Monday, September 8, 2014
Future of Model Railroading
What's the future of model railroading? That question gets asked frequently on model railroad forums.
Answers vary. Some people are optimistic: The hobby has never been better! Others are pessimistic: It's going to be gone in a generation.
Me? I'm somewhere in the middle. I don't think it will disappear, but I think it will change.
I am not given to making predictions, but here's a guess I will hazard: In the future, there won't be as many large home layouts. Instead, there will be more smaller switching layouts.
Why do I think this will happen? Two reasons.
First, people are more mobile today. They move a lot more. It's hard to build a big home layout if you expect to relocate frequently. A small switching layout could be taken on the moving truck, though.
Second, the prices. I was in hobby shop recently. I saw rolling stock that cost between $75 to $100 (Cdn) each. Many were between $30-$50. Locomotives? $200-$300 is normal.
Do I think people will stop buying rolling stock and locomotives at those prices? No. But they will buy fewer of them.
Which brings us back to switching layouts. A modeller could build a fine switching layout with one or two locomotives and 10-20 cars and have a great time. That's all he or she would need.
Between mobility and prices, I think that's where model railroading could go--smaller layouts and fewer locomotives and cars. That's my guess for the future of model railroading.
Photo above: The Gateway Central HO scale switching layout.