Among other things, T offers an interesting contrast to Z scale. There are plenty of Z scale modelers, and while some of them are certainly enthusiastic about 1:220, the number of rah-rah Z scalers doesn't seem to be proportional to the overall market size, as compared to T. And while there's certainly some exceptional work being done in Z, T beginners don't look as much like beginners as Z beginners—something I can't quite explain, let alone quantify; it's just a gut feeling.
Perhaps more telling is the web traffic at my various modeling blogs and websites. This blog, for instance, is by far the most popular, enjoying over four times the number of visitors as 1:220, my Z scale blog. Even T-Gauge, which is nothing more than a portal consisting of a grand total of four whole pages, has more traffic than my James River Branch Z scale website, which boasts over 100 pages packed with practical modeling information.
Visitors for the month of October
- 1:450: 2,553
- White River and Northern: 1,867
- T-Gauge: 1,279
- James River Branch: 1,074
- American Z Scale: 547
- 1:220: 543
- 1:160: 477
Aside from collectors of novelty items, T likely appeals more to "modeling" modelers, folks who enjoy the challenge of making nearly everything from scratch. Track, trucks and mechanisms provide just enough raw materials to get the ball rolling, and with a bare minimum of infrastructure, modelers have marvelously blank slates on which to render all manner of layouts—within the technical limitations imposed, that is.
Make no mistake, it's extremely unlikely T Gauge will ever reach a point where it could support operation; it's strictly for runners. That said, there's some interest being expressed in T from N scale narrow gauge modelers. And T provides large-scale modelers with some fun detailing options, such as G scale backyard railroads in G scale.
Still, judging from the growing and busy Talking T Gauge forum, there's a great deal of energy out there. Will it last? Is T just a passing fad? We shall see. It depends on a number of factors: Can Eishindo keep up their momentum? Will anyone else step in and offer up other merchandise? Will the population of T modelers reach the critical mass necessary to support any future business ventures? Will the product improve enough to draw in more modelers?
Complicating all of this is the faltering global economy. But this is a classic good news/bad news situation. The bad, of course, is that a flow of capital is required to keep the scale alive, and that flow may be choked off. At the same time, when faced with grim circumstances, more people turn to their hobby as a distraction to keep their emotions from sinking along with the market, and less disposable income often forces modelers to become more creative.
We live in interesting times. Likewise it will be interesting to follow the future of T Gauge.