S scale – like O scale – has an image problem, which is this: The scale is dominated by toy trains.
In O, it’s Lionel and other three-rail. In S, it’s American Flyer and AF-compatible equipment. I should make clear right from the start that I’m not passing judgment on those who are fans of these options. Model railroading is a hobby and everybody should engage with a hobby in the way they find most enjoyable.
But the reality is, the dominance of these less “scale” alternatives means that those building realistic layouts or models in HO and N are more likely to overlook S and O as viable alternatives. They hear “S” and think “Flyer” – they hear “O” and think “three rail”.
And that’s unfortunate since both S and O have a lot to offer modellers – especially those of advancing age who are finding HO gets smaller and smaller as the years pass (and, like me, never could see or work with N).
That’s why it’s great that some enterprising scale modellers in S have formed the S Scale Special Interest Group*.
SIGs (as the groups are known) are organizations affiliated with the National Model Railroad Association. As such, they can secure exhibition space at NMRA conventions, are listed on the NMRA web site* and enjoy other benefits. (For more on SIGs, I suggest readers listen to my interview with Doug Harding, the NMRA’s SIG Co-ordinator, on Episode 30 of The Model Railway Show podcast*. This episode also features an interview with well-known S scale enthusiast Ed Loizeaux about the state of S scale today.)
If for no other reason, the additional visibility at NMRA conventions will help promote scale modelling in S to the wider world of model railway enthusiasts. But that’s just the start.
The S Scale SIG’s online presence will act as a great landing spot for those wishing to find out more about scale modelling in 1:64. It’s a place to bring together manufacturers, modellers, clubs and other sources of information about S scale. And it’s a great way for folks like me to have a ready answer when someone asks, “Is S scale for me?” or “What’s available in S?” or “Where do I get information about S?”
I’ve joined up – it’s free to register. I’ve also donated a modest amount to the SIG to help pay for their server space (and I encourage others who enjoy working in S to do the same). And to help spread the word, I’ve added a link to the SIG to my list of Interesting Links that runs down the right-hand side of this blog. If you’re building scale models in S, why don’t you do the same?
Congratulations to the SIG organizers on the launch, and best wishes for a successful SIG!—
(*Check the “Links” section on this blog’s home page for the most up-to-date links)