Would You have $20 on Model Railroad Kits or $200?


Model railroading is an expensive leisure pursuit, among the most expensive hobby there is. But for serious model railroading enthusiasts, seeing a serious hobby to a measure of completion is far more important than any ideas of saving big. And with you reading this page would seem that we could, at least, be on the same wavelength.

My first question is: “How much are you willing to spend, $20 or $200?”

That ultimately depends on your idea of spending big. Modeled locomotives and I am speaking of the already finished products with decals and paints already done are very expensive. A good number of ready to run locomotive designs are $1k and more.

Let’s take for example among the best I’ve seen, the HO gauge hand-built model of the NSWGR AD60 Garratt 4-8-4 + 4-8-4 from the model railroad kits manufacturer DJH Model Loco. For those that haven’t heard of the Garrat, it’s a huge South African locomotive thatís known worldwide for its robust workability. This Garratt model is listed 1,236£ which is $2,439.81. This price is depressing.


You don’t have to buy what I call finished or ready to run products. These products only serve purpose when you don’t want to learn the intrinsic joys of model railroading, which isn’t my case.

The unique joys of model railroad kits I find are the fitting and dressing of the parts. If you have seen the animated ad Model Railroader ran many years ago, you’d understand what I am referring to. This was about a man who, at some hobby shop, asked for a $20 locomotive and then spends up to $200 purchasing for detail parts.

Let’s take the NSWGR AD60 Garratt 4-8-4 + 4-8-4 again as example, but now we choose the base model also sold by the model railroad kits manufacturer DJH Model Loco. These model railroad kits still contains the same features as the former ready to run: one piece cast boiler, smoke box, firebox, etched cab, tender, valve gear, chassis, and the brass cast detail fittings. It costs 373.92£ which is $738.182. This priceís a relief compared to the former.


Some would argue that if you were to add the expenses you bought for the details, it will still total more or less the price of the “ready to run” model railroad kits. Then again, one of the joys of model railroading is yourself assembling and the making of the miniatures. And it isnít as if you bought a ìready to runî you wonít need to tweak still, as hobbyist do end up instead tweaking more to make it look complete.

So which course of action you would take is entirely up to you. You can buy a ready to run locomotive model which costs $200 or begin with a $20 base locomotive and spend and detail your way up to $200. But trust me; the latter course is the most fulfilling.

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