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Dakimbrell

A DYING HOBBY?

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I often hear we are in a dying hobby. I disagree.

Today I just got this delivered. A 1/35th Maus tank with interior. In1987, the only kit of this tank was a horrible resin kit. Now we have a kit with a full interior along with three others by Takom and DML, in 1/35th.

I find it hard to believe Trumpeter would go to all the effort if there was not money to be made. After all, who builds VCRs any more, right?

Dak

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I agree that the "hobby" is not dying...and likely never will. However, it is changing; and that's what I think most people mean when they say it's "dying".

As you point out, with the release of so many kits we've never had before, and by multiplel manufacturers, there's obviously a market that the manufacturers are aware of and are trying to meet. In that regard, the hobby is actually growing and in many ways, with the new releases, this is the GOLDEN age of building plastic models. We can thank new technology that makes model production cheaper for that, as well as the expansion of the hobby out of the "kids" market. Manufacturers know they can charge a higher price to the adults who have the leisure time and spare money to spend on a hobby, so they can invest in tooling and sell fewer items for a higher price in order to make their money. If they still had to price them so that a kid on an allowance could afford them they'd be out of business!

On the down side, for those of us who grew up building the traditional military themed kits from the wars of the 20th century, that has started to diminish and will continue to do so. Our age group is diminishing and with it, the largest part of the market for those traditional types of kits. The future will be dominated (IMO) by sci-fi, gundam, and cars; with the military stuff sliding down below those in sales (if that hasn't already happened). In short, the modelers of tomorrow will be building the things they've grown up with, and despite the conflicts that still occur, none of those have dominated their lives in the way that WWI, Korea, and Vietnam did ours (thankfully).

Also, as "serious", military modelers, we tend to have a very narrow view of who and what we perceive the market to be. We look at it from what WE want, and not what the world-wide market wants. We tend to forget that from a business standpoint, cars have almost always outsold military models. Now those colorful Gundams and Anime kits that are so cleverly engineered and don't even need painting are taking over the market. We forget that the VAST majority of model builders are neither serious nor competitive, and couldn't care less about "accuracy".

No, it's not dying.......but we are.....and the traditional model building we all grew up with is graying; and to a point becoming something we don't recognize anymore.

GIL  :cool:

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If we... IPMS...are declining, (and I'm not sure I agree with that thought), then it is because for several decades IPMS has mainly focused on recruiting children. This was a mistake. Young adults, particularly post college are the best ground for recruitment. They are adults, many married and starting to settle down, have real income and can travel on their own. personally, I think membership levels are cyclic. College level courses in engineering, architecture, art, and history are prime areas for recruitment, also. I'm convinced engineers would benefit greatly from learning how to build a model and working with kits. Some do.

Cars may have always sold out military models, but NEW kits are few and far between. The dominant car kit I see are very old kits in new boxes by AMT, but very few are current automobiles. So, this leads me to question if that is where the money really is. (There are quite a number of aftermarket items.)

Dak

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The car model market, like it's one-to-one counterpart; is shrinking somewhat. Auto manufacturers are cutting models, retiring many types, and producing only one or two types of cars and trucks. The days of of the "big 3" putting out a new model of EACH of their various flagship cars EVERY year is waning. While we grew up with probably 20 different types of cars being released each fall, that's been cut in half; and sadly, many of those are very similar to each other and lack the great diversity between them that we grew up with. Why should a model car manufacturer try to copy the newest Nissan, Hyundai, and Kia in  a new year when they (for the most part) look the same? Where's the attraction for the builder in that?

Auto racing has also shrunk considerably, and the designs are also much along the "cookie cutter" line. About all you can do is admire the graphics on them. But, technology has made those SO interchangeable, and they change so almost race to race; that they've practically destroyed the "identity" a car or driver used to have with a "brand". And that doesn't even cover the way that the licensing of not just the cars themselves, but also their markings have been clamped down on so that the costs of producing a new car model is very prohibitive.

I'm glad I'm not a kid....and frankly, if I was, I'd probably be right where my grandson is: playing on-line games. Modeling will never die. But, the age of the simple model kit that the average kid could buy with a week's allowance is dead. That means there'll probably never be another generation that builds models of all kinds wholesale as we did growing up. That market of young adults you point to IS the most valuable to go after, but it's a vastly smaller market than the group that Airfix, Aurora, Monogram, and Revell had to target 50-60yrs ago.

The biggest challenge IPMSUSA faces is the hurdle of the internet age, not finding people who "seriously" build models. IPMUSA is going o have to find ways to convince people that being a part of a local club AND a national member has benefits that chatting and posting on-line can't provide. The Journal is a great value, but will a paper magazine be the attraction in the future it was for us? Could an electronic version compete with all of the on-line pages, blogs, and websites? We'll see......

 

GIL :cool:

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Allowances for children have increased with the cost of living. Giving a kid an allowance like the one I had as a child would be considered child abuse.

But the reality is children are not the ones driving this "hobby". If we want the Society to grow, two things need to be done. First, start acting like an adult organization and second look to appeal to adults. Young adults who have been playing on line games start getting interested in building the real thing or college students wanting to get away from the computer. Treat models as art, rather than some weird perversion. How many reading this deliberately spend time talking to people about the models they build....talking to people that don't build models?Most will just sit quietly and pretend they know nothing it.

Dak

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Yep! Most would more readily admit they're Jehovah Witnesses! :laugh:

 

GIL :cool:

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What's an allowance?:smiley4:

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It's what your wife took away from you after she caught you in the hobby shop again Mark....:laugh:

 

GIL :cool:

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My two grandsons, ages 9 and 10, with oversight and some assistance from their father, are building the DeAgostini 1/2-scale R2-D2 electronic model that comes in 100 installments.  They have just received Stage 84 of this 2-year project.  The remainder will come in January through April.  This kit requires no paint, but it does require fine motor skills and close attention to details.  I am amazed at how complicated this kit is becoming.

The older grandson at Thanksgiving showed me a fully articulated gundam transformer that he built entirely from scratch using his stock of loose LEGO parts.  I can't even do that.  I would love to say I can assist with these projects, but I live 500 miles away and rarely get to make the trip.

Young people can still be challenged to assemble models.  We just need to find the subjects that appeal to them.  

Ed

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On 12/22/2018 at 10:48 PM, ghodges said:

Also, as "serious", military modelers, we tend to have a very narrow view of who and what we perceive the market to be. We look at it from what WE want, and not what the world-wide market wants. We tend to forget that from a business standpoint, cars have almost always outsold military models. Now those colorful Gundams and Anime kits that are so cleverly engineered and don't even need painting are taking over the market. We forget that the VAST majority of model builders are neither serious nor competitive, and couldn't care less about "accuracy".

Consider this -- in spite of all the talk of the hobby dying, the best-performing company on the London Stock Exchange in recent years is a plastic model company. No, it's not Airfix, it's Games Workshop.

While I haven't dug too deep into this, and not all these companies are publicly traded and have their financials easily accessible online, I would bet good money that the two largest plastic model companies in the world by sales over the past year are not Tamiya and Airfix, but Bandai and GW.

Food for thought; take it how you will.

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On 12/23/2018 at 12:21 PM, Dakimbrell said:

If we... IPMS...are declining, (an........nt car kit I see are very old kits in new boxes by AMT, but very few are current automobiles. So, this leads me to question if that is where the money really is. (There are quite a number of aftermarket items.)

Dak

Dave:

A very good point. IPMS worked and added the Adult Building Course and the chapters that used it reported positive results. It is basically a step by step on building a simple (but not snap together) kit from start to finish. I do not think many clubs invested the time to participate

 

Dave

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It hasn't been a child's hobby since the 80s. It is more of a serious adult hobby because of costs and the attention to detail that companies and modelers have dedicated to construction. I'm not saying there are not models aimed at kids and casual modelers, because there are kits available in a wide range of skill levels. But the core of the hobby is geared towards more experienced modelers with disposable income.

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On 12/23/2018 at 7:27 PM, Dakimbrell said:

Treat models as art, rather than some weird perversion. How many reading this deliberately spend time talking to people about the models they build....talking to people that don't build models?  Most will just sit quietly and pretend they know nothing it.

Dak

Dak,  You have touched on something that I suspect most IPMS members have never thought about.  As some of you know, I make my living as a freelance writer/professional modelbuilder, so I am definitely vocal about what I do to anyone I run across.  Believe me, it's a constant battle to get any real respect from non -modelers who find out what you do.  Never mind finding anyone who is willing to listen and/or discuss the subject.  And it doesn't matter if you do it as a hobby or business.

For example, I used to take finished models to show off at my church.  Some people enjoyed looking at them, but that was as far as it went.  One lady looked at one I had produced for a magazine article and said "What did you do?  Just put the little pieces together?"

Another time, a preacher...who knew what I did...actually asked me "When are you going to get a real job?"

And, of course, there's the classic perception by most non-modelers that anyone who builds models is basically playing with toys.

What you have to buck is this:  Being an Electrician or a Plumber is being self-employed.  Being a Writer or Professional Modelbuilder isn't.

Finally, you are absolutely correct when you say that we need to treat models as art.  In actual fact, they ARE art and those of us who build them are ARTISTS.  The only difference between us and someone who paints on canvas or a sculptor who uses a chisel on a chunk of marble is the medium.

But the bottom line is that anyone who works in the creative fields has to be both stubborn and the possessor of a thick skin and I have both in spades.  If I didn't, I wouldn't still be doing this after 51 years!

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5 hours ago, ipmsusa2 said:

Finally, you are absolutely correct when you say that we need to treat models as art.  In actual fact, they ARE art and those of us who build them are ARTISTS.  The only difference between us and someone who paints on canvas or a sculptor who uses a chisel on a chunk of marble is the medium.

Richard,

Yes, I do think it is art. I have never seen to models come out exactly the same. Every builder adds their own touch, yet many would say it is a craft....as if there is any difference. I am often reminded of a poster showing a group of guys with the hood of a car up and looking at the engine; nothing but backs and butts. How is that any more art than a skillfully done diorama? A common hiker using a smart phone can take much the same images as Ansel Adams. If you look closely, you will see the hands of Michelangelo's DAVID are out of proportion. There are also proportional problems with parts of the Sistine Chapel. The Mona Lisa was basically nothing more than a snap shot like, many have on there desk. Some of the great religious art, done as a diorama, would be banned from an IPMS National.(display of the suffering of human beings)

3000 year old models can be found in art museums, yet, many still act like they are ashamed to even admit they build models. If we want to see things grow, we need to find ways of bringing it out of the shadows.

But back to topic, I still say the "hobby" is not dying.... at least world wide, particularly in China. As long as we have the internet shopping, it will thrive.

Dak

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Interesting that this thread has gone this way.  It is a serious issue of self perception.  There are many who argue on this and other forums, the exact opposite, and it generally begins with the caveat "I build for myself."  Not everyone who picks up a paintbrush is an artist.  Not all who build models are either.  I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said, "in the end we are all still playing with toys!"  Personally, I view my work as art because I look at it critically and try to fool the eye into believing that it is the real deal only smaller.  Diorama builders are trying to tell a story and that to is art.  When you take the time to add the extra dimension beyond the sum of the parts then you become an artist.  Some never get there and seem to lack an appreciation for those that strive to that.

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33 minutes ago, PeteJ said:

Interesting that this thread has gone this way.  It is a serious issue of self perception.  There are many who argue on this and other forums, the exact opposite, and it generally begins with the caveat "I build for myself."  Not everyone who picks up a paintbrush is an artist.  Not all who build models are either.  I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said, "in the end we are all still playing with toys!"  Personally, I view my work as art because I look at it critically and try to fool the eye into believing that it is the real deal only smaller.  Diorama builders are trying to tell a story and that to is art.  When you take the time to add the extra dimension beyond the sum of the parts then you become an artist.  Some never get there and seem to lack an appreciation for those that strive to that.

Excellent points, Pete.  Excellent.  Going even farther, there are those among us who produce outstanding models and dioramas that IS definitely art, yet never perceive themselves that way.  Why?  Because they have been brainwashed by constant exposure to phrases like "In the end we are all still playing with toys!", "The only difference between men and boys is the size of their toys.", "When are you going to grow up?" and "When are you going to get a real job?"

What's sad is that the majority of society doesn't appreciate the artist...or worse...even knows we exist.  At least until we're dead.  Then they start collecting work that we've produced.

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OK, we seem to agree the "hobby" is not dying, IPMS might be dying, and that it is an art. So, rather than sit here crying amongst ourselves, what do we do. What positive, but relatively simple and realistic steps can we take to change things? In short, cheap and easy to do.

Dak

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IPMS UK is far from dying........4000 plus members and hosting the biggest annual scale model show on planet Earth!

I always thought that IPMS USA had a consistently larger membership than any other IPMS National Branch. The hobby is not dying, just evolving according to presents the Rusty day interests and an adult market. Trying to encourage kids into the hobby is just flogging a dead horse and always has been. Most IPMS branches of chapters meet in the evenings, often on licenced premises where alcohol is sold, but also going on later than all the little ankle biters bedtimes as they have to be up for school the following day. How many IPMSl local meetings are held at weekends when younger kids could attend? Not many I will wager! So this is why that same old record about encouraging youngsters into the hobby will never take off. It is a dead duck u fortunately.

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1 hour ago, noelsmith said:

IPMS UK is far from dying........4000 plus members and hosting the biggest annual scale model show on planet Earth!

I always thought that IPMS USA had a consistently larger membership than any other IPMS National Branch. The hobby is not dying, just evolving according to presents the Rusty day interests and an adult market. Trying to encourage kids into the hobby is just flogging a dead horse and always has been. Most IPMS branches of chapters meet in the evenings, often on licenced premises where alcohol is sold, but also going on later than all the little ankle biters bedtimes as they have to be up for school the following day. How many IPMSl local meetings are held at weekends when younger kids could attend? Not many I will wager! So this is why that same old record about encouraging youngsters into the hobby will never take off. It is a dead duck u fortunately.

For information on when Chapter meetings happen, see https://calendar.ipmsusa3.org/chapter-meetings [I think I will roll this out officially now...]

E

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Unfortunately, IPMS/USA still tends to think in “juvenile” or “family” terms and are overly concerned about lawsuits if someone gets offended  

I’m 65 and am quite able to look at figures of naked people, Payton peeing in the Rhine, or scenes showing violence like a concentration camp without being offended by them any more than the Christ on the cross diorama, I saw one year.

It does bother me there are SS troops all over the place, but showing their victims is verboten  

Dak

Edited by Dakimbrell

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39 minutes ago, Dakimbrell said:

Unfortunately, IPMS/USA still tends to think in “juvenile” or “family” terms and are overly concerned about lawsuits if someone gets offended  

I’m 65 and am quite able to look at figures of naked people, Payton peeing in the Rhine, or scenes showing violence like a concentration camp without being offended by them any more than the Christ on the cross diorama, I saw one year.

 

Dak, you make a valid point.  However, I would suggest that it isn't limited to the IPMS/USA.  The current  "I'm Offended" culture that has developed in this country has to be a major factor.  Keep in mind that practically anything that exists has the potential to offend anyone, but it has gotten completely out of control.  Consider the efforts to make the Washington Redskins football team change their name because 'Redskins" is offensive to one small tribe.  Other people are offended by the use of certain words, while others by actual historical events.  Look at the complaints that started with objections to the Confederate Battle Flag...actually the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia...and expanded to statues of Confederate heros and schools that were named for men who had virtually no connection to the Confederacy other than fighting for the South.

Political views are now subject to similar bias.  Liberal viewpoints are widely publicized, while those of a conservative bent are castigated or banned.  I was unable to market an article to a magazine I wrote for because the model in question....a Peterbilt 377 with an American Bald Eagle w/crossed American & Confederate flags on the air dam....was refused because "it might offend someone".  If I did that model today as an ebook, I would be forced to apologize for it, accused of being a racist and required to remove the ebook from the marketplace.  And if you want to get an idea of just how hypersensitive people are getting...as well as ignorant...I very recently had a magazine article corrected by my editor because "I've never heard of it, so I'm sure no one else has ever heard of it!"  What was it?  Believe it or not, a Mexican Jumping Bean.  Instead, the editor changed Mexican Jumping Bean to simply 'jumping bean", thereby identifying every bean on the planet as a jumping bean!

And if you think all of the above is a recent development, it's just the extreme result.  Tony Weddel, a deceased aviation artist and my friend, quit doing heavy combat aviation art back in the late '70s or early '80s because he could no longer sell the art or prints.  Why?  Because people didn't want to purchase art that depicted violence.  Result?  He wound up doing pretty paintings of aircraft against storm clouds or toned down combat...unless a client specifically requested heavy combat.  That, by the way, leads to your comment about viewing scenes of violence in model dioramas.  Incidentally, it's also the reason why I've never created a crucifixion diorama of my own....it would offend virtually everyone who saw it.

I have no idea where this is going to end, but if you build models, dioramas, articles and/or books for a living, it's already having an impact on what you can produce without offending someone.  And it doesn't matter if it's a group or a single person.

Dak, in case you're wondering, I'm 76 and I have no more problem viewing real life scenes than you do.  I knew a preacher who I offered a copy of my P-38 CD-ROM to, warning him that it had a lot of nose art images containing pinup or semi-nude figures.  His response?  It's history.

It'll be interesting to see what kinds of responses I get to this little tirade.

Richard

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You hit the nail on the head, Richard!  Remember when the Confederate Air Force was still called the Confederate Air Force?!  😁

Your response reminds me of a chaplain I had in the Army in Germany.  If we saluted him he'd flip us the bird! 

I don't believe that the hobby is dying.  Just look at the sheer number of companies putting out products these days!  Those companies aren't going to do that if the hobby is going into it's death throes.  As far as whether IPMS is dying, I can't really speak to that.  All I will say is that if it does then we've got no one to blame but us and that's all I'll say about that (said in my Forrest Gump voice).  

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On 12/28/2018 at 5:16 PM, Dakimbrell said:

OK, we seem to agree the "hobby" is not dying, IPMS might be dying, and that it is an art. So, rather than sit here crying amongst ourselves, what do we do. What positive, but relatively simple and realistic steps can we take to change things? In short, cheap and easy to do.

Dak

Here’s one-  I’ve been doing it for years:

I save all my old issues of model mags (including the Journal!) in a box. Whenever I go anywhere that has a waiting room, I bring a couple along and leave them behind.  (FineScale Modeler is a good one for this.)   And they don’t need to be current- even two-year old issues are relevant.

I also made up some simple business cards on my computer, printed them out on cardstock. (Ten to a page).  They have the name and logo of the club, plus the words “”Model Building Club”, and the URL of our website. I staple one inside the cover of each magazine.

-Bill

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This has gone off track a bit from a discussion about a perceived dying hobby to a political correctness discussion.

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Yes, they deleted my post about my figures. This is exactly the type of thing that drives people out of IPMS. 

We are adults having an adult conversation. Yet, we get treated like we we naughty middle schoolers! Yet, nose art of a naked woman with suggestive captions are quite acceptable! Extremely inconsistent.

Bill, your idea is very similar to what I did. I got back issues of the Journal and put them around in local doctors and dentist offices. 

Dak

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