Figure Painting Techniques, Chicago in N Gauge Plus The Future Of The Hobby

Figure Painting Techniques, Chicago in N Gauge Plus The Future Of The Hobby

Morning Gang!

Do you ever start a job and think why the heck didn't I hire someone to do it? Now that the decorator has made the railings around the mezzanine and our staircase at the unit look a million dollars, we decided it was time to get cracking and fit the carpet tiles in the reception showroom area. “It'll be quite easy” I said… “we can get that done in a couple of days” … err… yeah, kind of… four days since I started and between myself and Tina, we've managed to lay tiles on approximately half the floor space. It's rather satisfying though seeing the progress. At the age of 51 it just gives the knees a bit of jip! But with a bit of luck, Tina and I will be heading down to the unit after Lola has had a walk today and we'll get it finished. Then we can put all the racking back in on Monday ready for the Peco rep comes to visit on Tuesday next week.

Really looking forward to getting everything back on display and making the place look nice and welcoming. Once it's done, we can then get stuck back into building dioramas and a couple of layouts!

Here's the progress so far… with the carpet.

Doesn't look much but it's been a good learning experience if nothing else!

Klaire's been doing a variety of stock taking tasks, making sure everything is up to date this week as well as bagging up loads of static grass. Kate's been back in the laser room again while Tina and Carl have been getting all the orders out the door in double-quick time. And Sam's been working on more website stuff and looking after our social media channels. He's also been getting some more practise in building up a couple of kits for a derelict house scene he's working on.

Product Development - Latest News

Stu's been busy finishing one of the laser cut OO gauge kits he designed a while back… giving it a couple of tweaks to really take the detail to the next level. I've now completely finished the brick wraps for the new engineering works kit I'm working on. And all the laser cut parts have been drawn. So once I've finished faffing about in reception I'll get prototype cut and crack on with the build. It should then be ready to order by the end of next week.

And the super-duper big news is the AX021-OO Bonfires, which have been out of stock for years are now finally available again. Adam's been able to get a batch done for us and they arrived yesterday.

Right then… time to hand over to Sam for this weekend's videos…

Hello everyone! Hopefully you are all doing well and have had a great week. The last couple of weeks have definitely been an interesting time for the hobby and I think there's a lot going around. People seem to be worried, some articles even asking what's going to happen? Well I wanted to touch on that a little and the first video I have selected does just that…

What the model railway hobby needs right now is...

My first selection comes from Model Railway Quest, which I'm sure you all know by know (she is also in the Railway Modellers Club). In this video, she covers the events that have taken place recently and gives her opinion on it all. I would highly recommend giving this video a watch but for those who want a TL;DR version here it is (TL;DR means too long - didn't read - JN): Quest says that model railway brands should focus on getting younger people into the hobby. One way she suggests is creating a budget range of locos as most teenagers simply can't afford a £300 train. She also mentions "gameifying" the industry a little bit to grab their attention spans. Another point she touches on is railway club struggling to reach a younger audience but they already have everything they need to! However, something's clearly not working so these clubs should start using a bit more imagination and have a friendlier front instead of this ultra serious, closed off community. These issues aren't only affecting teens though - time, money and space also affects adults. Unfortunately, there's not much you can do about this. It's a balancing act. Despite all this "gloom", Quest does mention that there does seem to be a growing interesting and I can also see it! With all the activity on the club and other forums it does seem that the industry is coming into the 21st century.

By no means am I a professional modeller or have that much experience but my hopes are high for the future. In my personal opinion, I think it would be more beneficial to get children / teenagers into the scenic side instead of the traditional loco route. Modelling dioramas is affordable compared to buying the actual locos themselves. Everyone needs some sort of creative outlet and I genuinely believe that there are a huge amount of teenagers who would create dioramas - even if these are some wackier designs. The likes of Luke Towan get millions of views on YouTube which are most likely from teenagers / young adults. There are some incredibly talented people in the industry and social media is a great tool to get it out there for people to see.

This hobby is bigger than one retailer or one event closing down. Most of these articles asking, "is this the end?" are simply just articles, it's all speculation. Big, clickbait titles like the ones being used shouldn't sway your opinion, remember they are trying to get clicks and views. The industry is not dying! But it is changing.

A note from Justin: I'm still excited about the future of the hobby. Not necessarily Model Railways, but the hobby of building miniature worlds. Creating the real world in miniature. Whether it contains a railway, or a road, or an airport… that's down to personal preference. But the art of sitting down a making a model of something… making it look realistic… adding details… it does wonders for the soul and helps keep the child inside us alive and kicking. Creativity, fun and adventure are gradually removed from us as we progress through the education system and into daily adult life. Let's keep that spark of creativity, fun and enjoyment alive for as long as possible.

Small N Scale Layout Tour: Chicago Crossing Model Railroad

Anyways, sorry about the excessive amount of text for that last video. The next video I have selected is from Chicago Crossing Model Railroad. In this video, Eric takes us through his 3x7ft N gauge layout. He starts off by showing the track plan. After this, he zooms into different sections of the layout and goes into some detail about them. A lot of the buildings are based off real world equivalents, which he explains what they were used for. There's quite a few buildings which the real world equivalents have been torn down adding another element to it, similar to an archive. I haven't even mentioned how impressive the modelling is! He has focused heavily on smaller details and weathering of the buildings. Incredible model, watch the video if you want to be impressed.

The Easiest Way To Paint Miniature Figures

Personally, I haven't painted any miniature figures but when I do, I'm 100% going to be coming back to this video as the results are incredible. This video comes from the channel Night Shift ran by Martin. The majority of his videos focus on detailing and weather military models. Like he says in the description, these aren't anything new in the miniature painting world but it could be a game changer! I love how he does the shadows and highlights, it completely sets up the model. From the man himself, "if it works, and it's easy, then why not use it to your advantage, right?".

Filling The Gap In This Lego City Layout

After not featuring a LEGO video last week, I was itching to feature one again. Apologies if you aren't a fan but I absolutely love these videos! These videos continue to amaze me with the creativity and pushing of boundaries. It makes you question what is possible with LEGO. In this addition, Brickman designs a new building and adds a police station which he had previously designed - this time with some changes to the interior. My favourite part has to be the interiors, seeing the building all lit up and having a peak through the window is brilliant. Fingers crossed that all of you aren't fed up with my obsession with these videos.

Andddd that's all I have for you today. As I said last time, if you want to discuss any of these videos or let me know what you think, please send me a message or make a post in the club! Optionally, feel free to email me: . Have a great rest of your weekend and a good week to come.

New Stuff

Right then… it's time for links to the new stuff. Not a lot this week, but there's a couple of bits to detail your layouts.

  • AX021-OO Bonfires
    They're not really new, but as they've been out of stock for so long, we're classing them as new! So… Add a realistic, flickering bonfire to a yard or farm with one of these little beauties. They're supplied pre-wired & ready to install. They look great straight out the pack too, but can be enhanced a little with a bit of dry brushed grey, white & black paint if you fancy it.
  • LX492-OO Undershot Water Wheel
    Building a watermill? Then you're gonna need a waterwheel. And we've just added this rather delightful, undershot wheel to our range. This is one where the water driving the wheel flows under the wheels and pushes against the paddles. If you prefer an overshot design, you can find that here.

Detailing Your Layout With An SMS Micro-Pack

For years we've produced one of the leading ranges of detailing accessories for OO gauge & 1:76 layouts. But our pack sizes are often too large for a lot of modellers. For a big layout, you might be able to use 30 bicycles. But for a micro layout, you're only going to need a handful. So to help you find some of the more economical ways to detail your scenes, we've put together a page with all our micro-packs on.

Here you'll find all sorts of goodies from deckchairs to bicycles, barriers to manhole covers and more.

We've also been looking back at some of our detailing kits ready for a couple of dioramas we're planning. Tina's planning a graveyard scene (she's always drawn to the more macabre side of things) with a grotty old brick wall around it. Some nice old wrought iron gates at the entrance and maybe an old bicycle leaning up against the wall. And of course, a selection of gravestones.

New Blog Posts

Stu's been busy writing another guide to help you build a better layout.

Right… that's about it for this edition of the weekly news. We're off to take Lola for a walk then head down to HQ and get the rest of the carpet tiles laid.

Have an amazing weekend folks… and of course…

Keep on shunting…

Justin, Tina, Elizabeth, Lola & The Team

P.S. This weekend's header image comes from Choberton Junction over on the Railway Modellers Club. I'd seen this before on Instagram but they've just become a First Class member and posted this a couple of days ago. I have to say it's one of my favourite builds of the KX098-OO Old Dairy Kit.

P.P.S. Missed a newsletter? You can read all of our recent newsletters online here.

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Can you produce some lobster pots in 7mm scale? The 4mm scale ones look great, but I need larger ones!

Hello Justin, just to let you know that I enjoy the newsletters. After breakfast, putting the laundry on and feeding Banquo the cat it has become a part of my regular Saturday morning relaxation before tackling my physiotherapy exercises. I am still hoping that you will get around to creating some Scottish red sandstone walling textures but in the meantime spending hours applying microstrip battens to the pop-up designs Dornoch station buildings. I hope the carpet laying gets done sooner than later.

For the third time in as many weeks we are being subjected to gale force winds up here by the Cromarty Firth and I shall have to go out and secure the 'temporary' tarp on the tool shed roof before the day is out.

best wishes


What a load of patronising *****. Did anybody notice that throughout the series Hornby only talked about collectors willing to pay for detail that never saw the outside of the box.

About aged 8 father Xmas brought me a train set comprising a 4 x 6 board, built by my father, that folded up against my wall. Double tracked with sidings. For for subsequent birthdaysand Christmases I received loco's, track and other higher cost items. With my pocket money I could buy Airfix kits, buildinggs and wagons. At the time this was about as far as you could go with out an engineering workshop.Secondary school brought model railways to a halt but 50 years later I now have enough skills, space and money build a layout, scratchbuild buildings and detail RTR.

I managed to get one grandson interested at the age of two. I bourght a pile of Brio type toys and by the age of 3 he could build and "operate" some quite complex layouts. This happened when we provide childcare but the interest stopped when he started play school.

The comments on clubs is interesting. When I was a member of an afternoon club, so no late nights, management of the community centre we used insisted on all sorts of "safeguarding" measures with appropriate checks.

Following on from Paul's mention of Brio I have been working for a couple of years on building a scenic layout with 'handmade' track for Brio (and compatible) trains - for grandchildren to play with. As they grow I'm encouraging them to assist with building. I share your view that it is the modelling of a miniature world that engages attention; watching trains chugg around a layout holds attention only for a limited period. Given the mismatch of scales in the Brio world all sorts of buildings and layout features are possible. And all sorts of detail - or lack of it. Masterclass detail may come later, but we can start with simple design and build