Tuesday 10 February 2015

Sprue Cutters Union Topic - Is the Hobby Dying??

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This months SCU topic asks is the Hobby Dying?

Looking at it from the amount of young blood out there coming into the hobby. I do see kids making models and Games Workshop kits are always a big hit with the younger crowd. Until recently this was the main demographic of the retailer.

My Father is a big model maker too and I got into the hobby from him when I was young (the wargaming side of my hobby sort of just happened). He is a member of a club and he reports that most of the members are late 30's to 70's. There is few teenagers there. But then looking back to when I was that age I don't think I would have wanted to spend too much time with older folks.

One thing we should all be aware be it Wargaming or Scale Model Making or Trains is that this hobby isn't for everyone. It takes patience, skill and a eye for detail. It make also require an interest in history. One thing that is often overlooked is the imagination to picture what you can do with that kit. There are other requirements of course such as time and an understanding partner/family.

As a model maker and wargamer I see both hobbies biggest threat is popular culture. You will often notice that in movies and media there is a trend to make anyone who makes models much less play with them as social misfits. Even the Die Hard baddie Hans Guber talks about his love of scale models as a child. The art in what we create is often missed (or ignored) and we are sneered at ironically usually by those people who can't walk past a mirror without trying to kiss their own reflections or live by putting a cost on everything & everyone. Our hobby will always be underground until some one "cool" pushes it out into the public eye. Maybe one day it will happen and our art will be appreciated.

So what about sales? It has been well documented that there is many small stores closing and there has been major model store chains vanish from shopping centres and malls. Looking at the issue its not that sales are down that is causing this but the fact that our shopping trends have changed. We now shop online because we can get our addiction cheaper or find more variety that what is available locally.

Is there a decline in model kits production? Having a trawl through the web there seems to be more and more interesting looking kits and models to choose from. There is also plenty of other products available for the modeller to use too. Looking at wargaming there is many figure producers out there providing a plethora of figures covering just about any conflict real or imaginary. In short I can only say that I think that we are in the Golden Age of both Scale Modelling and Wargaming.

Lastly I will look at technology and the future. We are in a age of computers and a culture of want it now. Which not only effects the model making hobby but hobbies such as Custom Car & Motorbike building. For us as modellers the dawn of the 3D printer is exciting. The ability to print our own parts would be great for replacing bits or for those extras that made a model. We can for a price get custom figures made up. The technology is in its infancy and costs are high. At present it used mainly for prototyping. However I can see in twenty years or so 3D prints being common place. How would that effect us? In addition to making bits I foresee us downloading our kits from the manufacturer and printing it off in situ. (the lazy may want to just print the model off complete ). That would (probably) mean cheaper kits and less storage space of the to build cue (and hopefully a happier partner).

In short I think we are living in the golden age of our hobbies and the future is bright. It is far from dying. While there is someone with imagination and a need to build something physical this hobby will stay alive. It will remain underground until popular culture pushes it forward and the art of it is recognised.

Read Some More!

Part of being in the Union means you must include links to fellow contributors' posts within your own response. If you liked this post, then perhaps you'll enjoy what some other modelers have to say about this topic!
The Combat Workshop

Kermit's Bench

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  1. I agree we are in a golden age were new projects and ranges are springing up left right and centre. I noticed recently there is a trend for miniature board games. Zombicide, Conan, Ghostbusters is coming as well Terminator and Aliens

  2. I think one of the only downfalls is we don't invest our time to bring new people into the hobby, both young and old....many people are content to be in their groups or cliques.....it is an investment of time to bring new people into a game and get them interested as well as to coax them along...