Model Railways Are Still Not Dead... Plus Art Deco & The Railways

Model Railways Are Still Not Dead... Plus Art Deco & The Railways

Morning Gang!

How's things? We're back again with another update from SMS HQ… A miniature world of Realistically Better… simply wonderful things to help you build better layouts and dioramas! And it's been a very wet, but productive week down here in the southwest… Lots of hail, lots of gusty winds and plenty of heavy downpours, but inside the unit it's been all systems go on a variety of new things.

There's been some flashes of inspiration too, that haven't really resulted in anything tangible yet, other than devising a new way to install led lighting in our kits (more on that later)… but it has resulted in me being able to work out how to make a future project easier to tackle. As usual, it was one of those things that just pops into your head while you're having a shower or washing the dishes. Your brain just goes “hey… that thing you're stuck on… it's easy look… do it this way and you're sorted”. So I've pretty much been able to plan out a modular kit for something we desperately need in our range. With a bit of luck, I'll get some time to try the concept next week. Not saying what it is yet as that'd be letting the cat out the bag far too early. But there will be info on it at the right time should it work.

We've also been on another road trip to Liverpool to take Elizabeth back to Uni… She drove all the way up last Saturday and did an amazing job. So she's really starting to get some motorway miles under her belt now. She was a bit downhearted last week as they announced who'd got various parts in the forthcoming spring showcase which they do as part of the Musical Theatre course. After many tough auditions, she was a little brassed off to find she's not been given any of the major roles she was hoping for. Then earlier this week she was told that she'd been given the role of Dance Captain. Which is a little known, but incredibly significant role as we found out when we googled it! I'd never heard of it… but basically, you must know the choreography for every single part in the show (that's the parts of the entire cast!), make sure that everyone performs to the highest standards and keep the whole cast in line! It'll suit her down to the ground as just like her mother, she won't settle for anything less than perfect. We're rather proud of her indeed.

Anyway… where were we… model making… yes, it's been a productive week. Here's why!

Product Development - Latest News

Stu's been cracking on with some rather nice billboards this week which are almost finished. Really looking forward to getting them live which will hopefully be next week. Sam's been working on posters for them… They're coming on nicely but just need a little extra work to make them really pop! They don't quite have the impact they should have as billboard ads at the moment, but a couple of hours of tweaking next week and they should be done. Sam's also been working on some new ghost signs too, which look rather decent!

And I've been pushing on with another kit we started work on many moons ago. In fact, when I looked at the file, I'd first started work on it, on the 31st of December 2022! So I thought I'd better pull my finger out and get it finished off. Anyway, it's a row of low relief 1970's terraced shops, which you find all over the country. Ours is based on a row of three shops on the A6 as you head into Leicester, weathered dark brown brick walls, tiled upper sections on the front wall, and a prototypically scruffy (and probably leaky) flat roof!

Tina and I really enjoyed working together on this kit (her building skills are much better than mine)… As we were building it, we were discussing ways to detail the interiors, so we opted to fit wallpaper, flooring and ceiling textures and then allow you to do your own thing when it comes to furniture etc. But during the discussions about the interior, Tina mentioned the subject of illuminating the interiors… So we fiddled about with some ideas… each time turning our noses up because they weren't really that good. Then we had a sort of mutual brainwave. One of those things were you kinda both have the same idea at the same time… Why don't we fit the LEDs behind the ceiling wraps. That way, the light from the LED's will naturally diffuse, and look more like the light from a 60w bulb, instead of a workman's spotlight!

So, we had a bit of a play and made some recesses in the floor and ceiling sections. Glued three SMDs into place (one in each upstairs room). Fitted the wraps and turned the power on! A proper Eureka moment. No doubt, someone will pipe up and say “I've been doing that for years” or… so and so already does that. But it's new to us. And it works a blummin treat.

Anyway… at the end of all that… the KX089-OO Low Relief 1970's Terraced Shops kit was born… And now we're about to set to work converting them into houses with a pitched roof as they're almost identical to our first house that we bought together in Shepshed back in 1997! So stay tuned for those shortly. Just not sure whether to do them as low relief of model them as full houses. I'll have a think.

In the meantime, it's over to young Sam for this weekend's videos.

Morning everyone. Hope you have all had a great week and have a good weekend! Just wanted to quickly mention that the last newsletter featured a video from Wes Kraaijeveld. In this newsletter, I mentioned that I thought he was German but I received a message from Hugo who informed me that Wes is actually from the Netherlands and not Germany! I appreciate the message Hugo and wanted to give you a quick shoutout. As always, if you want to give me feedback about these videos or simply discuss them you can leave a comment on this blog, send me a message on the club where my username is @sams or drop me an email via our helpdesk. Anyway, time for some videos!

Sheldon's Model Trains

To start, let's have something nice and lighthearted. For my first selection, here is a clip from The Big Bang Theory. I'm sure many of you have seen this show and know that Sheldon loves his model trains. In this clip, he goes to a train store where they are having a talk about why HO is better than O gauge. An interesting quote from this is, "The tinier the train, the more concentrated the fun" - Don't let the N gauge modellers hear this, we won't hear the end of it!

Art Deco's Impact on Railways

The next video I have selected is a great mini documentary created by AmtrakGuy365. In this, he goes over how Art Deco had a massive impact on railroads. Personally, Art Deco is something I've always been drawn in by - a lot of my college work revolved around this style. Also, I'm sure many of you have seen our KX097-OO 1930's Art Deco Bus / Tram Shelter kit which I designed and had a lot of fun making (except for painstakingly getting the dimensions right). A highlight for me in this video has to be the DRG Class SVT 877, mainly known as The Flying Hamburger. In my opinion, this is the main shift in train design as it looks somewhat modern for it's time. This loco properly kicked off the streamline look which is still used to this day. You could argue that Schienenzeppelin also changed the design of trains but as pointed out in the video, this didn't really catch on. However, it wasn't until 1935 when Britian's first streamline train (LNER Class A4 aka "The Silver Jubilee") which perfectly captures the art deco style at the time with its blue and silver colours. Some of the posters made from this era are fantastic and a joy to look at. Despite the late 1930's shifting towards a slightly different art style, Art Deco can still be seen throughout the Railroads to this day. Another highlight for me has to be the posters created during the form of British Railways in 1948. Anyway, I don't want to go too in-depth otherwise it takes away from the video so check it out!

Tonbridge Model Railway Exhibition 2024

Andddd here's a familiar face for you all - Model Railway Quest! In this video, she goes to the Tonbridge Model Railway Exhibition 2024. Like all of her videos, it is full of jokes but also some great coverage of the layouts. She goes into detail of the origins and inner workings of the layouts which is great to see instead of just footage. These exhibitions never fail to teach me things. This time learning about EM gauge which I had no clue existed. There are so many gauges at this point that I'm starting to lose track, another gauge I found out from this video is P87 aka HO finescale. Dawn also interviews a couple of the layout creators which is fantastic to see, giving well deserved recognition! The layout which interests me the most has to be Norge, I may be biased as one of my best mates is Norwegian but either way it's a brilliant layout. Another amazing layout is Bear Creek which is based in Canada and is full of little details to keep you entertained. Looking around these layouts it is great to see some SMS kits scattered about. Exhibition numbers were apparently 1,600 people, who said model railways were dying? Doesn't seem that way to me.

Pete Waterman On Model Railways Today

The final video comes from the BBC but has been posted on the channel Model Railways and Me. This is an interview with modeller Pete Waterman who makes some excellent points and you can hear the passion in his voice which is fantastic to see. Like he says in the video, he is 77 years old and for 57 years of his life he has heard that "model railways are dead". Going on to explain that every 3 or 4 years, he hears the same thing. However, in his experience, there is more interest in model railways from the younger generations than ever. Another interesting points he makes is that you need to let young people play with trains instead of being closed off and overly serious about preserving the layout. Obvious, you don't want kids destroying your layouts but I completely agree, you need to let them interact and grow their interest. Anyway, I would definitely recommend watching this and taking in what he says.

I don't want to keep bringing up the negative attention so recently Mark from the Leamington & Warwick Model Society reached out to me with a positive video. In this video, their club embarks on a major project to double their floorspace of the club. It's fantastic to see clubs thriving and making progress like this and their membership is reaching the 100 members mark! You can find out more information at their site: and check out the video here:

That's it from me for this week! Hopefully, these videos have given you some entertainment as well as being informative. It's great to hear your responses to these videos so feel free to leave a comment on this blog post or like I said message me directly. Here's a bonus video for you all:

New Stuff

Right then… it's time for links to the new stuff… Just a couple of bits this week, with more to come next weekend.

  • KX089-OO Low Relief 1970's Terraced Shops - OO/4mm/1:76
    Here it is then… the new terraced shops kit, with fully detailed interior walls, floors & ceilings, choice of signage (and plywood to board one of the shops up if you're that way inclined). As always, everything comes pre-weathered… the only bits left to paint are the windows & doors so you can choose your own colour scheme on those. Lots of scope for customisation and as mentioned we've made it super easy for you to add lighting to the interiors two! Check out the pics with illumination to see what we mean about the diffusion on the LEDs. It works an absolute treat!
  • DC049-OO Funeral Undertakers Ghost Sign - Self Adhesive Transfer (Pack of 4) - OO/4mm/1:76
    Here's the link to Sam's new ghost sign pack. These are super easy to use. Just trim to size, peel off the backing and smooth into place on your card/mdf buildings. The one Sam based these on is actually on the side wall of the building next to the prototype for the shops above.
  • DC050-OO Funeral Undertakers Ghost Sign - Waterslide Transfer (Pack of 4) - OO/4mm/1:76
    For resin & plasticard buildings, you're going to need the waterslide version of the ghost signs, which is this one!

A quick word on N gauge… I think pre-orders is probably the way to go, based on feedback. But we're now faced with the challenge of making those work. So what we might have to do is open a “pre-order window” whereby initial orders can be taken over a 7 day launch window. Then, if there's enough, we'll crack on and get them kits done. I'll give it some more thought though.

Right… that's about it for this edition of the weekly news. Next week we'll get those billboards finished off. Sam's got another kit I'd like to get live too. And I'll have a play with my other idea and see if it works in practise.

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 Sandford East over on the Railway Modellers Club with brilliant shot of his 45 off to Penzance whilst railfreight 56 waits in the bay ahead of moving into the fuel depot.

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