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What happened to the great model magazines?

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Matt Carlton28/10/2020 21:01:28
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A lot of the articles in the older magazines were concerned with how to make things. Whether that be diy electronics, building techniques, covering techniques, repairs, soldering, wire bending etc.

The march of instant gratification, RTF and an increasingly disposable society perhaps made those articles irrelevant to many?

The competition scene has also died. We don't have the number of club or regional competitions that we used to. So there's less to report. Less to strive towards.

Without wishing to be rude, I think the older magazines were, and are, simply better in terms of content, character, diversity and individualism of writers.

We had the back page of dear old RG, we had contributors with a real flair for writing. I look back even to the 1990s and PM's series of "Aeronuttycal History" Pseudo scale models. Every bit as entertaining to read as a piece of prose as they were plan features.

I really don't know. The hobby feels different than it used to. Not worse, not better, just different.

john stones 128/10/2020 21:13:55
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I miss the good old days. wink

No one every griped about mags repeating anything, engine noise was never an issue (Lol) no worries about radio failures, never happened, least not to the one rx and 4 servos I owned, proper modelling.

NME and Melody Maker was my reading matter in those days, £7 for a 3 day festival and top bands a plenty. Where did it all go eh ?

Don't even start me on't Hovis. **LINK**

leccyflyer28/10/2020 22:21:00
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Posted by Matt Carlton on 28/10/2020 21:01:28:

A lot of the articles in the older magazines were concerned with how to make things. Whether that be diy electronics, building techniques, covering techniques, repairs, soldering, wire bending etc.

The march of instant gratification, RTF and an increasingly disposable society perhaps made those articles irrelevant to many?

The competition scene has also died. We don't have the number of club or regional competitions that we used to. So there's less to report. Less to strive towards.

Without wishing to be rude, I think the older magazines were, and are, simply better in terms of content, character, diversity and individualism of writers.

We had the back page of dear old RG, we had contributors with a real flair for writing. I look back even to the 1990s and PM's series of "Aeronuttycal History" Pseudo scale models. Every bit as entertaining to read as a piece of prose as they were plan features.

I really don't know. The hobby feels different than it used to. Not worse, not better, just different.

That's progress - and something to be thankful for.

If you'd told me as a youngster in the early 70's that I could have a fully radio controllable, fully aerobatic four channel Spitfire that I could easily fly in the garden, or even indoors I simply wouldn;t have believed you, as I struggled to try to get a KK Flying Scale Spitfire to stay in the air for more than a few seconds. It would have been right out of General Jumbo's comic strip.

Matt Carlton29/10/2020 00:07:16
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That's very true LF, but I was citing possible reasons for the question posed by the OP, rather than commenting on the state of the hobby as it were.

I'm not entirely sure that the picture of progress is as universally positive as you suggest however. Yes, it is perfectly true that things are possible and affordable now which we could have only dreamed of and that's wonderful. However, that progression has also lost us a lot of things and perhaps, subjects to keep a magazine interesting, varied and useful are among them.

leccyflyer29/10/2020 07:55:34
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The old magazines were for a different time, when some things were not available to the masses and a very high proportion of the equipment side of the hobby was either unaffordable, or unavailable or DIY. So we had very technical DIY articles to make your own, not very good, not very reliable, radio gear or to figure out ingenious ways to make one of the four servos that you owned do something that it wasn;t ideally suited for. That all makes for interesting reading, typically illustrated by a line drawing or two, or a low quality black and white photo.

Fast forward to today and the gear is widely available, relatively inexpensive, mostly reliable and the DIY aspect is very much reduced. So you end up with more product reviews to buy more stuff and illustrated multi-page articles with full colour photographs instructing you how to set the brake on an ESC.

Former Member29/10/2020 08:26:46

[This posting has been removed]

Nigel R29/10/2020 09:25:23
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Back in the good old days we never had forums like this where we could virtually chit chat about our hobby any time we wanted.

The short answer to the OP is, to quote the song, the times they are a changin'.

Jonathan M29/10/2020 09:56:50
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Being sold at wholesale never interested me - being explained as to how things worked, or shown how to creatively or technically solve a challenge, or marvelling at a plan etc and its accompanying article did... and still does.

The more pre-manufactured the finished flyable product the less interest (to me at least), but the more the magazines need to bend to their content to the changed business model.

Concurrent with this development, the internet comes along and fairly quickly the bulk of the 'hands-on' stuff shifts to its new, more interactive home. This is a mixed blessing however and sucks more time away from actually making things than the magazines ever did!

I think RCM&E (our host here) has managed to navigate these changes very successfully overall - which is why for RC stuff this is my preferred habitat, and the magazine my monthly delivery straight from the letterbox to the sofa!

For traditional stuff, I take my hat off to Andrew Boddington and various contributors for reinventing that magazine and keeping it alive, relevant and interesting for the many residual FF and CL enthusiasts around the English-speaking world.

Peter Christy29/10/2020 10:10:38
1921 forum posts

I think the one I miss most is the American RCM magazine. Many of the contributors were well known designers and/or manufacturers (Clarence Lee - Veco and K&B, Jim Oddino, electronics wizard to name but two!).

It also pioneered the home-built radio side of the hobby with the ground breaking "Digitrio" and "Classic" proportional systems. The "Classic" receiver was generally regarded as one of the best of the 27MHz AM era.

Rarely covered these days, except in Shaun Garrity's column, is the amount of "home-made" equipment still being built on 2.4 GHz. Much of this is down to Phil Green and his Arduino and Digispark encoders, coupled to "off-the-shelf" modules, but now some are even programming up readily available RF boards and producing their own 2.4 GHz systems! Maybe not as sophisticated as the commercial offerings, but don't underestimate the buzz you get from flying with a system you've made yourself!

I will never forget the first successful flight I had, with a completely home designed and built system back in the 27 MHz days! And I would never have managed it had I not pored over the RCM articles as a teenager!

--

Pete

Ray Wood 429/10/2020 10:21:16
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256 forum posts
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Hi All,

Sorry late to this thread !

By what measure can anybody say a range of magazine's have "Gone wrong" ?? nothing stays the same in this world as we have just realised. All the magazines are only as good as the contributors articles, All the titles are still produced much as they ever were ! but then I've only been reading them for 55 years

Regards Ray

Former Member29/10/2020 10:32:22

[This posting has been removed]

Cuban829/10/2020 10:40:40
3098 forum posts
1 photos

Survival of the fittest, Darwin and all that.

High street shops closing all around the country and only made worse by the bug. So many big names were struggling with a significant drop in footfall before the latest calamity, as customers' needs and expectations were changing because of on-line availability and a whole host of other issues.

Something similar for the magazine industry I suspect, and particularly so for niche interests like ours and a few others.

I only buy one publication, and then only every few weeks or so - Motor Cycle News. Not really a magazine as such, but at under £3, a lot to read against almost double that for the glossy types with much less editorial.

Everything else that I need to know or to be entertained by (models or motorbikes) I get on-line.

My younger family members never buy a newspaper or magazine of any description. It doesn't matter who might be writing in the mags or even the content itself, the medium of the printed word on paper doesn't register with them very much given the convenience and scope of what's available on their smart phones.

 

 

 

Edited By Cuban8 on 29/10/2020 10:51:05

Ray Wood 429/10/2020 10:50:42
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256 forum posts
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Hi Barrie,

Well it certainly promoted a lively response

The sad fact is with relatively small circulation figures they are only pay a nominal fee for contributions to the mags, and I gather Mytime Media only really make money from subscriptions, as WH Smith even charge for which shelf they are displayed on. I would say a large vote of gratitude to Tony Nijhuis for keeping RCM&E going with his designs, my 10 published so far don't come near Tony's efforts

Regards Ray

kc29/10/2020 10:55:14
6777 forum posts
174 photos

My view is that each RC magazine was at it's peak when David Boddington was the editor - and the reason for that was he got one off articles from real enthusiasts rather than relying on regular columnists. Made the magazine really worth reading. It seems Boddo was well in touch with people who actually built interesting models and persuaded them to write for the mag.

Now we get 4 page reviews of an ARTF model when all it needs is just a few lines to tell us if its worth buying or not!

Martin Dilly 129/10/2020 12:44:55
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17 photos

One of the reasons that model magazines used to be more interesting was that many of the articles and plans were for models with a purpose, and that purpose was improving performance, usually in a contest setting. That was why the first Nationals I competed in, at Fairlop in 1949, had 401 entries flying power duration models in the Sir John Shelley contest (I was the 1!). I’ll bet most of them read Aeromodeller to find how to build a model that would fly for longer than the previous one they’d built and flying it in the next contest would show how well they'd succeeded.

Reading reports of major competitions and World Championships reminded you that you were part of an international sport; the magazine editors would often cover these events themselves, instead of hoping somebody competing could string a few words together in the form of a sentence or two by way of a report. Ads for kits often quoted recent contest successes the models had achieved. Every discipline had its heroes, admired for their success in competition; RC aerobatics had names like Phil Kraft and Hanno Prettner, Steve Smith and Colin Brown in control-line team race, Bill Wisniewski in speed, John O’Donnell and Evgeny Verbitski in free flight. These people often shared their know-how in the model press, and magazines from that period are still useful sources of reference to those of us interested in model flying’s fascinating heritage.

Andy Stephenson29/10/2020 13:00:18
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I read a very telling reply to a letter to the editor of RCM&E in the mid 70s when a reader asked why they never had bad reviews. The answer came back, " we don't publish bad reviews". Now whether this meant they never review anything bad or if it is reviewed and found to be bad was left for the reader to guess. Obviously there were advertisers to consider but this was left unsaid.

Cuban829/10/2020 15:54:22
3098 forum posts
1 photos

Andy S. I had the same response myself to why all models tested "flew straight of the board and with only a touch of up needed" when I asked a previous magazine editor that I saw at a show many, many years ago. One can understand it I suppose, our mags aren't a type of 'Which' magazine and TBH a duff product will soon be found out and passed along the hobby grapevine PDQ.

I don't think we should be too critical of the current editorial staff, I wouldn't want to be in their shoes with the way things are at the moment and the way our hobby has changed over the last couple of decades. The likes of Boddo, Moulton and so many others won't be seen again and we'll never know how they might have fared in today's world. They did see the best of times after all.

Martin D. makes a good point about competition in the early days and the mags as an important  vehicle for development. That has more or less gone now, those involved using other means of spreading info within their specialist interest.

Edited By Cuban8 on 29/10/2020 16:02:36

Brian Cooper29/10/2020 16:27:40
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615 forum posts
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Re: Kit reviews. I used to do them and insisted that I would only produce 100% honest appraisals of the products. There was no way my reviews were going to be a 5-page, sycophantic "thank you" letter.

This resulted in three of my reviews not making it into print. devil

The philosophy then, and probably now, is that the magazines do not print bad news. If people want bad news, they can watch the TV.

B.C.

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