Thursday, 25 October 2012

Episode 7: Playing Sim City: Part 1

In the last episode (Playing God) you'll remember I took to adding some greenery to the board. Most of which was a large success - apart from a tiny flaw in which the top coat of glue being dyed by the scatter and running creating stained patches of ballast-mat. (See bellow at the top of the picture).

As discussed last week I came up with a plan to combat this...

Fortunately for me, you can purchase the ballast coloured scenic mat I've used in scatter form. Therefore I've added some of this to the offending areas, this time using a pipette to apply the glue over the top as not to discolour it. 

At the time of writing I'm waiting for this to dry. But it's already looking much better and is helping the green area run with the curvature of the track bed.

Anyway, now the landscape is developing nicely it's time to move on and start thinking about populating my layout with some buildings to make it look, well, a) interesting and b) real. 

If you look back at previous episodes you'll see I already have some buildings... Some of which appear to change or move location....

Along with all my rolling stock, built up in my childhood, I also had an array of buildings, platforms and trackside paraphernalia. 

Most of these buildings come from the cheaper end of Hornby's back catalogue spectrum and feature a mix of cheap grey plastics, paper-stuck on walls and low quality finishes. I don't think it's helped that they haven't stood the test of time very well being stuck in my parents loft for so many years - the sticky paper finished walls are coming off, they're very dirty and dusty and some have broken all together (Possibly in transit, more likely my Dad not putting them in the right box..). 

I'm not knocking Hornby's efforts here. In fact, you can find pictures on their website where they construct quite plausible and good looking layouts using them. Mind you, they are trying to sell you them... Anyway, they appealed to me once and I'm pretty sure they're doing a good job at appealing to kids now. Kids who want a cheap, quick addition to their layout to add interest. That was absolutely fine then, but it looks no good on my layout now.

Most of them have found their way into the bin. (I have a lot of excess platform pieces that are in good condition and looking for a good home - so please get in touch!).

It won't shock you to find out there is a plethora of higher-end, much better looking options on the market. If you're the die-hard serious modeller then chances are you'll be making your building from scratch. I wouldn't know where to begin on such a subject so let's rule that out. 

Some companies do very convincing card kits, such as the Metcalfe example above. 

Others offer a pre built building in white, as a blank canvas. 

Now, I've never been much of an artist and I'm terrible with building kits. I'm sure a seasoned pro could turn out a card kit like the one above but I think I'd just create a gluey bent mess.

Thankfully, Hornby have waded back into the game with some very good looking die-cast resin structures. All the buildings from the above feature in Hornby's 'Skaledale' range. And I must say I'm impressed with their looks and features. 

You have to ask yourself, am I going to get more pleasure out of making the building, or looking at the building?... Well I suppose if you're good at making them, then the answer will be both, but as we've already established I'm going to be next to useless at trying to make my own kit. 

I know they're going to look great out the box, and I am a sucker for Hornby products, so I have treated myself to some Skaledale buildings. (In fact: if you remember from the last episode, I had already purchased a couple last month). The added bonus is, unlike some of the kit or self produced buildings which might not stand the test of being moved in and out of storage regularly (as I need them to), the Skaledale buildings are fairly rugged and can be moved around easily/stored in boxes. There's also a HUGE range to choose from (*cough* future Christmas present idea for me *cough*) and many of the range is inspired by real life buildings, so you'll be able to pick up Gothland Station on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway or Dent Station on the Settle-Carlisle line to name but a few.

I will stress again though that if you CAN build kits well and don't need to move them about alot then this is a much cheaper and rewarding route to take...

Here's a sneak peak at some of my buildings. You'll be able to tailor your town to an era or geographical location. But as I'm going with the 'it could be anywhere and anywhen' approach I've got a mismatch of different period/architectured highstreet buildings. Mind you, have you ever been down Epping High Street - it looks like this anyway!

But wait! I hear you say. There are roads and pavements too! I'll get to that next time....

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