New Meltdown Looming???

grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
Guys and gals, I love Model Railroader magazine. I primarily enjoy the layout features with LGM, but there is other good info presented in the mag as well. I think they've elevated the hobby to a new level by showing what is possible. On the other hand, they have to keep it basic to bring new folks into the hobby. I can see where the editor has to do a balancing act each month, and it's hard to please everyone. Kalmbach books, as well as the mag, were a great help to us starting out and still are today. There seems to be MUCH discontent though, from more experienced modelers. As a company, they don't seem to comfortable with the internet, at least that's my perception. They're also very sensitive to critisism of their advertisers. I'm wondering if the critisism they're recieving will be the stimulus for the next online "meltdown".

BTW, the DCC article was pretty useless, IMHO...:(

Check out the last two pages for sure...
When I started with Model Railroader in December 1958, the magazine had no beginner's stuff. That was obtained in their "Practical Guide to Model Railroading". I never had a problem with that concept.

Of course trackside photos had anyone who sent a picture into the magazine and not just what seems now to be an advertisement for the products their advertisers are pushing. It was nice to see "Joe Everyman's Little Layout". It seems be to be oriented to the big layout "fraternity", having experience in that arena personally.

Just a thought
Regardless of the all the hoppa on the other forum, I always enjoy the MR magazine. Yes, the information level in some of their articles is for beginners, but I would bet that there are a lot of people that buy the mag because they are beginners. I still find enough photos, information, and how-to's to get plenty of satisfaction with the magazine.

The threads that have FIRED UP are typical of the arrogance and inflated egos that exist on that forum. Some of the posters are telling a magazine how to publish and what content they should include when many of them have never got their trains out of the cellophane or layout plans out of their heads. I cannot believe that some think a few hundred posters are representative of the entire model railroad hobby, Hahaha!

To those that wish to have a magazine geared to a higher level of modeling skills, I say subscribe to a different magazine.

Using Darrell's line: Rex, said too much, shutting up for now.:)
I think Model Railroader and Classic Toy Trains are very good magazines.
Yes, I think another " meltdown " could be coming.
Just my 2 cents. :)

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BMRR said:
Yes, I think another " meltdown " could be coming.

I hope for their sake it doesn't, but since "trolls" caused the last meltdown...:rolleyes: , it's entirely possible. I always suspected advertiser critisism was the real cause for the last shutdown.
Wow! what
oh! well! to each his own. I've taken pro and con positions about MR mag. but the truth is, as long as it is succesful why should the editors change it. When I started into model rail I couldn't get enough of the magazines I read them all from cover to cover the adds included. The cost at that time, as a ratio with respect to wages, is most likely comparable to today's magazine cost. As to content there has to be something for everyone and in my opinion there is.
Do I purchase it nowdays, the answer is no, but that's a personal choice I made because of budgeting for items I now need. Will I purchase it at a later date, well You can bet on it.
The way I look at it, if those fellows don't like the magazine, the choice is simple, if you don't like the product just leave it on the shelf and be quiet unless you're asked. ( my Blog or rant for the day) :D

I believe they want to provide a first rate publication but don't know how to stay off the advertisers toes - I agree they need more how too's that are complete not these one and two page articles - I don't want to see a ten page article of XYZ revisited if they are not going to include some of the modelers breakdown on how he or she did various aspects of the layout!

I subscribe to industry publications that pertain to my buseness and they do me a great service by testing all products and tell what they feel in their comparison for their buyers guide - NOT just spects - If you handle it fairly with the respect of an advertiser it will be of benifite to both the consumer and advertiser - what MR did was give all involved free advertising unless they paid to be in that article and then we know why we got the article we did -

MR - keep up the good you do but if your going to send me an advertisment then don't charge me - other publications do that as an extra free mag. once a year and call it their BUYERS GUIDE!!!!!!!
hminky said:
When I started with Model Railroader in December 1958, the magazine had no beginner's stuff. That was obtained in their "Practical Guide to Model Railroading". I never had a problem with that concept.

Well I didn't subscribe in '58 (since Mom would have had to do it for me as I didn't exist yet), but I started reading it about '68. You're right about the content, it was pretty advanced.

I recall articles on scratch building your own switches, creating working catenary, scratch building timber trestles, and most intimidating of all, articles on how to scratch build steam locomotives! :eek:

Granted, most of those were too advanced for me, but today's version does seem rather simplified. More "Craftsman" type articles might be well recieved. Stuff like kitbashing structures etc. Or maybe they're already there and I just overlook them?
The one I find a bit frustrating is the simplified plans they put in Garden Railways magazine. Maybe I shouldn't complain, at least they're inspiring folks to build something, but I'd prefer to see the designs be closer to scale. Maybe that would make them more difficult to work with though...
I guess its time to add my 2 cents worth.

I will start off by saying that I too have been disappointed, disallusioned NOT! in the "dumbed" down content of MR compared to years past. Yes in the past we had the Dollar car projects, many layout/building plans and many articles on turning different Athearns into this and that diesel powered creature, many articles on kitbashing and even loco scratchbuilding articles.

But I differ from many on the MR forums and some here as well.

Leave the magazine alone, and stop Monday morning quarterbacking their decisions. They must be doing something right or they would not have a circulation of around 170,000. Granted its down from its heyday in the 80's/90's but show me a railroading magazine, any railroading magazine, that hasn't lost circulation since then. I know of at least two mags that currently are in danger of shutting down from a circulation drop. These mags carried the kind of articles that many complain MR doesn't.

The entire basis of the hobby has changed to a RTR format. Back in the fifties thru the seventies, if you wanted RTR, then the only choice was a set and most of that stuff wasn't any good. The only "good" sets were from Mantua, Penn Line, Bachmann, and Varney, and all of these sets (and most of the makers) were gone by the late sixties. All of these had very good motors, all wheel drive, (except the Mantua diesels, but it was a very good drive for its day, smooth and quiet). Pancake motors hadn't been invented yet. Most of these sets were anything but cheap as you could buy the same engines and cars as kits and they were, as kits, cheaper than the sets. RTR was considered a lame way to be a model railroader. To have quality rolling stock you either at least build the new BB type kits, or learned how to build and detail "craftsman" kits. No one worried about car numbers, color, accuracy or prototype correctness unless you were building for a NMRA contest. Then at the minimum, you'd start with a difficult craftsman kit and replace everything with scratched details or you'd build completly from scratch.

RTR now has a level of detail and quality that is unsupassed compared to what was the norm for RTR in years past. Are you aware that you can now buy a RTR that has more and better details on it, generally for less money, than you used to be able to buy in the most detailed craftsman loco or car kit on the market? As the market has changed so did the mag. I love to build, in fact I only own one car and one loco that is unaltered RTR. Does this make my way the ONLY, the BEST? No, not no way, not no how. Should the mag return to this "builders" format? Again, NNW,NNH. RTR, currently, appears to be the future of the hobby. We have had more new locos and loco types, as well as car and car types released in the past ten years than in the prior forty! Not counting the resin kits, many of these models are more detailed than the old kits. Plus I don't think that you'd see and continue to see this number of new releases if the hobby was "shrinking".

The mag has to change to reflect what is now this "mainstream" view and not toward the minority. That is, the most people the mag has gotten geared to are relatively new modelers, and an article with an in depth discussion of DCC like was being complained about over at the MR Forums, I believe would have scared off more people than it would have helped! So if the mag has less of a "how to" and more of a "see this" format, then if YOU don't like it, drop the subscription, stop buying the mag and find another. The Model Railroader HAS to stay a general, basic, and not an advanced, model railroading mag. (IMHO it always was the BASIC mag, even its most "intense" articles weren't as "intense" as the equivalent RMC articles). It was always the one mag that got you started in the hobby, geared more toward the individual as more of a "well rounded" inspirational source rather than a "well rounded" how to source.

Sorry about the length of the rant. I even took out three other paragraphs. I hope some of you understood what I tried to say. Sometimes I type like I talk (totally disjointed and uncomprehensible:rolleyes: ), when I get worked up about a subject, but this has been sticking in my craw for a while. Yes MR was a different mag than in the past, but that doesn't mean its a lesser one. If you've outgrown the mag, stop B***HING about it not growing with you and move on to other pastures. Remember, (besides the fact its just a mag, not THE bible about the hobby,) you once was like the new reader, the new model railroader, needing that level of information, and esp. inspiration, without being overwhelmed. There are plenty of alternatives out there for the more advanced modelers.
modelbob said:
Such as what?

Railroad Model Craftsman would be a step up. Although it doesn't have all the frills and thrills, it certainly has many in depth how-to articles requiring an above average skill level.
ModelBob wrote:

Such as what?

Well, lets see. These are just off the top of my head. Mainline Modeler, Narrow Gauge and Shortline Gazette, RMC. Many of the various regional NMRA mags have very good how to articles in them, some of which are on line.
I believe that you can get articles by John Nehrich (sp)? from the RTI web site. Jim Six's diesel modeling yahoo group always has something being built, rebuilt, or altered in some way. The Prototype Modelers group, steam era freight cars group. I'm sure there are many I've missed. There are many club sites that have how to articles that can be read and even printed for free. There really is no limit to what you can find, either on line via desktop publishing or thru other print media.
RMC is a 'step up'? Let's look at the history of RMC:

60's - Terrible spelling errors or lack of proof reading. Articles that had you go to page xx and there was nothing there!

70's - Got better with Jim Boyd in the mix, and no more 'Layout Doctor' track plans. Improved 'a lot' with Tony K being the editor. Then they got rid of him and it has wandered around sort of 'lost' ...

Two things about RMC I do like is the 'Dremel Craftsman' award series, and Ted Cullata's 'Essential Freight Cars' series. I fear that Ted's series really is a little too 'hard core' and might have been better in one of the other 'maybe soon to be departed' magazines.
RMC really got caught up in the Eastern coal mining theme for a long time. That was expected(they were getting great material from some very good modelers). The problem is that they really stopped publishing much outside of that theme. MR has been very 'generic' and has moved across the country(they were very Milwaukee/Midwest in their early days). MR also has been involved in a lot of the new 'technology' in model railroading through the years. Look at the 'Twin T' detection system, Homasote roadbed, 'L' Girder benchwork, Hardshell scenery - All from the pages of MR - With extensive testing and 'how to' articles.
That said, I think MR has 'dumbed down' some - But that is the 'People' magazine approach so many publications have gone to over the past 10-15 years. This hobby is changing, and the publications have to stay in synch....

Jim Bernier

Yes RMC in those days had problems like you describe. I think they all had "problems" unique to each mag. But I also find it interesting that all those "inovations and developments" of MR that you mention were all the idea of one man, Lynn Wescott. After he retired as editor and soon afterwards passed away, it seems so did MR's reputation for "innovation and development". Like I was just dicussing with Rex via e-mail, I believe that RMC is becoming what MR used to be.
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One thing I liked about the "old" RMC were the articles by Bill Schopp. My absolute favorite was the one where he took a PFM SRR Ps-4, a PFM USRA heavy mike, and turned the two into a SRR Ms-4 mike and a USRA Light Pacific, just by switching boilers and adding a few details, along with cutting up the tenders into something more appropriate to each locomotive class.

Schopp, under the title of the "Locomotive Doctor", saw no difference in brass bashing or plastic kit bashing if it gave him the model he wanted. He even cut apart two brass N&W 2-8-8-2's once and turned them into 2 totally different locos, one being a Virginian triplex 2-8-8-8-2 and the other a N&W 2-8-0. Two locos that were unobtainable any other way. He even went as far as to put three motors into the triplex!
Jim, I am sorry if I wasn't clear, but by me saying RMC would be a "step up" meant a step up in the modeling skill level of their articles and by no means was it meant to suggest that it was a better magazine than MR. Both mags do a good job of delivering information about model railroading, but are aimed at a different customer base.
Personally, I am at the skill level where I can still benefit from MR and can certainly gain from reading/studing RMC. I could care less about the politics with advertisers or how correct the grammer is just as long as I can still learn something new.
grande man said:
I always suspected advertiser critisism was the real cause for the last shutdown.


The troll(s) were posting all kinds of unsavory stuff and you cite critcism of an advertiser for the reason the MR forum was shut down?

MR is dragged over the coals every day in the MR forum. Many MR advertisers get dinged in the forum. and those threads go on forever.

The conspiracy theories around MR and their forum get really far-fetched sometimes, IMHO.
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cuyama said:

The troll(s) were posting all kinds of unsavory stuff and you cite critcism of an advertiser for the reason the MR forum was shut down?

MR is dragged over the coals every day in the MR forum. Many MR advertisers get dinged in the forum. and those threads go on forever.

The conspiracy theories around MR and their forum get really far-fetched sometimes, IMHO.

It's always possible that that's just my perception. It does seem that the "troll" incident was preceeded by some legit threads regarding some large advertisers and their policies. The reason I feel the "troll" thing was just an excuse is this, Troll Account + Delete = No Troll. Easy Huh? They were actually making statements that the forum might be permanently closed (over that???:rolleyes: ).