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07 May

Model Railway Hedges

Adding Hedges To Your Model Railway

This week we’re going to take a look at adding hedges to Model Railway layouts. Like trees, adding hedges has always been a bit tricky and kind of expensive for most modellers. For a long time, the commercial options have been very pricey and not that great to be honest. But now there are a few options available to Railway & Model Diorama builders and far more affordable prices.

When considering adding hedges to our layouts, we need to consider not only the hedge itself, but its immediate environment & surroundings.

Hedgerows should be much looser in shape that trees and can be made from a variety of different materials such as small pieces of Sea Foam, Lichen such as Gaugemasters GM164, GM165, or GM166, or even clumped scatters. If we look around local area we will see lots of neat, well tended hedges, some scruffy and very ragged, some have small trees growing within them – all are interspersed with gates, walls, driveways, fences. If we take a closer look at farm hedges around fields containing livestock or crops we again see different things around the hedges. Grasses are always much longer when they are close to hedging. In gateways there is often a trampled muddy area from cattle or sheep. Or hedgerows may be littered with straw from a recent harvest depending on the time of year.

Ditches are also often associated with hedges and are a prominent feature of many a rural lane or road.

Garden Hedges

Here we have a few options. Garden Hedging is normally well looked after and will have nice clean, straight edges. For this we have a few options. Gaugemaster GM160 Light Green & Gm161 Dark Green hedgerows are most suited to OO & HO model railway layouts. Supplied in blister packs with two lengths of hedging measuring 10 x 6mm (50cm long), there is plenty of hedge for your money here. Perfect for park or garden hedging, Gaugemasters offering should like great on most layouts.

Following in a similar vein, there are similar products from Javis, and Faller have their 181443, 181448, 181449 & 181489 hedges.

For those with more generous budgets, Fallers Premium Hedges 181398 – Light Green and 181399 – Yellow Flowering (looks like Forsythia) will definitely fit the bill!

For a slight more scruffy look, Faller produce 4 great looking premium hedges with a more bushy appearance and with the option of flowering or non-flowering. These can be found in their catalogue, item nos: 181350 – Light Green , 181352 – Red Blooming, 181356 – Light Green & 181358 – Red Blooming.

Faller 181352 Red Blooming Premium Hedges

Making Your Own Hedges

There are many many options available for making your own hedges for Model Railways. One of the oldest and most tried and tested is by using those Green Plastic Scouring Pads you can get in supermarkets. Simply cut into strips with a pair of scissors you can quickly create a relatively realistic, well cared for, hedgerow. If you want to spice things up a bit, give the strips a coat of UHU spray glue, or even dab on a bit of PVA, then coat the whole strip with an appropriately coloured scatter. This will improve the appearance no end, giving a more leafy appearance.

A further enhancement with this type of hedging is to tear the strips rather than cut them (sometimes can be a bit hard to tear). This will give a rough appearance to the top edge. To add further realism to the sides of the hedging it is also possible to hack at the sides with a pair of pliers, pulling and twisting at the strip of scouring pad to give a rough, un-tended look. This can take some time however and results do vary. Some scouring pads work better than others. Trial and error is the key here.

A good way to make Country hedges is to use small chunks of lichen in various colours. Lichen is cheap to buy (see our own lichen bulk bags here). It can be glued into place quickly and easily using UHU or PVA and looks great.

In Conclusion

Adding hedges to your layout will bring an instant touch of realism. Making your own can be very enjoyable and rewarding, and can save you a considerable amount of money, providing you have a little spare time to invest in making them. Spending a few moments looking around your local neighbourhood will be well worth them time in terms of inspiration and ideas for how your hedges should look. If you are looking for instant results, then you can’t go wrong with Gaugemasters GM160 & GM161 Hedging.

15 Apr

How to Make Model Trees – Part 3

Inspiration for Model Pine Trees - dbaron @ flickr

Steve continues his excellent Model Tree Making series with a quick video about how to make Conifers for your Model Railway, Wargaming diorama or Slot car layout.

In this video Steve shows us how easy it is to make Model Conifer Trees using just a few easy to source materials.

Model trees are an essential feature on any model railway layout, and can at times be costly to purchase, so making your own can be very rewarding and save you a lot of cash at the same time. A couple of very important  things to remember when making model trees are Size, and Shape!

Model Tree Size

Real trees (Not your ornamental garden types) are BIG, often very big. A quick Google search for trees can tell you for example that a Pine tree can grow to anywhere from 3m to 80m, that’s 80 metres in some parts of the world, with most ranging from 15m to 45m. So even a 15m OO gauge pine tree would need to be a whopping 19cm tall! That’s a big tree for even the smallest in a real forest!

Tree Shape

Remember, mother nature is very random. Unless it’s an ornamental tree, real trees are seldom symmetrical, so bare that in mind when making trees for your layout (and buying them for that matter). I often put my basic trees together using a method similar to the one Steve uses here, then I hack away a little with a pair of scissors to make the shape as random as possible for increased realism.

Things you’ll need to make your model trees.

Materials needed for this mini-project:

  • Length of wooden dowel
  • Section of filter material or a Scouring Pad (The green ones, not wire wool based)
  • Spray glue
  • Assorted paints
  • Scatter / Flock material

Don’t forget, any questions or comments, post them below and I’ll do my best to answer them asap.

01 Apr

Add Life To Your Model Railway With Figures

Noch OO/HO Model Figures On A Model Railway Layout

People People People, they’re everywhere. And so to make your Model Railway (Railroad for our American Cousins) look as realistic as possible, your layout needs model figures, and lots of them. Every station, every town scene, the goods yard, the countryside… you need them everywhere.

A layout with no figures is just wrong. I’m sorry, but unless your one of these people goes out and about at 4am when most of the world is still where it should be, tucked up in bed, then you will always see people out and about in the street. Our streets are rarely deserted. It goes without saying therefore that your layout needs people, and lots of them, to make everything look “Just Right”.

Unfortunately, this costs money, which for many railway modellers, myself included, can be a bit tight at times when it comes to splashing out on a ton of tiny plastic people! So what the most cost effective ways of adding people to your layout without breaking the bank? Well, I’ve personally not got the patience to sit carving individual figures from stock plastic, so I have no choice but to buy them, but by shopping around, and keeping a bit of an open mind, you can bag yourself some real bargains!

For the UK market, particularly in OO, it looks initially like the range available is limited to less than 10 different sets from the Big manufacturers. Hornby have produced the same god awful people for about 20 years if not more, and Bachmann offer enough to populate a corner shop scene, and that’s about it. Peco offer a few through the ModelScene brand, but I don’t think Peco have realised the web is now quite popular… Their website looks like an early 90’s throwback. So, it’s on to the little guys. Springside do some quite nice hand painted white metal figures, but they are lacking in quality for me personally (yes I know I said money was tight but we want Value for money too right?).

There is light at the end of the tunnel though!

Ladies & Gentlemen, please welcome to the stage, Preiser, Noch & Faller (Massive round of applause!).

Yeah Yeah, them again I know… But, these Germans really have got their heads screwed on! Oh Oh but they don’t make OO Gauge stuff… I can’t use HO on my OO layout… Yeah but, we’re all 6 foot tall exactly right? We’re talking about mother nature here. A fully grown adult male I would say could be anywhere between 5 foot nothing and 6 foot 6 inches and it’s all fine. So what’s a couple of millimeters between friends? So shut it moaning and lets have a look at what they’ve got.

Preiser Model Figures

Preiser have to be the most dedicated of Model Figure manufacturers in the world. With a range of literally 1000’s of different figures, in every pose, guise and scale you can imagine. Their HO gauge and N Gauge ranges are simply Massive! There’s everything from Builders to Bankers, Track Workers to Transvestites (Eddie Izzard in HO, now there’s a thought), Nude Sunbathers to Nuns. Whatever scene you’re creating, Preiser have the figures for it. But they do come at a price. Their standard range runs around £5 for a set of 6 figures, their exclusive range £8 to £12 for 6 or more figures. The difference between the too being the quality & detailing. That said, their standard range knocks spots off any of the British offerings. They also offer comprehensive ranges in other gauges too including 1:32 which are suitable model figures for slot car layouts.

New figure sets & accessories from Preiser for 2010

10602 Track Workers By Preiser

10607 Vespa Riders in HO/OO By Preiser

10614 Flea Market Scene in HO/OO by Preiser

63097 1/32 Scale Figures For Slot Car Scenery

79219 N Gauge Passengers by Preiser

79220 More N Gauge Passengers by Preiser

Faller Model Figures

Faller, whilst not having such as large a range as Preiser as trying hard, and cater for those on a slightly tighter budget. With a good range of International figures in HO & N gauge, they offer great value for money. The overall quality of the figures isn’t quite up to Preisers standard, but they’re definitely worth a look.

153004 Bulk Pack Of Farm Figures From Faller

Noch Model Figures

Again, whilst not having such a large range as Preiser, Noch do have some very interesting scenes available in HO and N which add an instant touch of realism to any layout. Their prices are very competitive too. Whilst primarily aimed at the German & European market, by making a few wise choices, their model railway figure sets can be used on any layout, anywhere in the world.

15031 Working Men Figures By Noch

16042 City Figures Bulk Pack By Noch

11280 Street Cafe Scene by Noch

So where does that leave Hornby & Bachmann then?

Well, I’d say, in a resounding last place in the figure stakes. One redeeming feature of Bachmanns figures though is that they are (at least they where when I last looked), made by Preiser, so there, you OO gauge stalwarts have been buying HO figures for your OO layout all along!

Ready Painted or Paint Your Own?

This is one for debate. I personally don’t have the time to sit and paint them, but I know plenty of people who do, and they love it. So for me I’d opt for ready painted every time. This satisfies my craving for instant gratification and makes my layout look super realistic in double quick time. If you prefer to paint your own, there are a few cost savings to be made though. You can buy a bulk pack of figures from Preiser for under £20 and probably paint the lot for less than £20 too. Saving you nearly £100 maybe over buying them ready painted.

What about the other gauges – N, Z, TT, G, O,

Well, the best place to start again is the German manufacturers. For quality and variety, you just can’t beat them.

Think before you buy

So when you’re adding figures to your layout, think about the scenes that go on in the world around you. People chatting, people walking dogs, people, kissing & cuddling in public, people drinking in the street. Passengers waiting patiently at the platform, people crossing roads, kids playing in the park or in a school playground. All these different scenarios can easily be integrated into your model railway layout with a bit of thought and imagination.

Buy In Bulk & Save £’s

Noch, Fallern and Preiser offer some great value Bulk figure packs. Starting at around £20 for 30 ready painted figures, going up to over £100. These are some of the best value ones currently on the market that work out at just a few pence per image:

FA153001 OO/HO Pack of 36 Sitting People from Faller - £33.50

Noch OO/HO 16102 Traveller Figures by Noch - £24.90

Preiser 14400 Pack of 36 Passengers in OO/HO - £39.95

Where to buy Model Railway Figures?

Our regular recommendation here at Scenery Expert is of course Model Railway Shop, but there are hundreds of local model shops that stock Preiser, Noch and Faller. If they don’t ask them why! Otherwise, try Gaugemaster.com.

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