Tag Archives: hobby shop

Give a young person a gift that will last a lifetime by introducing them to model trains.

Model Trains

We here at Walthers believe model railroading is the world’s greatest hobby and we love to help bring others aboard. Model trains have been around for nearly 100 years and have seen changes that have taken the level of sophistication and accuracy to new heights never dreamed of before. What used to take many of hours of work can now be purchased off the shelf at your local hobby shop or ordered online from one of hundreds of different retailers.

Why so popular?

Model railroading has so many facets as a hobby. Engineering, electronics, sculpting, carpentry, history, teamwork, and exceptional creativity. This makes it very appealing to creative and intelligent people who love watching the giant machines roll down the tracks. They want to preserve the awe struck feeling they have every time a behemoth locomotives pulls its cars past. For some there is a specific place in time they wish to capture, for others its specific models of locomotives and cars…right down to the engine and car numbers. All over the country people have these same memories that they share with each other, building bonds that last a lifetime. For some people, they like to create the world in a way they would like to see it — a world of their own design.

Historical HO Scale Model Trains

Model trains preserve history

Real trains, like everything else in this technologically driven world, are changing very quickly. But for many modelers, preserving the past is a key part of their hobby fun; while an actual steam locomotive may have been scrapped decades ago, a three-dimensional working miniature becomes a snapshot in time like no other.

Why hobbies are so important to people

Hobbies are very important, because without them we live day-to-day habit-filled lives that don’t give us much escape. Hobbies, especially model trains, provide many positive experiences and effects:

  1. 1. Meeting new people
  2. 2. Experiencing new things
  3. 3. Building self-esteem and worth
  4. 4. Flexibility and creative satisfaction
  5. 5. Clearing your mind
  6. 6. Having something to look forward to
  7. 7. Setting and accomplishing goals

Model Railroading is a great hobby because it will give you an opportunity to relax and build skills at the same time while expressing yourself in fantastic ways.

Father and sons working on a model train layout

Share the love for model trains

Connecting with family is also much easier when common interests are shared and enjoyed. Model trains appeal to curious young people who enjoy solving problems, and have an eye for detail and like to challenge themselves to acquire new skills and learn new things.

Imagine how much fun it can be to enlist and receive help from a young person on a part of your layout or a kit project. Nearly every skill that can help young people develop can be found working with model trains.

Toddler boy playing with thomas model train

A great way to start

Simply throwing young people at an existing layout can be stressful for everyone involved — kids are inclined to touch things – as are a lot of adults. Instead of using your prized models, make the investment in some basic equipment everyone can share. A few minutes spent learning how to handle and operate less fragile cars and locos now can really pay off down the tracks, opening the doors to helping them start their own model railroad. So, where should you begin?

First buy a set, you can find hundreds of train sets on walthers.com.

Expand the basic track from just an oval to something a little bigger by adding a track expansion set.

Take a couple of hours and build a model railroad layout base with grass mat together, or buy a kit like this one from Woodland Scenics.

Add some landscaping or points of interest.

Add some structures using kits or pre-built buildings.

From there, the sky is the limit. As young people grow their interest in model trains will grow as well and before you know it they’ll be teaching you things!

More information

The places to find model railroad information are abundant with programs across the country designed to help get young people into the hobby. There are also programs and websites to help kids who are already engaged in the hobby. Model railroad museums around the country are great places for young people to really get a look at mature layouts.  Milwaukee’s Trainfest and other model train shows have programs that help young people get involved. Each year young people absolutely love the layouts at model train shows. Online articles like this one and several forums are also great places to find information to bring young people into the hobby of model trains. More and more social media content around the hobby is being developed as well as video.

Walthers is leading the efforts to bring younger people into model trains. If you have ideas that you’d like to share with us on how to find success while getting young people involved in the hobby or if you are currently helping to pass along your love of model trains, send us your thoughts to growthehobby@walthers.com

We love hearing from and learning from you! Some of your ideas may be featured in future blog posts or features here at Walthers. We are committed to this cause, and know that some of the very best ideas come from you!

10 Reasons to Visit your Local Hobby Shop

Walthers Cornerstone® Hobby Shop Kit

Whether you’re just getting started with a new train set, or you’re a longtime modeler, visiting your local hobby shop (if you have one) can be a fun and inspirational learning experience.

 

  1. Inspiration

If you’re thinking of expanding or adding to your new train set, you may not know where to start or what’s available on the market. A good way to get inspired is to visit your local hobby shop to see what types of products they carry and how they’re displayed. Often times, the store will have a variety of layouts and themes on display.

Take your time and notice the details and different components of the display. Seeing all the elements together as a cohesive system can put things into perspective. It can be hard to see the big picture while looking at products online. Acquaint yourself with the different brands, trains, accessories, tools, and controls, as well as any reference books. Even if you don’t make a purchase your first time into the shop, you’ll leave with a better understanding of the hobby than when you came in.

For longtime modelers, you may be experiencing a plateau with your layout and need a catalyst for change. When was the last time you went to a hobby shop that isn’t your regular, go-to store? Take a look at our store locator (link), and dedicate an afternoon to visiting a new shop. A new shop means new layouts, new staff, and possibly different products. Seeing these things in a different light may inspire you to try something new, or give you new ideas.

 

  1. Begin with the basics

After visiting a hobby shop for the first time, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of products and accessories it took to create the in-store train layouts. Understand these types of layouts take a very long time to build. Talk with the staff on what they recommend for someone just starting out. They’ll be able to show you the basic building blocks of any model layout (track, freight and passenger cars, buildings) and walk you through the pros and cons of various aspects of model railroading. By starting with the basics, and building step by step, you’re more likely to finish all of your necessary components, rather than starting and abandoning ambitious projects.

 

  1. See products before you buy

If you’re just starting out as a model railroader, you may have a lot of questions or lack direction for your layout. Sure, you know that N and HO scale are different sizes, but what does that size difference look like? Do you want DC or DCC? Should you buy Code83 or Code100 track? The benefit of going into your local hobby shop is seeing the products firsthand. Sometimes the actual packaging conveys more information than you might see in ads or on the internet, and you’ll be able to view the product in different angles versus one picture online, or no pictures at all. In certain circumstances, your hobby shop may be willing to let you demo a product that you’re interested in! Being able to physically touch, see, and hear the different components allows you to make a well-informed purchase, and can save you from buyer’s remorse down the road.

 

  1. Compare similar products

Multiple manufacturers may offer similar trains, vehicles, figures, and scenery materials. Small details can be the deciding factor in the products that you purchase, especially amongst similar items. Often times, pictures on the internet cannot accurately depict the exact color, emphasize minuscule details, or give you that sense of assurance that seeing something in person provides. If you’re deciding between two similar products, make a visit to your local hobby shop. Chances are, you’ll be able to quickly tell which model is best for you.

 

  1. See store displays

Manufacturers like to promote their products in stores via displays, models, and interactive tools. These allow you to compare products side-by-side, or see a range of compatible products. Your hobby shop may have scenery, hardware, vehicles, paints, adhesives and more displayed on special racks. In many cases, the racks have informative signs and graphics showing the basics of how the products work together. This can remove a lot of the guesswork for a new modeler, and make for an expedited shopping experience for more experienced modelers.

 

  1. Ask the experts

Most hobby shops employ modelers on their staff. Even if they don’t model trains, they may build military models, aircrafts, or vehicles. In such instances, they can usually answer questions about construction, painting, weathering, and scenery. By talking with an expert, you’ll be able to talk about what you are doing, and let them know any general products you’re interested in receiving a recommendation about. Your hobby shop should be willing to provide feedback and make recommendations — after all, they’re counting on you to return and become a lifelong customer.

 

  1. Books and DVDs

Are you a picture person? Imagine ordering a scenery how-to book online, only to find out that it’s completely text, or worse, receiving a DVD in a different language! Hobby shops aren’t libraries, but they should carry a number of model train books and DVD’s for you to browse. If you’re just starting in modeling, take time to flip through and choose some how-to books that fit your needs.

If you’re a seasoned modeler, or building a layout, books and DVDs about real railroads are great modeling reference. Not only can you see the train action on your favorite railroad, era or region, you can also look at features in the background for scenery and detailing ideas.

 

  1. A learning experience

Many great hobby shops foster the personal growth of their customers. It’s becoming more common for stores to host lectures and offer how-to classes on model railroading topics. Subjects can range from scenery, to DCC, to weathering and detailing. In addition, many shops sponsor or advertise local model railroad clubs and railroad events. Check out the bulletin board – you might find something you want to visit!

 

  1. Model railroading ideas sometimes come from other hobbies

 Don’t limit yourself by exclusively purchasing products made for model railroading. Yes, in general, those items are your safest bets, however, you could be missing out on nuggets of information for your layout. Full-line hobby shops often carry military, aircraft, vehicle, and other modeling supplies that can also be used for model train layouts. Craft supplies are also common in hobby stores.

Additionally, are there dioramas on display? Check them out, and if you see a scene or painting technique you can apply to your model railroad, ask how it was done. By expanding your product base, you’re tapping into numerous new, unique looks and techniques for your model train layouts.

 

  1. Meet other modelers

Model railroading can sometimes be a solitary and isolating hobby. Staying active in your community by visiting your local hobby shop can connect you with other model railroaders and hobbyists. Some hobby shops encourage camaraderie between its customers by running contests, hosting events, and even sponsoring a local model railroad club.

Often times, there will be a wide range of experience amongst your fellow shoppers, from novice to experts. Engaging with those on the same skill level as you serves as a way to gauge your progress and share similar experiences. Seasoned hobbyists can act as mentors, and are typically eager to give advice and guidance.

Even if you’ve been in the hobby for decades, sometimes a chat with someone new to the hobby can provide an insight you haven’t considered, and interacting with other modelers can revitalize your interest and reignite your passion for the hobby.

 

One thing is for sure, when you are visiting a local shop, look for Walthers products. Shops that carry the Walthers brand are good shops, and if they don’t they are missing an iconic brand that has led the industry for 85 years.