TrainMasters TV versus Model Railroader Video Plus

Here at TrainMasters TV (TMTV), we don’t spend a lot of time looking at what the competition is doing – namely at Model Railroader Video Plus (MRVP). We prefer to focus on making our video content as good as it can be and to produce videos on topics we have a passion about and feel modelers really want. As for the competition, we don’t try to counter anything they might be doing.

We do get a few comments and questions about how TMTV compares to MRVP from time-to-time. We also see comments online by some who don’t seem to be very good at math – comments that claim TMTV costs several times more per month than MRVP.

To help everyone compare apples-to-apples, we’ve put together a side-by-side price comparison of TMTV to MRVP, and you can read through the price comparison here.

I won’t repeat the findings here, but suffice it to say, TMTV is very price competitive to MRVP. TMTV often costs less per month.

For this blog post, I’d like to compare the softer-side of TMTV versus MRVP – how our video production philosophies differ. Naturally, this kind of comparison will be rather subjective, and I will be the first to admit there's some bias. But here goes.

First, I note that MRVP doesn’t display run times on their videos, while we do. Second, I notice MRVP doesn’t do aggregate rating on the videos (you need to scroll through all the comments to find any ratings), while we do a single aggregate rating right on the video. We both do allow comments.

MRVP’s philosophy seems to be to cover more topics with shorter videos and the lack of run time on their videos helps mask the shortness of their videos. Many videos on MRVP’s site have a run time of less than 7 minutes and more than a few videos run only 2-3 minutes. The TMTV site has a name for the really short videos: we call them previews. (Interestingly, MRVP doesn't do previews, while TMTV does. With such short videos being common, you can see why they don't do previews.)

It's no secret that MRVP (and Kalmbach in general) caters more to the beginner / intermediate modelers, while TMTV aims more at the intermediate / advanced modelers. It’s good to see someone covering the quick general topics on video for beginners, and Kalmbach’s niche has been to cover the introductory topics really well in the last couple decades. However, that’s not ever been MRH’s focus, nor has it been TMTV’s approach either, as a part of the MRH Media family.

For TMTV, we prefer to cover a topic thoroughly, giving it meaty information to go with the nice video footage. We rarely do “runby” videos where you just watch the trains run and get little-to-no commentary about what you’re seeing. When we do a layout, we want you to get inside the builder/owner’s head and to understand what makes them tick. We feel that depth gives you the best handle on how to incorporate those ideas into your own modeling.

MRVP also includes video footage of them being a bit silly (out-takes being a prime example) or traveling somewhere (walking down hallways seems to be a favorite). At TMTV, we prefer to keep it more professional and to cut to the chase rather than force you to watch footage of us walking through the office or footage of us parading our less-than-best moments past you.

That said, we do try to be real and have fun while we’re sticking to business. Witness Lionel’s clever quips, Miles' quick-witted comebacks, and Trevor’s off-hand but clever remarks.

Finally, there’s the house-organ feel that MRVP exhibits, as compared to TMTV’s focus of showing you more of the hobby-at-large. Either one is not bad, but they are quite different.

MRVP aims to make the MR Staff the experts, and they devote maybe 20% of their video footage to what we would call “house ads”. They’re promoting their products and they’re positioning their own staff as the go-to hobby experts that you need to be following.

As for TMTV, we prefer to focus on bringing in expert guests from the hobby at large, people who are known to be skilled in the hobby but who are not MRH Staff. We also run almost no house ads because we prefer to maximize the helpful content you’re getting rather than make you pay to watch house advertising.

Again, the different approaches are neither good nor bad, but they are very different.

If you prefer quick, short how-to videos on intermediate-to-beginner topics that may include some cutesy moments, trains running with no commentary, and a few eye-rolling out-takes, then MRVP is just the ticket. But if you prefer longer, more in-depth videos from around-the-hobby experts that stick to business yet still know how to be real and fun, then TMTV will be just what you’re looking for.

And there’s nothing that says you can’t elect to do both – and get the best of both worlds.

--Joe Fugate

Become a TrainMasters TV member


1) Ratings - MRVP allows you to rate the video with stars. I have rated some myself. You can also "like" with your favorite social media.

2) Runtime - If you click the video, it displays the runtime in the progress bar. Not quite the same as having it in the description but if I'm interested in a topic, runtime is not something I look at.

3) I prefer short videos in many cases. When I'm fairly sure how to do something but want a quick refresher, I'd rather go watch a quick 3-5 minute video than scroll through a 30 minute video finding what I need. The short videos are actually outtakes from the longer versions, mainly from working on their project layouts. I can watch the project video for the whole topic or the outtake for the refresher.

4) Bloppers are usually at the end, although there are funny things interspersed at times. These are not in all videos. And I've never had handcuffs on my chair to be forced to watch them. I don't need perfect videos to understand that someone is professional at doing their job. I actually prefer some light-hearted humor. 

5) House-organ? MRVP has Kalmbach people working alone and working WITH other people. So does TMTV. All the vids have MRH associates interviewing or working with others. And MRVP uses other company's products and so does TMTV. Plus, MRH or TMTV is mentioned or someone has a shirt on in the videos. So what's the difference?

Shorter videos - The one big gap in TMTV's offerings are the short-but-sweet videos. The idea is keep the video short and the topic very focused and cover that very narrow topic well in 5 minutes. TMTV needs more of THAT kind of video, and we're looking at adding just this kind of video to our lineup.

But short videos that cover the topic in only a cusory manner aren't something TMTV is interested in - we don't think they're generally a good use of the viewer's time if they're intermediate-to-advanced, which is who we see our audience as being.

1) Ratings - MRVP allows you to rate the video with stars. I have rated some myself. You can also "like" with your favorite social media.

True enough, but they don't SHOW you the aggregated ratings without reading through every last comment - at least we've never seen them when we've been logged in as a subscriber and looking around.

True on the ratings but the blog post says nothing on aggregate scores. It says "Second, I notice MRVP doesn’t allow rating the videos, while we do.". That statement is false.

But while on aggregate scores, I've never cared for that at MRH.  I skip the who was rated best last month part. I read the magazine for content and actually the advertisers too. I've purchased from many. And I watch the videos for content. I never considered it a contest between the various authors that I was playing a part in. I recall a forum thread where a weight comment was made about a TMTV personality (a human) which caused a stir.  But then they get rated and made into a number (now they are just a number) each month.


True on the ratings but the blog post says nothing on aggregate scores. It says "Second, I notice MRVP doesn’t allow rating the videos, while we do.". That statement is false.

Okay, it's been corrected to talk about aggregate rating scores so it's no longer false, as you say.

Ratings, like anything, are one kind of data. And no rating system is perfect, just like no person is perfect. One kind of data is *never* the be-all-end-all - but then if you don't collect feedback data, you're simply in the dark.

For example, we will run articles and videos on certain topics, knowing in advance the ratings will be poor, but we go ahead because we feel the hobby needs it.

When planning things, because we know what kind of things tend to get the better ratings, we plan for certain topics and approaches because WE KNOW they will be popular - but without a rating system, how would we know something was popular?  It's a lot harder to know without a rating system.

No one system of getting feedback is perfect, but having some kind of rating system certainly helps - witness what Amazon does. They have ratings on comments, and a very nice aggregate rating as well. If you've ever gone to Amazon to check the rating on a product before buying something, then you do find *some* value in doing ratings.

We've never made a buying decision solely on Amazon's ratings, but as we said, knowing how something rates is generally way better than knowing nothing.

Hi all.

I would like to give my two cents about this.

I work in a model train shop in Lisbon for 10 years now, the only one that has all its space dedicated to trains in Portugal. Being a modeller railroader myself, I need to know a lot of stuff: for the beginner, for the intermediate and for the expert modeller.

I am a subscriber of both MRVP and TMTV. Both of them are great helpers to my own modelling experience, and to help my costumers because I get the knowledge with these two, try it and then pass the experience to them. I also advise them to subscribe to these sevices, besides my own Youtube Channel.

I never compared both, because I think we need both. MRVP show you how to step up your trainset into a model railroad. After that, if we need some turn up a notch, TMTV is perfect.

If there was only TMTV, I think that the begginer would be "scared", because the bar would be set too high. (after seeing MIke Confalone's FANTASTIC work i. g., beginer modellers would try to achive that, and they could become frustrated...)

Rating videos can help us a lot (content creators for Youtube use this a lot), so that is important.
Prices on both services are fine for me

The hosts at TMTV (Like Trevor Marshall)  and MRVP (like David Popp) are very entertaning are very good at what they do.

I don't think that your are competitors, but you complement each other...

Sorry for any bad spelling. It's a bit late around here and I am a bit tired.

Happy 2016. 

skyshooter's picture

I will add, (as a current subscriber to TMTV), the quality of production by Barry and TMTV is excellent, the HD is fantastic and the videos look, sound and play great. I've been watching only the previews on MRVP and they regularly send out emails about what they are doing, this past week I received an email saying I could watch some videos as a trial member since I signed up to receive emails, they included a link, that did NOT work, it only took me to the free videos, and then when I tried to play any of those, they each poped up a message that a subscription was required to view them, the free videos? Don't understand that, but programming errors happen, it didn't leave me with much confidence in their MRVP set up. I decided I get pretty much all I want from TMTV and along with some of the YouTube channels I subscribe to I don't really need to add more pay-per view with MRVP.


My 2 cents! Thanks for creating TMTV it has really rekindled my love of MR after a quarter century hiatus.

I agree with xanielster. As I'm now reading bith MR and RMC, which came the same day, I don't ever recall seeing either magazine comparing themselves to the other since I started reading in the 1970s. Each did its own thing and readers settled into what they liked. Maybe TMTV should do the same?

I don't ever recall seeing either magazine comparing themselves to the other since I started reading in the 1970s. Each did its own thing and readers settled into what they liked. Maybe TMTV should do the same?

We don't ordinarily waste cycles comparing ourselves to "the competition" ... in fact we don't really consider them to be competition.

However, we see people comparing us with them (especially regarding cost) and their math is way off. We've had some TMTV members try to defend us and they were just guessing and didn't really present our philosophy correctly.

If we don't tell people what our viewpoint is, how will they know? At least members now know what we consider the facts to be on costs and they know how our philosophy differs from the other guys.

Now we can go back to what we normally do - which is focus on presenting content we're passionate about and we think modelers will like. Back to no longer bothering with the other guys and what they're doing again.

That's also why this blog post ended with the thought - why not get them both and get the best of both worlds? We don't see the question as being either-or.

I understand suscribers may ask for a comparison between TMTV and MRVP. But as the subscriber from Portugal states, and as Joe F has also made clear in this article, the two services are actually different in their focus. Yes, both are about model railroading, but from two perspectives. This does make the two different, and this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Personally, I am partial to TMTV because the information gleaned typically is from an intermediate and further focus. For me, this is exactly what I am looking for and is probably the biggest reason I eventually lost interest in maintaining a subscription of MR.

But of course, to each his own. There are enough people in this "wide" hobby to make both important and worthwhile.

Just my two cents....

Well speaking from someone just getting back into the Hobby I love MRH and TMTV. I was going to get a three year subcription to MRM and just happened across MRH and signed on and then watched a few TMTV Videos and signed on for 3 years and in the end getting almost 4 and I believe its the best money I have spent on the Hobby so far. I like the lengths of the Videos and the fact your are not trying to cram in too much in just to make a video. You have caught and are able to give that one on one feeling in both the wrighting in MRH and in the Video's on TMTV that I believe MRM and MRVP have lost. Maybe it's just me but I get the feeling that MRM and MRVP are trying to sell me something like an infomercial.

Anyhow love it and looking forward to all the new ones.

I do think you should do more N Scale Videos as it seems to be growing everyday as pepole seem to have less and less room.


I subscribe to both.

I really like the series on weathering the caboose you produced. So I will use that as my example.

I like it for the following reasons.

It's not rushed or condensed and very complete. 

It's in HD and the multiple cameras allow you to see  what and how the work is being done. This is like getting private lessons.

This really sets you apart.

Your guests are experts in what they do. You are getting great tips from people who focus on the their expert skill set.

Most of MRTV are in house generalists. 

I get good tips from them to but for more general subject matter. And as has been stated by others they are more introductory videos on model railroading. They have their place and its a good one for those that want to have fun with model trains.

Your videos delve more into the art of modeling and that is what I enjoy. My two favorite model railroaders of all time are John Allen and George Sellios because of the functioing art they create.

My only complaint is I wish you could produce more shows monthly :-)






My only complaint is I wish you could produce more shows monthly :-)

That's coming - our intent is to double the how-to's each month. Barry has done that already, bringing the monthly show plus bonuses up to almost 3 hours per month, where as it used to be 1.5-2 hours.

Another major push that direction is the new ~10 hour series from Mike Confalone on weathering.

And there's still more in the works as well to increase the content, and let's don't forget Joe Fugate's Run Like a Dream supplemental videos that go with the new book series ... so you may just get your wish!

TMTV Station Agent's picture

Note that our intent from the beginning was to make a 50-60 minute show with an additional half hour of bonus content.  I think three hours is a record for TrainMasters TV.  Currently I aim for at least 90 minutes every month, and often it comes down to how complicated an episode is to edit that determines how much time is left over to compile bonus material.

Thanks for all your feedback.


TrainMasters TV producer

filly535's picture

I don't know why you feel the need to compare yourself to MR or MRVP. I think it kind of diminishes you. I subscribe to both magazines, and both video services. I enjoy both, and I hope both succeed. I do feel MR is fighting for its life, as are most print publications, and are cutting corners in the video series, with rehashed you tube videos, and thinly veiled commercials instead of quality HD video. I still subscribe to MR, even though it is more of a pamphlet than a magazine, and tends to be simplistic.. Brand loyalty has something to do with why I still subscribe, but I feel my subscription price vs. my entertainment and education is still worthwile. If I had to make a choice, I would choose Trainmasters TV, but I don't have to choose, I can have both. I enjoy TMTV a lot, the quality of production, the time given to each subject, the diversity of subjects, and the hosts themselves are all top notch, (or notch 8). Speaking of hosts, I heard a rumor Lionel was coming back. Good deal. Keep up the good work, I appreciate ya.


I don't know why you feel the need to compare yourself to MR or MRVP. I think it kind of diminishes you. I subscribe to both magazines, and both video services. I enjoy both, and I hope both succeed.

That's just it, we don't waste time comparing ourselves ordinarily. And notice our concluding thought - it's not either-or - why not have both?

But when we see modelers comparing us with MRVP on forums and the TMTV members are floundering trying to describe how TMTV compares, that's when we felt we needed to document the differences to give TMTV members something to work with that was official.

That's all. Now that we've provided this info, it's back to business as usual, which is focusing on making content modelers need that we're passionate about - and not wasting any time worrying about what "the competition" is doing.

filly535's picture

Yes, you did say why not have both. I stopped reading the blog at some point, and started scanning, so I missed that. Forgive me. OK , lets go play with trains.


I too enjoy both. Learn from each, which is why I get them and why you do them (besides the profit motive). Agree audiences for each are focused differently, but I think I touch both.

I would subscribe just for the Mike Confalone programs (glad you got him to smile occasionally....he should with a layout like that) and now with Joe doing a series that's an outright bonus. (Glad you've gotten to the point now you can work on yours, Joe then share it with us). Miles and Lionel make a good team....Miles is so serious and Lionel is very light.  It's fun to watch.

My only "gripe" is the posting of new content seems to be heavier in the second half of each month.  Is it possible to post new segments say each Tuesday of month? On the other hand, not knowing when they will appear, I'm in the habit of looking each day. Perhaps you have something like that in mind.

And Joe, it's fabulous that you actually take the time to respond to those who post comments, especially to explain your position on editorial things. That doesn't happen often on the other service. Sorry some of those comments are a bit off base, but you politely make your point.

wafflebox306's picture

Personally, I have both -- for now. In recent months tho it has crossed my mind to cancel my subscription to the "other guys" and I guess the reason why I haven't pulled the trigger is because of the trackside adventures series and the rehab series. Both of which are actually the longer episodes on the site. Sometimes I feel like they must think I have attention deficit disorder because they chop up most of the content into smaller bites. I don't know if it is their way of making it seem like they have more content when in comparison, TMTV is more adept at giving the viewer more to chew on. I agree, the two generally focus on things from two points of view, but the series that just started on the stripping and painting of a locomotive is further down the road from the beginner segment of the hobby. I would rather see the whole thing in 2 or 3 segments than for it to be drawn out for 6-8 episodes. Personally, if I see something I want to refer back I don't mind watching Ralph Renzetti for a whole episode or Miles Hale or any of the others. 

I think there are two distinct "feels" from both shows.  Some things about the other guys bother me, like sometimes they come across somewhat pompous, smug and condescending, but I deal with it.  Just like when is see different guests or hosts on TMTV who should have run a comb thru their hair or ironed their shirt be for the shoot (my wife has actually said, "they must not have any women working on those shows, otherwise at least they would have them comb their hair").  Maybe that isn't or is true, but again, I do my best to let that stuff go and get value out of the modelling info I came to get.  

I think the comparison is good no matter why or who started it.  People who have been in the hobby can just tell by watching both, but it is hard to put it into words if you had to do so.  I'm glad Joe took the time to put it out there and he should be biased and find a great sense of satisfaction knowing they are more often than not, scratching where we modelers a itch.  For now I'll keep watching both, but if I had to jettison one or the other, TMTV wouldn't be the one.

Thanks for all that you do.  


wafflebox306's picture

Oh and price never entered my mind. But as it is, TMTV is the better deal even if it cost more than the other guys. I'd still be a subscriber, hands down. 

Thanks again!


I just came across this thread a little late but it is something that I have been thinking about for awhile now.  I have the 3 year subscription for TMTV and I pay a monthly fee to MR for their MRVP and access to all of MR's magazines online. 

To be truthful, I hardly ever go to MR's site and when I do, it is usually to watch their Roundhouse Videos with guests (and the "time up" bell drives me nuts!).  I have not had much enjoyment just watching short (minutes) of train runbys through scenes on the layout videos and much of what they present in other videos are things that have not interested me since I am past that point in much of my modelling.  That's not to say that I am an expert but I am looking for helpful things that show up much more often in TMTV videos.  An example is Mike Confalone's fantastic series of loco and car weathering.  I can't wait to see additional videos on this. 

Because I am looking for more advanced topics and online clinics, I do look at the amount of time given to the subject and when it is down in the few to several minutes, I fear that it won't really be able to cover the subject as I would like, so I am just the opposite of some people that like short and to the point videos.  Mike's long videos are full of great information and cover things in great detail which is just as I want it. 

So, for my 2 cents, I am sold on TMTV and will definately keep my subscription.  At this time, I'm not sure about MRVP but I don't plan on dropping it at this time.  As busy as I have been on my railroad, I just seem to have very little time to surf all the great things out there on the web and for now I'm choosing to spend that time with MRH and TMTV.

Thanks for a great product!

Best, Andy Keeney (Nashville Road)


You are about half right. I subscribe to both. My test for each video (yours and theirs) is simple: did I learn anything valuable to me as a modeler? The answer usually “yes” for both. Not always.
I agree with the criticisms of MRVP. A bit frothy and superficial. A bit too celebrity-ish and most of that is totally unjustified. They are better at bench-work than you. They have innovative ideas – in bechwork, scenery and other stuff. They could ditch most of the bad versions of the buddy movies: buddy railroad modelling videos. (That said, if the message is that model railroading is fun that is a good message. It is just that it is very badly executed.) I would not miss the butt-clenching outtakes.
However, Trainmasters TV ain't perfect. You walk the fine line between detailed and rambling. You are not always the right side of that line. I do not like the shambling efforts of Lionel Strang. While I do not pay for slickness, his shambling “I don't know what is going on” is a bad act – I assume it is an act.
Who is better? You. Just. Not by much.

Andrew Bruce

SO will MRVP and TMTV some day merge? LIKE BNSF, Norfolk and southern and the other guy CSX? I don't know whos who anymore, Nor do I give a rusty rail--its just plain old Railroading for cryin out loud, no matter how you chop it up..modeling or the real deal..some folks love it  some do not..who the hell cares whos on first,  in first or whats on second?? Im kinda middle the road and happy enough with both...MRVP although as you may have stated  it seems they are geared up to beginners, they are short simple videos on techneques, catering to the train set first timers, Buts thats how YOU  and we all got started right???   No one jumps right into a basement model railroading empire. (so why knock em or even take the time to compare?)  They also however have major sponsers and a publishing company that puts their efforts into hard copies and into the hands of readers as well as on the shelves at book stores, hobby stores,  air ports, train stations, and even libraries, where and when many model railroaders sometimes only have time for hands on page flipping and no time for "logging on"  waiting for the page to load on their phone, lap top, or any other device  when service may be in and out ...yadda yadda ...I can't find your magazine anywhere but on line, they are on line and on shelves... Also MRVP is produced by a group of folks that odds are that that is their full time gig and pay checks to feed their families.....I skimmed and scanned over the above topic, read some responses and even as I sit and type I am fairly surprised that this is an article on this site.  Mybe you have longer videos, longer detailed how to's, maybe even more talented artistic modelers that are very good and very passionate about the hobby that more than likely first got really hooked after reading a "model railroader magazine " so again I ask why compare? Word of advice...Leaders in any industry pay attention to the competition, they DON"T however GIVE the  competition any attention. 

OK, you may not want to emulate MR, but their offerings on Ops are better than MRH's (pretty much nonexistent) coverage. You may be trying to cater to the more advanced crowd, but this is an area MRH is seriously deficient in. To be honest, you act like all serious model railroaders do some form of ops, but you dont want to share the secrets of how an ops session is set up and run with all us duffers. It may be obvious to you folks but it isnt to a lot of us here on the periphery of "serious modelers."

I have brought this up many times, as have other folks, but seemingly to no avail. I suspect many of the others have just moved on.

joef's picture

but their offerings on Ops are better than MRH's (pretty much nonexistent) ...

Ok, thanks for pointing this out. I have no doubt we have several gaps in our video topic areas that we could fill. When I look for ops-oriented videos on TMTV, I find ...

So that's just a bit more than non-existant (wink and grin).

However, if I take your meaning correctly, we have never done a step-by-step video on here's how to get into operations. So, I hear you, and I'm adding that to our list of projects to do.

Joe, I agree that you have plenty of videos of people doing ops. What is seriously lacking is a video explaining how ops are done. Car cards, dispatching, yard work, sorting cars, you name it. This is a source of great frustration for folks like me who want to learn, but there are no clubs locally who do it. Folks who practice ops regularly seem to assume we all understand everything they are doing, but that just ain't true. :-) 

Please consider this. It is a hole that no one is filling on the Internet, and (one teacher to another) you are a gifted instructor, as are many of your presenters, so you are well positioned to fill that need.

Shayman51's picture

I was a member of MRVP for all of 24 hrs and switched to Trainmasters because I had such a miserable time with buffering at MRVP; Even though I exceeded ALL the minimum requirements and was downloading at 118Mbps.  I have absolutely no problems at Trainmasters thus far.

Good to hear TMTV is working well for you. We'll be making some changes this summer that should expand things even more. We will be moving to the ability to watch TMTV on a smart TV and (after that) to a custom mobile app for TMTV.

bart's picture

Ooooooooooo!!   I have a 4k 3d 65 incher!  You going to address that?



TMTV Station Agent's picture

Sure, we can do that.  And the shows would look fantastic!  However, once we buy three new cameras, build more detailed sets and hire a more studio crew to match, folks might have an issue with a $29.95 monthly subscription fee at that point.  Everyone might have to upgrade their internet service as well.    ;)


TrainMasters TV producer

Have a look at MRVP and see D. Popp comming up with the same video on expanding DCC to a bigger layout.

They take inspiration from Trainmaster TV now !

I prefer more than 200% TMTV to MRVP for being to the point without MR bla bla !

We think MRVP doesn't spend a lot of time looking to us for ideas, it's just that ideas have a lot of overlap. On the DCC topic, for example, how many different DCC topics are there for getting started in DCC?

Another interesting example is how MRVP copied us accidentally with their Back to the Basement title. We did it first, but they did it later because of the Oct 25, 2015 Back to the Future anniversary buz, so they took this prominent buzz in the media and made a "Back to the Basement" theme from that, complete with a logo that looked like Back to the Future repurposed.

It was pure accident, we're sure, but it's ironic. We never once thought of copying Back to the Future in our title, it just happened. We certainly don't spend *any time* looking at what MRVP is doing to get ideas, and we suspect they're the same.

I have watched both TMTV and  MRVP and fine the TMTV to be superior, MRVP is a

quality effort, but  I feel it falls short of TMTV.  I also appreciate the small number emails I get

from the MRH conglomerate.  MR swamps me with emails, almost all a solicitation of some