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That's the title of a thread on a stamp collecting site I frequent.   Same thing in all hobbies,  it seems they are all populated by older folks and youngsters are too busy with modern pursuits to take interest in the traditional hobbies.   The stamp hobby is much larger than the model car hobby, so they certainly aren't going away.  There is even a big upswing in collecting in China and India as those people become more affluent and have money for such pursuits.   But an interesting thing came up....

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This is a group photo taken at an American Philatelic Society (APS) event in 1968.  Notice that everyone is, um... old?  So while most of these folks are probably dead now, they have been replaced by more collectors who are also old.   So the analysis is that hobbies are populated mainly by people who have raised their families and have time to do things like collecting and model building.  In fact the APS has changed their growth strategy from youth programs to focusing on attracting people over 50.  Not much different here!

I thought you all may have found this interesting.  Let the comments fly!

 

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Very Interesting, Tom. I'd not noticed the "You gotta be old and have Time & Money to spare" connection with other hobbies.

But, now that you bring it up........ I have seen something like this in other hobbies that I am involved in.

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I was reading a 25 year old mag the other day and the editorial there said that the hobby would be dead in 10 years because kids are busy playing with computer games and and watching TV :D

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Model building isn't going away. 

The things that excite young people so much that they want to build models of them are what's changing. 
 

Fighter jets and spaceships and tanks and pirate ships and fictional and historical figures? Still evergreen. Still going strong. Even growing in some sectors. Add to that wargaming miniatures and Gunpla and you have a hobby that's thriving on the whole. 

Car modeling? Oh boy... Car modeling...

Car modeling globally isn't actually doing too badly. New companies like Belkits and Beemax have found comfortable niches producing quality racing car kits. Aoshima has settled into supercars while Fujimi keeps the more "pedestrian" cars coming and Hasegawa does the historic thing. Building an identifiable piece of racing history, particularly one that these young builders have created a rapport with often by "driving" it in PC sims or games like Forza, Gran Turismo, or Grid, makes these kits as dependable a seller as your usual array of Tigers and Spitfires. 

Muscle car, custom, and hot rod kits like those that AMT has focused on since the early 60's? Their audience is a little bit more finite. Ala Kart is a massively significant car in automotive history, but the number of people who have actively interacted with Ala Kart drops each year, and so the number of people who want a representation of it in their daily lives drops. Gradually, with the exception of a few "evergreen" examples, most every bit of that generation of automobilia will become niche. Once they're in that niche, it will be the role of short run, higher end model manufacturers to serve that significantly smaller market (in the model aircraft world, look only as far as the sheer number of different short run companies there are in 1/72nd scale)

If you don't believe me, think about the last time that someone mentioned Pierce-Arrow or Winton to you. 

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Well my son builds he has some health issues and it makes him focus and he loves it. He shows his stuff on my you tube channel. Just the other day he did his first wiring on a motor he had glow in his you would not believe. He has been building since he was 5 and hasn`t stop. I know a lot of kids are not interested and I`m proud thta my son is. So any of your parents have a boy with HAAD get them to build a model you see a change in the child I`m not sure if that is how its spell but I`m sure you people would know what I mean.

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Change......the only constant.

Retailing has changed more than anyone ever expected. I recall when Charlotte had two stamp hobby shops......not sure there is one in the country  in a brick and mortar setting. 

The hobby will be here after I'm gone.....so not a worry here. 

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This is something I've seen posted of different forums with different hobbies. The two aircraft centered forums this seems to be oft posted. Kids in the hobby, yeah, I think It happens. We don't see it because, well, they're kids. Have to say, if I was kid age, I wouldn't want to hang around old fogies, would rather be around my peers, talking the hobby, talking about what concerns me in the world with  others MY AGE. I don't think teens can relate to what is posted in the What irked you/what pleased you threads, can all of you understand what your teens/grandkids talk about, do they want to hang with you? Give them time, life will get in their way, hobby gets forgotten, then picked back up. Look in the "Welcome! Introduce yourself" thread. Most all are returnees to the hobby and or old guys. We can relate to each other and understand the lives each of us has gone through. Hands up, how many of us come here for the model building, but also for the dialogue and talk about other things besides models.

Don

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The next ‘cycle’ of car model building is going to be huge. Why do I say this you ask? Simple, when all of us 50+ age guys kick it, there is going to be a glut in the secondary market, kits will be super cheap, so many will pick it up due to low cost......

 

ya, that was a little tongue in cheek, but, I see it happening, I know a lot of the guys on here have huge piles of kits ( myself included ), they all gotta go somewhere when we are gone.

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You want to see old, go to a toy train show!

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1 hour ago, Mark said:

You want to see old, go to a toy train show!

For one thing model trains are a MUCH older hobby than plastic models.

Second it much more expensive hobby....older folks often have spending money. A new Lionel top end loco is now $3K and no one blinks! 

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The hobby will certainly change, just as model railroading has changed over the 60+ years I've been watching it. Though it's much smaller now than it was (like cars), the quality and variety is better now than ever before...with prices high enough to allow short runs to be reasonably profitable. And there's enough beautiful vintage stuff around to satisfy any nostalgia junkie. Some of the train guys I know routinely build layouts or modules that would have been magazine cover material way back when. The variety and availability of aftermarket stuff for military aircraft and armor is still staggeringly impressive to me, and the quality of builds is, again, often off the charts compared to decades past.

I kinda suspect that's the way the model car segment is headed. There's fantastic low-volume stuff available for those who can afford it, and the really "serious" builders will doubtless keep the car thing going just like trains and planes and armor...better and better quality, more historical accuracy, higher and higher prices for limited production but really good products, and a smallish but highly dedicated core of enthusiasts.

Being able to produce one-off parts, masters, and injection-molding tooling using CAD, CNC, and various types of rapid-prototyping (3D printing, etc.) will certainly contribute to the hobby's longevity, negating the need to sell a bazillion units to stay in the black, too.

Edited by Ace-Garageguy

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Hmmm time for this again.

 There will always be modelmaking, but who cares if car modeling continues as it is? WHY?
It's beyond our control and doesn't effect my enjoyment one bit.

Guess barrel hoop spinning and horseshoeing aren't as big as they were either.

The age of big V-8's and deuce coupes and dragging your Plymouth are long gone.

Times change.

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Yes, things have changed. Rather a lot. Now, most new modelers begin building as adults. They're also building different kinds of models. My daughter and I were at the SoCal Gundam contest. They had 283 paid admissions last year, and they keep outgrowing their venue. I was almost the oldest person in the room. They have women builders too. 

The old guard, IPMS and established model car clubs, have been very slow to catch on. It took a lot of convincing to open a specific category for Gundams at our local IPMS show. They showed up with a lot of high-quality models. Our judges were very impressed, and I haven't heard anything more about how someone thinks they don't belong in a plastic model contest. Entries at our local contest have stabilized; almost entirely due to an increasing number of Gundam entries. 

If we could open our eyes to some of the other modelers out there, plus alleviate the sexism and chauvinism, we'd probably start growing. 

My usual hobby shop has reduced the shelf space for armor and aircraft. They've drastically increased the shelf space for Gundams, and modestly increased shelf space for science fiction and real spacecraft. Model cars are stable, but they need to run a serious clearance sale, 

That said, when we do a model car display at a car show, the kids just love the cars we build. So do the adults. I find it heartwarming to see grandpa tell his grandchildren about the models he built as a kid. The problem is that their parents won't encourage their participation. That's probably our biggest problem. 

Model building will continue. It's just way too much fun not to. But there will be different subjects. In a lot of ways, younger people are doing the same thing we did. We built stuff we thought was cool when we were kids. So do they; just different things. 

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I'm approaching this from a younger side of things as I'm only 22 and have been building since I was about 13-14. 

 

I've been building properly since about 2011. All throughout high school, I knew of one other person interested in and built models.

One. (We very quickly became best friends and still are.)

Most didn't understand it, most appreciated it when they saw the work that went into them but still didn't care for it, and a very niche amount wished they could get into it but said they wouldn't have the patience or the skills. A lot of it to me is the subjects. There are an insane amount of car enthusiasts out there - but to get the younger generation interested, it's all about the subjects. Marketing deals. Do a Gran Turismo or Forza themed line of Tamiya/Revell kits with special decals. That'll get attention.

 

Whilst some are interested in the JDM kits and the muscle kits, a lot of topics that a lot of people are interested in either cost faaaar too much as they haven't been issue since the 80s/90s, or they just aren't kitted at all.

If you want the hobby to live on with the younger generation, it would be an idea to aim it at the younger generation. I know, it's never been needed before, but times they are a changin' - model companies have a lot more competition in grabbing attention than they did moons ago. A lot of times, model makers didn't need to push advertising as much, because they didn't have any competition. When's the last time you saw an ad for a model kit on TV or the likes? 

Cost is another factor. Yes there are those starter packs available, but you can't guarantee those kits that come with paints etc are a subject the person wants. By the time you buy a kit, tools, and paints, you're out a fortune. Yes - we know that's a one off cost - but explain that to the average Joe. It's a lot to spend on a whim for something you don't know if you'll like, especially if you're younger and money isn't exactly flowing.

I can't speak for American audiences, but I can speak from my own perspective here in Ireland - we have one model shop.

One.

In the whole country. 

That's how well the model market is doing here.

 

I love the hobby - but if it's to thrive, which I would absolutely love it to - it needs to stop resting on it's laurels.

It needs to adapt. 

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Some excellent responses!! I get what your saying, Tomo, makes absolute sense. Still trying to find myself in the car model niche. I go to the hobby store and 95% of the car kits are...old school. I get the feeling that the shelves would look identical if the clock was turned back 15 -20 years. Great for the old guys. Not much to see in the new/ modern stuff. I can see where there would be no attraction to cars. OTOH, like Dave, I see the stock of Star Wars, Star Trek, Gundams,  Space Battleships has increased, and I can see the shelf stock is always changing, good sign!! Hmm, lots to think about.

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I see a common thread in all of this and Bill and others mentioned it either directly or indirectly.  The hobby is changing. It most definitely is!  If you see it ageing, my guess is so are you.  I will turn 70 in a couple of months and most of my generation are building what we built 60 years ago.  Not the same kits, but bigger, better, more expensive kits of what we started with.  Why are we moving that way?  Because we can.  We have the time and money to invest in that $600 Model Factory Hiro kit and spend a year and a half building it.  We didn't use to have that kind of money and time.  When I was 10 I built 35 cent kits quickly and built a lot of them.  I didn't have time or patience to work on it that long.  But I evolved and the hobby followed me because that is where the money was.  

The same is true of kids now.  There are young builders out there and we don't see them.  Why?  Because they are not into contests.  I wasn't at that age either.  At 10 who wants to go into a hot auditorium with a bunch of old guys hammering on the quality of somebody else's  model and spend a half a day doing it.   No, kids are  building at home just like we did.  Just like they play the video games.  Yes, there are venues for doing that competitively but most don't attend those either.  

As to the cost of kits being a hinderance, I disagree.  Dave mentioned the Gundam/sci-Fi genera and I agree that the younger modelers are building the heck out of those kits and they can easily run into the hundreds of dollars.  They are extremely complex and can be a blast to build.  They have engineering that will make your eyes water.  Have you ever seen a single sprue molded in three different colors of clear plastic? Look in a Bandai kit and you will find it all the time.  Not to mention that these are articulated kits.  

So, yes, the hobby is changing.  It is moving with the money.  It is following the builders.  Those of us who are aging are buying fewer kits and spending more money on them.  There are companies that are following that and we will be gone at some point and take our money with us(or more correctly pass it on to the next generation) and that part of the hobby will die with us.  But rest assured that there are young modelers out their and their tastes will mature just like ours and the companies will either adapt to that or be replaced by those that will.

  So is the hobby dying?  No.  Our section may be, but other parts, not seen by us, are growing to make up for that.  Don made the point about muscle cars and who cares about them.  Old guys now.  The ones that lusted after them when they were teenagers.  The young do not have that passion but them, but do not lack passion for other things to build.  

Edited by Pete J.

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The hobby is changing because for a lot of younger people, a car is transportation and nothing more.  One lady I used to work with once said that her daughter didn't particularly even want to own or drive a car, but had to because they lived in the suburbs.  I remember that I couldn't wait to get started learning how to drive.  My mom, who didn't drive until she was in her thirties, felt the same way once she started driving, and was saddened when she had to give up due to worsening eyesight.  Now, for a lot of people, a car is something they flag down with an app on their phone...

Edited by Mark
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33 minutes ago, Mark said:

The hobby is changing because for a lot of younger people, a car is transportation and nothing more.  One lady I used to work with once said that her daughter didn't particularly even want to own or drive a car, but had to because they lived in the suburbs.  I remember that I couldn't wait to get started learning how to drive.  My mom, who didn't drive until she was in her thirties, felt the same way once she started driving, and was saddened when she had to give up due to worsening eyesight.  Now, for a lot of people, a car is something they flag down with an app on their phone...

I can totally relate to this!! Way waay back, when I was 16, couldn't wait to get my learners permit, then license. Just like all of my friends. I had my first car at 14, before I could drive. My nephew, he had to be pushed by his mom to get his license, as did his friends. They couldn't care less about fast, chrome, performance, now it's the electrical features(phone hookups, blutooth, etc.). Cars are an appliance to most now, toaster oven on wheels.

Don

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I can see in the future as people have more time to devote to a hobby, there will be a demand for scale models of computers and phones.  Think about it, most people today are into both of these.  The first cell phone was introduced in 1973 and was quite large.  It would make an interesting display to have 1:1 models of phones over the years.  With computers, you would obviously want a smaller scale.  I've worked in IT for decades, so it would be cool for me to have a display of high-speed IBM and Xerox laser printers, and IBM mainframe computers.  Whether such a market will exist for such models remains to be seen.

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I've been in the model aircraft world for the last 30?+ years and haven't paid attention much to cars. I have to ask, when( and don't throw rocks at me for mentioning it) The Fast and Furious franchise started, were there any kits of the Ricers(again, no rocks) available? I've seen the kit of the Charger, but can't recall any others. I see the movies evolve from Hondas etc to American Muscle cars to Super Exotics and everything in between. Did anyone kit these? Seems like something kids might get into. Couldn't get licensing rights? Seems like they may have missed an opportunity? Even Jurassic park did the dinos and vehicle.

Don

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The kids that don't want to drive are the minority of this age group.  Our oldest graduated from high school 10 years ago and our youngest 5.  Both of them and everyone they knew wanted to get a driver's license as soon as they could.  The single biggest reason was so that they didn't have to ride in a school bus anymore.  Parents are on board with this as well so they don't have to taxi the kids around anymore.  It was true in our day and it is still true today.  Getting a car is the single biggest increase in personal freedom they will know at that point in their lives.

The biggest problem for the model car companies is generational.  The cars that really turn the kids' heads are models we will not touch.  In turn, they cannot relate to the cars that make our heads turn and they will not build these models.  The model car companies know what we will buy and cater to us.  They right now cannot justify the cost of production for kits that cater to the younger crowd because they know we will not buy them and second they know there are not enough kids that will buy these models to make it profitable.

This is not all doom and gloom and things go boom. 3D printing is growing exponentially and at some point the costs will go down to a point that the model companies can look at this as their primary source of production.  When this happens, "Katy bar the door".  The model companies will get the electronic files from the 1:1 manufacturer as part of the licensing agreement, they will scale them down and then use their 3D production methods to bring the kits to market.  This should bring production costs down dramatically.  They will be able to market kits to the young modeler without all of the legacy costs of production molds.

I am very optimistic for the hobby because of this.  The biggest problem I see is that we see the people participating in the model car segment as getting older by the day.  We also tend to think that the way model cars are produced now will be the same 20 - 30 years from now.  The model kits will be produced differently and the young people at that time will benefit from this greatly.

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30 minutes ago, dmthamade said:

I've been in the model aircraft world for the last 30?+ years and haven't paid attention much to cars. I have to ask, when( and don't throw rocks at me for mentioning it) The Fast and Furious franchise started, were there any kits of the Ricers (again, no rocks) available?

Yup.        image.png.e7ba9f791e7df3760d1266a916fb26da.png     image.png.f169448e2159de59a96d581bab85b3c0.png   image.png.50e5b6a6fdd8e3f665d5eab77f4bb8a2.png  image.png.9aec793b990bb6ad907bb332932ae10c.png

Edited by Ace-Garageguy

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