Tuesday, December 17, 2013

4D Models, London

4D Models

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...


Huw Griffiths said...

For years, I've seen 4D as something of a "hidden gem" - and I visit them most times I'm in London.

This might have something to do with me using a Wetherspoon's near Tower Hill, before I get the tube to Victoria coach station - but I digress.

I like the racks of "hard to find" materials, adhesives and tools - large sheets of coloured styrene - black or white styrene sheet in an enormous range of thicknesses - glues of all sorts (you name it - they probably stock it) - all manner of modelmaking tools.

There are also loads of really esoteric items - some regular lines - some "closeouts".

Something else that goes down well is the advice that's freely on offer - whether from staff or from the "how to" guides they have on their website.

As for prices - they vary - but the vast majority seem perfectly reasonable.

For those who don't know Leman St., 4D are slightly off to one side of the road - in some arches below the approaches to Tower Gateway (DLR) and Fenchurch St. stations.

If you're visiting the Excel exhibition centre, Tower Gateway is the "London end" terminus of the DLR line from Excel.

Incidentally, before construction started on the DLR, a number of options were considered for its "London end" terminus.

What became Tower Gateway was initially referred to by another name, reflecting a road that runs next to it.

I'm not sure whether the name might also have had something to do with the initial western terminus of the London & Blackwall Railway - before the railway was extended west to Fenchurch St.. As I don't know, it's probably best to assume not.

In case anyone's wondering, the initial name for what became Tower Gateway might sound vaguely familiar to "the average enthusiast" of model railways. The name was "Minories".

Christian said...

It's a brilliant shop. Ordered many times and been in once in person as well.

Great to actually go there - lots of hidden gems you probably wouldn't come across on the site, despite it being a pretty good retail website. Got a load of thin brass scraps/offcuts for a few quid which was just what I needed at the time.