be concerned with propriety in the model railway world?
I have been called many things but never Mary
Whitehouse; that is until now!
Granted, railway modelling is mostly the
preserve of men. There are of course, some significant lady railway modellers
but they are as rare as hens teeth. There are also many young people who
follow the hobby and aspire to building their own layouts. In many cases,
this interest starts very young, often after their Dad has bought them a
train set (for himself)!
The image of railway modellers is perhaps not
the 'coolest' around and accusations of 'playing with his train set' are
often not far from the lips of adjacent females. It is probably not too
unfair, as for many of us, model trains are an aspect of our childhood that
has never deserted us.
This, however, is no excuse for a number of
grown up men to propagate infantile smut within their models which can easily
cause offence and bring the hobby into disrepute.
When folks are killed by guns, many blame the
manufacturers of guns. The firearm lobby, of course, respond by saying that
guns do not kill people, other people pull the trigger. The same could be
said of manufactures of 'lewd' miniature people.
Sadly, the gun lobby argument does not really
work here. The very fact that otherwise reputable manufacturers produce these
artefacts gives legitimacy to some who lack sufficient maturity to understand
that such items are not appropriate for model railways being displayed in
public. The last phrase is the clincher here: 'displayed in public'.
If one wishes to build a model railway around a
Satanist orgy one is entirely free to do so in one's own home!
So firstly, let us show two manufacturers of
such artefacts as examples:
This company produces a range of 'sexy figures'.
This is described as an animated novelty for adult modellers. (building not
I first came across this trend at Warley, where
a well known narrow gauge layout had the animated figures 'horizontally
jogging' in a house. They were only visible once a light was switched on. The
owner of the layout, rather like a small boy showing his mates a photo of a
nude woman, was switching on the light for visitors and hoping for a cheap
laugh. Sadly, on two occasions I watched this being done when children were
also watching. Since that time I have noted that some other layout owners are
doing the same.
Now this brings me on to a thread in a
popular model railway forum; a forum for railway modellers which is viewed by many people
of differing cultures and age groups; the RM Web This forum does not describe itself as
having content of an adult nature and will therefore slip through
parental filters. Forums require constant monitoring by the
moderators to ensure that content, supplied by its members are appropriate.
Of course, some bad content will be posted but it is the responsibility of
the moderators to remove it once they have been alerted.
The incident in question was brought to my
notice by an angry mother. The model included an enormous phallus and a well modelled
stream of 'liquid' emanating from it. The describing
text leaves no doubt as to the intention of this model; "I
have always populated the bogs on my layouts and I am now taking the
finescale tag to the extreme. The figure is a Monty's Model signalman with
token. The token has been truncated and his arm bent to the required
you can see, using the token has resulted in an appendage that's going to
make the girls eyes water a bit."
click on image to enlarge
The builder and author of this abomination at
that time had a forum signature stating; "Make poverty history - cheaper
drugs and beer". Andy Cooper is the erstwhile exhibition manager of the Manchester model
railway exhibition. Small wonder that Wigan has now eclipsed the
So there it is, I am the new Mary Whitehouse, it
would seem! Am I personally offended? Well actually no, I just see it as
juvenile behaviour and ignore such things with the disdain they deserve. I do
strongly believe however, that we should maintain certain standards when
publishing and exhibiting and this is actually the issue. The hobby should
never play a role in the sexualisation of children either in fora or
In the light of the recent Jimmy Saville
revelations, the issue is more pertinent than ever.
Railway modelling is a broad church and is
enjoyed by folks of both genders, many cultures and a huge age range. Personally, I would hate to think that such behaviour becomes commonplace in
our hopefully INCLUSIVE hobby and I trust that most will agree.