Trains still roll for some
Local model hobbyists glad
to be withstanding onslaught of video games
reprinted from Red Deer
Advocate (Paul Cowley) November 26, 2012
For model train lovers like Gord Sylvester it was encouraging to see
so many youngsters gathered around the railway displays at this past
weekend's Red Deer Model Train and Hobby Show.
Thanks to the onslaught of video games, the number of youngsters who
set up tracks and run trains in their basements is dwindling.
Sylvester, show organizer and owner of Fun Times Hobby and Cycle in
Red Deer, has been selling model trains since 1991.
When he started in the business the average age of model railroaders
was 43. It's now 64, and that's simply because there are too few
newcomers to the hobby.
The number of youngsters building plastic models is also dropping,
and slot car race tracks, which were once part of almost every boy's
toy collection, have virtually disappeared.
Manufacturers have predicted that hobby shops will be gone within 20
years, he said.
"We're happy to break that trend."
The two-day show, in its third year, was begun to show the public,
especially its younger members, what model railroading and plastic
model building is all about.
"Without the show, it's out of sight, out of mind. They don't see
the potential. They don't see the fun in it," said Sylvester.
Judging by the enthusiasm youngsters were showing for the elaborate
model train display set up at the show at Westerner Park's Harvest
Centre, there might have been a few converts by the end of the
"It's always cool to see kids get into it and families get into it,"
"Once you get started, it generally becomes a lifetime interest."
Patrick McCauley was at the show with his four boys and they walked
out with their first train set.
"It's going to be fun to set up," said McCauley, who also has two
His boys have always been thrilled by trains, which they get to see
a lot of on the tracks near their Ryley home.
"They're so excited. We've been preparing for this (show) all week.
They even made a five-foot train out of Lego.
Vitaliy Chernenko loved to build plastic and wood models as a boy
but he didn't come to trains as a hobby until he moved to Canada
from Ukraine in 2004. Once he had a basement, he started building
"Since I was a kid I was attracted to little details. I like to
With HO-scale trains he can create models that move, he said.
Among the railway-related displays was a booth for the Forth
Junction Heritage Society, which wants to create a
transportation-themed tourist attraction in the Red Deer area.
President Paul Pettypiece said the group is working on lining up
grants and matching funding for a feasibility study.
The show also featured a number of model builders, who were
showcasing everything from Star Trek's USS Enterprise to Second
World War tanks and fighter planes.
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