Thursday, April 13, 2017

Fratton Model Centre - Portsmouth

 This find is down to my dad who visited in February and returned home with tales of  a fantastic shop. By coincidence, a thread on Model Boat Mayhem was also singing their praises. Thus, when I visited the town this week, a visit was on the agenda. 

About 25 minutes walk from the historic dockyard, it's not in the most fashionable part of town. A couple of streets away, every shop seems to be selling second hand, and rather tatty, furniture. This isn't a problem, most model shops are in cheaper areas, that's how they can afford to stay open. 

As you can see from the photo, it's a bigger shop than average. The windows are full of wonderful things including second hand RC boats, plastic kits and railways. They must have known I was coming as there was even a diecast Philip from the Thomas range in the window. 

Inside the shop has developed that happy range that only develops with maturity. Yes you can get paint and brushes and glue (including a range I didn't know about) and plastic kits and model railways and boat kits and second hand model boats and aircraft kits and second hand model aircraft (nice but huge Hercules) and diecast models (nice Dinky Eagle) and tools and bits and piece for all these plus magazines (50p for old Tamya ones). 

Little things impress - the second hand coaches, wagons and diecast are all individually bagged so they can be hung on racks. Simple but makes for a nice neat shop rather than piles of pre-owned stuff. 

There's lots of stock, enough that you really need to look around. Short people will struggle as there is stuff high up but I'm sure the helpful staff will be there for you.

I came away with a lighter wallet but many boat bits as well as some Coopercraft kits. That Eagle was tempting but no. The Hercules was too big for the car. I probably should have bought a Philip though. 


Chris Ford said...

If you don't mind the dodgy area and the football fans it's one of the last great models shops in the traditional sense. Well worth a visit.

Huw Griffiths said...

Name aside, I suspect that you might have found that diecast rather more interesting if it had been a PRR A6 boxcab diesel, rather than a toy with a silly face on the front.

Saying that, US RTR model train manufacturers seem to treat boxcabs in much the same way as UK suppliers seem to view industrials, light rail vehicles and the less glamorous multiple units and TfL surface stock.

Any time anyone has the temerity to ask about any of these - the sort of "workaday" stuff that might sensibly fit onto domestic sized layouts - you just know there'll be the routine bleats of:

"For the 500th time this morning, there's no demand for niche stuff like that!"

Interesting - especially in view of the same suppliers' blanket coverage of real niche subjects - HSTs (with 8 coaches, plus 2 "type 4" Diesel locos) - some large celebrity British Railways "kettles" like 60103, 60122 and 92220 which, with typical rolling stock consists, would probably take up more than the entire length of many layouts. Even if they did fit in, I wouldn't fancy their chances of getting round the curved track supplied in most "train sets".

I also wonder exactly how unusual the small locos, trams, LRVs and "run of the mill" multiple units really are / were - especially compared to, say, "Flying Scotsman" (of which there was only 1, the last time I checked).

Meanwhile, West of the Atlantic, I suspect there are probably rather more new RTR models offered of a "Big Boy", or an EMD DD40AX, than of a PRR A6 or of a 60 ton AGEIR boxcab - although I've got my suspicions about which would be more usable on a typical home layout.

Still, what do I know?

Duncan Young said...

There used to be another super shop at North End Portsmouth in an equally worn area, run by a nice old couple- two floors.