Thursday, June 18, 2009

Model Railroad Hobby Shops | Sign Of The Times

Today, I visited one of less than a handful of hobby shops in my area that stocks model railroad trains. In addition to its bread-and-butter RC planes and slot cars, this was the only recently set up store that dedicated a modicum of shelf space to the model railroad hobby, specializing in the Fleischmann and Kato model lines.

Or at least they used to.

Whole shelves formerly devoted to model trains and track were now exclusively displaying slot cars, tracks and accessories. RC model planes loomed, suspended overhead. The store's train display, an N-scale Fleischmann layout sitting on top of a Noch mountain landscape had been packed up and according to the boss, "Moved to the warehouse." In its place was an RC helicopter display.

A single 12inch glass shelf displayed the solitary N-scale Fleischmann starter set and an HO scale Special Edition steam engine.

But I can't really blame them for this decision to reprioritize. The model railroad hobby has never been big where I live. Real estate is at a premium, and few households have room for a permanent railroad layout.

And in an age of fast-paced lives, faster-paced hobbies and instant gratification, few folks have the time, patience or inclination to plan and build a model railroad.

Sign of the times, indeed.

But it is precisely the slow pace of planning, building, landscaping and tweaking a model railroad that drew me to the hobby in the first place.

For that hour a day when I run my trains --while looking for new things to add on or modify that do not require drastically ripping up track -- I'm engrossed in an imaginary miniature scene of my own creation. And dreaming of soon moving to larger premises where I can really let my handiwork and imagination fly.

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