Sunday, July 03, 2022

Mini-Europe. The political model village

Mini-Europe

 Model villages are usually cosy affairs. Pretty little buildings, often with amusing shop names, and frequently set firmly in the same era as Agatha Christie dramas. The modelling will be slighly cartoonish, but that's what people enjoy. 

Not so Mini-Europe

For a start, the model-making is superb. Crisp building details, including hard to reproduce statuary. 

France - Arc De Triomphe

Amazingly, this stuff lives outside all year round. You can tell, because one building is missing, and another has recently been repaired due to the effects of a storm. 

Rather than a single scene, Mini-Europe brings together iconic structures from all corners of Europe. We have the Houses of Parliament, Eiffel Tower, Brussels Grand Square, Pont Adolphe and many, many more. You really can get a taste for the entire continent in a couple of hours - the time it takes to wend your way through it all. 

Kids will love all this as most countries have buttons to press. Much of the time this fires up the appropriate national anthem, but sometimes it kicks off an animation such as an archery competition, digger, train or even a volcano erruption. 

There's a clever scene with a theif carrying the Mona Lisa and a Policeman chasing him - which are operated by pads you run on. The fast you run, the faster your character moves. It's really clever. 

Austria - Melk Abbey

However, all this wonderful modelling will not please everyone. You see, Mini-Europe extolls the virtues of the European Union. The guidebook, which is available in several languages, including English, makes a better case for the EU than the entire "Remain" campaign managed a few years ago. 

Brexit does warrant a mention - there are pro and anti demos beside parliament, and the paths around the UK buildings have dotted border lines on them. 

Worse still, instead of being forced through the gift shop (which isn't very good) you exit through a display about Europe. Nigel Farage would be turning in his grave. 

All this is done very well. It's important to remember that most people on the continent have a very different view of the EU to the average Brit. We are mentioned in a "sorry you've left, please come back" way, instead of the agressive way our newspapers refer to Europe. It's quite sweet really. 

I really enjoued Mini-Europe, and it makes an excellent addition to a day spent at the Atomium next door. Finding out more about the model making is on my list for a future Garden Rail feature, it really is impressive, and worth investigating. 

Check out the rest of my photos on Flickr.

Saturday, July 02, 2022

Saturday Film Club: Duchess of Hamilton

It seems they have let my friend Anthony Coulls loose with a camera again. His subject this time is Duchess of Hamilton.

Friday, July 01, 2022

Layout in a day at the NGRS

Garden Rail garden railway in a day

This time last week, I built this layout. A 3m square garden railway. 

With two seperate circuits of 32mm gauge Faller/Big-Big track, I think it's my best effort to date. Thanks to my Mum's hard work producing the plants, it looks (IMHO) amazing. 

Feedback at the show was positive. I know this sort of thing isn't everyone's cup of tea, but generally, people seemed to be enjoying it. 

Full details will be in the August issue of Garden Rail of course, along with some thoughts about what I should do next year...



Thursday, June 30, 2022

Not quite a Class 37

Not a Class 37

Another random picture, this one from a folder named "Hillers". I'm guessing that this refers to the Avonvale MES Miniature Railway at Hillers Garden Centre

This is an "interesting" locomotive. More practical than beautiful, I fancy it would be an interesting modelling project. Mind you, I bet none of the commercial Class 37 noses would match, so it would be a full-on scratchbuild.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Warehouse Wednesday: Random Ramsgate Building

Strolling around the back streets of Ramsgate, I spotted this building and took a photo. 

This was months ago, and I now have no idea where it is, or even what it is. But I still think it's a really interesting shot and a fascinating building. Presumably an old factory or workshop. It must have been quite something when new - there's a lot of interesting architecural detail. We don't make buildings with this much effort very often nowadays.