This weekend I attended the Aus7 Modellers Group O-Scale Modellers Forum in Sydney. This event is held every 6 months and is usually a good chance to catch up with friends and hear some interesting talks. I’ve posted a link below to a YouTube video that shows some of the highlights of the event. Not the least of these is seeing the pilot model of the PSM 1:43.5 C38 class moving on a test track. This was the first time anyone has seen the models move, including the owner of PSM!
While I was at the Forum I made some judicious purchases: judicious mainly because I only had a small backpack with me and couldn’t carry all that much back on the plane. I managed to get my hands on a new rolling stock kit and I also came across a couple of new (to me) MiniNatur scenic mats and flowers on the Model Railroad Craftsman stand. I’ve become quite addicted to using these scenic products over the last few months and I rarely let a chance to purchase a couple pass me by.
While I’m still using Woodland Scenics fine scenic scatter material as a base layer for my scenery, I’ve really spread my wings on the layers that sit on top of this base on my new layout. After the base layer is down and dry I’ve been working on small sections of landscape to gradually build up layers of texture and colour to give a far more varied effect than I’ve ever achieved before. This scenic development really started a couple of years ago when I purchased some packets of HO scale MiniNatur scenic tufts from a website in the US. These days you can buy this stuff in a range of colours and “scales” on dozens of websites in Australia and overseas. I used these tufts on Queens Wharf and I really liked the effect. This is a different, and probably more expensive, way of achieving vertical strands of “grass” to that of the well-known static electricity method, but it really works well for me becasue I like the control it gives me over the application of the tufts. I’ve never been able to get a satisfactory result using the electric applicators I’ve tried and I find they produce a texture that is a bit to consistent for my taste. Each to their own I suppose.
The method I’ve been using is to essentially gather a selection of scenic products in a range of colours that I like and feel are appropriate for the tidal river location I’m trying to replicate. I tend to go for yellows, browns and slightly olive greens over the bright, vivid greens often favoured by some European manufacturers. Several years ago, when I still made my own trees, I had purchased quite a number of packets of Woodland Scenics foliage mat. Later I came to prefer Heiki Flor foliage over the Woodland Scenics variety, so I’ve been left with a number of packs of the Woodlands products. I’ve found that these make great vines and creepers that can be very usefully blended into the landscape. Of the more recent products I’ve come to rely on, in addition to the grass “tufts” I mentioned earlier, I’ve found a range of texture mats from a companies like Polak and Mini-Natur are really excellent. I don’t use these mats as they come: I cut them up and bury them into the landscape so you can’t see the edge of the base of the mat.
Aside from the purchased gum trees from Auscision that I’ve been using, mainly because I can order them on the internet and they are readily available, I’ve found that the most useful tree product I use is the Busch Naturbaume Tree kit (#6801). In the past I’ve picked this product up from the Model Railroad Craftsman. Most recently I purchased a box of this through Ebay all the way from Germany. It is this product, which I think is called seagrass in some places, that you can see as little shrubs and stunted bushes in all the photos I’ve been posting recently. I trim and clean up the armatures when I get them out of the box, give them a quick squirt of spray adhesive and then sprinkle on some Woodland Scenics earth blend and green scatter to give them a bit of “bulk”. If anything could be said to have transformed my scenic modelling over the last few years then this Busch product is probably most responsible. Until I picked up my first box of seagrass I hadn’t really managed to achieve a result that I was very happy with.
I’ve also found a bit of space for some very slight touches of colour in my recent scenic modelling. MiniNatur make a range of flowers in both strands and clumps which I’ve incorporated into my scenes. I really like these splashes of colour and my most recent purchase yesterday was of some clumps of lilac coloured flowering weeds which I’m pretending is Pattersons Curse.
As much as I admire the modelling of those who conjure up images of the deep, dark forest or of high mountain passes, what I model is far more mundane. I want to conjure the image of an overgrown cow pasture or a piece of waste ground that runs alongside the line out to Morpeth. There aren’t too many dramatic cliff faces or waterfalls in the landscape I choose to model. However I don’t see that as any reason not to pour a bit of effort and time into making the scenes I’m modelling interesting and varied. There can be beauty and interest in the every day and the common, you just have to be able to see it and believe it is worth modelling. That’s what I mean by a Japanese aesthetic: to lavish as much care and attention on the small and everyday as on the dramatic and eye catching.