Friday 27 March 2015

The guttering press

There's been a lot of consideration about magazines hereabouts lately, and in an empty moment I pondered about why we buy the ones we do and why do we bother at all.
I bought my fist Railway Modeller in 1977 in Woolies in Middlesbrough - yes, Woolies remember them? I have religiously stuck to it ever since with the usual gaps for women and song and it now magically lands on the mat every month without any action from me at all. Of course RM is the only title that you could trace this far back; the rest appearing, if memory serves, in dribs and drabs starting with MRJ in 1985.
Why do we stick to one title? I rarely even look at the others and I'm one of that derided breed who will not buy if it's in a plastic wrap and I can't flick through it first. Come to think of it why is there more than one title at all? After all, they all do the same thing: ads-reviews- layouts-how-to's. So why not just one? There are of course parallels with the national press and there it is easy to make trite clich├ęd class distinctions:van driver -Sun, teacher - Guardian etc. That won't work with model mags although shifts can occur. In the same way that 25 years ago I found myself shifting from one of the middle ranking nationals to a (then physically) broadsheet, I find myself picking up MRJ a few times a year, and unlike RM which gets systematically chopped up and separated, the MRJs I tend to keep. Why? Is the future bright for printed model mags, or I we more likely to screen view now? And will the six still be around in a decade?


  1. The internet and cost of magazines has killed my buying habit stone dead. My first RM was October 1973. It had an interesting NG scene on the cover but irritatingly nothing on it inside. It did have a 'pike', a multi-level US railroad of the DRG route from Denver to somewhere the other side of the Rockies. Even then, aged 12, my taste was NG and/or pre 1900s or foreign.

    Continental Modeller is my favourite browsing mag these days, though MRJ very occasionally has something interesting in it.The rest are dominated by British Standard gauge, most of it post 1930 with an emphasis on BR and nearly all of it OO scale. It's not that it's bad modelling, just that it's boring because it's already been done.

  2. My mag of choice in my teens was Model Railway Constructor as I just preferred its presentation style, also it seemed to feature a wider variety (odd bits of Continental, US, etc.).
    I liked the drawings too.
    When we moved to Polegate our next door neighbour used to pass me his copy of RM so I still got to read most issues.
    I got into reading MRJ early on and probably had the first 50 or so, after that it started to get a bit samey, and of course MRC closed down fairly soon after MRJ started.
    Nowadays I buy RM nearly every month, I simply don't like the presentation of the others......too "busy", not easy on the eye with large blocks of colour containing text, and often printed on bog paper.
    Last time I bought Model Rail (well, I think it of those anyway, they all look the same to me) was for the article on Dovey Valley and I couldn't help thinking it a shame that it wasn't in RM as it would have been easier to read.
    MRJ? Occasionally, but only if there's something that really inspires me (probably by Jerry Clifford or Gordon Gravett).
    I usually buy the Review but don't subscribe as the postman always manages to screw it up.
    Print vs. digital?
    Print every time. I regard digital as "throw-away" and don't see any point in paying for something I can probably get free if I look hard enough. If "they" stop producing printed magazines then I won't buy magazines any more, simple.
    Good to see you at Lancing, still find it amazing how you've managed to get a good sense of space in 0-16.5 on a 4' board.

    1. I generally agree. Call me old fashioned , but while I find the whole digital angle highly useful, not to mention entertaining, be ing able to curl up with a mag without the need for power or a device a very important part of life.
      BTW LESS than 4'. 3' 9"