the time with Jeff. It was not pretty and Bob became aware and Jeff was soon
removed. MISTAKE #1"
The commentary Jeff wrote was directed at C&BT Shops for their retooling of
their kits from kits with separate ladders and so forth to molded on parts.
I was as much to blame for the commentary as I was the one who got Jeff
fired up. Remember Jeff at the time was actually an O Scale modeler. But my point
was that Bob backed away from Jeff in his commentary which I suppose was
what any businessman would do when a manufacturer felt he/she was "under attack"
by his editor. As we all know this causes "soft reviews." We all respect the
perceived markets that manufacturers target, and we often make chicken soup
from chicken poop, but to be successful in one market then take an about face
was just down right ignorant in my humble opinion. Jeff and Bob are good
friends today, perhaps better friends than coworkers as is often the case in
life. I just saw the move on Bob's part as short sighted with the direction the
market was headed and besides Jeff took his lecturing from several folks at
that convention standing tall.
Some of my favorite articles were the diesel paint and lettering schemes and
in particular Dave Messers article on New Haven RS-3's. Another on the
freight car side was Jeff English's article on the rebuilding of the flat kit PS-1
(Kratz Kit I believe) into a six foot door version of the NYC car. I believe
someone told me Jeff has moved into S Scale? Jeff's article to me was
cutting edge and then he did re-detailed the CB&T 40-foot boxcar into a smashing
UP car! I could always count on something from Mont Switzer in freight cars.
To me the drawings were nice, but the accuracy of the cars was always a
concern, but what can you expect for about 5 bucks? I wasn't scratch building
then, but my brother did and he would pick up on the errors.
Like Tony says, much of what we were doing then is offered to us today in
Tom and all,toggle quoted message Show quoted text
I was offered the magazine likely before others and graciously declined as I actually have a day job, dealing with the big yellow as a contract transloader. I understood clearly and perhaps better than some what the economic dynamics represented. Could it work well yes but that's another story... Capitol invested and capitol return...
There was no deal for me to "purchase" the magazine but rather take it over and guarantee the subscriptions as I assumed would be offered to Ted (and another), but if I read Tom correctly that wasn't the deal? Interesting... You simply recieved the archives and contacts and the subscription list and if you chose then you could buy the equipment. Now that is how it was offered to me NO DOLLAR EXCHANGE.
I have had a long standing (sometimes very trying) personal and business relationship with Bob. But in my most humble opinion (and I have never beat around the bush and would tell him to his face) Bob made several business mistakes during the life of MM. The first in my opinion came in the Summer of 1994, when Jeff was editor of Mainline. Jeff wrote a commentary regarding issues of manufacturers and their practices of offering freight car kits with molded on details and one manufacturer in particular that when backwards with his molds at the time and Jeff was critical. It came to an arguement at the NMRA Nationals in Portland when Jeff was "ambushed" by more than one, I was there at the time with Jeff. It was not pretty and Bob became aware and Jeff was soo removed. MISTAKE #1
Then later in about 1998 I was visiting with Bob at the time and had dinner with Bob, and Jeff was there and Bob made a statement to me and Jeff and he said that he was told by a circle of business associates that the most important thing about a sucessful magazine was NOT content but rather presentation and cited the big boy magazine as an example... I just gasp and said you couldn't be serrious as did Jeff. We argued our point and cited the early years in the 80s as an example as well as the first 5 years of the 90s under Jeff's tender. He was convinced that this was the correct course to take... and as I advised circulation would and did decline. Mistake #2
About the same time I was submitting an article and Bob called me and said that he would run my article but advised me that in his opinion Freight car and Diesel Locmotive articles were dead that structures and scenery articles were his focus and that he ask me follow along, I refused... I told him that the market was still strong in both and that the future would offer more passenger cars and steam ( I was writing Scuttle Butt at the time) and that he needed to keep an ear to the rail for these types of offering and that Brass was dead... He assured me in no uncertain terms that brass was very alive and that he was looking for more scenery and structure articles... He refused to go to dinner in Naperville with my small group and a representative from Walthers to discuss these developments. Bob made a statement to me once that digital photography needed to be taken a at least 3 magapixels or higher for publishing and proved him wrong as I submitted an article where most of the photgragpy was submitted at 1.3 megapixels and I told him that megapixels be damned that optics were every bit as important... Can you tell which article/articles were shot on less than 3? I would bet you can't. Listen don't talk... MISTAKE #3
Then at some point Bob made a big mistake in going against his rule #1, no layout articles, and presented short snips called "Tips by George", as I believe that George offered the Scenery/Structure pieces that would not come from too many authors and certainly those others than George's offered better material, but the trees were often beating a dead horse. I told him straight leave those articles to the likes of the TTE magazine of the big boys... The best work was coming from the folks with the Prototype layout in NY and So Cal, run those and he did when he could get it. I reminded him that there is only so many ways to wire a layout, lay track and the likes... MISTAKE #4
But of all the mistakes that were made the biggest was the issue of not paying timely (eventually at all) his authors. I argued that the use of authors was the same as contract labor and disputes could arise and likely the risk of mechanics liens... HUGE MISTAKE But the industry is a much to fault, as even the big manufacuturers as well and the hobby shops just don't pay the magazines in a timely manner if at all.
But for all of Bob's short comings he for many years offered some of the finest modeling article I have read from some of the finest authors in the industry. We are still friends and shall continue to be so. Many of these authors I consider to be my mentors and I have expressed that publicly and will continue to do so and I can only thank them for their offerings over the years and will continue to support them in the future.
For what it is worth that is the most important thing that came of it and I like others hope that the marketplace will fill the void and I think we all know that one magazine in particular has made it clear that this is not their direction, hopefully there will be a Phoenix arise from the fire...
Just my opinion
Sent: Thu, 1 Feb 2007 10:24 PM
Subject: RE: [STMFC] Re: Mainline Modeler ?????
There is one big problem for anyone taking over the Mainline Modeler. Bob Hundman wants to sell it with the stipulation that whoever buys it has to honor all the present paid subscriptions, in addition to the purchase price. That is quite a stretch because a lot of people (including yours truly) had renewed for another year shortly before he folded the magazine in addition to those that renewed earlier.
He had asked Ted Culotta if he would buy it and take it over, but that would have meant that by honoring the outstanding subscriptions, there would be no income for quite an extensive period of time. For that reason, Ted turned him down and that that is why no one else has stepped forward to buy the magazine.
So that is the caveat: know anyone who is a philanthropist?
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