And from the other end of the October edition of Model Railroad Hobbyist, Joe Fulgate asks, ‘Are we making the hobby too complicated.’ A rather different perspective….
Are we making the hobby too complicated?
As I look at the “ever more realistic” trend in the hobby, I have started to wonder if we make the hobby too complicated for newcomers.
As I look through magazine back issues from the days I first got into the hobby (the 1960s), I notice a lot of writing about the hobby focused on just having fun. These days, it seems to have
changed. The prototype modelling trend has taken hold and unless you’re modelling a prototype line accurately, there is a trend to label you a “second class” modeller.
How are uninformed newcomers to measure up? They come online and proudly show us their work – we either yawn because it’s so generic/simplistic, or we pick it apart because it’s not quite prototypically accurate. If you’re modelling generic trains, or not modelling a precise time period, then you’re not a “serious” modeller….
Perhaps it’s time we stop trying to put so much of a “super serious” spin on how we look at the hobby. How about we avoid “good vs bad” terminology in our discussions of how to approach the hobby? Just because you want to model generally in the 1950s instead of doing something more precise, who is to say that’s “poor” modelling?
In the hobby publications from the 1960s, the focus was more that the various ways of doing the hobby were all good, just different. Another area of concern has to do with operations. If you’re “just running trains” for fun, then you’re just a casual hobbyist!
My greatest fear is we’re getting so picky by defining a “good” versus a “poor” approach to the hobby that we’re driving would-be hobby newcomers away by making the hobby feel too complicated and involved. What happened to appreciating the fun of model railroading however someone may elect to enjoy it, even if it doesn’t happen to be exactly how you prefer to do the hobby?
And what about moving away from judgmental wording that is self-serving…… that neatly puts how I choose to do the hobby on a pedestal and puts down everyone else’s approach.
Maybe it’s time we all remember our roots in the hobby and appreciate that just having fun with trains can be great too? By remembering that it’s really about fun, whether simple or complex, we can encourage more hobby newcomers.
So the challenge for us is to be passionate about just how good a hobby model railways (or even railroads are), and aim to improve, but always to remember that it’s meant to be fun!