Monday, January 17, 2022

I know I said "no more kits"...


In my defence, I ordered this pile before Christmas, and they have only just arrived. 

It's all TV engineer and motorbike racer Guy Martin's fault. In his latest epic, he built a racing Piagio. Liking the look of this, I did a little web searching, especially for the fun looking radio control version I'd seen in the past

In the results, was a photo of a Mazda T2000. I wanted to know more. Don't look at me like that, I'm not the only one to fall down an interweb rabbit hole. It's got 3 wheels and can carry a 2-ton load! A proper workhorse of a vehicle.

Another search and I spot a plastic kit. From the excellent Plaza Japan

"That looks fun", I think, and before you know it, I've clicked the magic buy button. Well, it's not much more than a fiver. 

Of course, there are other similar kits, as the same sort of price. Might as well make the order up a bit. 

Then I spot some cartoon Thunderbird stuff. And of course I fancy a model of FAB1 with Lady Penelope and Parker. 

And that is how I ended up £30 worse off, but with four more boxes of things I want to build. If nothing else, this is a stone, cold bargain. Any one of these kits would cost half that in the UK. And I'd still be tempted by one.

And I also own a complimentary little model of Mount Fuji - how good is this?

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Lamenting the modeller I used to be


Digging through my stash of bits'n'pieces for something that wasn't there, I couldn't help wonder how the pile of packets had come about. 

Loads of buffers, wheels, detailing components. All solid gold to the right sort of modeller - the sort of modeller I used to be. 

I'm going to be controversial and say, the best era for railway modelling was 1993. 

Iain Rice's book Detailing and Improving Ready to Run Wagons had just been published. RTR models were improving a bit, but serious types needed to tinker with them to add better brake gear and modify the bodies. You weren't aiming for perfection, just a few gentle improvements that would raise your layout above the herd. 

A few extra bent bits of wire for brake safety loops, perhaps even ripping off the plastic bits and replacing them with metal bits from Kenline would do the job. 

All this was within the grasp of a reasonably capable person who really wanted to have a go. 

Nowadays, RTR has pretty much reached perfection. Even the most basic four-wheel wagon has brake shoes inline with the wheels and often all the rods and stuff you should find under there. Generall, the quality will be amazing. 

I miss those days, and I miss that sort of modelling. While I can do my best to spread the gospel of tinkering with RTR models, I know I'm fighting a losing battle. The world has moved on.

Rice's efforts in his enjoyable books would be laughed at by the finescale talliban. You can't be cutting things out with a knife, you MUST use a laser, or better still, 3D print it. Why use a scalpel when you can sit in front of a computer? 

A sensible person would consider unloading all this stuff to clear space. 

I am not a sensible person. 

One day, I will hide in my cave and gradually upgrade old RTR models. I'll build Parkside kits. My layouts will be a bit better than those I created in the 1990s, but not much. And I will enjoy building them. On the exhibition circuit, I'll claim it's all retro, or ironic, but really it will be because I enjoy doing it. And that's all that matters.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Saturday Film Club: Secret London microcar stash

Jonny Smith visits an incredible private London car collection full of the rarest custom and bubble cars. Like most classic car fans, I have a fantasy garage, and while I wouldn't fit in many of them, micro cars have always fascinated me.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Meccano Percy

Meccano Percy

My approach to eBay is to leave things on watch for a long while, on the basis that occasionally, I get lucky and something I want pops up at a price I am willing to pay

Meccano's model of Percy falls into this category. Launched in 1965, it's sort of O gauge and clockwork. The loco comes with some blue plastic track, of an interesting section, and a couple of wagons. A few years after its launch, a version with a smokebox door instead of a face appeared, something Hornby has recently done

Percy sets tend to go for £60+ and while I want one, not that much. I fancy running it on the Garden Rail layout at Peterborough as a bit of fun. Mine came in at £30 including postage. 

For that money, you don't get "mint boxed". 

The box is tatty, the red van is missing a set of wheels and the key is missing. 

I must admit, I really like the box art, not least because it refer to the books, which I think are the only source of true Thomas material. I do wonder about the stick - wouldn't a couple of identical coaches have made more sense, or was a larger range planned? As the model was discontinued a year after introduction, nothing came of those if there were. 

The missing key isn't a problem. I've wound the loco up with pliers and it works fine. I'll make a new key at some point. 

Then I can recreate at least some of the famous appearance of this set in The Avengers episode, "A funny thing happened on the way to the station."

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Your friendly issue of Garden Rail


A garden railway is more than just a collection of tracks and trains - often it's the people who build and run it that matter. We visit the Friendly Light Railway, a G-scale line that has brought people together from around the world.
If you think that small is beautiful, The High Force railway will be perfect. It packs a terrific amount of detail and character into its 5-foot length, but uses locos that can also head out into the garden.
On the workbench, we turn some Bachmann coaches into realistic Southern versions, restore an Accucraft Excelsior and show how you can appear to ride on your own garden line.
All this, and the latest product news and reviews for the large scale modeller.