Yesterday, whilst discussing the price of a forthcoming 4mm scale item, my Dad commented that "he had forgotten that railway modelling had become a consumer activity." I had a chuckle, but the more I thought about it the more it rang true, I think that were I not a narrow gauge modeller I would have to seriously consider what I was doing. Some time ago, almost five years ago in fact, I wrote (in one of my unpublished ramblings) that:
"Whilst I like the high quality RTR releases you can buy today I have no desire to build another full-on layout for them, and I am restricted in what I can buy new anyway as the prices are rising way beyond my modelling budget. Perhaps this is why narrow gauge (in the way I have approached it) appeals as the relative cost is in fact cheaper than going down the RTR route."
Whilst I'm not convinced that there should be an anti-capitalist model railway movement (though the thought of protest camps in Margate, Barwell and outside Hatton's raises a smile), I am convinced there is another way. Back to those old musings:
"I admire those modellers who seem to make a little go a long way, the Martin Hogg and Bob 'Blackcloud' Hughes' of the hobby who seem to be in the right place at the right time to pick up the bargains and produce an endless stream of new layouts and ideas on what seems to be a shoestring budget. Perhaps I am a little envious of what they achieve, and perhaps sometimes the inspiration just doesn’t flow at this end….
I rambled on a fair bit in those days...
"I admire those who don’t get uptight about new releases and who are prepared to take a similar approach as I do to my O9 modelling, for example I think Neil Rushby is a genius who can turn just about anything into a great looking model, and who isn’t in a rush to buy latest models and gadgets. His minimum space philosophy also rings true with me, practical home-use layouts are where my interest lies."
So being an O9 modeller, especially of miniature railways, means that you have to build most things yourself and not spend a fortune. So off the the pub for a few pints in the knowledge my money was safe.... Then this morning the telephone rang, an excited Jordan 'Rough Shunter' Leeds reporting live from the NEC at possibly the most consumerist model railway exhibition of them all:
"I've just spoken to Allen Law at MG Models, he's doing a full etched kit for 'Katie' and 'Siân' including the chassis...."
I'm presently reassuring myself that it is etched brass and I'll never be able to build it.... <gulp>