Well it’s almost that time of year when we make 2 of the biggest decisions of our lifetimes……
Real or fake tree……star or angel?
My good lady and I are getting 2 Hornby OO sets for our eldest Murray and it made me think, just how many young kids of his age (11) actually want ‘train sets’ any more? Is there still any of our youngsters who want to spend time building up from a basic oval track with 1 train going round and round until they can get more stuff for it? Would it be too much to ask for the likes of Hornby to stick in a simple piece of plastic platform in the box with your tank engine and 2 wagons? I know it’s a freight train! But you see my point.
I’m throwing a lot of questions out here but it’s only because I genuinely don’t know the answers and simply facilitating a debate.
Is it too expensive to make and sell a set with a loco, 2 coaches (even 2 coaches and a wagon) with a platform and a small tunnel and single track level crossing? Because with those simple things included then you have the basis to trigger imaginations and have people build alongside them wether it be lineside kits and buildings, or their own landscape modelling. Teaching them skills and letting them explore their visions of their perfect railway or to replicate their favourite place / station / era etc.
You have the platform to build a station and surrounding area. Maybe or maybe not using the level crossing next to it or somewhere in the loop would then encourage road building, to the station of course and wider area in general. Which would then encourage the construction of buildings of whatever nature they deem related to their ideas. And of course the tunnel encouraging to model a landscape…does anyone ever still make papier-maché??
Before you know it, you have a mini world. Your world. Your world that you imagine travelling through on the train you are running. But I think most importantly it instills a sense of pride and achievement and responsibility. We all like to stand back and look at something and say “That’s actually pretty damn cracking, and I did that!”. And for God’s sake don’t criticise!! I know it’s a whole different debate of accuracy against poetic license but it makes me laugh and cringe and blow my top when as soon as anyone puts a 4mt tank in a modern railway they get shouted down and mocked and told that it shouldn’t be there etc etc or that their 47xxx should be entirely remodelled and they should be ashamed for not doing research because it doesn’t have an ETH pipe on it when clearly your railway is based after 1980 and 47xxx was fitted with it on December 31st 1979!
Now however we get down to the 2 most critical aspects of getting into the hobby of railway modelling, in no particular order…..
Image and perception – Take a straw poll of any of your relatives’ kids between the ages of 8 and 12 and tell me how many of them would want to start doing it? I can imagine a lot of answers being along the lines of “yeah but I’ll get laughed at” or “I would, but I wouldn’t tell anyone”. Modelling has never been ‘cool’ but it seems it will always have the stigma or nerdiness and geekiness and strangeness to it sadly. But what better way to start to dispel the theory than having youngsters telling everyone they build.
£££££££££££££££ – yep, cost. When you buy a playstaion or Xbox you get your console and a controller and perhaps a game, all the cables, and you’re off, for around £300-400. They then expect you to pay for your online access, extra controllers and between £50-60 for a game. So when you’ve had your fix of Call of Duty you then shell out £50 for Fifa and you’re happy.
Now, you’ve got a wee layout, and you’re doing great with the building of your world. You have a great loco with a couple of coaches. But one day you think “I’m going to expand a wee bit further…..24 small bits of straight OO track….£31. N gauge point…used….ONE….£8.50. I want another train to run in the other direction, okay, you’ve bought the track (I forgot to include corners!) let’s go train hunting…..
and boom £100-150 just for your loco.
Who is going to spend this kind of money when just starting out as a kid!?? It’s ridiculous in my eyes. How many kids are going to give up the hobby if the rivet detail on Tornado’s tender isn’t to the nanometre? If it doesn’t have the perfect linkage or a working tail lamp!?
OH!…..do you want a little bit of sound too? Don’t get me started on that!
Please please please someone tell me that being a modeller is worth it! Tell me that you can get everything cheaply from somwhere and it doesn’t cost the same amount for a computer game than it does to buy 1 coach and a wagon! I want to be corrected on all my arguments over image and cost because I really really don’t want something that I love to become the domain of only the people who can afford to pay the same price as a second hand car for a flippin 4 car Voyager set.
Phew, needed to get that off my chest haha. Never deny someones’ imagination. Never criticise for anyone giving their all in an effort to do something creative and different.
Take care and happy railwaying