Saturday, 17 February 2018

Saturday Ramble

A couple of people query my love of smaller (or just small) shows. The trend in the last twenty years is to get bigger and bigger and this probably peaks with the mighty Warley.  The comment that accompanies is often that it proves how buoyant the hobby is. Maybe, maybe not. I would tend to say the opposite. I don't know what the gate numbers are for such a show, but I'd think that there is a percentage involved here. Say it is 10,000. 2,500 of this are casuals i.e. those who are interested but do no modelling. Another quarter are what might be termed 'collectors', those who will buy the latest Hornby model and put it on the shelf. Leaving half of the number who are are actually doing any modelling; from running some RTR round in circles, to the full-blown hair-shirt scratch-builders.

These numbers could also most probably be transferred in percentage terms down to any show. The difference is that at the smaller shows you get more modelling. Yes some of it isn't that high quality, but it is modelling nevertheless. What's more is that it is more representative of what actually happens, and shows the real levels of attainment. The big shows rarely do this, only picking the best of the bunch and keeping the quality high. Not to mention the fashion of 'billing', that is that there has to be a number of name layouts that have appeared in the press. The problem here is that can have an adverse effect leaving the casual/beginner with a feeling of 'I'll never be able to do that'. Conversely the small show usually hits a more basic level. There maybe a top flight layout or two, but more likely there will be varying levels of quality, and more often  - ideas. In other words some of the more left-field oddball stuff that will never get to Warley et al and has been dreamt up by a guy who has no desire to go there. That's where the magic is, that's where the modelling is, and that's where I tend to gravitate toward.


  1. Hi Chris

    I think you make several valid points here. Perhaps the main one is about who is actually modelling. It is perfectly OK for somebody to create a layout with RTR stock, ready to plant buildings etc.

    Perhaps what we might encourage is that people have a bash at making a few items. Take Handcross, which you highlighted recently. It was an interesting mix of the rather basic E2 and more authentic motive power, mixed with Ratio coaches built from kits. On the building side the station building is a modified Wills Craftsman and if I remember rightly the Inn is scratch built.

    It strikes me that in Railway Modelling RTR is a big part of the hobby, whilst in aviation, military modelling and boats there is more actual modelling and creativity.

    Inevitably the big ticket layouts get the attention. For me a small layout with a bit of personality and fewer locos and stock are much more attractive. That doesn't shift inventory for the commercial side of things.

  2. I'm not sure there are many casual visitors to the NEC. You don't ened up there by accident, and if you didn't, I'm not sure you'd say, "Well, we are here. Let's go to the toy train show.". Those with an interest but doing no modelling will be a high percentage, but that's because lots of people are now only interested in buying boxes. Depresseing, but at least it keeps the RTR makers in business - and if they went out of business, I don't beleive there would be an upsurge of Romford wheel making. People would just spend money on something else.

    People (apart from me) also don't want unusual layouts. They want the same mega layouts that appear everywhere and moan if they aren't there. Then they moan that it's the same layouts at every show. "Why isn't there a new Gresley Beat at every show" cries kettlesforever434 while ignoring the fact he's not done anything more than add to his collection of boxes for years.

  3. I'll bet there are more casuals than you think. From the accompanying only marginally interested partners to those who are going with a mate because he suggested it, in the way that I might wander along with someone to a classic bike show even though my interest is very slight. I wouldn't go on my own... but. In some ways those are the people we're trying to attract.