Fine Scale Modeling...we're all alone!

Something has been bothering me for some time. Why isn't there a national organization dedicated to the fine scale modeler. Even local organizations are sorely lacking. Plastic modelers have the IPMS ( International Plastic Modelers' Society), AMPS (Armor Modeling and Preservation Society) and each of these have local chapters. There are shows and get togethers everywhere. There is a plethora of podcasts, blogs, YouTube channels all designed to keep the modelers connected. What do we have?...The Narrow Gauge Convention and what else? can hear the echo! The Fine Scale Model EXPO...where is that these days? Gone I guess. What keeps the modeler connected for us? If it were not for the SierraWest Forum I doubt I would continue to scale model. I would likely gravitate to plastic modeling, why? Because modeling for me is the people and the camaraderie. Sharing your work with others and discussing techniques and modeling methods, and general conversation about the hobby. Seeing and interacting with modelers and the models in person, at least once in awhile, is critical for the future of the hobby. I found out there is a local IPMS chapter 30 minutes from where I live that have monthly meetings. I'm tempted to join and crash the party with a SierraWest diorama and see if they will kick me out or not! How cool would that be to have a local chapter of a national fine scale modeling club near you, go to a national show and have a local chapter club display, have virtual as well as in-person monthly meetings, have the national organization publish a magazine dedicated to the hobby? IPMS has that, AMPS has that, what do we have?....nothing!...quite sad if you ask me. Why do I post my work on the forum? To try and maintain connection with my friends and fellow modelers, stimulate conversation and share what is on my bench, and attempt to elevate a relatively solitary hobby to something that resembles a club or fraternity of sorts. Now I might be missing something so let me know if I am.


  • Ken…I sent you a pm
  • Got it thanks Terry
  • Those of us who look at this forum are very lucky Brett Gallant shares his talents with us.

    I don’t see future modelers willing to do the work it takes to build these models. I wish it was not the case but sadly it is. It takes patience and a little artistic talent to make something we hope others might appreciate.

    How many of you have a local club layout you can share your modeling with? If you do, and bring in a model, they are dazzled by the detail and the realism. They ask what it is and how much it cost and they think you must be a millionaire to afford to spend that on a model. Model airplanes are $30.00 and Craftsman kits are $300.00 plus. That, of course, does not include all the tools and finishing materials you need to buy to complete the kit. It is a big expense just to get started let alone complete the kit. The time needed to complete the model is another hurdle.

    There aren't that many of us craftsman modelers on a local level to have such an organization. If FSM made a few hundred kits once a year and if only people in the USA bought them what would that would be 12-15 per state? It is my impression that most of these kits sit on shelves and are treated like gold bars with the owner waiting to cash in on them in a few years and brag about the $100.00 extra they got over the original price. The next guy buys it but never gets around to building it and so on.

    How many of you have kits on your shelves you will probably never get around to? Like I said, when you are gone maybe someone else will get the opportunity to build those kits but they will probably stay on their shelves also.

    I have built many craftsman kits and I hope to continue. I have at least 15 on my shelf I hope to add to my layout some day. My hopes of finding others in enough numbers to join a club of some sort are essentially 0.

    We should enjoy the Sierra West Forum while we have it. I like to study the models that are presented. They inspire me to keep building.


  • Good points Mitch. I do think the sheer number disparity of fine scale modelers versus plastic modelers creates a natural vacuum in our medium. Your point of how long it takes to build a craftsman kit and the "pay-to-play" figures in as well. No reason a good club for fine scale modelers couldn't have sprung up over the years though. Something to pursue in a couple years when I retire! I'll give you a ring Mitch since we are both in Ohio!
  • Ken, it would be really great to be able to connect with fellow craftsman modelers on a regular basis, but I suspect there are very few of us. Nothing is more inspiring to a finescale modeler than to see an exceptional model in person, and share ideas and techniques. I have belonged to a few non-modeling related organizations and they are all struggling to get members. It is unfortunately how society is going. I believe model railroading itself is seeing a decline, and most of those that are still involved want instant gratification, put together a plastic structure and that's good enough. Woodland Scenics has figured out that today's modeler wants an already built structure that looks good enough and at a reasonable price. And those structures aren't bad at at that. People just don't want to take the time to build a craftsman structure, or they don't believe they can do justice to a structure of this caliber. They obviously haven't built an SW kit!

    There is a local model railroad group in my area and while I haven't been to any of their meetings, they hold a show twice a year, which I attend. In discussion with them, they are more interested in running trains than finescale modeling. Their layout is sparsely scenikced and geared toward running trains. I'm not criticizing, it's just the way it is. I go to their show to look for items to purchase from the venders, but almost all of the venders have "ready to run" items. No finescale items.

    I am very grateful to be able to connect on this forum and share my work for critique and to see the work of others so as to gain knowledge and ideas. I look forward to attending the Narrow Gauge Convention when it is a reasonable distance from me. Before I moved to southwest MO I lived in the Chicago area. At one point I contacted Scott Mason to see about hosting a Fine Scale Modelers Expo in the Chicago area. I thought it would be a neat idea to offer an opportunity to have it in the Midwest once in a while. Plus it was a central location which I thought might attract other modelers. I was willing to do the work to host it but never heard back from him. I had organized a couple of other national conventions in non modeling related organizations, which I told him, so I wasn't just shooting in the air.

    In any case thank you for being such a prolific and quality modeler. I very much enjoy seeing what creative work on this forum you and the other members are doing. For now I guess this forum is our go to place for finescale modeling.

    Thank you Brett for giving us this opportunity.
  • edited November 2022
    i guess i never realized the dearth of fine scale modelers. i would have thought that out of 330,000,000 people, there'd be fair number of us. i would love to have a place to (physically) go to see other's models, show mine, and talk with like minded people. this is the only place. it'd be kinda nice if there was a virtual hub that we could all log into and see and talk to each other. kinda like this forum with video. oh well.
    right now the bears are giving the dolphins a real run for their money. justin fields is the real deal and this game is winnable.
  • Ken, whenever you are in Northwest Ohio you are welcome to visit. If possible, please bring some of your beautiful models so I can see them in person.

    If memory serves, it seems like Brett suggested a zoom type meeting for the modelers on this forum. It might be the next best thing to actually being physically together. Nothing came of it.

    Maybe he will suggest it again.

    Trying to get everyone together at the same time however would be like herding cats.
  • I'm the superintendent for my NMRA division and make sure we always have a show and tell table at our meets. Typically I'm the only one who brings anything. From what I can tell, I am the only fine scale modeler in the division so for me the next closest would be a several hour drive. I would love to meet all of you on the forum and see your work in person.
    At the meets, I make sure to mention the need to show the younger members the need for developing craft skills, not necessarily structures, but most of them just want to run trains.
    I want to apologize for not being more interactive lately. Lots of incredible work being done on the forum. I haven't had the chance to work on a SW model in over a year. I'm in withdrawal. Too many other projects in the way......Rick
  • I'm lucky to be involved with an active group of On30 modelers that are mainly in the northeast, but we have members from all over. We currently get together at least 5 to 6 times a year. We have a meet in June of each year in the Harrisburg Pa. area, 2 meets in the Gardenier NY area, and recently also get together in Orbisonia Pa. at the EBT. We have a very active Facebook site, and do a lot of sharing of ideas there. Sadly the hobby does seem to be made up of older types....but we do have some younger members getting interested. We do need to get the word out though...
  • I think Ken if you crashed one of their meetings you would probably be met with a collective gasp when they saw your diorama. This would be followed by several jaws dropping to the floor, slopping around in the collective drool that had accumulated.
  • This is our meeting.... we just get to have it more frequently thanks to Brett and the internet.
  • edited November 2022
    I’m thinkin’ Mike might be correct….this group might be as good as it gets….and pretty darn good it is

    I know I don’t post a lot of my builds but that’s because for the last year or so I’ve been building brand X kits which are gifts that I’ve received, however.
    I like that idea that this forum is generally limited to SWSM builds
  • brownbr said:

    I think Ken if you crashed one of their meetings you would probably be met with a collective gasp when they saw your diorama. This would be followed by several jaws dropping to the floor, slopping around in the collective drool that had accumulated.

    it sure would be fun to see that.

  • kebmo said:

    brownbr said:

    I think Ken if you crashed one of their meetings you would probably be met with a collective gasp when they saw your diorama. This would be followed by several jaws dropping to the floor, slopping around in the collective drool that had accumulated.

    it sure would be fun to see that.

    and let the bidding begin....
  • There are a lot of good points made here. I have bought almost every O scale kit Brett makes and I build 'em. I am not a collector of unopened kits, but I build them for the joy of building them. When I die they'll probably be thrown out but I don't care, I got enjoyment out of them when I was here. I also agree that maybe an organization hasn't been formed because there are not enough of us to make it worthwhile as compared to the other organizations. SWSM does seem to be the only forum for us, and I love it. But it certainly would be nice to have others join us even if it's not SWSM (gasp, blasphemy!). Just my thoughts :)
  • The guys and gals in the On30 group would no doubt be in awe of not just Kens HO stuff....but everyone's stuff here. A lot of us, myself in particular got out of HO narrow for O narrow because out fingers got "too big" and eyes got "too small". I am always amazed at to work done in that scale, and equally amazed at the details Brett makes. If anyone is in the northeast, and wants to come to one of the shows...all are welcome...we promise to not try and convert you to the "Dark Side".....and as for the Brand X kits, I still have a lot (Kitwood Hills in particular) that I add the Sierra West touch to. I like many of you scratch build too, as you will see in my maintenance facility at some point....but I also with that follow Brett's lead....using the same techniques, and a few of the 3D details are going to populate those structures. I have learned much from all of you and hope to continue on this site....and here's a though....We have a nice big hall at my firehouse.....I could always set up a "meeting" of like minded Sierra West modelers....
  • I also build Kitwood Hills kits and while not to the same detail as Brett's, they fill a niche. I agree that some of these other forums could learn a think or two from us, but I also gotta say the war modeling forums paint figures that are truly amazing. I've never seen anything like the figures and the detail these guys put into their figures.
  • Not that I don't have enough to do already....speaking of war modelers.....I just bought the full Monty Python Holy Grail set of 28mm models......before I realized how small 28mm really is.....
  • One of our members in the On30 Black Sheep is doing a WW1 layout...I'll post a few pictures here soon....he does outstanding work...and a lot of it.....I think he has close to 300 figures
  • Great stuff here and appreciate everyone's take on the issue. I was afraid I was on a bit of a rant, but glad to see there is some agreement!
  • While reading the comments on this thread i got to thinking about thing here in St. Louis. I belong to two round robin groups. One is for the most part run trains and build plastic kits if that. What scenery there is for the most part was done by me. The second group all have scenicked layouts, build craftsman kits or, scratch build. I get my quality builder fix from the second group. Someone said about going to the narrow gauge convention to get their fix. In the first group I am the only nawer gauger. The second group is all narrow gaugers. I guse that is the answer we need to get more people into narrow gauge;=) Randy
  • Ken… a bit of ranting is okay…it keeps complacency at bay
  • Nice take Randy, maybe I need to search out more model railroad groups in my area versus scale modeling. Sounds like the association of the fine scale modeling with train groups is more prevalent than straight out modeling groups.

    Thanks for the moral support Terry!
  • Ken, I'd love to find a group of modelers whose interest is in highly detailed dioramas or scenes, regardless of subject matter. When I first started to get into this hobby, I tried all the clubs and shows around the area, and I found a totally different hobby than the one I was interested in. What I found was the hobby of building ultra-detailed trains with perfectly accurate bells and steam fittings, then watching those trains go around a barren town with 4 DPM buildings, sitting on a piece of plywood, covered with green colored sawdust with Hot Wheels in the streets.

    If it wasn't for the internet, I would've lost interest in this hobby a long time ago. My hope is this hobby continues to morph into something more like what tank modelers focus on, a hobby of small dioramas with a focus on details and weathering with a community that pursues that. I would love to belong to a local group that pursues that.

    Let me know if you find anything.

  • Lol...Hey Steve...exactly my friend, well said and my feelings to the tee!
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