Is our hobby, growing or skrinking?

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for a while, I saw a models disappearing from the department store shelves. The LHS where disappearing, and the only real source was E"vil"-Bay to supply model kits. But, recently Micheals, in some of your threads, I have seen Walmart, and even more recently a new LHS has just opened in Central Toronto. Sunward Hobbies www.sunwardhobbies.ca . Could it be that model hobby is beginning to thrive again. What's your opinion?

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When I started building (I live in Australia) model kits were in most larger stores like K-mart and similar shops, and cost around the 15 to 30 dollar mark. These days I can only find model kits in chain toy stores, and they are priced anywhere from 40 to one case where a Mobius Hudson Hornet was 80 dollars. My LHS has always had kits, but its the only hobby shop I know if in my area. Id say whats killing the model building hobby here in Australia is the price and accessibility to kits that don't cost 'adult' money.

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It will be turning into a niche market. Mostly older guys, us, and a few young folks. Sad part is that this has to be one of the best times to be in this hobby!

Oh well, time marches on!

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Posted · Report post

I would say that it's slowly shrinking as most of the guys in the hobby are older. While there are younger guys in the hobby as well, it's not like it was in the 60's where plastic kits were flyin' off the hobby shop shelves. Speaking of hobby shops, where are they? The number of shops are shrinking as well.

When the guys that started building back in the 50's & 60's are no longer here or can no longer build anymore, I don't see the younger builders keeping this hobby alive for any length of time.

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Posted · Report post

I don't see the younger builders keeping this hobby alive for any length of time.

Thats because no one has developed a model building app yet.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Car modeling? I'd call it "concentrating"... Fewer modelers, but they're buying more models. Those that are into it are into in a big way.

Modeling in general? Compared to the last 5 years or so, I'd say growing slightly, fueled mainly in the Sci-fi genre, which seems to be going through a bit of a renaissance. 1/32 scale aircraft has also been a major growth area over the last few years.

The figures from the last industry survey (2011) show the hobby industry shrunk slightly since the previous survey (around 2007 or 2008, IIRC) but the loss was entirely contained within the R/C segment, other areas were flat or grew slightly. I tend to agree with the figures based on what I encounter in my day-to-day line of work.

Look, it's not the 1990's anymore, that was the big boom in modeling, maybe even bigger than the 60's boom. I think we've settled into what the hobby market is meant to be. The 1990's-early 2000's and the big-box-store era were an unsustainable anomaly, I doubt we'll ever see those days again, and it's a bit unfair to compare to those times.

Edited by Brett Barrow

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Posted · Report post

IT has to be growing with the amout of kits that are coming out. l believe more guys are picking up the hobby. Hobby Lobby has the most kits l have ever seen and big store like Hobby Lobby and the internet has hurt the small hobby shops..

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I don't see the younger builders keeping this hobby alive for any length of time.

We're tryn' our best! lol

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In terms of the actual number of people who are actively into model car kits, the hobby is shrinking.

But today, those who are still into it tend to spend more per person than people did in the "good old days" of the hobby.

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The figures from the last industry survey (2011) show the hobby industry shrunk slightly since the last survey (around 2007 or 2008, IIRC) but the loss was entirely contained within the R/C segment, other areas were flat or grew slightly. I tend to agree with the figures based on what I encounter in my day-to-day line of work.

If this is in fact accurate, when one considers the state of the American economy during the period, it would seem that even in the face of declining disposable-income and relatively high unemployment, the hobby industry has more resilience than one would at first think.

The decline in bigger-ticket R/C modeling could be a direct reflection of the health of the economy in general, or simply a fluctuation in 'trending'.

In general, I'd say that, again, given the recent economic environment, IF most segments of the hobby were "flat" or "grew slightly", that COULD be a good sign for the future. It COULD be a sign that as the economy picks up, the hobby industry will pick up commensurately. On the other hand, it COULD mean that more cash-intensive forms of entertainment are being replaced by modeling, which might imply there COULD be a decline as the economy improves, and people have more $$ to spend on other things.

Thus, the relative worthlessness of statistics with insufficient context to interpret them in.

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Posted · Report post

The figures from the last industry survey (2011) show the hobby industry shrunk slightly since the last survey (around 2007 or 2008, IIRC) but the loss was entirely contained within the R/C segment, other areas were flat or grew slightly. I tend to agree with the figures based on what I encounter in my day-to-day line of work.

What figures are those? What type of survey? Taken by whom, consumers or industry "insiders?" What questions were asked? It's possible that total revenue in the industry rose slightly while actual consumer numbers dropped, due to rising prices of products.

We would need to see a lot more specifics to really know whether the industry is growing or shrinking. And besides, the question isn't if the industry overall is growing, I think the OP was asking whether car modeling (which is only a relatively small segment of the overall hobby industry) is growing.

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If this is in fact accurate, when one considers the state of the American economy during the period, it would seem that even in the face of declining disposable-income and relatively high unemployment, the hobby industry has more resilience than one would at first think.

Keep in mind that a large part of today's active car modelers are retired guys. Plenty of disposable income, and unemployment figures do not apply.

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Outside of the forums, I don't know anyone besides myself that builds model cars. I've tried getting my mates into model building, but all they see is the giant mess on my model-desk :P

Ways to expand the hobby (in Australia anyway) would be to get model cars more exposure, for example in magazines. A popular modified car magazine here once had an article on model building, in one issue, once. Another Aussie magazine has a recurring double page article for kit reviews etc.

The younger generations (mine included,) seem to more interested in newer cars, imports and mini-trucks for the most part, instead of hot rods and customs. With many exceptions of course. But I'll try to do my part in keeping the 'old iron' spirit alive :P

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Keep in mind that a large part of today's active car modelers are retired guys. Plenty of disposable income, and unemployment figures do not apply.

That's possibly a very valid point. In the ACME club I belong to, the mix is about 50-50 retired and middle-aged working guys. There are also a few younger guys who will be good earners for a long time to come, and more are trickling in.

It's also good to remember that there are a lot of retired folks on fixed incomes with little disposable income who choose to spend what they have on this hobby.

Without detailed demographic information to analyze, it's hard to make any really worthwhile general statements.

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I don't know about anyone else, but my collection sure is growing. :)

As long as I can buy paint and glue, I'm set for life.

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Outside of the forums, I don't know anyone besides myself that builds model cars. I've tried getting my mates into model building, but all they see is the giant mess on my model-desk :P

I can't even find anyone into cars anymore, much less model cars. :(

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If this is in fact accurate, when one considers the state of the American economy during the period, it would seem that even in the face of declining disposable-income and relatively high unemployment, the hobby industry has more resilience than one would at first think.

The decline in bigger-ticket R/C modeling could be a direct reflection of the health of the economy in general, or simply a fluctuation in 'trending'.

In general, I'd say that, again, given the recent economic environment, IF most segments of the hobby were "flat" or "grew slightly", that COULD be a good sign for the future. It COULD be a sign that as the economy picks up, the hobby industry will pick up commensurately. On the other hand, it COULD mean that more cash-intensive forms of entertainment are being replaced by modeling, which might imply there COULD be a decline as the economy improves, and people have more $$ to spend on other things.

Thus, the relative worthlessness of statistics with insufficient context to interpret them in.

I wouldn't call modeling recession-proof, but it is definitely recession-resistant. There are some segments in the hobby business that run almost counter to the economy. Crafts, for example, seem to pick up during economic downturns as people spend more time at home due to layoffs or lack of work. Same thing happens with modeling (but not to the same extent as crafting), especially car modeling, folks are looking for something to do with their free time and will often take up a hobby. I've found that free time is usually a bigger factor than money when it comes to folks taking up a hobby.

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...Ways to expand the hobby (in Australia anyway) would be to get model cars more exposure, for example in magazines. A popular modified car magazine here once had an article on model building, in one issue, once. Another Aussie magazine has a recurring double page article for kit reviews etc....

When Revell and AMT entered the plastic kit market, the 1:1 hot-rod mags pushed the hobby in print as a way to build, in scale, what enthusiasts maybe didn't have the resources to build in 1:1, or as a means to build a MODEL of a proposed 1:1 project before committing big-bucks to something full-scale, and avoiding SOME expensive pitfalls.

Recently I've seen a smattering of interest and coverage in the 1:1 mags, but more would surely be better.

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I can't even find anyone into cars anymore, much less model cars. :(

Thats why places like this are so great! :D

When Revell and AMT entered the plastic kit market, the 1:1 hot-rod mags pushed the hobby in print as a way to build, in scale, what enthusiasts maybe didn't have the resources to build in 1:1, or as a means to build a MODEL of a proposed 1:1 project before committing big-bucks to something full-scale, and avoiding SOME expensive pitfalls.

Recently I've seen a smattering of interest and coverage in the 1:1 mags, but more would surely be better.

Thats really interesting :D It would be fantastic to see model car manufacturers taking up ad-space in current 1:1 car magazines, but they'd have to content with the advertisements pertaining the the 1:1 hobby of car-building I suppose. Seeing as most model car builders are also 1:1 car enthusiasts, or started out as 1:1 enthusiasts, (for the most part) it would be perfect.

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What figures are those? What type of survey? Taken by whom, consumers or industry "insiders?" What questions were asked?

In the back room of the warehouse, where all of the model moguls meet. Pure speculation.

Look around at any "recent" gathering of modelers, i.e. shows, swap meets and see how crowed it is, young people too.

Like Dave said, "My collection is growing" :lol:

As to what's popular, look at the show / contest tables, you'll get a good idea what's popular today.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

One thing that does nothing to grow "the hobby" is to speculate and bicker openly on the Internet. You have no control over the audience that might stumble on your topic. Rants, negative remarks, personal attacks, and bias do nothing to help anyone. There is no way to measure the number of people who came looking for info on model cars and instead found childish rants, personal attacks, and scathing reviews.

Everything changes with time. The way people shop changes, the way things are manufactured changes, the way people communicate changes, the way people enjoy their life changes. There are less magazines in print now than there used to be, but that's not because the sky is falling, it's because modelers are getting their information other ways. There are less brick and mortar stores now than there used to be, but people are able to shop and browse inventories of hobby shops half a world away without leaving the couch. Are there less model car builders than there used to be? Hard to say, but there more, better products available now than there have ever been, and more resources for interaction with other modelers.

Lead, follow, or get out of the way. Things are changing faster and faster every day. If you don't like the direction things are going start leading a different way!

Edited by kalbert

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What figures are those? What type of survey? Taken by whom, consumers or industry "insiders?" What questions were asked? It's possible that total revenue in the industry rose slightly while actual consumer numbers dropped, due to rising prices of products.

We would need to see a lot more specifics to really know whether the industry is growing or shrinking. And besides, the question isn't if the industry overall is growing, I think the OP was asking whether car modeling (which is only a relatively small segment of the overall hobby industry) is growing.

The HMA (Hobby Manufacturers' Association)'s Size-of-Industry survey, and the analysis of same published in industry trade magazines Model Retailer and Hobby Merchandiser. There was a new survey for 2012 published earlier this year, but I haven't really gone over it in detail for myself yet. I believe it will show a little more of a overall decrease than the last one did. One problem we have trying to judge the size of the modeling segment it that the kits themselves get grouped into the "Plastics and Die-Cast" segment, while the tools and supplies used to build and finish them get put into the "General Hobby" segment. Plus having Die-Cast attached to plastic models has skewed the figures, it seems to me that die-cast has been in a big decline over the last few years. I'd like to be able to see the plastics figures without die-cast attached.

The HMA usually will post a brief summary of the survey on their website, hmahobby.org in the news and press release section.

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The HMA (Hobby Manufacturers' Association)'s Size-of-Industry survey, and the analysis of same published in industry trade magazines Model Retailer and Hobby Merchandiser. There was a new survey for 2012 published earlier this year, but I haven't really gone over it in detail for myself yet. I believe it will show a little more of a overall decrease than the last one did. One problem we have trying to judge the size of the modeling segment it that the kits themselves get grouped into the "Plastics and Die-Cast" segment, while the tools and supplies used to build and finish them get put into the "General Hobby" segment. Plus having Die-Cast attached to plastic models has skewed the figures, it seems to me that die-cast has been in a big decline over the last few years. I'd like to be able to see the plastics figures without die-cast attached.

The HMA usually will post a brief summary of the survey on their website, hmahobby.org in the news and press release section.

Good info, thanks.

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As long as "the hobby" lasts as long as I'm able to enjoy it that's fine, there's no reason for it to exist if nobody want's to do it.

Amen.

What do I care what hobbies people are into after I'm gone? Heck, what do I care what hobbies other people are into now? Doesn't affect my life in the slightest, and I have absolutely no desire or feel any urgent "duty" to pass the torch to others. Let everyone pick their own interests, not rely on me to tell them what they should be interested in.

Model cars will exist as long as there is enough of an interest in them to make their manufacture financially viable. It's as simple as that.

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