Perhaps it is simply because I’ve been to quite a few train shows of various sizes through the years that it will take more and more to impress me but I left the recent WGH (World’s Greatest Hobby) model railroading show with mixed feelings and a generally empty bag. WGH has been around now for several years and I don’t know if it has something to do with that or if it is a decline in the interest of the hobby but there didn’t seem to be the “pop” that one associates with shows of this size.
To start with, several of the bigger names in model railroading weren’t there. While Carstens Publishing, the publisher of RAILROAD MODEL CRAFTSMAN did have a presence, MODEL RAILROADER, the hobby’s flagship magazine and Kalmbach Publishing were nowhere to be seen. Walthers was there but their display looked more like a kids’ play area than one which well represented their outstanding lines.
On the plus side, Bachmann and Athearn had a very nice presence at the show. They both had very nice displays of their respective products and plenty of people on hand to interact with the show attendees. Such shows always present the opportunities for companies to present their latest products and both the Bachmann and Athearn areas had some really nice, new models to show. More on that in a future post.
It may be that the show organizers are trying to make the shows more “family friendly” as there were lots of things for younger kids to do and it seemed that the admission prices were very family friendly. There was tons of Thomas the Tank everywhere and several kids’ play areas where they could get hands on with some of the more toy-like products. I realize that they represent the future of the hobby but to shell out $11 for admission (and more for parking), that was not what I really came for.
Time constraints prevented me from spending lots of time in the layout section but there were several nice ones on display. And with most anything moving, there were lots of attentive eyes of all ages looking on.
I’m not sure if it is for the aforementioned family appeal aspect OR if it was simply to fill up empty space, there were a lot of quasi-railroad and non-railroad vendors present. There were several apparell dealers present as well as vendors displaying what looked like die-cast collectors’ cars & trucks. There was also a vendor there with all kinds of wooden & metal signs; only a few of them were railroad related. I couldn’t help but wonder why an effort was made to attract more model railroad vendors but perhaps they had to take what they could get.
All in all, I’d have to give the show no more than about a C+. Others may had different opinions but at a show that size, I like to see plenty of manufacturers and not so many toys. But then again, it’s like I said, maybe it’s because I’ve been to so many of these that i’m becoming more and more demanding. Time will tell…