With the recent opening of our own Ztrains Store, I’ve been thinking a lot about how the business of Z scale is now doing in the current economy. While I don’t know the numbers of the larger Z scale players like AZL or MTL, in many ways I’d think the business of hobbies should do pretty well in a tough economy.
When you look at what things cost today and what you actually get for your money, Z scale model railroading is a pretty good deal. Think about how much it costs to do some simple, not terribly extravagant things, like going to a baseball game. According to one ticket vendor, SeatKarma, if you live in Boston, New York or Chicago… you’ll need to pony up well over $300 to take a family to a single game!
Thinking of saving a buck and going to a movie instead? Ticket prices are right around $10 (not too bad) but if you want a large popcorn and soda, that’s going to be another $10 to $13. When was the last time you walked out of a supermarket with one average sized bag (no filet mignon inside) and paid $25-plus for it? Probably the last time you went shopping!
We all have our own stories about how much things cost, I think the more important thing to look at is; what was it really worth, what did I get out of it?
Back to my favorite topic, Z scale model railroading. The following ideas apply to all model railroading but aimed of course squarely at Z scale. On a side note, now this is just a personal hunch, but I suspect every model railroader not involved in Z scale is somehow evil… somehow.
In recent years, companies like AZL and MTL have largely been responsible for lowering the cost of Z scale model railroading and at the same time delivering better running trains. This is especially true for those who want to model North American scenes. For right around $150 you can buy a really fine North American locomotive with a coreless motor that runs amazingly well. For well under $30 you can buy a laser cut structure kit that, when compared to what we had available only a few years ago, is really a marvel of technology and creativity.
I realize $150 and $30 are more than the aforementioned movie ticket, but consider what you get for your money. That locomotive, if reasonably well cared for, will last you virtually a lifetime. That laser kit at $30 will not only last a lifetime but will give you an immense amount of pleasure and satisfaction both during and after completion. An overpriced tub of popcorn won’t do that!
On top of the economic reasons, there’s both scientific and anecdotal evidence that hobbies are good for your health. Reduce stress, achieve a state of constant learning, create a positive outlook by providing something to be excited about, help you win the lottery. Ok, that last one isn’t true but I was on a roll.
Aside from having a vested interest in Z scale model railroading, I also love the scale and everything about it, and want to see more people discover Z. For a near-perfect chunk of economic and spiritual bliss; begin building a new laser kit, put the ballgame on the TV or radio and throw a bag of popcorn in the microwave. You’ve just saved a few hundred bucks and you’ll live longer!