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The good old days, sort of...

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  • The good old days, sort of...

    In his June 2001 "Notes on an old timetable" column, RMC publisher Hal Carstens wrote, "They call them kits today, but all the modeler has to do is snap or maybe screw them together and put on a brake wheel or a few small parts. Some manufacturers even do the whole assembly job, just like Lionel did 50 and 75 years ago."id="maroon">

    What do you folks think about this statement? Any comments?

  • #2
    Hi all

    In some ways I think I must have a split personality.

    With rolling stock I am not unhappy that most cars and locomotives now come ready to roll.

    I think that even the blue box car kits are not really kits because they require very little in the way of assembly.

    I will however look forward to weathering the cars.

    Therefore the kits of today are OK with me.

    Not being a rivet counter I probably will be running 40' box cars on my layout long after they had been retired. If I like the car I will buy it.

    When it comes to structures I feel exactly the opposite.

    I would never purchase a built-up structure whether it be one by Walthers or Atlas or any of the fine scale dioramas and structures that are being offered today.

    I would like also to remain true to the location I am modeling and will buy only those kits that fit this description.

    Most of the high quality structure kits are kits in the truest form of the word.

    They take more than just adding detail parts and also offer you the opportunity to be creative in how you build them.

    I would rather start with a bunch of sticks and assemble my structure myself.

    I like scratch building for then you are actually building a structure the way it is done in real life.

    Framing first, then siding, then details.

    So my idea of a kit for rolling stock and a kit for structures have very different meanings for me.
    <img src="" alt="" /><br /><br>John Bagley<br /><br>Modeling the Alaska Railroad in HO in Wildwood Georgia.


    • #3
      I think this has come about from the fact that people don't want to take the time and effort to learn how to read the instructions and assemble kits.It's our impatient society that pushes the 'I want it done yesterday!' mindset of most new hobbyists.

      It's also why you see people dropping in and out of the hobby.No time,No patience,and No ambition.

      Just my observations.

      Bill Burge

      Big Blue GN Fan



      • #4
        Mike,I will do my best not to rant to much..

        Looking back to the old days I recall the wooden car kits that took hours to build,the locomotive kits that would some time take weeks to build..When one finish these kits there was a sense of both joy and pride in knowing you built it.It was a fun time to be in the hobby.

        Todays shake the box kits and rtr cars and locomotives leaves the modeler with more time to rant on what is not right with a given model.

        Sadly most rants about this or that not being correct is foolishness and would take but minutes to correct in most cases by adding after market detail parts..I think the real question iso these ranters have the modeling skill needed to fix the problem or are they just playing the roll of super modeler when in real life it doesn't bother them? Recall folks we can not see the ranters models in 98% of the cases.. In other words all talk and no show.

        Now with the ever escalating prices of the RTR locomotives and cars one must ask if quality is going out the door? Look at the soddy paint jobs and other documented problems,(some very questable in nature and seeing that I been asking around more lately),with todays "State of the art" locomotives and cars..One must wonder.

        Looking to the future of the hobby (if it has a future) I suspect everything will be ready made including buildings.Of course a building that was in kit form for say $29.95 will now be $99.95 built up..

        Question:When will the I WANT IT NOW! crowd realize it will,in the end,kill the hobby due to the high prices???

        They say they do not have time to build a simple kit..The solution? Spend less time in front of that great time stealer television and more time on modeling!


        • #5
          I don't guess Hal has seen the rtr Climax I'm working on![:-bigeyes2] [:-bouncy][}] The hobby will be what you want it to be. If you want to kitbash or scratchbuild you still can, if you don't that's your choice. but I feel like the person that doesn't is missing out on a lot of the fun if not the whole point of the hobby. However there must be a big market for rtr or else they wouldn't produce so much of it.


          • #6
            Strange how everything eventually comes full circle. I've been reviewing the early 1950's MR's recently [ looking for ideas I may have passed over years ago], and note that a major theme back then, in editorials, and in RPO letters, was "....a disturbing trend toward easy kits, and the lack of available detail castings for those who wish to superdetail...."

            The craftspersons back then often deplored these "easy" kits, as compared to their scratchbuilt locomotives and cars.

            They included as easy, such things as Bowser and Penn Line locos, and Silver Streak or Ambroid cars....for me , these were not easy by any means !

            What would they say now ? [:-cry]

            regards / Mike


            • #7
              A couple of years ago, I was on the phone with a magazine editor, who had some questions about an article I had written for him. When an opportune time came, I complimented him on a water tank diorama he had built and photographed. When I asked him about the water tank itself, he complained, "The damn thing took me almost two weeks. You get little more than a bag of sticks in a box. I haven't got time to build like that anymore!" That attitude really surprised me, but I let it go and didn't question him any further.

              It seems that time is always the justifying factor now whenever the subject of RTR or RTP ("ready to plant") models comes up. It's true, our society is fast-paced. It is hectic. But it's that very bag of sticks the editor was complaining about that I always looked forward to (before I retired) to help slow down the pace. It was the one area of my life I could retreat to and relax.

              Tyson and Brakie both touched on pride and joy of accomplishment in building something yourself. I couldn't agree more. RTR and simple screw-together kits are OK, I guess, but they're not for me.


              • #8
                My stuff runs the gamut from RTR (engines and some rolling stock) to easy-to-build (rolling stock and structures), and I'm currently working on a scratch-built coal dealer (first scratch-build in a LONG time). Each type of model has it's own appeal for me. I enjoy building things, but I also want my trains to run well. I don't have the skill to scratch-build an engine and have it run reliably. Even if I someday kitbash an engine, the mechanism will be off of some stock engine and will be used pretty much as-is. A structure on the other hand, basically has to just sit there and look nice. That's why I'm doing some scratch building on a structure right now, I'm enjoying building it, and someday it'll sit on a layout and I can say "I built that from balsa wood and cardboard!".

                I don't think RTR will spell the end of our hobby due to high prices. I think what will eventually happen is that those folks who have more money than time will become dissatisfied with buying RTR or RTP (due to the lack of satisfaction from openning a box and plunking it down) and either leave the hobby or start wanting kits they can put more of themselves into. Plus, as the prices rise the demand will fall, and I suspect kits will re-appear.


                • #9
                  Having come to model RR'ding in the 50's with Lionel the concept of RTR seems pretty normal. I remember in the early 60's when I was becoming too sophisticated for toy trains my uncle was moving from "O" to "HO". Much of his stuff was built from kits. Now my uncle was something of a perfectionist but this stuff he was building looked pretty much like something coming out of the south end of a north bound cow. I was not impressed.

                  Since getting back into the hobby I have seen the product of true modelers like Mike and Paul that do scratch work perfection. The problem is that not everyone is blessed with such talent. I think the beauty in this hobby is that there is something here for everyone's skill and temperament.

                  As an N Scale modeler I have tried to build some kit cars like the IM's. I can't even get the parts off the sprues successfully. I hope I improve but if these were my only choices I am not sure I would have the metal to stay engaged in the hobby.


                  • #10
                    From my view point. I just want to know what the difference is as long as your enjoying the hobby.I kitbash,I scratchbuild,I buy RTR locos and cars.It's my hobby and I enjoy it my way.

                    The biggest problem I see is people objecting to the way somebody else enjoys this hobby.

                    GET A LIFE FOLKS,IT"S A HOBBY NOT A JOB!!
                    Johnathan (Catt) Edwards

                    100% Michigan made


                    • #11
                      Catt, if you don't have any strong opinions on the subject why did you bother to respond to the post? [:-bigeyes2][:-bouncy] :crazy: [:-slaphappy] [:-spin][:P]


                      • #12
                        You know me Tyson,I never get excited about anything but good lookin' ladies.
                        Johnathan (Catt) Edwards

                        100% Michigan made


                        • #13


                          • #14
                            Will someone kick Catt......I think he has fallen asleep!


                            • #15
                              I have to agree that the HOBBY is what you make of it, and that the high prices of the RTR will kill themselvs off.