Thursday, 29 July 2010

Model railway magazines - what do we like?

I had intended to do a quick summary of the contents of the latest issues of model railway magazines I have received recently. They include Australian Model Railway Magazine (AMRM), Model Railroader, Railroad Model Craftsman, and NZ Model Railway Journal.

However, rather than just describe the contents of these magazines, I want to open up a discussion about model railway magazine content. Now I realise that content for model railway magazines mostly comes from the readers themselves, and that magazines can only publish content that they receive. Except in some cases where the staff of a magazine write their own articles, nearly all model railway magazines published around the world rely on contributed content from readers and railway modellers.

Nevertheless, I am interested to know what people want from their model railway magazines since the readers are in fact the consumers. What are the features of a model railway magazine that readers want from such publications? What do readers enjoy and dislike about model railway magazines in general?

For me, I have a few key preferences that cover what I like best in a model railway magazine. These features include:

1. Model railway industry news - I like to be able to go to one place in the magazine to read a summary of what the local model railway industry is up to, especially about new products and new manufacturers.

2. Model railway layout article - I like to read about other people's model railroad layouts. What I really like in these articles is not just reading a description about the layout, but to get some insights into the thinking behind the layout, the construction (including scenery and buildings), and operation. There should be at least one "method" or "detailed tip" for readers to learn about. The article doesn't have to include ALL of my pet wants, but simply describing a layout is not enough for me. Good photos really help too, as does a track plan.

3. A construction article - I like to know how people do things in the hobby, whether it is scratchbuilding an industry or designing a traverser for a layout. And I need some detail - I need to get enough information in the article to be able to build the item, or use the techniques for something else. A construction article to my mind is not just what someone has done, it's about giving the reader something to do as well.

4. Advertisements - Well, they largely pay for the magazine so that's important! But I also like to know what's going on and what's coming up (as in point 1).

5. Innovative thinking - I like to hear about innovation in the hobby and different ways of doing things or seeing things. Innovation is not something a person or a magazine can initiate; innovation is one of those rare and intangible occasions that just happen. I realise this, and I certainly don't expect innovation to be featured in a model railway magazine on a regular basis like an editorial! However, when I do read about innovative thinking in the hobby, I always like it and appreciate it.

That's it from me; anyone else with an opinion on what they like (or don't like) about model railway magazines?

Friday, 23 July 2010

Remember Mansfield Hobbies?

Who can remember the hobby shop, Mansfield Hobbies? The hobby shop was located at Waitara, an upper north shore suburb of Sydney. The shop was under the proprietorship of David Anderson from 1978 to 1988.

Well I just got my latest issue of the Australian Model Railway Magazine (AMRM) in which an obituary for the former proprietor of Mansfield Hobbies, David Anderson, was included.

I well remember Mansfield Hobbies since I grew up about fifteen minutes from the shop at Waitara. As a late teenager with a burgeoning interest in modelling New South Wales Railway prototype in HO scale, Mansfield Hobbies became a frequent destination for me on Saturday mornings. I used to ride my pushbike to the shop most of the time, before getting a car in the early 1980s. David Anderson was always ready to provide advice and encouragement, and the odd sale of course, whilst chewing merrily on his pipe.

I bought my first serious Australian prototype models from Mansfield Hobbies (my first Australian kits were actually Friedmont and MRC purchased from Casula Hobbies which was a long way from where I lived at the time; so Joe was really my first supplier of Australian HO). However, it was through the local Mansfield Hobbies and David Anderson that I came across and made regular purchases of the high quality HO freight wagon kits from AR Kits that really established and held my interest in the hobby at the time.

I also saved diligently for a couple of the famous Mansfield Hobbies' brass locomotives from Samhongsa in South Korea. I bought a streamlined 38 and a 43 class diesel; the 38 regrettably sold a few years later. I did, however, receive a non-streamlined Mansfield 38 from my parents as a 21st birthday present. Mansfield Hobbies was certainly a leading player in promoting the NSW prototype to the hobby.

Mansfield Hobbies' brass locomotives were considered top of the range at the time and even today maintain their excellent quality. It was a credit to David that his brass locomotives were so well regarded and very popular for many years in the second-hand market.

David was always friendly and supportive, as was his wife who often helped out in the shop. I really appreciated his patience with this relative newcomer to serious railway modelling. David Anderson was certainly one of the major forces who encouraged me in modelling NSWR. He also demonstrated how the hobby is also a wonderful opportunity to meet interesting people and share common interests by virtue of the fact that he had regular "bull sessions" at the shop, particularly on Thursday nights and Saturday mornings.

I was very sad to read that he had died in late May. It just seems like yesterday that I was parking my yellow Oxford outside his shop and being greeted to a welcoming smile and a puff of pipe smoke as I entered the shop. Despite the intervening years, I still have very happy memories of a very fine man.

Thank you, David.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

North Yard Model Railway Parts for sale

I just received my latest copy of NZ Model Railway Journal. I will write a summary report in my model railway magazine update next week when AMRM is due to be mailed out to subscribers.

A flyer inside the Journal advised that the business of North Yard Model Railway Parts is up for sale. Sadly, the owner of the business, Graham Selman, died suddenly on the 10th June.

Australian and New Zealand railway modellers would be familiar with the North Yard brand of model railway parts, particularly brass strip, wheel sets and gearboxes. I think Bergs (new website under construction) in Sydney used to stock North Yard bits and pieces.

Expressions of genuine interest for the purchase of the North Yard business can be sent to:

Neesham Pike Thomas Limited
PO Box 47256
Auckland 1011
New Zealand

or email