Monday, December 23, 2019
Farewell Railway Magazine Guide to Modelling
Just before Christmas, some sad news - The Railway Magazine Guide to Modelling is to close after three years.
According to the letter sent to advertisers and distributors:
Unfortunately, this current January edition of the Railway Magazine Guide to Modelling will be the last, as the title can no longer sustain itself as a free newspaper.
You might think I'd be pleased to see a rival publication go under, but I'm not. I wrote for the magazine several times in my pre-BRM days and always found them very pleasant to deal with. They paid up quickly for a start, always something to warm the cockles of a freelancers heart.
I also got my first full cover photo back in April 2017 with them, the issue is framed on my office wall.
I didn't see the RMMGtM as a direct competitor. To quote the letter again:
We always saw the Railway Magazine Guide to Modelling as a first step publication, helping push enthusiasts to other established title, including our own monthly publications - including The Railway Magazine, Rail Express and Heritage Railway. So although this particular publication will sadly no longer be produced, we hope some of the readers will have been bitten by the railways and modelling bug, and continue to read some of our great content in those other titles.
That's fair enough. The content was far more human interest than mainstream magazines. You didn't get extensive step-by-step pieces of the sort I write. They had the short of readable but light articles that you might enjoy while waiting for a train instead. If you had discovered your local model shop thanks to the GMRC, picking up a free copy of this would be a nice gentle introduction to railway modelling.
While I'm sure there will be plenty of people trying to work out what this means for the hobby (and deciding it means doom) I don't think it tells us much. The readers didn't desert the magazine, which was given away free after all, so you can't tell if the content appealed or not. Nor if the number of readers was falling as the hobby goes down the tubes and all the modellers die of old age as many delight in telling us is happening.
If there is a conclusion to be drawn it's that advertisers expect a return on their investment. Adverts should drive sales and maybe selling mainly to people who are only reading a mag because it's free means your ad is being seen by people who simply don't want to spend any money. I know that it's a very different situation with Garden Rail fortunately!
So, farewell to a brave experiment that will join a host of other long-gone model railway magazines (MORILL,, Practical Model Railways, Scale Trains etc.) into model railway folklore.
There are many local model shops who will miss this mag as it drew people in to pick up their copy, but how many of them were just hanging around and not putting their hands in their pockets? I know my local shop has a few of those...