Model Citizens

Are you a model citizen?

If you subscribe to Amazon Prime (and who doesn’t, these days?), go watch their excellent new video titled Model CitizensYes, you guessed it, it’s all about model railroaders: who we are, what we do, why we do it. Here’s their blurb:

Too many people grow up and grow out of what they loved as kids. Model railroaders are different. They’re doing exactly what they want to do — and they don’t need to explain themselves. But in Model Citizens, several do. Ostensibly a documentary about model railroading, Model Citizens is a celebration of grown-ups proudly pursuing their nerdy personal obsessions.

That’s one POV. But this video is not one-dimensional. It’s complex enough to allow for discussion of several views, particularly the stereotypical ones. Model Citizens doesn’t gloss over the most common stereotype; in fact it confronts it head-on. That, of course, is the “fact” that all model railroaders are old, white, and most especially male. Yes, yes, like me — but that description doesn’t fit every model railroader, and the video makes it clear, even though it’s not the main point. You’ll hear and see lots of short clips with a wide variety of modelers, including (gasp) women, young guys, and POCs. The director is Sara Kelly, a documentary filmmaker who is not a model railroader, and one of the narrators is actor Michael Gross, who is.

Well, OK, the majority of the modelers shown are still old white guys. But that’s reality. Give everyone credit for what they did. The video is meant to be — and is — entertainment, not a political screed. Yes, it contains some philosophy, but mostly it’s about creativity and enjoyment. It’s also about community, even though it does make the point that many modelers are pretty solitary, in contrast to the many others who belong to a club. (COVID, of course, has had a big effect.) Although it’s primarily entertainment, you will learn about the significance of different scales and about the distinction between prototypers and freelancers. And you’ll also get to admire the stunning craftsmanship of some of the model railroads, like this one:

Categories: Model Railroading