4d Models is one of those whops that I have been aware of for years without ever having visited or bought anything from.
In my defence, the premises are a little hidden away in a slightly less salubrious area of London so not that easy for those of us living a hundred miles north to drop in to. Also, being off the normal tourist routes, when I did head to the capital, I wasn't usually nearby. All those meetings I went to and none of them had a decency to take place nearby!
Anyway, at the weekend I decided to have a day out in the smoke and one of the locations on my list was 4D. A pleasant 205 bus ride followed by a ten minute walk and I'm there. The shop is well signposted even it it is hidden under the Docklands Light Railway.
Inside, you quickly realise that this isn't a "normal" model shop. The normal clientele are architects and students doing design courses.
For me, the great thing is that this means the stock mostly consists of materials. Racks and racks of foam board, plastics, metals, plywood (lite and normal), cards, weird papers and other stuff.
Add to this a huge selection of glues, paints, moulding materials and other gungy stuff and it's all looking pretty good. There's a very wide selection of tools on offer too.
For the traditional railway modeller, perhaps there is less than you might expect. Yes is are a fine selection of scenic materials including items from well known names like Greenscene, but I suspect the ready made tree selection might scare them with the prices. Architects just bill the client when the materials cost money!
I was probably the oldest person in the shop when I visited. All the other customers seemed to be design students who were taking advantage of the expertise of the staff who were able to advise how to use the materials on offer.
The shop also offers laser cutting and etching facilities and many of the sheet materials were marked as being suitable for this.
Worth a visit? Yes certainly. I came away with a bag of goodies, only a few of which I have definite projects for. Some of the others were just new to me and I have half an idea but nothing definite yet. If it'd not planned a stroll and Crimbo shopping afterwards, some of the larger sheet materials might have come home too. Maybe next time...