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An interesting topic.
The future as always is with the younger modeller, and earlier comments puts this all in context. price and I think, subject.
I too am approaching 65, and remember "Woolies" and kits in plastic bags. In fact an uncle of mine had the Massey Ferguson tractor. My enthusism strated with a visit to IWM on a school trip, where I saw those cut-away models of the Lanc, Spitfire and Hurricane.
Life did take on a simple progression, modelling, girls, marriage/kids, lot of modelling!
When you see the yougsters of today, and what they are taught at school, (my wifes a teacher), and the general ignorance about history, and even the programme producers ignorance, there is little wonder at the lack of interest. There is also a lack of skills taught, and it maybe a good idea to re-introduce or try to introduce those skills with younger people. I did at one time get involved with the ATC, through my son, and his squadron had a very active modelling group.
My advice would be to get out there and get involved with groups like that, and encourage the youth to enable this rewarding hobby to continue.
As for the kits, as I make masters, the advent of CAD has opened up an entirely new world. Unfortunately being somewhat of a luddite, I have my eldest son involved in this. I can say with complete honesty, that I can do a layout drawing on paper in the time it would take me just to set up the computer and start the page I want to work on. I have tried it. There fore, I can do a layout, present this to my son and he can then produce a 3D CAD drawing. Nothing beats the accuracy when it comes to this process, an example is the tyre pattern on wheels. I have scrathbuilt tyres, and they do not compare with those done by 'profiling'.
The profling companies in the UK are quite expensive by the way, and the lower priced ones, well the quality is none too good, not for a master pattern anyway.
unless these costs come down, the manufactured runs using CAD will still be reatively expensve.
I enjoy the building of complicated parts, analysing the shape, then constructing the part, adding detail etc etc. But this is not for everyone.
The use of CAD is limited to (in my opinion) the manufacture of detailed items, moulds can be produced. but then in what material, if we go to plastic, they have to be robust enough for injection, resin parts would be the preferable option and not everybody likes resin anyway.
I would like to see some cost comparisons however of profiling methods, the time comparison is a no brainer, the amount of time to make a master of say an engine block compared to profiling from drawings is much much quicker.
OK, I havent solved any of the points raised in this discussion, but I wanted to throw in a few thoughts of my own.
As an aside, I live in the southwest (UK), and there is a fairly local company that produces HO scale railway kits in plastic. I gave them details of a 1/35th scale model, and this would have consisted of 4 A4 sized sprues. The quote for a 'limited' production run was just under £20,000.00. Now how many kits would I need to sell at a modest price, to cover that?? AND would there be a demand??