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31 Mar

Can Hornby win the Model Tree Showdown?

Hornby SkaleScenics Range 2010

Can Hornby take on the Model Tree Goliaths Gaugemaster, Noch & Faller? Are their new SkaleScenics trees worth your hard earned pennies? Lets find out…

Until recently, Hornby’s range of scenic products has been very very limited to say the least. Apart from its ever popular range of Skaledale Buildings which seemed to expand exponentially each year, anyone looking to add realistic scenery to their Hornby based layout was struggling to make any headway. It was a bit like Henry Ford and his Model T… You can have any colour you want so long as it’s Black. With Hornby, trees looked like bottle brushes, or foam tennis balls on sticks, and the grass scatter looked like nuclear fall out.

Well all that changed with the introduction of the Skalescenics range. Now the OO / HO modeller, British based or not, has access to a fantastic range of scatters, flocks, grasses, ballasts & gravels, and now finally… some very realistic trees indeed. Gone are the hideous Bottle Brush Pines et al… In are the Scots Pine, convincingly realistic Oaks, beautiful Beech trees, and perfect poplars.

So lets take a quick tour around the new range.

First things first… What’s the cost?

Prices start from around £5 for a twin pack of Economy Deciduous trees (R8931) which look great for bulking out wooded areas. For £16 you can bag your self a bulk pack of 24 Economy Conifers, Spruces or non-descript Decidous trees (R8928, R8929 & R8930), which gives scenic Stalwarts Gaugemaster a run for their money. For the more professionally finished trees the price increases up to a little over £12 for the pack of 2 Ash Trees (R8922). So all in all, the trees are mid-priced when compared to the current offerings from Noch, Gaugemaster & Faller.

What Trees Do Hornby Make Then?

The highlights from the current OO Gauge Tree lineup looks a little something like this…

Hornby R8929 Econo Spruce Pk 24

Hornby R8930 Econo Tree 75-100mm Pk 24

Hornby R8908 00 Gauge Skale Scenics Oak Pk 2

Hornby R8941 Weeping Willow Pk 4 Tree Armatures

Hornby R8902 Skale Scenics Chile Pine Pk 2

Hornby R8907 00 Gauge Skale Scenics Oak

Hornby R8943 Starter Tree Kit - Deciduous Tree Pk 16

R8933 Skale Scenics Econo Sycamore Pk 2

R8905 Skale Scenics Oak 63mm Pk 2

View Hornby’s full range of Skale Scenics Trees Here!

Above are just 9 of the 45 variants of OO gauge Trees and tree kits from Hornby, which is nothing short of astounding. From in one fell swoop, Hornby have gone from producing THE worst trees in the Model Railway area to some of the best looking on the market.

What about the competition?

The Model Tree and Model Railway Scenery arena here in the UK has long been dominated by Gaugemaster and their excellent range of trees and scenic products. Manufactured on their behalf by German Scenery Gurus, Noch, you could never go wrong with any of their trees. It goes without saying that the even wider range produced by Noch has been very attractive to the UK modeller, along with the vast array of Standard & Professional trees from Nochs arch rival Faller. Price wise, Hornby are looking very competitive and comparing three like for like trees from each manufacturer we can see that competition is going to be quite hot this year!

Faller 181365 OO/HO Top Series Ash x 2 at £9.50

Noch 21790 Ash Tree 19cm at £10.50 each!

Hornby R8922 00 Gauge Skale Scenics Ash Tree 100mm Pk 2 Professional Trees at £12.75

Comparing these tree offerings from Hornby, Noch & Faller, it’s plain to see that Hornby are sitting smack bang in the middle price wise here. Appearance of all three is indeed very realistic, although the Hornby offering does show slightly less foliage than the Noch and Faller equivalents.

Are the Hornby Trees any good?

The samples we got our grubby mitts on here at Scenery Expert Towers were supplied by a local model shop and they look very good indeed. The trees are scaled such that they are suitable to both OO / HO gauge and N Gauge model railway layouts, plus they will also look the biz on any 1:76 Military Diorama or Wargaming terrain to. As with all things in nature, the size of the tree is relative to its growth, therefore mixing and matching different tree heights and different tree types will add a greater degree of realism to the scene you are creating.

Being professionally made, these trees are definitely not toys. So if you’re looking for a few trees to use with a non-permanent setup, then these aren’t going to be the best choice. A pair of £12 R8922 Ash trees isn’t going to last 5 minutes in the hands of a 3 year old. But if you’re going to be positioning these trees in a permanent home on your layout, then I have to give these trees a whopping 9.5 out of 10 for realism and value. Nice one Hornby, and about bloody time too!

Our Verdict

9.5/10

Browse the full range of Hornby SkaleScenic trees here…

24 Mar

Free Model Railway Brick Paper From ModelScenery.com

To celebrate the launch of our sister site Model Railway Scenery’s new and rapidly growing range of Brick Papers, they’re giving away one of their post popular downloadable brick paper designs for free.

Free Brick Paper from Model Railway Scenery

So who are Model Railway Scenery?

Well, the site is owned and operated by Scenery Experts founder, Justin, who has recently put his graphic design skills to work creating some high quality, Photo Realistic Brick Papers in OO, N and O Gauges. Each texture sheet is available in instant download format for the tiny sum of just £1.99 each (less than a cappuccino in Starbucks for goodness sake!) and you can print them off as often as you like for use on Buildings, walls, pavements… you name it.

Come on, spill the beans… how do I get my freebie then?

Head on over to Model Railway Scenery and simply subscribe to the free newsletter, and when you confirm your subscription they’ll send you a download link in your email. Just hit that link and there you go.

What gauges/scales can I have it in?

Of course, you need to know what scales you can have the freebie in right? Well, they’ve made it easy for you. The email with the download link actually has direct links to 3 different files. One for OO/HO gauge, one for N gauge and one for O gauge.

How do I print it?

They recommend printing them on Photo Quality, Matt Finish paper. The test one’s they did were printed on Epson Photo Quality Inkjet Paper using an Epson Photo R240 printer. Indeed, nothing fancy, the printer cost no more than about £60!

I Want My Free Brick Paper Now! Click Here Then!

24 Mar

Gaugemaster GM200 & GM201 Ballasted Underlay Review

Gaugemaster GM200 & GM201 Ballasted Underlay

It’s a few years since Gaugemaster launched their Ballasted Underlay and it’s still selling like Hot Cakes. We take a look to see what all the fuss is about…

For realism on any Model Railway layout, it is essential that the track should be ballasted. This has always been a fiddly and time consuming process. In the past, once the track had been pinned down, it would be a case of brushing loose ballast chippings along the sides of the track and in between the sleepers, making sure nothing fouled the rails anywhere. Then you’d have to spend what seemed like a lifetime applying watered down PVA glue with an eye dropper of all things to try and make the ballast stay in place. A very very tedious task if ever there was one. Especially when all you wanted to do was  and run your trains.

So, in about 2003, Gaugemaster launched their GM200 OO/HO Gauge Underlay to the UK Market. Rather unsurprisingly, us railway modellers wanted it by the boat load, meaning you often had to wait months to get your hands on this “New Gold”! This was shortly followed by the eagerly awaited GM201 Ballasted Underlay for N Gauge railway modelers.

So what is it then?

Ballasted Underlay by Gaugemaster

Well, quite simply, it’s a foam underlay, just like the one Hornby do, but it’s  made from soft Moltopren foam. Graded-to-scale, real granite stone is bonded to the shoulders and the top of the foam leaving the recesses clear to take the sleepers. It’s compatible with all UK OO Gauge and most HO track too. Features correct thickness of ballast and evenly shaped shoulders to give the perfect finish on your layout.

The soft Moltopren foam has excellent sound deadening qualities too, which are always a bonus when your trains are bombing round your track.

Gaugemasters GM200 & Gm201 is manufactured by German Scenery Gurus, Noch, who also produce the majority of Gaugemasters scenic range of scatters, loose ballasts and trees, so the quality is always guaranteed.

Is it any good then?

Since its launch I’ve worked my way rather quickly through many many rolls of this stuff. Too many to count. It’s brilliant. Very easy to use. It works with Flexible and Fixed track. The only stumbling block is when you come to the points. But there are stock moltopren foam sheets available that you can cut to shape and ballast by hand. That’s the only awkward bit. Apart from that, it’s absolutely fantastic.

How much do you get in a pack and how much will it cost me?

Each pack contains 5 metres of ready ballasted track underlay, and it’s currently retailing at around £19.95, which is an absolute bargain. You make get a few £ off though if you shop around though.

Where can I buy it?

Most hobby shops around the UK stock it, and it’s now becoming more widely available all over the world. I saw a shop in Australia listing it in their online shop this morning. I normally get mine from Gaugemasters Amazon.co.uk Outlet as I’m lazy and already have an Amazon account, so I can buy it with one click!

Gaugemaster GM200 OO/HO Flexible Grey Ballasted Underlay from Gaugemaster At Amazon.co.uk

Gaugemaster GM201 N Gauge Flexible Grey Ballasted Underlay from Gaugemaster At Amazon.co.uk

Our Verdict?

9.5/10

23 Mar

The Easy Way To Make Model Trees – Part 1

Model Trees Made From Twisted Copper Wire, Picture Courtesy of Sanchom

Here’s Part 1 of a nice video series  from a guy called Steve who makes tons of Wargaming and Model Railroad Dioramas. This excellent movie shows how to make quick make quick and easy Deciduous trees from a length of copper wire and a few basic modelling materials. Look out for Part 2 tomorrow.

Items required for this project:

Tools Required:

  • Wire cutters
  • Sharp craft knife
  • Paint Brush
23 Mar

Laser Cut Minis From Noch in HO/OO/N Gauge

The Easy Way To Add Detail To Gardens, Countryside and Allotments On Your Model Railway.

If you’ve ever wanted to add realistic plants, reeds, vegetables etc to gardens, river banks or allotments on your Model Railway, it’s always been a bit of a challenge. The plastic offerings available from some manufacturers have always been pretty poor, and modelling your own has always been nigh-on impossible. Until now. Those ever so clever guys at German Model Railway scenery manufacturer Noch have been busy beavering away on a range of new Laser Cut Minis. A bit of a technical title maybe for a model cabbage, but lets take a closer look, as I think you might be pleasantly surprised.

Our samples were kindly supplied by their UK Distributor, Gaugemaster.

What Are Laser Cut Minis?

Laser Cut Minis are simply Model Plants and Vegetables that are cut by laser from a specially coloured, tear proof paper. They can be shaped by hand and simply glued into place in seconds – something we like very much cos we’re lazy! The current range includes Ferns, Reeds, Knotgrass, Cabbages, Rhubard, Turnips, Zucchini, Water Lillies and Runner Beans.

14106 Cabbage Plants

14200 Runner Beans

14110 Turnips

14114 Water Lillies

14118 Climbing Rose

14100 Fern

What Scales Do They Make Them In?

At present they only come in HO (1/87) and N Gauge. Now I know some old stick in the muds will moan here, but as mother nature is a bit random to say the least you can certainly use them with little or no cause for complaint on any OO gauge layout (They’d look great along side Hornby’s Skaledale range for example).  And anyway, these look so good, why spend a weekend trying to make your own OO Gauge Rhubard plant?

Are They Easy To Use?

Couldn’t be easier to be honest. The pictures below show the three simple steps needed to build a very realistic Rhubarb patch on a OO / HO gauge allotment! Simply pop them out from the base material. Bend them into shape by hand, and then glue them in to place. Virtually no modelling skills necessary! Have a look too at the video at the bottom of this review to see just how easy they are to use! (the video is in german, but you can get the idea of how they work.)

Remove the plants from the base material

Bend the Laser Cut Minis into shape by hand.

Glue into place with UHU

Where Can I Buy Them?

Our samples were kindly supplied by Gaugemaster @ Amazon.co.uk. Browse the full range of Noch Laser Cut Minis Here.

  • Gaugemasters Amazon Shop stocks the full range of Noch Scenic Products including Laser Cut Minis

Our Verdict?

9/10

22 Mar

Trees & Bushes Galore With These Lichen Bulk Packs

Fir-Green-Lichen-Bulk-Bag-for-model-railway

An essential item in the Railway Modellers arsenal, Lichen or Reindeer Moss, whatever you want to call it, is the most versatile material available for making trees and bushes. Every railway modeller, young or old can achieve fantastic results with just a small amount of lichen and a bit of glue!

Well, this week, we’ve been sent a couple of sample bags from the guys over at Scale Model Scenery & Model Railway Scenery for review. They are a family run business, offering a selection of high quality scenic products for the scale & railway modeller, including their own range of laser cut card & paper kits.

Their new range of Lichen Bulk Bags retail at £13.99 plus postage and packing  and at present come in three colours: Spring Green, a lightish green, suitable for younger trees & bushes & Forest Green, a richer dark green, and Fir Green. The bags contain 500g of freshly dyed lichen that is nice and supple, ready to use straight out of the bag. The sizes of clumps in the sample bags varies nicely, so you can easily make up small and large trees with ease.

What we liked:

Great value (Over £5 cheaper than many competitors). Free delivery. Nice, soft, workable product. Great colour.

What we didn’t like:

Quite a few small leaves and twigs in the bag, but then it’s sold as unsorted, so nothing to lose any sleep over.

Our Verdict

8.5/10

Visit Scale Model Scenery

12 Mar

The Holy Grail In Model Railway Scenery

Here’s an example of just what can be done with a little expertise! One of the most visited tourist destinations in Germany, Miniature Wonderland wows thousands of visitors a year with it’s outstandingly detailed Model Railway Scenery.

Miniature Wonderland has been growing since 2001, originally having 2 layout areas based on Harz and Southern Germany, it now comprises of 7 different regions including Hamburg, America, Austria and Scandinavia with futher sections planned way into 2014!

Accuracy and painstaking detail is the key at Minature Wonderland, with highly detailed HO scenes making it the most impressive layout in the world. Moving vehicles, realistic lighting, and 1000’s upon 1000’s of figures bring this masterpeice to life.

The team behind minature wonderland have push the limits of model construction in every way, with a large proportion of the layout being custom designed and built.  There are over 150 push-button sequences to enjoy along with fully operational Vehicle and Ship navigation systems. And with literally 100’s of Trains running in synch it’s a sight that must be seen!

Take a look at the Miniature Wonderland Official Video below for some real inspiration…