Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I may have already posted something about the blog of QUINNTOPIA, but that's ok. It warrants a double if not triple posting! The amount of time and effort that is placed into this blog fascinates me. You have the blog which is a fantastic source of information and content, then you have the YouTube Channel which has MORE content. It's fantastic.

The QUINNTOPIA layout is wondrous as well. There's a guided tour on the Channel where you can check out the space he's working in, the layout and the workbench area where the magic happens.  :)

My favorite aspect of the work found here is the lighting. I can't get over the detail and time put into lighting the scenes and buildings on the layout. There are some grand cusomizations on the layout as well. Buildings taken from the box and altered wonderfully. He has some super cool custom buildings that have been transformed from OK to awesome.

All in all, QUINNTOPIA is a must see for hobby fans. There are detailed breakdowns of processes, great articles and many photos of the layout and items being talked through. You need to check it out.

Blog -
YouTube Channel -


Monday, November 21, 2011

Parking Payment Kiosk - Detailed


I got my Parking Payment Kiosk done - I really like the results. Now I just need to build out the actual parking lot this goes into. Maybe sometime over the holiday break. Hmmmm...

The main structure was created using styrene, plastic model parts I had laying around and detail stickers from old KATO kits I purchased a while back. 

Of course, the Kanji is a complete unknown and is bound to be completely wrong, but it has the look I wanted. I'll be fine as long as no Kanji readers show up. :)

Comments welcome!

(Note: The red bar next to it is a wall that has yet to be completed.)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Statue and Payment Center

I've been working with styrene again and still love it. Love it more and more each time I use it, really. Today I was doing more work with those panels for the KATO roadbed sections (coming together well) and I saw some small shavings laying in a small pile on the table. It dawned on me that my desire to have some sort of sculpture could happen with the styrene as well - avoiding another purchase. I made the sculpture piece on the left above and think it will look pretty cool when painted and detailed out. 
Then I thought about the parking area I want to have in the Old Town area and the small shed space I planned on having as a parking payment center. I was going to buy something, but thought the styrene was the way to go there as well. So, I designed up the payment center on the right above. It will have KATO supplied stickers that look like vending spots, a map space on the back and will be painted and detailed out as well. 

I love being able to just make what I want for the set even if it is the simple stuff at this point. I figure I've saved about $15 or $20 bucks tonight alone.  Not bad. :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Train Sims

Man, maybe I should just sell all my train stuff and use the money to buy a PC with a great train sim program. :) These are looking really nice.

Of course, I kid about a switch to virtual trains. But, these do look very cool.




Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Styrene Filler: Paint Up

The paint up is rolling right along save one small error. I was rushing and used enamel over the acrylic paint I started using. Second time I've done that - I really need to separate my paints!  (...and stop trying to watch BIG BANG THEORY while painting, evidently...)   :)

I dig the result, however.
The stair area and planter boxes are working out well. I've used the styrene planter box build up before and it works with the scale and is really easy to do.

Once I get people and benches and the like into the scene, I think it will have the action and life that I want to have going in my Old Town section. Additional painting details will be added once this layer drys, then I'll start looking at people and other detail parts.

Styrene Filler Project

I'm working on my Old Town section a bit finally!

I've made the choice to use the gray plates for the Downtown section and the tan plates for the Old Town section. MUCH better with the unified look and feel to the bases of each section. It was starting to look very strange due to the major differences in color and height.  The issue now is the plate itself.

You can see to the left of Image A. that there are clips that hold the plates together. The clips fit into hols in the surface. Event when the clips are in place, the difference is very noticeable.  Then there's the color of the plate itself. The tan makes the whole look very toy-like, not like dirt. I'm using the cover method to deal with the situation, but using styrene instead of ballast this time.

Styrene is awesome. I've been using it to build floors for my empty shell buildings and bases, so it made sense to use it for this filling in project. And, while I could have just cut big squares to fill in, I thought it would be more interesting to create a little more depth to the scene in general.

Image C. shows what will be a park area in the Old Town verse. I plan on having a tree, benches and people selling food. Image D. shows the height I'm adding and the "stairs" and raised areas where additional greenery will reside.

First, however, I need to paint up the styrene so it's not polar white. :)

I think this will work rather well once it's all dolled up. I have about four plain sections to work on and some other spots where the building bases don't cover the whole thing.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Feather River Trains

 I'm an N Scale train guy and have searched around the Bay Area along my routes to find shops that carry the illusive n scale merch. Sure, some places have sections devoted to n scale items, but most would only have enough merchandise to fill a small suitcase.

The most awesome Chuck at FEATHER RIVER has managed to create a shop that mainly focuses on n scale. I like to call it Heaven. :)

He has buildings, rolling stock, figures and my personal favorite - DETAILING PARTS! A huge selection of details for n scale buildings and the like that really add to the overall look of the layout. Sure, you can use Feather River's GREAT website to order these parts online. Convenient for sure. However it's awesome being able to roll into the shop and actually browse the items - holding them in your hand and looking them over before buying. Man, it's just so nice being able to do that and not having to hear some shop owner chirp, "Oh, we don't have those, but I can ORDER it for you!" 

Feather River is a must stop shop.
Call for times if you're traveling a long distance.

A+ shop.   A+ service!


25 Mitchell Blvd., 
Suite 14 San Rafael, 
CA 94903 
Phone: (415) 499-0664

Chan's Trains and Hobbies

Chan's Trains and Hobbies is a fantastic little train shop. It's not huge, but it's packed to the ceiling with trains and train items in many different scales. I've seen everything from N to Garden scale in the shop and they have a selection that ranges from the affordable to "HOLY COW! How much?!" :)

The staff is reasonably helpful and responsive. It can suffer from small shop syndrome at times where there is one guy working there and he happens to be helping someone else when you walk in, so you may have to wait. More often than not, I'll head in and be the only guy in the shop, so that's rare. The staff is always friendly and very helpful without looming and annoying.

As an N-Scale guy, I'm pretty happy at Chan's, however the selection can be a little lite with small items like cars and figures. They have them, but not much. As a matter of fact, on my November 13th, 2011 visit, the primary selection of cars they had were firetrucks. A lot of firetrucks. They carry Woodland Scenics and the usual terrain fair and have a great selection of KATO track. Again, it's not like N is a huge pull for train people, so the selection they offer - while somewhat limited in parts - tends to be more than what most shops in the Bay Area have unless you roll into FEATHER RIVER TRAIN SHOP which is primarily an N shop.

All in all, there's a reason Chan's has been in business since 1973. They do it right!

2450 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94109
Neighborhood: Marina/Cow Hollow
(415) 885-2899

OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK!  Hours: Monday - Saturday: 10 - 6pm Sundays: 12 noon - 5pm 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Shuttle and Programming

More amazing work from Miniatur Wunderland and Gerrits Tagebuch, their resident hobby genius! Listening to Tagebuch talk about having to go through the programming to find a small error that would happen once a week is wild. Just seeing the control screen for all the events and vehicles is mind blowing.

I love the model railroad hobby. It brings me great joy. I sit and tinker on my little N scale projects and build my little empire one tiny building or scene at a time.

Then I see things like this video and my mind melts. Computers driving planes, cars and scenes through an intricate environment of tracks and tunnels. Timed events and happenings that go off like clockwork as thousands of visitors pass through.

It shows just how wide the spectrum of model railroads (and airports) really is. Some truly amazing work here.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Project: Building Basher

I'm trying to get the nerve and tool set to saw the building on the right in half after the first story area and slip it onto the top of the building on the left. Then, I'd build out the roof area on both buildings. Might be cool. I have a corner shop building that might replace one of the structures as well. I think the sawing aspect is a bit daunting. I just need the right tool set.

This project will be back burner-ed, I think. Maybe I'll take it up with us when we go on holiday in the snow. I don't ski and my daughter takes a 1.5 hour nap in the morning at times. Hmmmm.... :)

Storyline: Temple News

Good news for the people of Old Town!

Funds have been diverted and it looks like the remodeling and town revisions will be going through as planned. The schedule is tight and the process will be disruptive for sure, but the new look of Old Town will be well worth it. Tourist lines and additional bus routes will help keep Old Town thriving.

And, the plan to move the Hiburi Temple area to Osaka has been overturned - the temple will be staying in Old Town after all.

Businesses in Old Town will remain open for the majority of the remodel and city renovation.


Office Layout: Downtown

I was sitting in my office on a pone call that didn't really involve me anymore and I glanced over at my office layout. "ESCAPE!" I thought, so I moved over to the set (thanks wireless phone headset!) and had a look at my little empire I have going there. I have to say, I was a bit shocked. It was looking pretty good.

It snuck up on me - the fact that the layout was so complete. I had stopped buying buildings a while back and my main focus has been detailing and figures. When I took a look, I was pleased with the progress to date.

The overall layout is not bad. I like it for the time being. Large buildings at the North end, smaller buildings in the center with a bus station towards the back. The Downtown area of Briddon has a cineplex for showing mainstream movies and a smaller venue for classics like 8 1/2.

There's a helipad at the hospital for emergencies, a few hotels, a government office and a few small businesses. They even have places to eat ranging from a burger joint to a fancy restaurant called DRAKE'S in the downstairs area of the ultra-fancy INDIGO HOTEL. (My son and daughter.) :)

My 14 month old has a toy store named after her - Talia's Toy Town.

But, I think the thing I'm most interested in is the fact that everything came together slowly and calmly. There was planning involved, but it wasn't painful. I love that aspect of the layout coming together. It went from "I really don't have space for a layout" to "I have an office now - I can put some sort of train there" to "Whoa...I love this." Really nice. But, far from done, of course.

The bus terminal area.

The heliport hospital.

Waiting at THE INDIGO HOTEL for lunch at DRAKE'S. :)
As you can see, I've used blue tack for the people all over the layout. This will be replaced later - slowly over the course of months, most likely - with small plastic sheets that the figures will be glued to. This will be less obvious for one and will still allow me to move figures around at will. I've played with the process for the Woodland Scenic Picketers and it works really well. True, it takes some time, but that's the beauty of this layout now - small details and the like. That's what I want to keep me busy in the hobby.

My plan of action is to go in and do more detail work on the set. I've started to focus on people, continuing to populate empty buildings with people and floors and making "action spots" where things are happening. The bus terminal area is one of the featured spots. I want to have people waiting and getting dropped off for bus travel.

I also want to continue making this very Japanese. I had a fantastic suggestion from Tom Barbalet of the MODEL RAIL RADIO podcast. He suggested using GOOGLE MAPS and STREET VIEW to see areas of Japan for my modeling. It is working really well and actually seeing where these building and street styles are coming from is a huge value.

The hardest part about the layout being at work's at work. If I have the desire to work on things, I need to remember to bring them home. Having a set at home is nice. It keeps a balance going. (Pictures to follow later)


Comments welcome!