Friday, July 26, 2013

Hobby Shop: Dollhouses, Trains and More

 300 Entrada Dr  Novato, CA 94949 415.883.0388  open 7 days a week

DOLLHOUSES, TRAINS and MORE is a rather decent shop. It has enough train gear to get a guy into trouble if he's so inclined. :)  The N scale selection is rather small, but they do have scenery products and the like and enough rail and rail related offerings to make a trip worthwhile when I'm in the area.

They have a little bit in a lot of scales, so if you're looking for garden rail or HO or O, you may want to venture in if you're rolling up highway 101 and have a little time.

Don't expect a TRAIN SHOP amount of product, however. This is a shop with more than just trains on the mind. It features a huge dollhouse and Christmas building selection, so the trains are just part of the scene.

They also had a rash of thefts and adopted a card entry membership to avoid being a target. So, be prepared to be stopped at the door when you enter and asked for your membership card.  If you don't have one, the process is painless - a mere showing of a drivers licensee so they can make a card for you.

All in all, it's worth checking out. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

NRAIL Promo 2013

A little N-RAIL promo I put together in After Effects. Feel free to pass it around if the desire strikes. (...or you know someone that may need some video work done. :::grin:::)

New Shelf Scene

I've started a new shelf layout and I'm using it to both practice various things I wanted to try before doing them on my future layout in the converted garage and to get some hobby time in while said layout is still just thoughts, drawings and dreams. :) There's going to be a LOT of work to do before coming close to being able to actually do the stuff I love doing for the layout, so the shelf will provide the outlet while I get the rest of it together.
An OK from "Management" was all that I needed to go ahead with the shelf. The only requirement was to "Make it" I'll give it a shot. heh

The scene is going to be a trolly on a track rolling past a small section of the village of Soyokaze. The small street will be filled with tourists and small bikes and the like. Lots of small details will keep me busy. I want to light the buildings and some other areas using my tried and true TomyTec LED light kit and fiber optic filament for some smaller light details. I thought that this would be a good solution to keep things clean on this wall mounted shelf.

Dan Pickard's fantastic handcrafted stone street

I'm also going to look at doing something like Dan Pickard did with his awesome brick street. It's a fantastic look and I'd love to take a crack at it.  Having a stone street like this would really set the piece off nicely. He used a small tool to get the stone look in the clay and took the time to space and remove some of the bricks to get a more realistic look to it. So good.

I started out with a simple HOME DEPOT purchased wall shelf with some nice brackets to go on it once I'm done. This will set the piece off nicely and make it more than just something stuck to the wall. I'm going for "art" here. :)  I set out the track and got the track showpiece of the little bridge about where I wanted it. The track was going to be the showpiece of the whole scene, but after setting it in and playing around with spacing, i saw that the buildings, people and other details were going to be more interesting. So, I moved them up and the track back. The trolly will be free to position somewhere where it can still be seen.

Tomytec Sanyo Electric Tram (Sanden)

I started working with the pink insulation foam and, while I like it's weight and strength so far, it's a bit of a painful learning curve working with it so far. I remembered conversations on Model Rail Radio about how to work with it, but hearing it and DOING it are different things. :) There's a static that builds up when you cut away at it with an XACTO and it's a royal pain. Bits of pink foam sticking to fingers, tables and anything close. However, I do like the results. Once painted and scenic elements are applied, I think it will have a great look.

The overall scene needed to have a lot of interest points for me as well as some additional challenges and things that I wanted to execute on on the main layout, so I had to pack a lot of items into this shelf section. Lighting was covered (even though the use of the Tomytec kit is a bit of a cheat overall ::grin::) as were people and overall composition, but I also wanted to get water in there somewhere.

The original idea was to use the foam as a river bottom, but after working with it, I scrapped the idea. I'm going to use the shelf itself as the bottom and paint it up, then I plan on fixing styrene to the front and back of the shelf and using the Woodland Scenics water and water effects to add the water to the scene like I did for my harbor project. People fishing will add another nice detail element.

Yes, a nice finger of single malt whiskey is usually present when I work  :)
And, since I used many of my classic style, wooden Japanese buildings for this project, I had to order more for my main layout. :)

I can't wait to light this stuff up! :) I think this light pole will be replaced with a custom pole and lit with the filament.

The view from the left side rear of the shelf. The viewer will be able to see things from the front, right and left.

Stone street area down the center

More progress shots will follow.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Soyokaze Stories: Harbor

The gray haired man stared down towards the group below with disdain and indignation. How dare they?! It was pathetic - this mob behavior. He checked his watch. They had been at this for hours. He'd be damned if it was going to stop him from leaving the building again. Having to have lunch brought in was one thing, but being held hostage by protestors in his own building? That was outrageous.

"Did you need me to call someone, Sir?"

He turned to face his assistant - his face a blank as if he didn't know what she was saying.

"A car? Additional police officers? Namura is doing his best, but...there are so many of them now." She rubbed her arm. "It's disturbing."

He snapped himself back into awareness. "No, thank you, Miss Tanaka. I'll be fine."

"I'm worried. Perhaps setting a meeting to talk through the harbor planning would...." She was cut off by his stern and warning tone.

"Miss Tanaka. I will not be blackmailed or threatened into meeting with hostile workers and villagers. I have made my decision based on the facts and the finances that are involved, not sentimentality and fear. Agreed?" His brow furrowed when her face fell and she looked to the floor. "You don't agree?"

She raised her head. "May I sit?"

He nodded with a grunt, waited for her to sit, then took his chair. The sun blazed in through the open window behind him. He pressed a button on his desk and the window behind him grew darker - the LCD shade slipping into a smoky, opaque state.

"Thank you." She smiled, then said, "Sir, you know that I hold you in the highest regard. I've worked for and with you for many years now." She folded her hands in her lap and maintained eye contact. "But, I do not agree with the company's stance on the situation in Soyokaze." She kept her eyes trained on his.

Gorou Yamashita lifted his chin slightly, relaxed his brow and said, "Why? What did you find wrong in our choice, Miss Tanaka?"

Tanaka drew in a breath. "According the environmental studies presented, making the harbor area larger will not have lasting, adverse affects on the surrounding area. Due to land right issues, the only ones that would be allowed to fish in the area are members of the Soyokaze fishing community." She licked her dry lips. She wasn't prepared, but the documents were fresh in her mind. "And the major benefit to the people of Soyokaze and the people of Shizuka based on the increased product would be immense."

"And, what about the future, Miss Tanaka?" He wanted to stand, but remained seated. "A future where the people of Soyokaze are worse off due to land being overworked, seas being over-fished and and the charm that drives tourists there in the first place torn from them by greed? What then?"

"Do you honestly thing they would let that happen, Sir?" Her eyes remained locked on his. She paused for a moment, then continued when he remained silent. "These people like their village small. They are comfortable. The Mashita Family has worked for generations to ensure that this remains the case. So much work has gone into building their community and building the relationship between Soyokaze and Shizuka."

Yamashita nodded.

Tanaka continued. "Many people have tried to purchase land for the development of hotels and resorts in the area and they have refused time and time again. They simply want their say in their industry and...." She stopped herself.

"Go on." Yamashita leaned back in his chair and waited.

"They want us out of it, Sir."

He stared at her for a moment, then nodded.


The heat started to creep in around the edges of the morning at the harbor of Soyokaze. Work was put on hold as crowds pressed into the limited space. The smell of salt air and fish mixed with the blooming blossoms at the station. A cool breeze swept through the crowd from time to time like a blessing.

Cameras focused on Gorou Yamashita as the officers on the scene tried to calm the mixed crowd of sightseers, protestors and villagers. They were wild with energy - Yamashita's announcement still hanging in the air. The shouts and cheers were deafening.

Yamashita held up his hand and asked for another moment of quiet. The roar turned to a murmur.

"Thank you. Thank you." He nodded and motioned to the front row of chairs before him. "Yes, Ms. Namura?"

A woman in a blue dress stood and called out over the rumble of the crowd. "Thank you. What brought about this change, if I may ask? The people of Soyokaze have tried to get this passed for months and you and your company have done what you could to stop this harbor project from going through. Why the change of stance now, if I may ask?"

Yamashita nodded, acknowledging the question, then thought a moment. He glanced down to the podium, then back up to the crowd. "In life, we make many choices. We base these choices on many factors. Many past experiences. There are times where these past experiences get in the way of future plans. This was the case here." He tapped the podium. "Uminoikimono has spoken with additional resources after this most recent push for Soyokaze Harbor development and a new voice has helped us come to this decision. We appreciate the patience of the people of Soyokaze and the additional advice of the person in question." He nodded and held up his hand once more. "Thank you."

At that, Yamashita turned from the podium and made his way back to his chair amongst the roar of a happy crowd and the clicking and flashing of cameras.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

More engine choices

I'm looking at what style of engine..or engines...I want to purchase for my layout. This is mostly due to the fact that it's SOMETHING I can do that's rail related at the moment. My time is being eaten up at the moment by house items, so this is something I can sneak in here and there and around the edges.

My initial thought was getting the Modemo trolly - Keihan Electric Railway Type 60, however, several trusted sources said that they were having some issues with the Modemo products and that there might be future engine issues if I went this route. (Please let me know if you have positive Modemo feedback for me to think about!)

So, I've started to look at other options and styles. I wanted something smaller that could be seen as somewhat rustic. Not a bullet train modern job. Something with some older style and character to it. Something different.

One thing I'm pretty sure about is the harbor operations side of things. I'd like to get this little guy for pushing containers around in the harbor area.

7t Flip Locomotive with Motor (Brown) (Model Train) TGW(Tsugawa) 14005 Pre-colored Completed|Electric Locomotive N Scale

I think this will be a fun little "operations" thing for me, though I'm really not planning on doing much in the way of operations. Surely nothing like some folks execute on their layouts. However, this seems perfect for my little harbor area and the back and forth it will have going. I'm planning on getting some refrigeration cars for the scene. These would be used to ship the fish from the harbor in Soyokaze into the city of Shizuka.

Now, the passenger side has my head spinning. I'm leaning towards a few key players.

J.N.R. Electric Locomotive Type EF60-0  + Ohani30 (Model Train) Kato 5003 Passenger Car

The larger J.N.R. Electric Locomotive Type EH10-4  is cool as well, but I think it's too much engine for what I had planned.

EF80-61, Second Edition (Model Train) Micro Ace(Arii) A3702 Electric Locomotive  is also a fun one with some character to it. I like the top detail and I think it would weather up nicely. This would be paired up with a passenger car - maybe two. Again, this is taking people from the city to Soyokaze. Tourist types making day trips, I thought. So, I'm not sure how many cars would be attached. I don't want the Soyokaze station to be too large, so we'll see.

Another older model is the  EF15-4 Hachioji Engine Depot (Model Train) Micro Ace A2403  which I like a lot.  It has that old school feel I want for the area. This will be a lot of fun when paired up with the right passenger car.

This brings me to the classic big blue baby - EF64-1015 Takasaki District Organization General Color (Model Train) Micro Ace A9216. Again, more modern, but familiar and fun when paired with the proper passenger car. I was thinking something like the  J.N.R. Type Ohani61 Coach (Model Train) Tomix 8522 Passenger Car  for instance.

There are some runner ups and mentions as well. But they just don't have 100% what I'm looking for. I did think about snagging the "BBQ" train and repainting over the BBQ part making it a simple orange stripe on the side. I really like the car with the large windows. That's one that's really on the fence. :)



Kiha40-700 + Naha29000 Barbecue Train (3-Car Set) (Model Train) Micro Ace A5934 Diesel Car|Passenger Car I need to take a bunch of my old toy stock down to the shop down the street to see what I get for it! :) I'm hoping that the old crap I pulled from storage during the move might fund a few engines and some track. I have a budget, but...more in the coffers is always good.

Any thoughts on Micro Ace products would be appreciated. 


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Nice micro layout

I love this layout.

It's small, but it has a lot going on within it. The details are nice and, while it is a simple figure eight for the most part, it has enough happening to keep people interested. I can see aspects of this layout being folded into my overall plan for sure.

The depth is rather nice. If a backdrop was folded into the mix, this space would be really easy to shoot photos in - one of the things I'll be doing a lot of I'm sure.

No, this isn't a layout for people who are going for operations based activities, but for someone like my who loves buildings, lights and little scenes, it's grand.

Modemo Keihan Electric Railway Type 60

I think I know one of the items I'd like to run on my layout. This little Keihan Electric Railway Type 60 is just the ticket. A little old school style with a nice look and color scheme.

If I'm going to do it, I'll have to do it right - placing catenary posts along the tracks as well, but I think that's a detail that will work well for me in the long run.

The Modemo stuff seems to run well and is able to pull off the slow movements I'd like. The only downside is not being able to run it locally before buying it to see if I really like it or not, but I think it's still worth the risk from what I've seen online.

I'm going to do some more looking, but I think this will be ordered by the end of the month. :)