Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Happy birthday

For one reason or another I've been spending time looking at magazines this week, mainly for aesthetics. I picked up MRJ No1, which of course wasn't the first, that being the preview No 0. Then I noticed the cover date - Spring 1985. My schoolboy maths makes that 30 years ago. Hands up who remembers this being the brave new dawn of modelling? On the face of it it's changed very little and certainly less than the others have in the intervening years. It's mostly in colour now, but the basic design has remained the same. It did lose it's way for a while; the whole issues dealing with one etched kit were a low point, but on the whole the classic feel of it has stood the test of time quite well and thank goodness it didn't go down the dumbing down process of having lots of pretty coloured boxes that all the others have. The hobby has changed a bit since 1985 and many of the torches that early MRJs carried have now become mainstream expectations Others though have not. The second article in this issue by Monty Wells complains quite strongly about kit component quality; something which has changed little in some quarters, but how many of today's similar pieces would be allowed to say so? Everything is rosy now - even when it's not. Is MRJ still the one true independent voice amongst all the pretty coloured boxes?
BTW I owe Richard a prize.


  1. Having been rude about kits and materials in print many times, one very recently to the consternation of the manufacturer, I'd say the idea that there is no free model railway press is less true than many forums will have you believe. There are a small number of people who think every new product should be treated to a tirade of abuse (often for nothing more than the colour of box it arrives in) and a lot of people who want to see conspiracies - and I know there is nothing I can do to change that.

    MRJ can also be cliquey and less than fair when it wants to be. There's a great deal of fashion too. I lose count of the number of layout articles that are a list of Wild Swan books. Some are so bad that if Martyn Welch had picked a shorter name for his weathering book, they would have saved almost an entire issue of the mag since it is a badge of honour to say, "I weathered my XYZ following ......."

    Personally, I much prefered the pre-Inkerman street days. Those were when finescale modelling was at its most fun for me. RTR was useable as raw material (it still is but people seem scared to do so) and Iain Rice's pragmatic bodging encouraged people to have a go. There were loads of kits, of variable quality admitedly, but anyone on the exhibition circuit had a layout full of locos they had MADE. Now there's a lot of marvelling at the perfect of a small number of mega modellers output or re-wheeling RTR.

    Sadly, the numbers who actually model (build things) has fallen dramatically, hence the apparent "dumbing down" or in reality, going after the audience who will spend money - although having been told on a forum that building an etched brass loco kit was "mundane", I wonder how dumb it is or whether there are a lot of people who have never actually built anything but are convinced that when they do deign to get a kit out, they will be the next G R Williams. I've certainly met plenty for whom my "dumb" guides are still at the edge of their ability.

  2. 'Mundane' as in boring or in not worth the bother?
    Agree about the pre-Inkerman Street days. Probably up to No 40 was its best and most inspiring period. What I like though is that is still a good read, as opposed to a RTR shopping list. There's nothing wrong with that, but I want to know why and how.

  3. Nooooooo!! It can't be that long ago, surely? I have all the issues including issue 0 and the compendiums bar one which got lost in the post. A few have been chewed a bit by mice due to them being stored in the barn but now they are in plastic boxes. In the latest issue someone is selling the complete set for £350. I always read it all the way through even when the article isn't of interest and may be a bit boring - after all. I've paid £4.20 + international postage rates out of my pension so I'm getting me moneys' worth! The best bits for me are to do with buildings and scenery, especially Gordon Gravett. Apart from the vast improvement in the RTR offerings, this is where I see the greatest increase in making models more realistic. I think the bods at MRJ have done a great job over the years.