Zachary Hastings Hooper
Initiated in 2001, the World's Greatest HobbySM is an advertising and public relations effort to promote the hobby of model railroading. With the primary goal of building awareness about the hobby, the campaign educates the public about the joys of model railroading.
The effort has grown to include the active support from across the industry, including manufacturers such as Accurail, Atlas Model Railroad Co., Bachmann Industries, Caboose Industries, Digitrax, Greenberg's Train and Hobby Show, Kalmbach Publishing Co, Kato USA, Life-Like Products, Marklin, Inc., Micro-Trains Line, Red Caboose, and Wm. K. Walthers, Inc. as well as the Model Railroad Industry Association.
The World's Greatest Hobby enjoys support from every strata of the model railroading world-from manufacturers to individual hobbyists. Volunteerism is at the heart of the program, with more than 1,100 model railroaders volunteering as Ambassadors to share their love of the hobby in presentations to community and civic organizations. They are aided in their presentations by a video starring actor and enthusiast Michael Gross. To date, 1099 clubs and 721 retailers have also lent their support to the campaign.
"There has been a surge of interest in model railroading in recent years, and as an industry we want to help build that momentum," explained Terry Thompson, editor of Model Railroader magazine. "With Baby Boomers enjoying more leisure time and discretionary income, they are looking for creative and satisfying pastimes. For many of them, model railroading is the ideal hobby-evoking the toys of their youth while offering them a challenge in the process."
The World's Greatest Hobby coordinates and encourages these grassroots efforts, through the distribution of videos and introductory booklets as well as providing organizational support for the hobby. The campaign also maintains a web site, www.greatesthobby.com
, filled with tips and helpful information for beginners, covering everything from choosing a locomotive size to finding model railroad clubs and hobby shops.