I find that exhibitions seem to reflect the way "the hobby" sees itself.
To me this means the direction we seem to be going, so, let me make this clear this is from my point of view and my observations.
Most of the "big" exhibitions in the eastern states are organised by "big" clubs.
Lets look at the ones that got the most popular - exhibits.
Mullet Creek sized layout, double track mainline no points.
Is an excellent historical piece for which the club should be proud, and they maintained the operating era during the whole exhibition, Double track mainline.
A great display layout, impressive, showing the actual grade, captures the prototype quite well.
Double track mainline no points.
Fantastic work on the station building, Double track mainline.
I had not seen these layouts before "new to me". However both insisted on operating without a definitive era. : (
So by the look of things current new and popular layouts are medium to large layouts with stacks of rolling stock, going through a scene with no points!
I get their appeal from an exhibition curators point of view. High traffic, lost of stuff going and everyone waiting to see what is going to come next!
However take these layouts home, then what do you do? Operate? I think not, you would be board out of your brain in about 20 minutes, little to no shunting potential.
Are these type of layouts encouraging the hobby? or encouraging collectors in the hobby?
IE they look great, got to get one of those, wish I had a train like that. etc.
Usually I go to an exhibition and ask, hey how did you do that, blah blah. Well at these two exhibitions, I didn't ask one question. Mmmmmm!
Having said that Alice Springs has been set up to handle the exhibition circuit, not quite double track. However it can be converted to an serious operating layout, simply as to how its operated.
The Hobby manufactures, get to show their wares at exhibitions.
Its the perfect place to make a sale, the real thing is right there operating, you can go to a provider and purchase your very own model of the one you just saw operating on layout X. Cant get better synergy than that!
In fact at the last Caulfield Exhibition we had a modeler ask where we got our turntable, I explained the brand and type, and stated I had seen one at a shops stand X and off they went to purchase the table.
The hobby might not be as flourishing right now, if it was not for manufactures.
They take a big risk, for a hopeful return.
Having said that, if it was not for the hobby they would not have a profit.
Peter Waterman (UK pop song producer and O scale UK modeler) maybe a nut case?
Stated that without the cottage industry the hobby is dead, and I see his point!
I saw this interview on youtube, He is extremely passionate and also realistic about the time taken to accomplish such a large undertaking.
Modelers that see a gap in the hobby that they cant buy, be that, point rodding or signals, buildings, That the large manufactures cant or don't want to make a dollar from. But are needed to finish "their" layout. Thus, take it upon themselves to make extras and sell them at exhibitions.
Everyone gets a chance to finish "their" layout!
Cottage industries save the hobby, by plugging the gap left by the big manufactures.
Then there are the manufactures that seem to forget that they are where they are because of modelers, collectors seem to get a free ride.
I noted one manufacture, complaining that they could not set up right away on set up day, there was a reason, Layouts and bits and pieces were streaming in and their stand location was across one of the larger access doors at the time.
I remember an organizer state to the manufacture "you only ever turn up at 6pm, so right now you will have to wait until everyone as unloaded"
Unfortunately, the manufacture was not happy, even when they were able to drive right up to the door to unload, while layout exhibitors had to carry layout sections from a long way away!
I don't think some manufactures get it, if there is no hobby or exhibitions, they may have little or no additional income etc. Layouts bring 90% of people through the door.
As a side note, when it came to pack up time, the same manufacture was out the door in less than 15 minutes flat!
This Brings me to another point, I saw lots of Green and yellow notes being exchanged for Tranoramas 830 / 48 class sale. (I am guilty of getting one for ultra modern), $220 a pop seems like a good idea. But its not a must.
Austrains had a fantastic walk up price on their current NR and G class models that could not be beaten.
I think Jon was a trail blazer for the industry, when Auscision was still in short pants.
If you need stacks of NRs for a modern image layout, last weekends exhibition was the time to do it!
The attendees at this weekends exhibition, would have at least a passing interest in trains, and a competitively priced NR would be one of the cheapest way for anyone to get into the Australian Model Railway Hobby. So it the perfect combination of saw it this morning on the way to the exhibition, able to purchase a model of it at the exhibition.
There is no doubt that the NR class moldings are a sign of their time of construction, however they still has separate hand rails and hoses etc, working ditch and marker lights. The model is heavy and able to take a beating....
So, are Australian Model Railway modelers becoming detail snobs?
There is no doubt that modeling Australian Railways is expensive, how ever you have to look at the big picture, if you need alot of one model to create the right era, do you need all the bells and whistles? Could you do with a model with a little less detail, at a lower price?
For me the answer is yes!
We are starting to see this in the US model railroad industry, with Scale trains offering different levels of detail for the appropriate price.
So are we a bunch of demanding modelers, - collectors, who like layouts with double track and no points?
I hope I am wrong.....