Effect of the internet on our hobby

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Effect of the internet on our hobby

Postby Lillys » Sat Apr 11, 2015 6:40 pm

Do you think that the internet is killing this hobby, or helping it?

The internet certainly makes communication easier. Here we are on newrailwaymodellers, and we're able to exchange views,ideas and photos related to our interest. We can exchange those ideas with people from all over the world, whereas previously, we were often limited to those from our immediate area.

But I often read about how the average amount of time spent on the internet is increasing each year. What effect do you think that has on interest in model trains? Does it lower the amount of time spent on model related activities, or do you think people just lessen the amount of time they spend in other activities?

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Re: Effect of the internet on our hobby

Postby End2end » Sat Apr 11, 2015 7:03 pm

For me personally it's a no-brainer. I'm a solo modeller, not belonging to any club or society. Many years ago I used to read the modelling mags and what I saw was way above anything I could even invisage of creating. Like manuals for things. The manual may tell you how the manufacturer expects you to use an item but what about the vairables in particular for "my situation".
With the net, I have almost instant asnwers to specific questions I want to ask, encouragement, general consensus's, advice, direction and guidance and the benefit of those who came before and those on the cutting edge, like the 3d printed items now visible on one members layout (mind not working at the moment can't rmember which member :lol: - apologies).
Plus all the pictures I can indulge in of other layouts that I once had to wait a month each time to see as I was limited to buying magazines and the odd book or two.
I don't really watch tv anymore...is there anything actully worth watching anymore, or has it ALL become "follwing people around watching them do thier daily jobs" :roll:

I talk live with others online, I listen to a lot of internet radio, I can keep in touch and be just a click away to communitcate.
But I can also turn it all off and go for a good old constitutional or cycle somwhere :)

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Re: Effect of the internet on our hobby

Postby edgehillroad » Sat Apr 11, 2015 7:26 pm

Love it or hate it the internet is part of the hobby, many would be lost without it because they buy online, I think its a matter of being able to balance the time between the internet and actually working on our layouts, its also a great way of working out which people are armchair modellers because they spend so much time on the net that they couldn't possibly have a layout :D . :lol:

To me the internet is a big part of the hobby as I can get all the required information at the click of a mouse, thanks to the many clued up modellers on forums it makes it easy to get real information, further more it saves getting involved with the sometimes political stuff and backstabbing that goes on at clubs :lol:

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Re: Effect of the internet on our hobby

Postby carnehan » Sat Apr 11, 2015 7:30 pm

Welcome to the forum Lillys. In response to your question as a current railway modelling enthusiast the Internet has been largely positive for the hobby. Since I returned to the hobby 2 years ago I have been able to access more information than I ever could have before. This has increased my abilities in modelling, given me insight in to real world railway operations, given me access to help forums such as this for guidance and advice, widened the availability of railway related products to help build and model a layout and introduced me to like minded individuals who I would call friends.

The one big negative for me would be the demise of the high street model shop however the flip side of this is the internet has given the opportunity to shop around for a price that you are prepared to pay.

I have always had an interest in the railways and model railways since I was a child, primarily due to my Dads layout he built for us as children. Do modern day children get that same access? I'm guessing not so much. Christmas presents are now hand held games consoles, iPads, mobile phones and computer games. Who receives a train set now or is introduced to creative play? I want my son to enjoy the trains I run and play with but I'm sure he will be in the minority of children today. In this respect the Internet and modern technology in general has a somewhat negative impact on the hobby.

I attended a model railway exhibition today and saw kids ogling the layouts and getting hands on experience running a train. Hopefully this will give them the imagination and desire to persue the hobby in the future. The hobby will always have its place but like so many hobbies and interests in arts and crafts we will be in the minority. The Internet will, however, enhance and promote the hobby to anyone wishing to discover that information and that can only be a good thing.


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Re: Effect of the internet on our hobby

Postby ParkeNd » Sat Apr 11, 2015 7:41 pm

I would say anyone under about 35 will consider the current level of Internet activity normal and not understand what all the fuss is about.

People over about 35 will notice that increased internet usage is at the expense of talking to other family members, looking out of the window when a passenger in trains, buses, and cars - sometimes also when driving cars.

Does it reduce the time spent railway modelling ? Probably not. More people might become silent forum ghosts and never start physical modeling activities I suppose.

It's almost impossible now to buy any form of hobby items without the internet.

Probably the biggest victim of the Internet has to have been encyclopaedia sales. :D

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Re: Effect of the internet on our hobby

Postby luckymucklebackit » Sat Apr 11, 2015 8:53 pm

Lots of positives, the ability to research photographs of buildings, locomotives and stock is much easier, and the ability to source components etc is much improved

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Re: Effect of the internet on our hobby

Postby jmelville » Sat Apr 11, 2015 9:29 pm

The internet is very helpful why only the other day I found the suppliers of some magnets which I wanted to get hold of and had spent all morning ringing around model shops drawing a blank. Came on the Forum and asked if anybody had idea where I could get them and had answer back in almost minutes. Well that has to be perfect example of how the internet is very helpful. Makes research a lot easier as well. .
I cannot think of any negatives really. I just think of it as a tool which makes life easier.
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Re: Effect of the internet on our hobby

Postby VerdevaleRailway » Sat Apr 11, 2015 9:37 pm

My opinion is that the internet has actually increased the interest and participation in the hobby. And I think this is borne out by considering the 'crazy' prices that are being paid for second hand goods, some of which are past their usefulness but still being sought after as cheaper alternatives for new RTR offerings.

I think too that smaller manufacturers are emerging as the internet has allowed start-up operators access to manufacturers and new technologies (thinking 3D printing here) outside of their own country, and have a global market to sell to, from their own home office.

When I was young, my only access to Railway modelling literature were the local library which had about 5 (probably rather dated even then) books and a Hornby catalogue. Now I have access to information and inspiration 24/7. (hmm just woke up at 5,30am and here I am lurking on the Net :) ) And honestly, my internet usage has completely replaced the TV, in fact the model railway replaced the TV, as the TV connection had to be shifted when I established the layout, and I haven't got around to re-routing it yet, 8 months later....

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Re: Effect of the internet on our hobby

Postby Bufferstop » Sun Apr 12, 2015 12:15 am

As with all things there will be those who use the internet for all the wrong reasons or who lack the will to do anything constructive, but for the hobby as a whole the internet is a fantastic tool. End2end has said virtually everything that I would, for me it's better than a club, I don't have to waste precious time travelling to meetings. It's a fantastic tool for research whether it's just the best price for items I want, facts about the when, why and how of the history of railways, or just browsing through thousands of pictures of the real thing, could never hope to visit all those places, or even plough through enough books to see them, but a Google search for images delivers more views than I could ever find any other way. In 1992 I went to a seminar, I knew it would include something about email, like so many in IT I was struggling to make proprietary email systems work, I came away having seen email on the internet, the worldwide web, instant messaging and all the rest, it changed everything, it was the way to do almost anything better or more easily, nothing since then has changed my mind.
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Re: Effect of the internet on our hobby

Postby Peterm » Sun Apr 12, 2015 12:52 am

Living in S.E Qld has made the internet a valuable asset, not just for keeping in touch with like minded people, but also family and friends back in blighty. My nearest proper model shop is about 50 or more miles away and stocks mostly American N gauge.

As has been said already, I can now look at things that I'd never be able to have seen without 'the net.' But I still prefer to read a book or a mag' to reading from a computer screen... weird eh ?

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Re: Effect of the internet on our hobby

Postby End2end » Sun Apr 12, 2015 12:55 am

One thing I omitted from my initial post that others have mentioned is shopping online and virtual cash holding.
I cannot drive and my local model shop is less than applaudable to be honest so I cannot get to other model shops unless a special trip is planned.
This leaves me having to shop online for the items I need to build a layout and using online places to sell the items I can do without to raise funds for the more important things.
This unfortunatly then brings it's own problems. Fees and money stuck in the virtual world so it cannot be used "off the cuff" if I manage to stumble upon an item to purchase in the "real world".
A lot of the items needed by new modellers are not neccersarily the "fun" purchases like loco's and rolling stock, but rather the mundane items, wire and the ilk which in fact I have found to be cheaper online than anywhere I can personally get to. And personal situation not withstanding I think other new modellers would feel the same about the price of the mundane items.
I found that a certain auction site wanted TWICE :shock: what one of the box shifters wanted for my SEEP PM1 point motors and being that I had to buy 20 of them on a VERY limited budget I manged to spread the cost over time by buying some from the box shifter and some from the auction site at a price that I was willing to pay, usually akin but sometimes slightly cheaper than the box shifters price.
Factoring in the postage cost for the PM1's bought online compared to buying from my local model shop the price would have been expensive locally. Although I have purchased half a dozen or so wagons from them in the last year.The reason being, thier stocks are limited.

There is also something I feel needs to be said about LIMITED EDITION wagons that I would like in my stock.
As quite a few of these are comissioned by model shops, the only way I can view and perhaps purchase them is online, barring having to purchase a magazine to see the model or make a visit to the actual commissioning shop which could be hundreds of miles away.

And with that said.... If I see a model shop, I definatly go in, as if there's one thing I have found is that some (sadly not all including my local shop) have 2nd hand items that you will NEVER see online.

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Re: Effect of the internet on our hobby

Postby GWR_fan » Sun Apr 12, 2015 1:15 am

Many blame the internet for the demise of the brick and mortar store, but in reality it is more likely the business model adopted by those proprietors that ultimately lead to their demise. Many were not businessmen, but hobbyists operating a business. Most likely they were tied to sole distributors for most of their products. Lack of competition from outside a country lead to high internal prices on goods supplied by the distributors. Discounting was a dirty word. If one was lucky enough then his local hobby store may offer him a minimal loyalty discount of say 5% on specific sale items. The rise of the radio control hobby and introduction of electronic games coincided with the birth of the internet age and thus the internet is not solely responsible for the demise of the model railway store. The shop proprietor found that available 'hobby' dollars were being diverted to other hobby interests and the specialised model railway store generally did not have the expertise to diversify and thus succumbed to financial pressures and closed their doors.

I recall many times ordering goods only to find months later that the order had not been actioned. My storeowner due restrictions placed by the distributor had to place a minimum dollar value order with his distributor. Thus until my hobbystore owner had sufficient orders from other hobbyists, my order was not acted on. Many times simply ordering a piece of track may take many, many months to be received.

The export embargo last year from a particular UK manufacturer was apparently in response to arguments raised by local distributors in those countries most affected by the business model of box shifters in the UK. These distributors have/had a history of not discounting and thus local retail prices were ridiculously high and not representative of the actual costs in getting these goods to those foreign markets. Price gouging/profit maximisation might be a possibility. Lack of competition results in monopolistic marketing practices.

The internet has placed hobbyists all over the world in touch with those deals that prior the internet age, relatively few could access. The internet has encouraged worldwide competition and removed the monopoly that local distributors have enjoyed for a long time.

Of course, the demise of the local store does have implications. Simply to purchase a can of hobby spray paint or purchase solvent glue for styrene kits, I must travel an hour or so across the city to find a store. Most of my purchases are from overseas for two reasons. One is the competitive pricing and second availability. Australia has always been a distribution backwater. Local stores maintained minimal stock levels so any purchase made was limited to what the store had on display or a lengthy waiting time until the store could acquire the stock from the distributor. Keep in mind that like limited production runs from manufacturers, distributors did not import goods on a regular basis. Stock was only ordered a few times a year and so one could possibly need to wait many, many months for new stock to arrive. The internet enabled instant accessibility. A few days ago I ordered five Heljan diesels from a Liverpool box shifter. Three days later they were at my door courtesy of DHL. They were packaged and shipped internationally, taking but a few days for the whole transaction. I simply sat at my computer ordering the goods and then awaited delivery.

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Re: Effect of the internet on our hobby

Postby Phat Controller » Sun Apr 12, 2015 5:45 am

I find the interweb very useful in that stuck away here in the southern hemisphere I can peruse at my leisure websites from all over the world (but mostly in the UK)

Looking through the miriad of sites you can get a perspective of various levels of competency in layouts and ideas.

Some hobbyists are rather new at it and others are very well skilled, somewhere in between you get the ideas you wish to incorporate in your own layout.

The other way the web helps me is purchasing locos, rolling stock and kitset buildings which are reasonably priced, and some are unavailable in 'Model shops' as they are either discontinued or the shop prices are exorbitant. (however a keen eye is needed to ensure you are not 'stung' on postage rates from foreign countries,[meaning out of Australia] which can then make local hobby shops more attractive, even taking into consideration their prices)

Overheads the 'shops' have with leases/rent, staff wages and O/T, etc etc, as well as having to purchase stock to put on the shelves lead to the increased prices (and you can't blame them), however the all mighty dollar dictates where a hobbyist will spend their money.

Me, well I like to use the web to source my 'things'. I buy and sell to a large worldwide community which I could never reach without the web. It's a great tool but can be abused if you not careful.

ALWAYS be aware of your dealings on the web, once you click a button things may go 'pear shaped' once in a while, the more you use it the more 'savvy' you become. I have been stung a couple of times, however I've learned from my mistakes, and the more you learn, the better the web becomes, as a useful tool for the hobby.
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Re: Effect of the internet on our hobby

Postby Richard Lee » Sun Apr 12, 2015 7:02 am

I can only speak for myself. I retired to live in Bulgaria. I wouldn't have become aware of the quality of modern railway models without the Internet. The fact that some of the models looked very nice pushed me into trying a bit of railway modelling. (I had been looking at various items of interest for my wargaming activities.) Most of my model railway purchases have been over the Internet. Most of the advice that has helped me has been from various forums.

Although I make an effort to visit one model railway show and visit at least one model shop whenever I visit the UK, I only visit the UK about once per year.

As far as I am aware, there are no model shops in the oblast that I live in. I do know of a model shop about 3 hours drive away, over the mountains. However, I have no idea whether or not they do any model railway related stuff. If they sold trains, I can't imagine that they would be British outline.

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Re: Effect of the internet on our hobby

Postby AlunKimber » Sun Apr 12, 2015 8:36 am

I'm massively positive (and I'm well above 35). I'm probably repeating what's been said, but for me, the main things are stuff, advice and sharing.
I can find things I need very easily (that maybe I could have tracked down in the small adds of Railway Modeller if I was lucky previously) like lights for my Class 37.
I can get advice on my layout design that simply would not have happened before - and it's from several people - example http://www.modelrailforum.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=28964.
I can post where I'm at and get a mixture of encouragement but also passing on my tips - example http://www.modelrailforum.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=23943&view=findpost&p=319332.
I can see layouts from the incredibly impressive (which fair enough, were in the magazines before) but those at my level, which again, gives me encouragement.
I suspect the Internet has helped kill off many a traditional model railway shop - but that was also (mainly?) caused by other "business practices". I used to love the Signal Box in Rochester/Chatham - always left with more than I went in for - but it also did mail order.

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