Okay, I admit it; I paid in when Model Railroader sent me an unsolicited copy of the first issue of their “Dream Plan Build” video series. Hey they included “collectible” coins too!

I saw this series as Model Railroader (MR) working really hard to remain relevant in a web age and changing modeler demographics that they do not seem to have a clue how to handle. I liked the first one enough to cough up the $24.90 and see how they go.

What I liked:

There is a fair amount of content on each disk, something like an hour and a half to an hour and forty-five minutes each sectioned into 12-16 articles.

I liked the modeling clinics. However, like the magazine, the emphasis remains on the beginner.

I liked the layout tours. I always like to see what other people have built. As long as it’s scale.

What I did not like:

Uck. The modeling clinics where the work ended up looking bad. Come on guys, do it over until it looks good! Video is really kind to most model work so it has to be really shoddy to look bad on video.

Argh. The layout tours of Lionel sets with scenery. I dare you: find one where they do not say “reliving a childhood dream…”  Scale railroading is a rejection of the “let’s see how fast the train can go” world of Lionel based layouts.

Snooze. The prototype tours. I model the 1920’s. I am not really interested diesel engines trundling around.

Recycled. The production values, style, and the sections look a WHOLE LOT like the “Tracks Ahead” series seen occasionally on PBS stations. Can you say “leftovers”?


I wish Model Railroader luck but after a bit over a year and seven DVDs I’m not going to buy any more.

Yes, I did wait until I filled the little coin holder before I quit.

Yes, I’m weak.

21 Responses to “Model Railroader’s Dream Plan Build video series”

  1. Bob Says:

    Your “hudson” coin and the video that came with it is part of what looks like a new series, we just recived our volume seven with our now eight coin and video. Looks like we both signed up for a new series.

  2. Joe Daddy Says:

    Your review nailed it for me. Watching these guys make a big deal out of some of the simplest things is more than my patience can bear. By the way, some of the video on that series is EXACTLY the same as the Tracks ahead stuff. Maybe this is why they are getting a new Editor at MRR in June.



  3. Robert Hardin Says:

    It seems that each of us feel were ‘taken on a ride’ with the video series, Dream-Plan-Build. I signed up expecting a video every 3 months, and each would be about modeling. Now they are ‘sneaking’ prototype video in often, and the frequency is at 5 weeks; certainly not what I opted for. After subscribing to MRR for 34 years, I assumed if they promoted it; that it would be an honest operation likes theirs. If MRR has an extra magazine or book, they send a notice in advance and offer us the chance to opt in. Not DPB, they force us (like the spammers) to opt out. And when I called the Minneapolis office wanting to complain to someone, they refused to give me a name or number to call. I did call Kalmbach and got some assistance, but I believe that DPB is just out to take advantage of saps like us, in anyway they can. Sort of reminds me of the old days and the music industry with their ‘clubs’. Even with MRR touting something, I’ll be very wary in the future.

  4. Daniel Swearingen Says:

    One mitigation is that they do provide a postage-paid return address label and I’ve been resealing the videos as they arrive and sending them back. I’m pretty sure they’ll stop sending them soon.

  5. Roger Ruchti Says:

    My biggest gripe is the very poor audio quality. Mostly it is very weak, other times like it is in an echo chamber. Complaining don’t get any results except another video just like it. Like others have said, they act like we are a bunch of nerds and direct everything toward the beginner and hope the experienced won’t watch or miss their shoddy workmanship. They really like to blow up the Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang (aka Lionel) layout too. Ditch the kids stuff and stick with the modeling.

  6. Terry Helmrichs Says:

    I have found every DVD I have received to be very informative. After working on our Club layout (www.cvrma.org) a lot of tips and tricks would have saved us lots of time and going into detail removes all of the dumb mistakes. It is also good to get the kids involved as it keeps them off the streets, off drugs, and makes a better person. They can do the simple stuff while you are doing the more complicated. Keep up the good work.

  7. michael Says:

    I got the compltete set of coins – wooo hoo – ok thanx… now what i had thought of the series coming to an end – nooooooo… they keep coming, i have yet more coins with no flimsy plastic thingy to hold em… Now these videos are coming at me 2 at a time.. How do i stop this maddness. I want to stop the series… Ok so here I said it on the WWW. I no longer wish to recieve the Dream Plan Build series… Any further mailing on your behalf, i will consider a gift from you guys for my many years of subscribing to your various publicasions.. thanx for the gifts Mr Kalmbach !!!

  8. Mike Cunningham Says:

    I’ve enjoyed the series very much. While I would consider myself an armchair modeler, the series has motivated me to start up modeling again. My one complaint is that the Dream, Plan, build folks have sent me a DVD on Horse shoe curve………..AGAIN!
    I sent it back and, hopefully, this will be the last duplicate they send me

  9. Jim Bolger Says:

    I purchased several of the DPB videos and have found some useful material in them. But I agree that the simplest of tasks is explained ad nauseum. Some of the prototype material in recent offerings is OLD and possibly recycled from other sources – and they don’t even send coins with these. I sent a letter to Terry Thompson which he chose to ignore. I have returned three recent offerings and plan to continue doing so. I model in N scale and find that it is seriously under-represented in DPB.

  10. Terry Helmrichs Says:

    On the plan build I noticed you placed the switch on the outside surface where as we counter sank it so the end of the toggel wouldn’t be bumped. The process was put into the plan when one of the tortise switches was bumped. Trying to enter a section of dead track does wonders for the 30 rolling stock you were pulling.

  11. Larry Wood Says:

    I agree. I opted in to get the modeling hints and tips. What I do not need and do not want is the videos of old stuff. DPB is a come on to sell stuff no one really wants.

  12. Paul Turvill Says:

    Volume 11 of DPB arrived today, and is going back immediately. Their attempt to save a couple of pennies on the packaging is an absolute disaster. The package had a little green slip extolling all of the “virtues” of the new cheap, Cheap, CHEAP packaging, all of which are pure BS. It arrived crushed in the mail, permanently dented, and with cracks beginning to appear in the DVD’s hub area. What a crock!

  13. Judith Gasser Says:

    Ditto, Paul! I thought the price was on the high side all along, and then the “new” packaging appeared on the scene in an attempt to make more of a profit. My copy is going back, too — nothing on the DVD worth keeping anyway. This whole thing is starting to have the appearance of a scam — reminds me of the Time/Life offerings that go on and on and on ad nauseum. I think Kalmbach should give up on this one, and I intend to tell someone in charge.

  14. Joe Weston Says:

    I’m most upset with the limited and primary scenic, electrical, DCC, and technical segments. There are so many scenic applications-ceiling tile, wire mesh-paper and tape with plaster, ad nausium–yet only one shown in 8 DVDs- As President of the Heartland Cent. Model RR, I ordered the DVDs to train my young folks and new-members. I’m not interested in 20 minutes of trains going through Rochelle, IL. For $25 Give us more techniques and variations we can use to adapt!!!

  15. Terry Roberts Says:

    As someone new to train modeling I found all your comments on the DPB Series very helpful. Just wanted to say thank you. It’s nice being able to hear from the pros. I must be maturing in the hobby becasue I fined myself already agreeing with most of you. Sincerely, Terry

  16. Leonard E Brand Says:

    I have all of the DVD’s ( I think ) and have only sent one back. I like the one on modeling, even the bads ones, I even like one or two of the ones on the real railroads, but after after a while they all start too look alike.

    Now, if they would mount a camera on the front of a locomotive and let us see what the traimmen see that may be interesting, as well as let us make a trip with the train crew.

  17. kenneth d. irving Says:

    Now! That everyone has said their part. May I speak on the sometimes good other times bad video series. What I’ve found is that, for the price of the DVD. It is a little costly for what little information that they may give you. But what i like to see more of is how do the pros do it? Get rid of Lionel (this about HO, N, S, ABC), who cares about that stuff??

    Show more tips and tricks, not show riding down the rail on a fan trip!! WHO CARES!! I DON’T. Have them show their MR&T layout in full. Show operations like the turtle creek that is one of their DVD’s. They need to show how to detail some engines in full (piping, air lines, etc…) also. Put some better music on the disc, that music that is on there now! It’s boring, very boring!!! If I paid for a year or two for a sub. Send the DVD at half the price of what you are pay for now! Some of the special ed. stuff is cool?

  18. cory bosley Says:

    I like the video series but here what is still missing: the coins from where they left off. Will they cancel the coins and make the dvds come alone or are they planning on doing it again?

    cory bosley

  19. Brandon Says:

    So I got the first DPB video a few days ago and have been stewing over sending it back. The one I got was really not all that helpful because I remember reading about most of the things it talks about. It was nice to actually visually see someone performing the work and if they keep sending me the videos I may purchase one if it is any good. Other than that, I liked it to be honest. Sometimes I have to be an armchair modeler (I am starting a family after all) so this was another option that I enjoyed.

  20. Daniel Swearingen Says:

    Hi Brandon,

    I was ok with a few of the disks. I cancelled a couple years ago and just last week they sent me disk #1 AGAIN. I checked that it was indeed the exact same disk #1 I already had and it was.

    It miffs me a bit that Kalmbach’s marketing is evidently counting on some of their customers having Alzheimer’s!

  21. Connie Florida Says:

    I’m watching a video series of “Dream Plan Build” that my Pop has. He has had Lionel trains, all my life at least! He will be 92 years old in September. He has a 3 tier railroad system set up in my sisters basement that is awesome. He also has repaired many trains that people have brought to him.