That's it, a bit of bad weather, a change in the day lengths and light style and out comes the buildings and set-pieces, I start looking at the scenery and railway forums and FB pages.
Of course, every year I notice changes to the hobby. More and more RTR stuff, even in O gauge, more and more 3D printed crap, more and more quite impressive laser cutting and laser engraving. A bloke doing kits for Great Eastern buildings!! How esoteric is that?
But...at what cost? Said buildings are bloody expensive. How many wealthy people are champing at the bit for some out of the way Great Eastern Railway buildings that nobody ever heard of? Or a £45 lineside hut!!
The one thing you can't get away from is that almost no proper modelmaking is being done. What people like to call scratchbuilding. A few smaller buildings perhaps, but nothing of any note or importance. Great Eastern's all very well, but where's the Somerleyton or Maldon stations? The ones we remember. Made in card or ply or Foamex. Nah, forget that. I don't know if my chum Iain Robinson is still making buildings for his clients or if he's jacked it in with his blog, which I miss badly. There were some others who made stuff on commission, but they are always held up as some sort of modelmaking Gods, when really all they are is examples of the kind of modelmaker we all were when there were fewer kits available or when we just couldn't afford the silly prices being asked.
We naturally set to with a sheet of nickel silver and a Skinley blueprint and started cutting and soldering. It really isn't difficult to cut and even with the most expensive kits you still have to solder, so why bother? Learn to cut and save yourself 300 quid to start with. Not much we can do about the outrageous cost of wheels, but all else is cheapish still. Motors, gears, metal.....not too bad on the whole. These days finding drawings is the problem as none of the mags publish them any more. Unless you want to do narrow gauge and then the old Roy Link mag, the Industrial and Narrow Gauge Review, Gawd bless its lovely layout and highest standards. I haven't seen the MRJ for a while, so can't say if they still have the odd drawing of any use, but the comics don't. They are just running catalogues for RTR. By the time you've finished making a branch line to their standards you could start a packaging company. All out of boxes. Even the O gauge guys now have endless RTR locos to choose from. 250 quid and up, right up, to 4 figures and beyond. When you consider the average age of model fans these days, you have to wonder what kind of pension deals these old farts were on. They can't all have been senior civil servants and teachers! I know a chap who went to a large model show and was relieved of 500 notes for nothing in particular. Not a loco or a major purchase,....just stuff! Lucky old him. That's what I might spend on a car if I needed one, but my hobby?
Oh well, back to my brass, my bench and my bashings.