CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Goodbye Model Railroader... Hello Railroad Model Craftsman

For years I have held off cancelling my subscription to Model Railroader magazine. As a child, it was the thing that inspired me to learn to read. I remember receiving issues when I was a kid and just studying the pictures (something my son Harrison, who just turned 2, enjoys doing with me now). My first subscription from my parents started in 1988 and I have nearly every issue since then. 

The old ones were filled with great articles and I am leery of throwing them out... even though they are all supposedly available online for a price. To me, a great afternoon is lying on the couch or outside in my Adirondack chair and reading a good train magazine. 

A dream of mine was to have my layout featured in Model Railroader. That will likely never occur, but two of my letters to the Editor were published (October 2006, p.22-24 and December 2021, p.22). I even once cold-called the magazine in the mid-1990s and asked to speak to Jim Kelly, who actually got on the phone and talked to me. I asked him some questions about a track plan he had drawn up and he was gracious enough to answer them for me. I should mention I was 13 at the time! I didn't even ask my parents if I could call long-distance first, for those of you who remember what that was.

And, one method of punishment my mother would sometimes use when I was a child was to ground me from reading my train magazines when I bad. It was effective.

This was all a long-winded attempt to describe how much MR has meant to me for the last 35 years. A LOT. I feel like I am losing a dear friend. But they have been going downhill for awhile now. I don't care that the page count is reduced due to less need for paper advertising, but I miss the extensive scratchbuilding articles and paint shop features. It is now just a magazine designed to get the beginner going on a model railroad. Reading the letters to the editor reveals that the same basic issues keep coming up but after 35 years I can't stand the repetition. And the product reviews, which I used to really enjoy, now just seem to focus on how to work the DCC features in expensive engines... which is what the instruction manual should cover. In essence, MR has become boring.

I stayed with them as long as I could. But since most of Kalmbach's magazines have now been sold to Firecrown Media, a company I have no loyalty to, I have no qualms about jumping ship. My subscription lapsed in May and I held off on mailing them a check. 

Instead, today I started a subscription to Railroad Model Craftsman magazine. As a kid, I didn't like RMC because the graphic design choices and formatting by the Editor were unattractive to me. There was a lot of black and white stuff, and in general it looked dated and old fashioned. I much preferred the colorful modern look of MR. But RMC currently offers the type of content I want, and Editor Otto Vondrak (whom I have known since 2000 when we both attended RIT and were in their train club together) has helped turn it into something special. 

I feel bad for waiting so long, but look forward to the future. Goodbye Model Railroader, hello Railroad Model Craftsman

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