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Posted By Spule 4 on 02/26/2009 10:50 PM
....and it is unfortunate that many of the better modelling project and prototype magazines have died in the last few years.

What is really becoming unfortunate that when you pick up a 20+ year old railroad magazing, it is oftentimes more interesting than its modern counterpart.






Yo, Dude,

Did you speak for me, or what?


I have a whole buncha 70's NMRA bulletins, and for line dwgs and general tech info/issue, there ain't a pub today I know of that can catch 'em.

I have a great many pre-2000 NGSLG's. Fabulous, even if they are oriented heavily to HO--not so in later issues. Facts are facts, ideas are ideas, transferable to any scale.

My private suspicion is that most RR mags today are poll-driven and insider-dominated. The editors suffer from the same management school as Vanity Fair. They cannot possibly listen to their reader's requests for certain subjects. Else, why would so many go down the tubes? Oh, they can't afford to print in today's market? Sucks to be them, but why, when other mags tend to dominate? Oh, bought out by big corporations? Inflexible, therefore?

Let us bring back the 'subscription pulp letter'. Almost like Timber Times. But not so upscale. How many modellers really need slicks? [ Edited after post: this is old-fashioned thinking. See below]

And I don't wanna hear about 'send in what you want if you don't see it.' That is pure unadulterated BS. First, you have to get past the 'assigned stable of writers'. With 'assigned topics'. These are people who can do it. Dependably, hopefully. If not, an opening flashes by.

Then, you have to get past the lookup clerk, "We've got 3 hundred articles like that in stock. See? Every one has 'train, wheel, or engine' in the title." Fine, publish a few and you'll have room for more, and hey, they might be different!

Then you have to get past the editor, assuming you get past the screener. If he doesn't like it, you're screwed. And he has no particular urge to 'like' your submission over hundreds of others--many by pro tech writers trying to fill out a paycheck by submitting to a slew of mags publishing on the same subject. I used to send out, like that, as a tech writer. Sometimes you get lucky.

Boards like this are the future of REAL hardrock, nitty-gritty, down 'n dirty, smoke-fumes-in-your-nose model RRing articles. Except they'll be cased in answers to specific questions, rather than pre-structured formats, ala 'articles'.

Just like the old 'circular letters' modellers used to send each other.

Les
 

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Randy,

Your beef (if that's not too strong a word) with GR is valid in my estimation, and here's why: the editor didn't tell you why this issue happened to be slanted not to suit you. He told you essentially what the cop at your elbow tells you: "It's this way because that's the way it is." Now, that's pretty hard to argue about.

I don't have a subscription to GR--anymore. Want the last two year's worth for the postage? That's essentially what they're worth to me. You go calculate the subscription cost on your own time.


I don't write editors anymore. I just quit buying their mags. It's simpler. You, I and the dog next door all together ain't going to change their opinion. Only falling subscription rates do that. It gets the corporation's attention, they get fired and another similarly-educated editor takes over. The same guy who could edit Car & Driver. ****, it's all the same, right? A magazine formatted to X, Y, & Z and aimed at incomes $$$, $$$$, $$$$$--for charging advertising rates.

You want ... uh, E, F, or G articles? Hidden attitude: (Sucks to be you, dude. We have a business to run here, if you don't mind.)

Editors have an unanswerable reply: "We can't please everyone, every time." And they're right. But they forget that they'd dam' well better please most readers most of the time. Or they go bye-bye.

So, enjoy your GR. I sucked it up until I realized it was more fuller of high-end crap that I can't afford. And exotic bushes that I can't even pronounce the name of. Shrug. So I quit 'em. I saw a thread on this site where a guy ran his track through his hedges. Looked great, after the hedges grew up a tad. Realistic as ****.

Les
 

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In looking at the hobby press over the years (I have been reading MR since 1959 and foolishly saved that enormous pile of mags), it has become clear that model railroading in all scales has changed enormously. In HO in the 1950s-60s it was a major feat just to get a small layout actually running as everything had to be built from kits or scratched. The focus of the hobby was very much on modelling specific equipment or structures and that was reflected in the magazines of the period.

The same has been true of large scale with two caveats - the timeframes are shifted at least 30 years and gardens play a prominent role for many participants.

Over time in the smaller scales, but especially in HO, more rtr stuff became available. These new models were generally much better than most dedicated scratchbuilders could produce and they were relatively inexpensive. The focus of the hobby shifted subtley year by year toward modelling a railroad and its operation as opposed to modelling specific equipment. The model press followed suit and more holistic articles have become the stock in trade.

Large scale as represented by GR has followed that trend as well only more slowly given the lag that exists in large scale in following the more generalized model railroading trend. GR also devotes about 1/3 of its space to gardening which crowds the space available for other modelling topics. I am not complaining at all - in fact the only reason I subscribe to GR is because of the gardening aspects and the pictures of well done scenes from other's garden railroads. For general model railroading, MR and the Gazoo are both light years ahead. (And the vast majority of information is entirely independent of both scale and gauge - I guess I do not understand that part of the argument at all!)

The problem of course is that the scratchbuilders and kitbashers among us feel rightfully left out as the hobby has moved on dragging the model press with it. I have spoken to editors about this and the standard reply is generally along the lines of ... construction articles are of interest to only a small proportion of readers and construction projects of specific equipment/structures have a very very limited appeal. Their only interest in a construction project is when it breaks new ground in terms of technique. Otherwise, they seem to be pretty much focussed on the modelling a railway concept not on building one scale model.

Is there a solution for those who really want to build models? I would suggest that the Gazoo is as good as it gets in the model press. Otherwise, boards such as this one can play the part of sharing ideas. But even here on MLS, you will notice that model building is not a particularly active subject although in fairness there are a number of folks who routinely post details of their latest creations.

Regards ... Doug
 

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I seem to find something interesting and useful in every issue of GR. Like Doug, I'm interested in the gardening aspects and I enjoy the shots of other folks railroads.


I let my subscriptions lapse on the other railroading magazines as I did not feel I was getting my money's worth. 6 issues of the Gazette costs $36. A year of Railroad Model Craftsman is $38. 12 issues of Model Railroader will set me back $42. I tried a year subscription to MR awhile back and didn't find much that was applicable to me. I just went and previewed MR and RMC for this month, and did not feel there was much I could use. I was actually hoping I could just read them at the library, but they no longer carry any railroad magazines.


The older magazines have a lot more information in them with step by step details on construction. For less than the cost of a one year subscription, I can order a bunch of older magazines that are relevant to what I might be interested in building. (I get them from RailPub, and many are $3 per issue.) They're a bit old and musty at times, but they have a lot of neat tips for the scratch builder.


I don't see the magazines disappearing entirely, but it sure is nice to get information on-line through these forums.
 

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I did not read all these long replies but I took it as Mac was asking for more smaller mainline articals. Jerry Barnes and some of the others who have had articals in ; knows it is that its timing and depends on what else he has down the line. I personally have never thought of it as rejection of my artical. Its based on need and theme and what ever.
I think folks need to keep tring and I know I have had some held for years before it hit print.
Just keep Marc H. with lots of articals to pick from and we will see good full articals.
I get tire of hearing, I tried once and was rejected. thats not right. If I get 1 out of 5 printed , its life.
 

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Doug hit the nail on the head with his assessment.

I've given up on the mainstream mags ever covering my interests now. I still get GR on the hopes that with the economic downturn they might again publish articles that are of interest to me, namely small compact layouts that are very well done instead of the bigger is better 100' x 200' layout they seam focused on of late.

The Gazzete is the only mag I get that really emphisises model building. I only buy MR on rare occasions if they publish something of interest, RMC is the same but RMC still seams to have more emphisis on actual model craftsmanship than MR.

I dunno what the future holds, even here on MLS theres been a significant drop in interest in Kitbash ond Scratchbuildt model building over the last 5 years, the Masterclass used to have many participants, now we have to ask if theres any interest and are only getting a few nibbles.

I blame the same reasons for the demise of kitbashing in the smaller scales, namely the wider extent of RTR products on the market, the emphisis in the mags on "out of the box" railroading, and a demographic that "wants it now" and does not want to invest ages building something unique when they can get an Aristo or Bachmann product thats "close enough" and be done with it. How else can you explain one rather maddening pet peeve I have regarding published layouts in GR, and thats the a certain sameness to them, same Piko and Pola buildings, same LGB bridges, same engines, same rolling stock. All thats different in the layout plan. With the advent of so many RTR products including premade buildings the same "sameness" is beginning to occur in the smaller scales as well.
 

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I kind of mildly--very mildly--resent the implication of moral superiority here. I've done a few kitbashes, modest stuff, and enjoyed it very much. I've got a couple on the back burner rght now. But I've never participated in the masterclasses because they always seem to be making stuff I'm not interested in--no fault in that, it's just stuff I'm not interested in making. if there was a master class in making, say, an Allegheny, or a Reading camelback, I'd be interested, but it seems like most of the serious modelers are interested in narrow gage. No problem with that, it's just a fact.

It's not really bad if Aristo makes a decent 40 foot boxcar, is it? Would it be logical to say "hey, that's pretty much exactly what I want, but I can't buy it and run it, that would be wrong?"That would be a little self defeating, like criticizing people who buy cars instead of making their own. I've always wanted a GP-3o- in Reading green and yellow. I could make one, but look--USAT is coming out with one later this year. My wfe won't have to be annoyed by the smell of paint! Meanwhile nearly all my out of the box stuff has been modified in some way.
 

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Posted By vsmith on 02/28/2009 9:30 AM
..... and a demographic that "wants it now" ....







Well there you go. Extends way beyond the scope of this post too if you really look at it.

I am just happy to be doing someting I first thought of 20 years ago.
 

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Vic, I agree with you about the frequent "sameness" of the layouts, and that this could be remedied if more people would do scratch-building and kitbashing.

The size of the layouts doesn't bother me much... though I do shake my head sometimes when they show layouts larger than mine and call them "small" or "a tight space". One small complaint I have with a lot of big layouts is that they're _just_ big. You don't often see big layouts that look as good (read: detailed) as the smaller ones.

The gardening articles generally are a waste of space to me, but I know I'm in the minority there.
 

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Well, since I'm probably the only editor-in-chief of a model ailroading magazine (O Gauge Railroading) participating on this forum, I guess I should add my input.

MANY misconceptions here about how a hobby magazine operates--many of them posted by Les in his responses.

Is IS impossible to please everyone all of the time when you're publishing a magazine that tries to appeal to a variety of interests on a variety of subjects. That's not an excuse, it's just a simple fact.

And we DO depend on reader contributions for the bulk of the material we publish, and I'm confident "Garden Railways" does as well. We, like GR, have a very small core staff and we're fortunate to have a few regular contributors who keep us supplied with excellent material.

Furthermore, there is no multi-level screening process applied to material that is submitted by our readers and supporters. I am the editor of my magazine, and I make the final decision related to what will be used and when it will be used. I obviously share new submissions with others on the staff--particularly those involving technical subjects beyond my expertise--but it's most definitely NOT a matter of giving first priority to staff-created material with second fiddle going to outside contributors.

This past year, I largely (but by no means exclusively) focused our October issue on the theme of O scale narrow gauge (primarily On30 and On3). Took a whole lot of heat for that, primarily from the 3-rail crowd, including a few subscription cancellations (or threats to do so). Fine, take your toys and go home! But I feel it is part of my responsibility to educate and enlighten others on ALL aspects of the O gauge and O scale hobby, and On30, in particular, is a fast-growing area of that niche. I make no apologies whatsoever for that October issue, or for any future issues that may have a primary focus on a particular segment of the hobby--subway and traction modeling, for example.

Just last night, I was reading a response by John Sipple, editor of "Model Railroad News" (March 2009) to a letter he had received in which the writer said, and I quote: "Unless I get an answer to this question, I'll not renew my subscription."

John's response was: "You need to understand a couple of things up front. First, we don't run a 'follow-the-leader' mentality regarding what other magazines publish. We are our own publishing company and we march to our own drum. Second, as an editor, I am never persuaded or changed by threats of any sort, including subscription renewals. You never get a good publication if you let other folks run the City Desk."

Bravo for you, John! That response leads me to respect your publication even more!

I'm in the enviable position of not really having to work if I don't want to. I have sufficient resources--especially now since my Social Security kicked-in this month--to stay at home and play trains if that is what I might choose to do. But I have devoted a large part of the past 20 years to being an advocate for this hobby through my journalistic activities, including associations with Greenberg Publishing Company, Kalmbach, Landmark Specialty Books, and Krause Publications, and I delight in hearing from folks who were inspired to get involved in this great hobby by something I wrote or published. That makes it all worthwhile, especially since I've been involved in the hobby--including Large Scale--for a good many years. It's really nice to have the security of not being beholden to any "special interest group," and I fully intend to continue my post with "O Gauge Railroading" for as long as I'm physically and/or mentally able, and will continue to make every effort to grow the magazine in terms of its circulation and to continually improve it in terms of its content. It's kind of nice to get up in the morning and feel that it's fun to go to work!

I'm a regular reader of "Garden Railways" as well, and will continue to enjoy and support that publication for as long as I'm able to. Unlike some here, I guess, I invariably learn something new from every issue of every model railroading magazine I read (and that includes a lot of magazines), even if some of the content of a particular issue doesn't really interest me.
 

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Allen,

It is regrettable you feel that I am posting misconceptions.

This debate developed over a reader's dissatisfaction with a magazine's content.

Your reply included the admission that you do depend upon reader submissions for said content.

In another post, someone weighed in with ''... if you don't like the content, submit your own articles ..." to which I believe you have shown you are in agreement, if not in tone, in fact.

Isn't that rather like demanding the consumer provide the content, or be silent?

Les
 

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Posted By vsmith on 02/28/2009 9:30 AM

I dunno what the future holds, even here on MLS theres been a significant drop in interest in Kitbash ond Scratchbuildt model building over the last 5 years, the Masterclass used to have many participants, now we have to ask if theres any interest and are only getting a few nibbles.

[Edited]







Vic,

I want to specifically address why I don't participate in the Masterclass articles. There are several reasons: first, on cursory glance, it appears that, to join a given one, you must have the engine/rolling stock item to be bashed. That can be costly, depending upon the item chosen. I don't have the money (or the desire to spend the money if I did) on bashing an expensive engine.

That's why I like the things you and others post, replete with step-by-step pictures. As an aside, when a particular project posting catches my attention I make it a point to post, thanking the author for taking the trouble to do so. I feel that's the least I can do.

Besides initial, undefined costs after enrolling, there appears to be the need to spend more money on castings, parts, and whatnot. I don't know that this is a fact, I'm making an assumption.

Then there is another uncertainty: the time factor: how quickly/slowly will this class unroll? Too fast, I can't keep up. Too slow, I lose interest. Thus, for me, it's too risky to become involved, particulary when there's such a wide range of 'low cost/simple' things posted nearly every week.

So you see, for those who've never done a Masterclass, perhaps more information might be made available, as perhaps in a 'sticky' that says, "Go here for details."

The best illustration--two, actually--I can think of to mention are NavyTech's bash of a B'mann, and Larry I.'s (I cannot remember how to spell that gentleman's last name) two-stall engine shed. Those were a couple of memorable--at least to me--series. Could those events, and others like them, be connected with lack of enrollment?

What I think would be kinda nice is, if Stan 'n The Boys ran a sort-of contest once a month, once every couple of months--whatever--asking: "Name the 'bash/construction article you liked best this month." Then that person might receive recognition, and say, a princely prize of $5 bucks. Or just an 'attaboy' sticker to add to his avatar. I don't know, just speculation on my part.

Les
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Everyone, please understand, my reason for starting this thread was not because I was dissatisfied with the magazine's content. I was dissatisfied with the Editor's response to complaints that his magazine didn't have enough standard gauge articles. My beef was that I felt Marc was blowing off a significant part of the hobby with out even allowing a slight flcker of hope for more SG stories and info. I just think Aristo Craft and USA are selling a lot of SG trains and while the majority of LS hobbiest may be modeling NG, how can you ignore the SG group? Expecially in these economic times. If he had only said he would put some thought into SG articles or that he might run a survey to find out what the true interest of the readership is, I would have never started this thread.

Randy
 

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Randy,

I don't see where you need to apologize for stating an opinion. Yours is as good as anyone's, isn't it? Or is it? Are some opinions acceptable, while others are not? We are in the process of finding out.

Allan Miller--the O gauge publisher--showed in his post that editors, as a class, are not concerned with the opinions of those who complain about their magazines--and he certainly wasn't posting misconceptions, in my NSHO.

He made my point far better than I did, and I congratulate him for truthful accuracy.

Les
 

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"Isn't that rather like demanding the consumer provide the content, or be silent?"
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Not in any way, shape, or form! No specialty magazine in this or any other hobby that I know of relies solely on staff-generated content. This hobby is made up of thousands of individuals, all with different talents, interests, and levels of expertise. Those who are willing to share those qualities with their fellow hobbyists are ALWAYS welcome to do so, and if they can put words on paper (or screen) and can take decent photos to illustrate their points, their contributions are not only welcome but actively solicited--repeatedly.

As for not caring what our readers think: That is a ridiculous interpretation of my words! Of course we care what the readers think because that is what has allowed our magazine to go (for 40 years) and grow to the point where we now have our erstwhile competition on the defensive (part of the fun of the job). When you start gaining circulation and attracting new advertisers or drawing advertisers from your competitors, it's a pretty good sign that you're doing something right and are headed in the right direction, even if not everyone will agree with what you're doing (total agreement is a sheer impossibility).

My primary goal as editor is to grow interest in the segment of the hobby our publication covers. That includes 3-rail O gauge, 2-rail O scale, O gauge and Std. Gauge tinplate, and O scale narrow gauge, along with the various sub-categories, including scenery, control systems, and a variety of other topics applicable to all scales.

A somewhat secondary goal is to make life interesting for the competition (we have more than one competitor) by making them work even harder. Our magazine is currently #2 in circulation in our subject area, but the gap is closing at a good pace and I'm determined to make it #1, over time. That doesn't happen overnight, but there's no great rush. We'll just keep plugging away as best we can, always mindful that the #1 priority is to help strengthen and grow our segment of the hobby.

We also operate the #1--by far--discussion forum on the Internet related to O gauge and O scale model railroading--so much so that manufacturers, after-market suppliers, and dealers are vying for increased advertising space on our forum (something we're looking at closely and evaluating all the alternatives). When we do something in the magazine that folks don't agree with, you can be darn certain that we hear about it quickly and that we take all comments--both positive and negative--into account in our planning and execution of future issues. But one or two unhappy folks, or even a few more, will NEVER be allowed to dictate the direction I take our publication. As I've told our staff on numerous occasions: If we lose a subscriber because he or she is unhappy, it's our job to get at least two new subscribers to replace that person. As I believe I noted in my earlier post, I view this more as a fun way to do what I love doing, rather than just a job.
 
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