Christmas Gift Ideas
For The Model Railroader In your Life

Thinking of a suitable Christmas (or birthday) gift for a model railroader spouse or friend can be a real challenge for someone not familiar with the hobby or what their spouse or significant other would like to have.

There are probably many "I wish I could afford/justify this or that" on their mind.  I'd leave it up to them when it comes to locomotives, rolling stock like freight and passenger cars, and scenery.

There are lots of other things you could consider if you're prepared to spend a few bucks. Here are a few suggestions.

DVDs

Kalmbach has released a DVD of Model Railroader magazines going back to the 1930s. It sells for around $200 USD. Now you can get him to get rid of all those old magazines that have been cluttering up the basement. If you know what railroad he/she is interested in, you can probably find a DVD about it.

There are also many DVDs about model railroads, too. Check out Allen Keller productions. He produced a series of VHS videos on famous model railroads. Model train shows are a good place to find videos and DVDs.

Of course, now that most railroad stuff is available online you could always get the train enthusiast in your life a new iPad!

Subscriptions

Again Kalmbach. There are others such as Railroad Model Craftsman, the Narrow Gauge Shortline Gazette or Trains. It depends on where the interest lies.  

Memberships

Sign up your train enthusiast with a membership in the National Model Railroad Association and your regional association. For me that's the NFR--Niagara Frontier Region. You can find all the information about the worldwide NMRA and the regional memberships at nmra.org.  Memberships are inexpensive and they provide a wealth of information about the hobby and lots of opportunities to get to know other model railroaders.

Computer software

I love Trainz for fun.  It is now available for the Mac and the iPad. Some aps have been added. There are free routes to play and a small charge for some on the tablet versions. I have the iPad version and often kill an hour playing on it. I also have an older PC version. It is an amazing game. There are other programs for doing things like designing a model railroad such as CadRail. I even used it to design a deck for my home. There is also train operations software such as Ship-It.

Gift certificates

Sounds pretty obvious. If all else fails... . Check with your local hobby store or go online.

Tools for painting and hobby work

An airbrush makes a great gift for the modeller that doesn't have one. There are many brands. Badger, Paasche, and Thayer and Chandler are well known brands. I prefer my Aztek airbrush. 

I'd suggest a dual-action airbrush for better control.  The other tool that's needed for an airbrush is a compressor. I use an Iata and I have an older, noisy Badger compressor.Compressors will set you back a few hundred bucks but they'll love you forever. Throw away the cans! 

 The third painting tool a modeller can really use is a spray booth. Spray painting indoors requires a properly vented spray booth. Badger makes one. There are others. 

 A good place to check is the Micromark catalog. Micromark always advertises in the hobby press. You can find them easily on the Internet. Mine isn't vented properly so I use it in the garage and wear a good mask.  A proper mask to block chemical fumes is a must.

An ultrasonic cleaner is also good for someone who paints a lot. It can clean metal models to prep them for painting. You can also use it to clean your jewellery and make those diamonds really sparkle!


An airbrush makes a great gift for the modeller that doesn't have one. There are many brands. Badger, Paasche, and Thayer and Chandler are well known brands. I prefer my Aztek airbrush. I'd suggest a dual-action airbrush for better control. The other tool that's needed for an airbrush is a compressor. I use an Iata and I have an older, noisy Badger compressor. Compressors will set you back a few hundred bucks but they'll love you forever. Throw away the cans! The third painting tool a modeller can really use is a spray booth. Spray painting indoors requires a properly vented spray booth. Badger makes one. There are others.

Hobby tools

There are lots of tools to make modelling easier. Again, see a hobby shop or check out Micromark.

For the keen metal scratchbuilder, a modeller's lathe such as a Unimat would be terrific. Again, check Micromark. 

A motor tool, such as the Dremel, is a must for every aspiring model railroader. A mini drillstand is useful, too. 

I have one that is made for the Dremel Motor tool. Northwest Shortline makes a Sensidrill. Northwest Shortline makes some other excellent model tools for sanding and cutting.Check their website or your local hobby shop.

Train sets

If you are new to model railroading and are thinking of getting the kids a train set (it's really for you!), I suggest you go to walthers.com and sign up for their free catalog. There are always train sets available before Christmas.

The newletter is free and you can download it on your computer or tablet or have a printed copy sent to you. Walthers is a major supplier for many train modeling companies. If you're the intended model railroader recipient of a christmas gift, perhaps you should print this page and stick it on the fridge with the item you want highlighted!

Go from "christmas-gift" to my My Christmas Train.

Go from "christmas-gift" to my A real Christmas Train.

Return from "christmas-gift" to my My model railroad, the Utopia Northern.

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