Jon at The Combat Workshop got it right when he wrote about the closing of hobby shops. "This is not our hobby's problem," he said, and went on to talk about the demise of many brick and mortar stores. What he didn't say is that it seems like for every LHS that closes, an online shop opens! Look at the home page for the Perth Military Modelling Site; there are roughly 20 online vendors advertising there. Steel Navy and Model Warships both show a plethora of vendors on their respective home pages. Although it's sad to see your LHS shut down, we have more choices than ever to acquire new products. That so many men (and yes, they're usually men) have made the substantial investment in these online business and that so many are still around is a testament to the viability of the hobby.
Jon also wrote about the old men that we often claim make up the majority of the hobby, pointing out that his informal poll on Facebook found the average age of his modeller-readers to be just 40. That jives with my informal observations at the IPMS National Convention last year. I made a point to casually look around the rooms throughout the weekend, and I saw many, many more men in their 40s than in their 50s or 60s. If the hobby is going to die, we have at least 20-30 years to go...presuming men in their 20s and 30s don't come into the hobby.
Kits and more kits
If the hobby were on its way out, I'd expect to see fewer companies entering the industry. And yet, every year one or two seem to join! There are a number of new players in the hobby with unfamiliar names: Must Have, Tanmodel, Fly, and Pilot Replicas. Seriously guys, those of us who've been at this for 25-30 years know exactly how god we have it. Hell, my concern is that at the current rate of new kit releases we may run out of subject matter in 10 years!
If you believe in a doomsday for the hobby, buy up as much as you can now so that when all the online shops and the manufacturers close up, you'll have enough to keep you busy for the next 50 years. That's what I'm doing...albeit unintentionally.
Is this subject interesting? Read other Union members' thoughts:
Scale Model Workbench
The Eternal Wargamer
Yet Another Plastic Modeller
David Knights' Weblog