I subscribe to CTT & OGR. I have for two years now. As a beginner, I couldn't get enough information and they both gave me a good snapshot of the hobby.
Now that I know it all , I'm about to let CTT lapse. They're both too expensive for what they are (CTT is $40 for 8 issues). I read them and toss them so $5 per issue isn't a great value for me. But CTT is more focused on postwar which is before my time. I have enjoyed learning about the history of the hobby but I have zero interest in owning any postwar trains.
I do like a good old fashioned, hard copy, paper magazine though. I'm not interested in digital editions.
I’ve subscribed to print editions of both CTT and OGR for 29 years.
I prefer OGR because the layout articles are actually written by the layout owner. Most layout articles in CTT are written by Roger Carp and are derived from a lengthy questionnaire he sends the layout owner. While I like Roger’s writing in CTT’s special interest publications; I find his style is a bit too “sugary” and formulaic where it comes to layout articles.
As a new hobbyist; your interest will likely be more toward “how to” articles and both magazines are a good resource in this regard.
Frankly; unless you have budget constraints; I’d suggest subscribing to both for at least one year. You’ll pick up twice as many good tips and, after 12 months; you’ll also be able to make an informed decision which one YOU like best.
Curt, I agree with your summary of CTT. While Roger Carp seems like a good man, I find his layout narration "cookie-cutter" and rather monotonous; in fact, I can't even read his narration anymore its that boring to me. A good many CTT articles are geared towards the Postwar enthusiast, and every year I come close to not renewing my subscription because of this, i.e., I am just not interested in Postwar trains or the collections. But, that is their namesake, so they need to do that for people who love that subject.
I have back issues of OGR and CTT since the late 80s and 90s...and they've both evolved over the years to a changing demographic...almost catering to a Ready-to-Run audience it seems.
If I had to choose just one magazine to buy, it'd be OGR. The layout coverages are much more expansive with lots more photos than CTT, and that and various authors describing their layouts makes it a better magazine for me.
I only subscribe to the digital edition of OGR right now. I can't handle any more hard copy magazines around here...its clutter and a fire hazard.
However, I enjoy reading old (pre-1960) magazines like Toy Trains, Model Trains, and even Model Railroader, which was the first magazine I ever read as a kid. I enjoy the ads as much as the articles and photos.