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Is model building a dying art?

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  • Member since
    November 2003
  • From: Naples, FL
Is model building a dying art?
Posted by tempestjohnny on Saturday, February 8, 2014 2:08 PM

I was thinking about this the other day.  Are kids picking up this hobby the way that most of us did when we were younger.  There are so many other distractions that can pull the young away..  with this in mind my question to you is...How old are you and how old were you when you started building?

First answer by me .  I'm 44 been modeling off and on since I was 8.



  • Member since
    August 2012
Posted by JimNTENN on Saturday, February 8, 2014 2:17 PM

I think I was 5 or 6 when I started. I'm 46 now.

Current project(s): Hobby Boss: 1/72 F9F-2 Panther

                                  Midwest Products: Skiff(wood model)


  • Member since
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  • From: State of Mississippi. State motto: Virtute et armis (By valor and arms)
Posted by mississippivol on Saturday, February 8, 2014 2:25 PM

44 and 8 myself.....Class of '88!

  • Member since
    February 2014
  • From: Cincinnati, OH
Posted by Valkyrie on Saturday, February 8, 2014 2:35 PM

I'm 61 and started at about 8 years old as a Cub Scout project (first model was a Revell SBD Dauntless).  But, it's been off and on.  I get passionate about it for a while and then get too busy with higher priority things.

  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Sonora Desert
Posted by stikpusher on Saturday, February 8, 2014 2:40 PM

Well of my 4 kids who all dabbled in building with dad, none have really stuck with it, aside from my son, who just turned 18. He is into anime, so he still likes building the occasional Gundam or similar type of kit. As for me, I started building before I turned 5 and will be 49 in a few months.


F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton



  • Member since
    January 2014
  • From: Chi-Town
Posted by zstripe on Saturday, February 8, 2014 3:01 PM

Well I started building kits and playing with trains in 1949, I was 7. Have been in HO-scale trains and building 62 yrs and still build Military diorama's, my other passion. Been retired 13 yrs, I will be 72, this year.


  • Member since
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  • From: Houston, Texas
Posted by panzerpilot on Saturday, February 8, 2014 3:17 PM

Unfortunately, yes. I think it is a dying art.

Too many other things for kids to be entertained by. I think "craft" stuff is just not interesting to them. It's a shame, because I honestly think modelling helps one to be able to think more critically about things. I do just about everything around my house that is mechanical. Things like that.

I started modelling when I was 4 or 5. I vaguely remember the first kit. I believe it was a 1/72 Bearcat.

My parents also bought a USS Missouri and we bullt it together. I had it for years, though we used oil paints from a paint by numbers kit on it!

I'm 43 now.

Heck yeah, Mississippivol...class of '88!


  • Member since
    November 2003
  • From: Naples, FL
Posted by tempestjohnny on Saturday, February 8, 2014 3:22 PM

Class of 88. Just got the invitation to my 25th reunion. I know they are late


  • Member since
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  • From: MN
Posted by Nathan T on Saturday, February 8, 2014 3:45 PM

Its a dying art in the U.S. anyway. Too many other useless distraction for kids and teens. I'm 32 and started modeling when I was around 8 or 10. I am an aviation buff and when I was a kid, building aircraft models helped wet my appetite. I built a model car or truck back then, but only stuck with aircraft.



  • Member since
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  • From: Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England
Posted by Bish on Saturday, February 8, 2014 3:46 PM

I'm 44 as well, i was 8 or 9 when i was first introduced to it.

I am not so sure it is dyeing out. When you look at the stuff that being released, and not just model kits and AM but books some of which might not be solely aimed at modellers, but do seem to have us in mind. And i was just looking through the latest Hannants e-mail tonight. Do you guys remember those WW2 forts Airfix had years ago. They are being re released in the run up to D-Day.

I remember playing with these when i was a kid with my little soldiers and tanks. Airfix must think there is enough of a market for them.

And in the last few years, there's been a resurgence in vinyl records, and not just by older people. Yes, threes a lot of competition out that, most of it in the virtual world. But i think many people are realising they still need the feel of a physical object and the satisfaction of making something yourself.

I am a Norfolk man and i glory in being so


On the bench: Airfix 1/72nd Harrier GR.3/Fujimi 1/72nd Ju 87D-3

  • Member since
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  • From: Maine
Posted by Stage_Left on Saturday, February 8, 2014 3:56 PM

I'm 45 and have been building since I was 7. First kit was the Lindberg 1/184 YF-12A (it's mislabeled as an SR-71).

This question about the hobby dying comes up occasionally. While boys no longer flock to department/drug stores or the local hobby shop (now there's an entity that is dying out) to buy a new kit with their weekly allowance- just as they no longer play sandlot baseball or stick baseball cards in their bicycle spokes (if they even have a bicycle...), there are some of the younger generation who are dabbling in the hobby as well as those who do come back to the hobby after college/marriage/settling into mid-life.

I don't think we'd see the volume of new or re-released kits, and the prices of those kits, if model building was that close to being a dying art. This doesn't specifically address the question of the younger generation getting into the hobby, but nonetheless I believe the hobby and it's market are alive and well. As with most things over the course of time, dynamics within the hobby have simply shifted.

  • Member since
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  • From: Western North Carolina
Posted by Tojo72 on Saturday, February 8, 2014 4:35 PM

No I don't think it's dying,just becoming more costlier.

started very young,stopped,started up again at about 24 till about 34,another brief stop,and have been going since I was 40,about 15 years now

  • Member since
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  • From: near Nashville, TN
Posted by TarnShip on Saturday, February 8, 2014 4:50 PM

I am 57 last saturday, and started in 1965 at the age of 8

unlike many, I never left the hobby, I stayed at it the whole time

I introduced my two kids to the hobby, they were active in it for a while, but, he stopped the model of hte month club, and then let the hobby fade away, and she kept at it for a bit longer (10 years or so) and then she let it go too.

But, at least they both tried it before going on to other past times, so I am okay with their choice.


almost gone

  • Member since
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  • From: Sonora Desert
Posted by stikpusher on Saturday, February 8, 2014 4:57 PM

Bish I had that D-Day Coastal Defense Fortress. Along with a couple other similar sets that Airfix released... Boy those bring back some memories....

I think the hobby has evolved and changed and still has a few more decades of that ahead, but when the folks in our 30's & 40's now die off, I suspect that there will be no one to take our place. Those born in the past 20 years who take up and stay with this hobby seem to be rare indeed.


F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton



  • Member since
    March 2010
  • From: MN
Posted by Nathan T on Saturday, February 8, 2014 5:00 PM

Most new kits and tools/books are geared towards adults/ experienced modeller's, not beginners. Of course there are the snap tite/easy assembly stuff from Hobbyboss and other Manuf., but most stuff out there is for the serious modelers, which tend to be 20 years on up. I mean, just look at this thread, the average age will end up being around 45?? or older? I'd be interested to hear thoughts from across the pond and folks in eastern Europe that are on here.



  • Member since
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  • From: Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England
Posted by Bish on Saturday, February 8, 2014 5:13 PM


Bish I had that D-Day Coastal Defense Fortress. Along with a couple other similar sets that Airfix released... Boy those bring back some memories....

I think the hobby has evolved and changed and still has a few more decades of that ahead, but when the folks in our 30's & 40's now die off, I suspect that there will be no one to take our place. Those born in the past 20 years who take up and stay with this hobby seem to be rare indeed.

Indeed, but i wonder how many like Rex's children are out there who may well come back in 10 or 20 years. I only had a short break from the hobby, 5 years, starting in my mid 30's, and that was not exactly by choice. But look at how many new members we have had lately who have come back after 10, 20 or more years away. They usually stopped for various reasons, other interest, family, work etc, but years later something sparked and they have come back to it.

I don't expect it will be the same numbers we are seeing now, but hopefully it will be enough to keep it going.

But the onus is all on the model companies really. The likes of Airfix are trying to cater for both the kids we need to attract into the hobby and the more experienced ones, at least they are trying to look long term. But companies like Dragon only sem to produce high end kits aimed at the more experienced builder, which seems very short sited to me.

I am a Norfolk man and i glory in being so


On the bench: Airfix 1/72nd Harrier GR.3/Fujimi 1/72nd Ju 87D-3

  • Member since
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  • From: ON, Canada
Posted by jgeratic on Saturday, February 8, 2014 7:01 PM

I started building at age six , and am 47 now.  

It's a good question, and I can only answer it through the younger people that I'm related to.  I've three nephews, the youngest two were interested in models while young,  but now in their teens, iphones and laptops are the choice for amusement.   The eldest never was interested, but is very much into ice hockey and is planning to study physiotherapy.  

My sister is a grade school teacher, so has direct experience with the younger generation.  Hoping this is just the odd case and not a forecast of things to come, but recently recounted  an experience with a grade one student that has been raised on video games.  During lunch break one day, she noticed this particular student was eating his sandwich while sitting in front of the class room computer.  Now even though it wasn't turned on, he kept nudging his chair forward so his face could be closer to the screen.  The same student, on another occasion 'disappeared' from class, only to be found hiding underneath the computer desk.



  • Member since
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  • From: Australia
Posted by Blitzwing on Saturday, February 8, 2014 8:42 PM

I don't think the hobby is dying, but it is changing and I think modelling is a hobby  that is picked up at a later age these days rather than being a childhood hobby.

There is a lot more competition from other forms of entertainment these days and a lot of it is electronic  which is a lot more appealing to the younger ones. They offer hours of entertainment, no chemicals, no drying time hence no wait, no mess and therefore no cleanup. Most of all, you can actually play with them rather than just imagining them doing what they're supposed to do and making the odd engine noise. In terms of gratification, they just offer much quicker gratification than model building does.

However I think as a person gets older, then model building becomes more appealing, not because of the desire to build models, but because we are drawn in by the subject matter which matches our interests. I'm pretty sure that most car modellers are, surprise surprise, car lovers. Likewise for plane and armour modellers. However you're not always able to have access to those interests because some of them just aren't things you see every day. That's where books, and internet searches come in, and before you know it, "I want to build a replica of that tank I'm going to drive over my boss one day!" Or that plane you're going to zoom through the skies. Or that Ferrari that you'll buy...... In another four life times.

I'm sure we've also noticed that the cost of models are rising and the average kid just can't buy a model with their pocket money anymore, nor do models have the commercial appeal of other cheap plastic toys that they see in action on the tv.

I think we are seeing the evolution of the hobby, from something we did as a child when all you used was some glue and some paints that you brushed on without a care in the world about a full cockpit or fully detailed wheel wells or any of the other multitude of tiny minute details that simply has to be there these days, otherwise it will be unacceptable. This is evidenced in the kits that are being released nowadays.

I think that we've hit a point where we realised that the inevitable has actually happened to us, and while we've grown, we weren't expecting our childhood hobby to grow into us. Or it could just be a case of we just don't want to admit what we've become, which is dare I say it......... Middle aged, and still want to believe that we still do things that young people do these days.

By the way, I'm turning 36 this year. Been modelling since I was a kid because I was a military buff but chose not to go into the military for my career so this hobby is my outlet. I'm hoping what I said is true because if I'm wrong and the hobby does die then I'll have to look for something else to do in my spare time. Once I've gotten through the stash...........


  • Member since
    February 2007
Posted by mitsdude on Saturday, February 8, 2014 10:13 PM

I'm a B-52!

I believe that modeling is definitely on the decline among the pre teen group. One reason is competition for their $$$. Things I didn't have like action figures, remote control toys, computers, game systems, etc.

Also many model subjects are available as already complete toys that are pretty darn impressive. Like die cast vehicles, figures from companies like Toybiz, Sideshow, MacFarlane, etc. With these they get something that looks way better than anything they can build and they don't break when you play with them.

A second reason is competition for their time. I had three TV stations with kids programming only early in the morning and late afternoon. Now kids programming is available 24/7 even if you don't include DVD's! I had football in the fall/winter, baseball in the spring/summer and basketball in between those. About 8 weeks of each. Now sports are available 12 months a year with indoor facilities! Its not just football/baseball/basketball anymore. In addition we now have soccer, fencing, swimming, tennis, table tennis, gymnastics, golf, BMX racing, ice/field hockey, figure skating etc. My ten year old nephew is currently on two basketball teams and one football team! Between school and practice/games that's at least a full time job.

  • Member since
    May 2005
Posted by pyrman64 on Saturday, February 8, 2014 11:53 PM

I started building models at age 6, a Monogram F3F-3 biplane, that was almost forty-four years ago - i'll be fifty in April.

Greg H

"There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all hell." Gen. Wm T. Sherman (11 April 1880, Columbus, Ohio)

  • Member since
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Posted by GMorrison on Sunday, February 9, 2014 12:34 AM


 Modeling is an excuse to buy books.


  • Member since
    January 2013
Posted by BlackSheepTwoOneFour on Sunday, February 9, 2014 12:50 AM

I started when I was 5 or 6 yrs old. My first kit was a snap kit of a dragster and was doing kits until 20 yrs old. I came back to the hobby late summer of 2013.

  • Member since
    January 2012
  • From: Barrie, Ontario
Posted by Cdn Colin on Sunday, February 9, 2014 7:39 AM

I started modelling when I was about 7.  Built until I was around 21, when I met someone more interesting.  Started again when my oldest was around 10.  I'm 40 now.

There will always be people who want to tinker with their hands, and there will always be in a interest in machines and history.  Therefore, there will always be an interest in modelling.  It may wax and wane, but it will always be there.  

Nothing involving a screen is as fulfilling for me as building something with my hands as being able to say " I built that".  I think that's a fairly common human trait, and I don't think that today's generation is bereft of the same sentiment.

The industry provides a wide variety of kits for a wide variety of budgets and skill sets.

I build 1/48 scale WW2 fighters.

Have fun.

  • Member since
    November 2003
  • From: Naples, FL
Posted by tempestjohnny on Sunday, February 9, 2014 7:55 AM

As Bish said I'm glad that companies like Airfix and HobbyBoss are catering to the masses that can't spend $70 or 80  on a kit.  This will hopefully bring younger kids into the hobby. But since there are few stores that carry kits anymore  everything is or will be internet based. John


  • Member since
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  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Sunday, February 9, 2014 11:18 AM

I also started at age six. I am 75 now, and have always built models since- never gave up for more than a few months at any time.

To answer the main part of the question- NO!  Although it would be nice to see more youth building, there are a few that get started today, and turn out to be great modelers.  But the hobby does not depend on youth.  Many builders get started as adults.  The main argument to my argument that building as an art is not dying is visible when you attend contests.  Go especially to a regional or national IPMS meet.  The level of building is awesome.  There is so much really neat aftermarket, and we have learned so many techniques that no one knew about in the old days.

I started on wood solid models, and remember the first plastic models.  Basic models with only a pilot figure. If you were lucky the kit had a seat for the pilot.  It took decades for much of an aftermarket industry. Resin and PE took decades to make the scene.  We live in a golden age of modeling. If you don't believe it, go to the Nats, and look at the winning models and at the vendors tables!

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    April 2013
Posted by minimagneto on Sunday, February 9, 2014 1:54 PM

Modelling as a mainstream pastime for adolescent boys? Yes, very much going the way of the dodo it would seem.  It's like, so analog, man. Plus, I think a lot of parents don't want their kids playing with toxic chemicals when there is so much else to do.

That's a shame tho, it sucks when hobby stores close their doors.

But modelling as an art? Alive and well and constantly evolving, in my view.

Just look at all the talent in this very forum!


  • Member since
    August 2008
Posted by tankerbuilder on Sunday, February 9, 2014 3:22 PM

John :

 Didn't anyone tell you that thinking is bad for your health ? L.O.L. Now that dig in , here's my take on your question .I have seen many incredible models on the junior tables at contests around here .Is the hobby dying ? I don't think so , But , the face of it has definitely changed  . These kids that do model have allowances that I would've made me think I was rich ! Now look around you .

    How much is the average model in your favorite scale ? Now , how much is all the aftermarket stuff you add to it ? Shoot , You've got resin cockpits and metal parts ,both P.E. and white metal or brass and there you have a good chunk of change . Then say you build ships .Well there's resin conversion kits ( just like armor ) and brass barrels , stainless prop shafts and enough P.E. to sink it in a minute .

Now move over to cars .Braided hoses , in 1/25 ! Brake lines , shocks , wire wheels etc . Then there's radiator detail brass and chassis parts .

     Do you do all this ? Maybe you do and maybe not . Now , I have seen many junior builds with all sorts of detail parts and they will blow you away . I think the market is getting smaller yes . Do I think it's dying out ? No . Why do I feel that way ? Well , there's this .HOBBYTOWN U.S.A.. These stores carry about all of it from R.C. gas and electric in boats , cars and planes .They carry very expensive model train stuff .They carry all the popular model car kits and the paints for them .the same for armor , planes and static ships .

  Everytime I go in mine in San Antonio it's always busy .This is usually normal .Now , my favorite L.H.S. has everything too .if he ain't he'll get it ! Personal service at it's best . Personal friendly insults of a high quality aimed at the particular customer .How , much better can it get ? I have been putting things together and finding them in broom handles and shingles etc. Oh ! that was before plastic .Like Don Stauffer I am in my early seventies and you know what ? I ain't gonna stop till the heart stops for good .

  • Member since
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  • From: Fort Knox
Posted by Rob Gronovius on Sunday, February 9, 2014 3:35 PM

Dying? Not quite. When I was a kid, just about every boy I knew as well as their older brothers and sometimes their fathers built model kits. Most were out of box, usually unpainted or minimal amount of painting (black wheels, silver details, etc.). Rarely were gaps filled, seams sanded or glue hidden.

I hit 50 in about a week and have been building since I was about 5 or 6 years old. While in college in the 1980s, I attended my first show. There were plenty of nice builds on display, but nothing that reaches the overall quality of entries I see in the last decade or so. The quality of the engineering of the kits and the quality of the builders has increased.

Back then, other than a couple of great ones, most kits were about the same level. Today, the number of great builds has increased tremendously. Shows also seem larger, with more entries, although this may be fewer participants entering more kits per person. Back in the day, it seemed like a kit or two was the norm. Today it seems like a half dozen or more kits is usual.

So maybe fewer builders but the quality of the builders has increased greatly so that model building is truly a form of art.

  • Member since
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  • From: Longmont, Colorado
Posted by Cadet Chuck on Sunday, February 9, 2014 4:35 PM

I started with Strombecker solid wood aircraft models when I was about 7, in the late 1940's.  The first plastic models I remember were Revell's "Highway Pioneers", a set of antique cars.  About the same time I got into building "stick model" airplanes.  I'm 72 and still going strong in the hobby!

I don't think kids today have a long enough attention span, nor any interest in the subject matter of most kits, historical military models.  Plus, for most kids, it's just too much work.  I think the hobby will survive as long as adults are willing and able to participate.

Gimme a pigfoot, and a bottle of beer...

  • Member since
    March 2005
  • From: Lancaster, South Carolina
Posted by Devil Dawg on Sunday, February 9, 2014 5:49 PM

Nah, I don't think it's dying, either. We just don't see or know about the ones (kids) that are building because of geographical distances. When I was a kid, I was the only one in my neighborhood who built models that I knew of. When I grew up and found out about modeling clubs (by discovering modeling magazines), I realized that there were way many more modelers than I thought. And the ones that I met at these clubs and shows lived many miles from me. So, I can only assume that there are many, many kids out there building, but we just don't know about them because we don't live near them, and they don't know about us because they don't know about the clubs and contests. Once they get older and wiser, they'll find us, or we'll find them. I don't think there's anything to worry about.

I was around 6 years old when I started. My dad bought me a 1/72nd Hasegawa RA-5C Vigilante (well, I think it was a Hasegawa kit - did they make a Vigilante kit way back in 1970?) and helped me build it (I have no idea why I can remember that....). I'll be 50 this coming April 10th, so I've been building almost constantly for 44 years.

Devil Dawg

On The Bench: Tamiya 1/32nd Mitsubishi A6M5 Model 52 Zeke For Japanese Group Build

Build one at a time? Hah! That'll be the day!!


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