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General Aircraft: What If?
For those who like to build hypothetical or alternate history versions of planes.
Is plastic scale modeling a dying art?
Siderius
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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 06:25 AM UTC
I think I have asked this before, but would be curious about any new responses from around the world; is model building a dying art?
I am 46 soon to turn 47 and have had a lifetime interest in aviation history, model building seemed to be natural to go along with this interest. The hobby itself is great fun and when you have a good replica of an aircraft on the shelf you have a piece of history to display as well.
I am doing some final work on our 3rd annual model show to be held on November 2nd in Kingsport, Tennessee. Bays Mountain Park is the sponsor and we try and get as many young people involved as possible.
It seems to me that by the middle of the 21st century the model companies will be having a hard time replacing those of us who go west about that time? What do you all think? Russell
md72
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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 06:37 AM UTC
Certainly in critical condition... If modeling clubs are any indication, most of us are a lot closer to our 50th birthday than 20th.

FWIW though, going thru my dad's stuff, I found a small stash of model railroad car kits. I figured these were remnants of ancient history. A stop at a local train hobby shop shows that they STILL sell RR car kits, now the prices are reasonable, $9-12, but they've increased from the $1.38 he paid back in the early '50's.
shuber57
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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 07:12 AM UTC
The hobby I think is getting more global but it is a very narrow group. So yes in the US where it was once a big hobby it is now very small, I think it will carry on but be more global. Based on the subject matter coming out I actually think the hobby is thriving on a global basis.
warreni
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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 07:23 AM UTC
I don't think there is a problem with numbers in the hobby at all. There is a problem with the numbers in hobby clubs like IPMS because there seems to be more and more rules for meetings etc. I think people don't have time to go to meetings etc, but when they do go they don't want to be sitting around waiting while some committee members have an arguement over trivial junk, they want to look at models and talk with others about modelling. If there was a problem with the numbers in the hobby why would there be so many new companies and new releases happening?
You will probably find the same question being asked 20 and 30 years ago and the hobby is still going strong now.
md72
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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 08:03 AM UTC
I'm fortunate then, I spent a bit of time with North West Scale Modelers, they're not actually an organization. We probably have as many 'members' over 75 as we do below 20, but the main group seems to be 40-60 yo. Many IPMS members, but we're not an IPMS chapter. No rules, no officers, no dues, every couple of years some person volunteers to be The Person Who Talks Too Much (TPWTTM) to ringlead the monthly meetings. Announcements, February model display (no contest), 6 questions (usually airplane trivia), show and tell, next month's topic (October is probably orange and black ). Some of us hang out in the back of the room and actually work on kits during the meeting. We meet at the Seattle Museum of Flight on First (free) Thursday, part of our give back to MOF is a quarterly display of our models in a special display case that may well highlight a museum feature.

Seattle IPMS meets on a Saturday AM and I can't get to the meetings, but they're mostly Seattle laid back and feature a long show and tell session. Fair distribution of young'uns, but most are children of members...

I'm on TDY in Portland and get together with OHMS, an actual IPMS chapter. They meet twice a month, one meeting is a formal meeting with club business, show and tell and a judging of displayed kits. The other meeting is a build night, nothing formal, just guys working on kits and talking about just about anything... Several youngsters show up from time to time, but they're well outnumbered by the over 60 crowd.

wychdoctor92394
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California, United States
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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 08:25 AM UTC
If it isn't throw a tube of glue into the box, or push a button on a computer, then most youngsters aren't modelers anymore. We're a dying breed!
russamotto
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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 08:28 AM UTC
I've spent a lot of time with my kids trying to get them interested. Computers do get their attention, but from time to time they get involved. They want to know about what they are building as well, which makes it very educational.
JClapp
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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 08:51 AM UTC
fact: The diversity and availability of model kits has grown hugely in recent decades. Stuff in more scales, more versions, more accuracy, better manuf. technology - and more stuff is being announced all the time.

fiction: its important to "get kids involved" in order to perpetuate the market place we depend on.

I have heard this canard voiced in several other organized activities I belong to, (it seems every leisure activity is "dying out") but in each case, the most active, enthusiastic, and frankly the ones with the most money to spend, came to the game as adults, after they had finally gotten the college/family/house/business/career part of their lives squared away, and realize they have time and money to enjoy stuff.
Bink123
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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 08:59 AM UTC
It is getting too expensive for the average hobbyist to stay at par with the experts who have big bucks to spend on all the after market stuff. I think there is too much emphasis on competitions. When I came back to modeling after many years away, I was taken back a bit.

Thankfully there are model kits out there that don't have all the expensive bells and whistles. Thanks to Airfix, Eduard Weekend, and Revell Germany, there are still affordable high quality kits to be had - but are limited somewhat.

On the other hand, how many Spitfires, Me109's, FW 1890's, F16's, do we really need? I think the market is getting crowded, which is not good for model manufacturers' profit margins.

And, yes, modellers are getting older and will soon, for one reason or another, stop buying kits.

Sad to say, to everything there is a season.



drabslab
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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 09:28 AM UTC
[quote is model building a dying art [/quote]

No, its booming. Just look at aeroscale, there seems to be anew exciting kit announcement every week, that is definitively not a sign of a dying market.

Big issue is that people these days stay away from hobby clubs. That is not limited to modelling but a general trend. Clubs, modelling or other just don't manage to reach the youngsters who live on an internet diet.

The local clubs simply have not evolved with modern times and are often still using 'medieval' communication channels. If you are a young modeller, then you can communicate on the web, or you can wait for the next bi-monthly 5 pages photocopied newsletter of the local hobby club, just guess what they prefer.

Local hobby clubs and stores, and also kitmaker, are in a race to remain relevant. We may not like that but wtill, we better take this fact into account
Siderius
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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 11:49 AM UTC
I do agree with Richard from Quebec. I really do love my WWII aircraft collection, and although it is great to see another Spitfire, Thunderbolt, or 109 or FW come out on the market; I think some other interesting aircraft types say from the period after WWII are neglected. It would be nice to see a bit more diversification of model kit types. What do you all think? Russell
Bink123
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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 11:55 AM UTC
Well, perhaps you are right Drabslab.

I guess the future of buying kits is online, and online modeling forums like Aeroscale are the new communities.

I've lived through the days when a lot of modeling companies went out of business such as Aurora, Monogram, Renwal, Frog, Matchbox, and even recently, almost Airfix.
Heatnzl
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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 12:56 PM UTC

Quoted Text

It is getting too expensive for the average hobbyist to stay at par with the experts who have big bucks to spend on all the after market stuff.



This is probably the most annoying part of modelling today; complexity.
When I was younger the Matchbox Spitfire was so cool. Nowadays there is endless talk of problems with a Spitfire kit made using CAD and the latest injection moulding techniques.
Modelling magazines used to be about modelling the kit in question, with tips where 'cross-kitting' was considered daring, pushing the modeller into a different league. Today, to be profitable I suppose, aftermarket items are part of a model build. It looks like advertising to me, but for the new modeller even a build review must seem daunting both in terms of skill and cost.
In my day painting a model was green ,brown and grey. No FS stuff. If it looked like a Spitfire it WAS a Spitfire, sticky glue fingerprints and all...Simplicity is something I think should be encouraged.

SaxonTheShiba
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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 01:42 PM UTC
I personally think the hobby is thriving. I think the incredible amount of new kits and after-market products is indicative of the state of the hobby right now. The hobby may not garner much publicity but I think there are thousands of modellers out there right now keepng the midnight oil burning. I think the hobby in the context of clubs and contests may have diminished but I think that is because venues like Aeroscale and Armorama let me converse and share project pics with builders from multiple countries without even having to leave my living room which is really cool. I think the arena in which the hobby is shared is the only thing that has changed.


Best wishes,


Ian
cinzano
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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 02:49 PM UTC
In a word: No.

Cheers,
Fred
AussieReg
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AUTOMODELER
#007
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Victoria, Australia
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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 03:18 PM UTC
Keeping the love alive

mother
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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 03:42 PM UTC
I also agree with Richard, the hobby is to costly. Year ago (20) or so I could get the newest release kit around $20 $25 dollars, or a kit off the rack around the same or on sale. Today an average price for a 1/48 aircraft or 35th armor kit is something like $75 dollars.

you also need to include a few bucks for blades, $4 to $5 bucks for a jar of paint, supper glue and so on. And this is just for a out of box build.

I used to be able to buy two of the same kit, today I no longer can afford to...that's if I want a newer release kit.

as to the question...I don't think it's dying, but it is getting soft. I also think the next generation will hardly model as much as we do or once did, there will be some but not as much as our generation.

Happy Modeling,
Joe
wychdoctor92394
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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 03:48 PM UTC

Quoted Text

I also agree with Richard, the hobby is to costly. Year ago (20) or so I could get the newest release kit around $20 $25 dollars, or a kit off the rack around the same or on sale. Today an average price for a 1/48 aircraft or 35th armor kit is something like $75 dollars.

you also need to include a few bucks for blades, $4 to $5 bucks for a jar of paint, supper glue and so on. And this is just for a out of box build.

I used to be able to buy two of the same kit, today I no longer can afford to...that's if I want a newer release kit.

as to the question...I don't think it's dying, but it is getting soft. I also think the next generation will hardly model as much as we do or once did, there will be some but not as much as our generation.

Happy Modeling,
Joe



I agree but you can get blades (scalpel) from a medical supply house and they usually throw the handle in for free. 100 blades is like 10-15 dollars... resharpen them on a whetstone...
masanissa
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United States
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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 10:44 PM UTC

Quoted Text

I don't think there is a problem with numbers in the hobby at all. There is a problem with the numbers in hobby clubs like IPMS because there seems to be more and more rules for meetings etc. I think people don't have time to go to meetings etc, but when they do go they don't want to be sitting around waiting while some committee members have an arguement over trivial junk, they want to look at models and talk with others about modelling. If there was a problem with the numbers in the hobby why would there be so many new companies and new releases happening?
You will probably find the same question being asked 20 and 30 years ago and the hobby is still going strong now.



I think it's just an American phenomena. If you look at pictures from conventions and contests in the States you only see older men. Go over to Eduard's Facebook page and look at the photos from eDay, or look at photos from the Japanese Hobby shows. The demographic is much younger and there are lots of teens and kids.

There really aren't any American plastic model manufactures anymore or at least not on the scale of what is going on in China. Trumpeter, Kittyhawk, Meng, Hobby Boss, Kinetic, etc. There are 1.3 billion Chinese and about 300 million are considered middle class with a disposable income for entertainment and hobbies. If just 1% of the Chinese middle class are plastic modelers then they have a big market. It's also growing and has a high demand for new products which explains their output.

Luckily for the rest of the world this is happening and we can reap the benefits of some really nice kits being put out on a consistent basis. Yes Americans are griping about the prices of new kits, but the prices we now pay in the USA are more in line with worldwide prices. There's also the fact that the kits being manufactured at present are not meant to be toys, unlike what Monogram was putting out on the 1950's and 1960's.

I have to agree that worldwide the market for plastic models is doing nicely, but contracting for that small segment in America that just focuses on WW 2 subjects.

I also think is was a very smart move on Hobby Link Japan's part to set up a booth at San Diego ComiCon which is the biggest comic convention in the United States and get well over 120,000 people in attendance. Lots of Gundam, Anime and Star Wars stuff to sell there.

If IPMS wants to survive in America it will have to reach out to people who model hardware and figures from Comic books and Video Games.
Joel_W
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Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 02:32 AM UTC
I have to agree with John Acosta as to the where the hobby is growing, and where it's stagnant or on the decline.

The hobby as we know it is growing in the Asia world, where disposable income and leisure time is on the rise. Smaller homes, & apartments limits the type of hobbies one can have. This middle class demands higher accuracy, greater detail, and newer subjects. And they're more then willing to pay for those standards.

Here in the United States, modelers tend to be older, in their 50-60s, where many are returnees to the hobby after 30 years or so. There are fewer and fewer young people interested in plastic modeling. Just talking to the owners of the two local hobby shops I backs this statement up. What younger people they have as customers are into RC cars. One hobby shop has been selling off their plastic models as he no longer has any interest is carry them, and the other has so few model customers, that he rarely even restocks even paints except for the holiday season. I now drive nearly 45 min to the only excellent model hobby shop left.

Kids today grow up playing computer games, live online, have smart cell phones, and in reality have no interest in any solitary hobby. What's more, today's model costs are way more then they care to, or can afford to spend. It's not uncommon to spend approx. $100 for a new 1/48 scale kit, a few bottles of paint, glue, and even a reference or two.

Growing up in the late 50s to mid 60s we built models for a few bucks each, collected stamps, and coins, and of course baseball cards. That was basically all the hobbies most of us had available. Times have changed. My son now 25 and his friends have been exposed to my model building hobby for years. They show interest in what I'm doing, look at the finished models, but never once have shown the slightest interest in building a model even with my offering help, guidance, and support. It's down stairs to his room, and on with the Xbox for a night of online gaming.

I can easily see the plastic model hobby practically dying out here as our generations pass on. As I said before, the hobby is alive and growing, just not in our part of the world.

Joel
drabslab
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Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 02:56 AM UTC
A set of very nice reactions to a subject that regularly sufaces on the forum.

I guess I conclude that the hobby is evolving at the same pace as the world it is part of. Internet, aftermarket, modern CAD and moulding technologies, it all has an influence, some of which are good, others bad.

But I really don't see a doom and gloom future, on the contrary; and the new media like computer games may appear to kill all other hobbies but I simply don't believe it.

Once upon a time it was said that film would kill theater but broadway still exists. Only gambling would destroy casino's but Vegas is still there...

One of these (very good) evolutions is that "thinking, analysing and planning" has become much more important than it used to be. whether it is a car manufacturer or a model company, missing the boat is deadly; To give one example: NOKIA was a mobile phone company that a few years ago held 80% of the mobile phone market worldwide; Last week it was sold to Microsoft after it became a dwarf on that same global market. Reason; they did not understand the impact that smartphones would have.

Model manufactures, hobby stores, clubs, and sites like aeroscale must continuously question their existence and approach, nothing is for granted anymore. 1500 visitors a day can easily decline to 0 if another offer gets better.



DaveCox
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Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 03:44 AM UTC
A few of my thoughts on this subject.

The market in my part of the UK appears to be changing, quite few model and art shops have disappeared because of falling trade and increasing rents/rates/taxes etc. Those that survive have had to stock diecasts, toys etc to survive. When I speak to the owners of the few pure model shops that are left locally (only one within 30 miles of my home!)the trade is mostly existing custom - when they go the shops will go too.

The demands of the modeller have changed as well. When I started modelling kits were basic - if I wanted to do conversions or extra details then I made the parts myself. There were no aftermarket parts at all; only sheet/strip plastic, bits of wire etc. Now it appears to me that the 'modeller' is vanishing to be replaced by 'kit assemblers'. Just look on this network at the number of models that are completed with the addition of many £/$ worth of extras compared to the number where the details are made by the modeller him or herself. Great for those whose business is producing these parts, but in my opinion it lessens the involvement and input of the modeller.
This also has a detrimental effect on the much missed hobby shop - no high street retailer can possibly stock all of these extra parts, leaving the internet as the only viable alternative.
vettejack
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Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 04:24 AM UTC
I'll add my 2 cents worth.

I'll be 60 in June of '14, and I see trends: some good, some bad from my time and experiences with the hobby. I've been modeling since a young age. I can recall my grandfather getting me my membership to IPMS in 1964. Yep, 50 years. My IPMS number? 506

The good:

Kits are better engineered...aftermarket keeps pace.

Kits are better engineered...reduces aftermarket purchases.

Kits are better engineered...keeps us buying.

Kits are better engineered...less time building/painting.

Information from the internet is endless/limitless...I've never has better access to more photos than I do now. The explosion of books on armor benefits us as well.


The bad:

Prices...way out of line IMHO and exploited by the manufacturers and importers.

Availablility...did you know that almost 85% of what Tamiya produces stays right there in Japan? Yep...those Japanese are building fools! We in the US get mostly leftovers. I'm sure numbers are similiar for the other makers.

Age...younger modellers dominate overseas as well when viewing conventions/contest photos. Kids in the US that are into modelling is few and far between compared to other countries. Can't pull them away from the 'electronic babysitter' here in the US. For some reason a 3D item like holding a model tank/car/plane in one's hand has very little or no appeal. Lost in that reason also is a history lesson missed about the model. Todays' kid would rather research the video game than open a book to the likes of the T-34. When I attended the IPMS Nationals in Orlando in the fall of 2012, I noticed anemic attendance by kids/children. It did not go unnoticed by other adults as well.

Affordability...works against us here in the US. When kits are produced in the countries that also invented the modern day factory sweat shop, then prices are great for the locals...but the time they get exported to the US, the price has gone up anywhere from 50% to 300%, depending on the manufacturer/importer. On the average I see most armor kits in/around the $50 mark...not good for maintaining an inventory. Add the aftermarket, then affordability goes way down and our buying power drys up. I use to buy 2 or 3 kits of the same model...not no more. And where I purchase kits is also a factor...sorry to say I get most of my kits from EBay and the huge discounts available there...whether from mom and pop stores or individuals. It makes sense that I'll buy a $50 for 15 or 20 bucks when it shows up...and it does all the time! When visiting Japan years ago, I would buy the hell out of 1/35 armor for nearly 2/3 the price difference. If a kit cost 30 bucks here in the US, it probably cost only 7 or 8 bucks in Japan at the time. I would then package them up and mail them out from the post office on base.

The future...I see that modelling could/has suffer. There is a point that modelling could go the way of the drive-in theater, the cassette tape, full service gas stations, etc. You catch my drift here. I hope not, but if the present indicates anything, there are not alot of good signs out there that we're in a recovery of the hobby when it comes to Gen X and Millinials.
wychdoctor92394
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California, United States
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Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 05:09 AM UTC

Quoted Text

A few of my thoughts on this subject.

The market in my part of the UK appears to be changing, quite few model and art shops have disappeared because of falling trade and increasing rents/rates/taxes etc. Those that survive have had to stock diecasts, toys etc to survive. When I speak to the owners of the few pure model shops that are left locally (only one within 30 miles of my home!)the trade is mostly existing custom - when they go the shops will go too.

The demands of the modeller have changed as well. When I started modelling kits were basic - if I wanted to do conversions or extra details then I made the parts myself. There were no aftermarket parts at all; only sheet/strip plastic, bits of wire etc. Now it appears to me that the 'modeller' is vanishing to be replaced by 'kit assemblers'. Just look on this network at the number of models that are completed with the addition of many £/$ worth of extras compared to the number where the details are made by the modeller him or herself. Great for those whose business is producing these parts, but in my opinion it lessens the involvement and input of the modeller.
This also has a detrimental effect on the much missed hobby shop - no high street retailer can possibly stock all of these extra parts, leaving the internet as the only viable alternative.



I agree. Most of the kits displayed on here (as fantastic and well built as they are) don't reflect the "building" aspect. I still make most of my own "extras" and try to find ways to make what I need. I built a 1/35 M2 Bradley years ago, and the turret was a mess. I scratch-built the interior, and filled in all the open spots on the bottom of it. I sold that Bradley for nearly 300.00, as I put a lot of work into it, but spent minimally on the modifications. You can find almost any size "gizmos" in the back of old television sets. The capacitors, resistors (the ones that look like sacks of something, usually these are tan or light brown in color) and they make great seat cushions, sandbags and other stuff. I take old lighters apart and use/sell the little nozzles as cannon barrels for Ral Partha miniatures or large-scale aircraft. The nozzles are almost perfect for 27 mm Mauser cannon on the Tornado. Tons of free or nearly free stuff around the house, the local junkyard or on the street corner on trash day!
ludwig113
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Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 05:26 AM UTC

Quoted Text

The hobby I think is getting more global but it is a very narrow group. So yes in the US where it was once a big hobby it is now very small, I think it will carry on but be more global. Based on the subject matter coming out I actually think the hobby is thriving on a global basis.



i totally agree, it is now a specialist hobby, here in the uk, hobby shops that sell kits are now rare compared with computer game shops... but its still a thriving market, just look at the companies such as eduard,trumpter,tamiya,hasegawa and airfix etc they all regularly bring out new kits...but they are aimed at the enthusiast who knows what they want.
i think the internet has given this hobby of ours a new lease of life, we connect with people all over the world who enjoy sharing their latest masterpiece.

long may it continue...