Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Holidays from NRAIL!






 'Tis the Season for being thankful for what you have. 

Family, friends and health. 

And, the model rail hobby, of course. :)

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!









Yes, the same photo from last year, but I really like it! :)


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Soyokaze Nights


Some shots from Soyokaze. As the night falls, the visitors venture indoors for some good food, good company and interesting conversations. Some of those interactions will be posted shortly. Stay tuned!

Shop Talk

Sundown coming

Busy Soyokaze

Lovers Walk

Sweeping and wishing

Miniatur Wunderland's Guest #10 Million!



Miniatur Wunderland's hits guest #10 Million!  Amazing.

And, of course, they present via their amazing layout, too! What a fun little event. The winning guest got free admission for life. Not bad. Not bad at all. :)

Funny, I never knew the main guys are twins! Gerrit and Frederik Braun. It was strange seeing the two of them at the toast. hehehe It looks like I should read up on my Wunderland!


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Soyokaze: Landscape work


I've managed to jump start my hobby time again. For a while there, I was caught up in feeling like I didn't want to work on the hobby items I had going due to a general lack of space. I wasn't going to be able to put everything together, so why bother working on it?

Then the Mission Statement for these projects popped back into my head: This is all practice for the future when I have the space for everything to be put together. The items I build out may even be placed directly in the layout space once I have it. So, stop bitching and moaning and get some fun in! :)

And...that I did! I'm having fun in the hobby again and that's nice. It's something I enjoy and something that keeps me off the computer. Well, when I'm not updating my blog space. :::grin:::

On deck recently was some landscape work on the Soyokaze section. For those playing at home, I completed some work on the Temple side last time - working out the bridge, lake and work station areas along with the addition of some simple lighting in several of the buildings.  So, I jumped over to the Station side to blend in the station area with the main base a bit. I dig how it's turning out.




I started by slapping down a healthy layer of glue. I used full strength instead of my 50/50 water glue mix because I wanted it thicker so I could deal with some gravel issues I had last time.









I smoothed the glue out with my cheap "glue brush" and started laying the gravel down. Once I had the gravel in on several layers, I went back in with my 50/50 mix to lock it down a bit. Once the paths were in place, I did the same process on the hillside areas.







I like keeping things a bit free-form when I'm working on the landscaping side of things. It takes on a more natural appearance and I like the look of it. One thing I'd like to address on the Future Layout® ::grin:: is the foliage types so i can try to make them more like what you'd really see in Japan. As it stands now, it's OK, but not 100%. Japanese style plants, bushes and trees can be had for a price, of course.


I used the same action plan on my truck shed area. This little scene is a personal favorite of mine and I had the idea for the green around the driveway and behind the shed in  my head for a long time. Every time I'd see the favorite shed scene, I'd grind my teeth thinking, "I really need to lay down the grass around that area. It'd look SO much better!" And, go figure - I like it a lot more now that the green is down. Heh



The basic deal was to fill in the spaces between the drive and the sidewalk areas. I set the glue in and put in the green and let myself get a little sloppy figuring that I'd just brush in the slop later. Worked out well because I kept the glue stage clean and tidy.





I let the grass and gravel get a little messy when I dropped it in, then I went in and cleaned it up afterwards.
Before the final round of cleaning up. WAY better.


I love the final look of this area. I can't wait to create more little interaction scenes like this. I love 'em!


The completed hillside path and station area blend. Not bad. The gravel wraps around the the buildings in the background.

So, it looks like I'll have another month of hobby time before the arrival of my new little one sends me off the rails again. I'm sure things will go back to a crawl at that point, but it will be worth it! :) I'll see if I can get some basic coverage down between now and then so that, if time allows (yeah, right! ::giggle::) I'll be able to work on smaller scene areas. We'll see how that goes.

Soyokaze Harbor: Outside Shots

Man! I love shooting my N Scale stuff outside in natural light! It really adds a natural look to the scene and the background greenery helps to sell it as well. The Soyokaze Station shots I took outside looked good, but I think the sundown light with the orange cast really made this layout section pop.

Comments welcome.

More shots can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/malcojojo/sets/72157632129952763/



Signage was fun. Simple prints of real signs and some signs that came with the Tomytec sets.

Keeping things busy.

I want to have a lot of these sorts of details - conversations and interactions.

My scratch built fish cart there next to the fence. It turned out pretty good. I'll need to take additional photos soon.

Seawall and landscape details


Sankei Paper Kits


I recently revisited the world of the paper model with some products by Sankei. I said I wasn't going to do it again after the last time I tried them out - a disaster - but, I've grown as a modeler and I thought that I would give it another go to see if I could do a bit better now that I've had some crafting and skill building time in. And, I have to say, the experience was better.

Sankei's kits are really nice and they are high quality. The hardest part is the building. It's not a matter of an inferior product. It's the skill of the builder that determines the outcome. The kits are far cheaper than plastic models, too. A pre-built building that cost $45 in plastic can be had for $15 in a Sankei kit and the Sankei kit will often have more detail to it than the plastic building. It's weight makes it easier to ship as well, so your overseas shipping costs will be lower, too.

But, again, it comes down to the skills and the patience of the builder. I'm better, but I still have some detail and finish work to work out in my skill sets. :)

I really enjoyed the "zen" nature of the process. I've put things together from kits and have even tried my hand at some kitbashing and scratch building using styrene, but the paper products really need a tender hand when you're putting them together. It's worth it for sure - the results are grand and a fine addition to the scene, but you really need to remember to breathe and relax when you're working on them.

Sankei Paper Models on HOBBY SEARCH







The kits come flat with the instructions built into the packaging.



Building in Z scale. Still a LOT of detail

The finished products look fantastic...when time and effort is put into the building process.




I got three kits this round. 


Bus Stop Kit - http://www.1999.co.jp/eng/10095026    I failed at this one the first round! :)

and this complex Rickshaw Kit - http://www.1999.co.jp/eng/10094439




I had the most fear about the rickshaw. The wheels had small spokes and there were small details I thought my big, bear hands would mangle for sure, but it really worked out well.


The handy instructions built right into the product packaging. Very handy with easy to follow steps.

FAR better than the first time I tried my hand at these paper models!

You can see that there is a lot of detail in this tiny, nscale model including textures and small carvings in this case.

I even purchased the Bus Stop kit I failed at the first go around to see if it was easier this time. FAR better results!

The Bus Stop kit before adding the sheet metal siding paper covers

So, the experience was worthwhile and I can see getting additional kits in the future - especially for items like these to add to the scene. Of course, these will only work well for people doing Asia modeling for the most part. Definitely worth a look.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

More inspiration


I found this layout and it gives me more inspiration for a future setup. I love the levels and the various scenics within the layout. There's a great depth to everything as a whole. Some really nice work.


On that front, we're looking at homes and apartments now for next years move. While a larger apartment may give some additional space, it's going to be the home rental that would really give me the room I need to do anything on the complete layout with Soyokaze and Shizuka in one set. I still have hopes. :) We saw a house the yesterday with a garage and I tried not to get too excited by the idea. Prices are so off right now that we're actually looking at getting more space for less cash per month. In a word: Awesome.  We'll see.

For now, the bug is creeping back in, so I think I might start doing some hobby stuff soon before the arrival of a new baby puts things back to null in January! hehehehe

Hobby Well, All!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ground to a halt

Hello all!

I was sitting on the edge of my bed this morning and looked over at my Soyokaze layout on the dresser. I frowned at it. Sat there and frowned at the layout that I loved so much.

The office move from six months ago forced me to pack up my Shizuka City layout, but I continued working on Soyokaze and made a lot of good progress and had a lot of fun with it. However, when we moved into our new office and I was able to re-set the Shizuka layout, it put a downward spin on the hobby for me that eventually lead to me stopping for a while.

And, here we are. Frowning at a layout on a foggy morning in October. :)

When I set the work layout up, the wave of "blazĂ©-fair" swept over me like a big, grey blanket. The idea of setting things up only to rip them down again in the near future was frustrating to say the least. Then a recent venture to see several Bay Area layouts also put a negative spin on things for me.  The space that these folks had was fantastic and the idea of putting both the Soyokaze and Shizuka layouts together in the future was both grand and horrid. I'm not sure when this will happen and I wasn't even sure that I wanted to move forward on things as they stand now.

I have several other projects that are not rail related that have gotten me through, but the next steps for the hobby need to happen so I can get fired up about things again.

• The first thing is packing up Shizuka again - putting the city stuff away save a few pieces I can toss together on a small portion of my desk space at work. 

• I'll set up a few of the buildings I like on the KATO Unitrack panels and populate them with a single tram, cars and people. The rest will be packed up and away. 

• I'll go back to the Soyokaze layout here at the house and make that the main focus of my time and effort. I like the way things are shaping up there and just need to get back into the flow of things. It's also MUCH easier to work on that here at the house. The work layout was only getting a few minutes of time a day on the days when I actually go into the office. (Rare these days)

• I'll go back to writing about Soyokaze when time doesn't allow for actual production. That was a fun process and I'd like to do more of it including some Soyokaze ghost stories. 

It's been an interesting exercise and it's wild to see things go from super fun to super annoying so quickly. This seems to be the way when it comes to this hobby.

Have you ever felt like packing things away and calling it quits?

Happy Hobbying!

~M~

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bay Area Layout Tour: Seth Neumann




MODEL RAIL RADIO (modelrailradio.com/) host Tom Barbalet recently scheduled a layout tour of several fantastic layouts here in the Bay Area. There was a special guest visiting from Australia and Tom took the opportunity to arrange the tour so he could see several spots on his trip.










This video features the layout of Seth Neumann and his lovely, California layout.

See photos from Seth's here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/malcojojo/sets/72157631645955626/

Model Rail Radio Layout Tour: Seth Neumann from Malcolm Johnson on Vimeo.

.

About MODEL RAIL RADIO
Model Rail Radio consistently provides the best model railroading content. It is a show without advertisers or sponsors where the listeners create the content: a simple formula that has seen the show grow rapidly into the Number One model rail podcast in terms of listeners (69,000+ and rising), hours of content produced per month (9 hours plus) and numbers of guests on the show (typically 15 or more).
It is an open format where anyone can participate. The big names in model railroading call in to talk to regular folks and people who are quickly emerging as new greats in the hobby.

Bay Area Layout Tour: David Parks




MODEL RAIL RADIO (modelrailradio.com/) host Tom Barbalet recently scheduled a layout tour of several fantastic layouts here in the Bay Area. There was a special guest visiting from Australia and Tom took the opportunity to arrange the tour so he could see several spots on his trip.









This video features the layout of David Parks - Cumberland West.

See photos from David's here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/malcojojo/sets/72157631646076647/

Model Rail Radio Layout Tour: David Parks from Malcolm Johnson on Vimeo.


About MODEL RAIL RADIO
Model Rail Radio consistently provides the best model railroading content. It is a show without advertisers or sponsors where the listeners create the content: a simple formula that has seen the show grow rapidly into the Number One model rail podcast in terms of listeners (69,000+ and rising), hours of content produced per month (9 hours plus) and numbers of guests on the show (typically 15 or more).
It is an open format where anyone can participate. The big names in model railroading call in to talk to regular folks and people who are quickly emerging as new greats in the hobby.

Bay Area Layout Tour: Rick Fortin




MODEL RAIL RADIO (modelrailradio.com/) host Tom Barbalet recently scheduled a layout tour of several fantastic layouts here in the Bay Area. There was a special guest visiting from Australia and Tom took the opportunity to arrange the tour so he could see several spots on his trip.









This video features the layout of Rick Fortin in his grand, serpentine layout area.

See photos from Rick's here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/malcojojo/sets/72157631646074889/

Model Rail Radio Layout Tour: Rick Fortin from Malcolm Johnson on Vimeo.

About MODEL RAIL RADIO
Model Rail Radio consistently provides the best model railroading content. It is a show without advertisers or sponsors where the listeners create the content: a simple formula that has seen the show grow rapidly into the Number One model rail podcast in terms of listeners (69,000+ and rising), hours of content produced per month (9 hours plus) and numbers of guests on the show (typically 15 or more).
It is an open format where anyone can participate. The big names in model railroading call in to talk to regular folks and people who are quickly emerging as new greats in the hobby.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bay Area Layout Tour: Ted Stephens




MODEL RAIL RADIO (modelrailradio.com/) host Tom Barbalet recently scheduled a layout tour of several fantastic layouts here in the Bay Area. There was a special guest visiting from Australia and Tom took the opportunity to arrange the tour so he could see several spots on his trip.










This video features the layout of Ted Stephens in the back room of his office space.

See photos from Ted's here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/malcojojo/sets/72157631645948366/



Model Rail Radio Layout Tour: Ted Stephens from Malcolm Johnson on Vimeo.

About MODEL RAIL RADIO
Model Rail Radio consistently provides the best model railroading content. It is a show without advertisers or sponsors where the listeners create the content: a simple formula that has seen the show grow rapidly into the Number One model rail podcast in terms of listeners (69,000+ and rising), hours of content produced per month (9 hours plus) and numbers of guests on the show (typically 15 or more).
It is an open format where anyone can participate. The big names in model railroading call in to talk to regular folks and people who are quickly emerging as new greats in the hobby.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Shizuka - The New Arrangement






http://www.flickr.com/photos/malcojojo/sets/72157631531285780/

I switched up the Shizuka layout, taking it from the standard square the the batwing design I spoke to in my last post. While I lost a little bit of space, I gained much more interest in the overall scene. The track is no longer an oval. It winds through the cityscape and has a fun flow. From a visual standpoint, it offers a little more to shoot photo-wise and gives many more chances for little scenic touches. 


Of course, this new situation makes me long for the day I can actually get a full layout going. The track leading off has my mind spinning on the scenic route it can take to connect up with Soyokaze and just how cool it will be to have everything running, lit and together. One day.


For now, I'll take what I can get.

I like the look of this setup, like what it offers in the way of projects and it makes a LOVELY distraction from work from time to time. :)

There are little things with it that worked out really well. The whole back-story of Soyokaze providing seafood to Shizuka and having Drake's Seafood (no, not a Japanese name - Drake is my son heheh) as part of the scene really worked out well. I plan to pepper little things like that through both the Shizuka  and Soyokaze layouts.

The blank spaces that the batwing left MAY be filled in with foam core. We'll see. 

Comments welcome.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Shizuka Switch Up

I was looking at an old photo of my Shizuka office layout area and something stuck me - I was bored by the concept of it already. I have my space set up again in my new office and thought that I was going to jump in and start rolling with it right off, but (current work load aside) it just didn't get me going.

I think the first reason is that I'm really looking forward to having working trains and trolleys going between the Shizuka and Soyokaze sections and all the fun between.  I have it worked out and having the space to do it will be amazing if and when it happens. The waiting has finally hit a pain point. Having the layout in a work space I only frequent two days a week these days doesn't really help a lot either.

I was listening to MODEL RAIL RADIO on the way home from work today and something struck me. I'm not running trains on this layout currently anyway. (Round and round makes me crazy) Why have it be a loop?




Again, I thought about this on the way home and won't be back at the office for another day, so I couldn't play with the idea physically. I had to do some searching via the internet. I found the KATO Unitram plate catalog and they had a serving suggestion involving a loop combined with my set. I figure I can try to use the plate portion of their suggestion or something like it to add some more interest to my Shizuka layout until the Bright And Shiny Future® comes where I can start my layout proper. :)

I think this might be the ticket to spice things up a bit. I can't wait to get to the office to try it out.

Oh...wait...yes I can. :)

Photos to follow.

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

TOMIX #4018 building build out




 The build out of the Tomix building has started. At first, I was going to do a lot of detail work for the inside, but after taking a look at the darkness of the windows, I've decided to do simple stuff to create some shadows inside, but I'm not taking a lot of time with it.

With some outside light shining in through side windows, but no internal lights in place, there was no real need to do much more than shadow figures and foam core blocks to give the illusion of life within the building. Later, if I get the LED lights together for the "All together Now" layout of the future, I may rip this pass out and go for more detail.  Of course, who knows when that may be. :)

I've worked on the first two floors so far. I have a small lobby in place with a few folks waiting at the elevator, then I have a rather plain office above that. The thought behind that was that the office set to run the building and to take on other small tasks for local businesses that they had going.


The floors above will have a small art gallery and a few other stores of that nature - again, mostly cloaked in shadow and insinuation.

I've added some signs and mannequin figures to the front windows of the building as well.
 

The TOMIX products are pretty grand. They have just enough detail to make them interesting, but give enough space to add additional details and things to really make them your own if you so desire. There are some fantastic examples of this out there of people doing just that. The Tomytec and Tomix products are perfect building blocks for custom projects. I'll see how far this one goes for me.
 

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