Trains.com

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

A plea to building kit manufacturers

4295 views
44 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 16,515 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, June 16, 2022 12:43 PM

hon30critter
When I did my Algoma Eastern caboose fleet a few years ago I did add an interior light, but it only shows through one window where the conductor's 'office' would be. I walled the office area off so the rest of the caboose is in darkness.

That is a good idea. I might make one caboose like that to use in night time photographs.

-Kevin

Living the dream and happily modeling my STRATTON AND GILLETTE Railroad in HO scale. The SGRR is a freelanced Class A railroad as it would have appeared on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954, in my personal fantasy world of plausible nonsense.

  • Member since
    February 2021
  • 735 posts
Posted by crossthedog on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 3:18 PM

Mr. B, your photos give me a thought (they're very nice, by the by). I would love to see Hopper's "Nighthawks" diner on someone's layout, complete with the server leaning over and the dame in red. On the corner. Lit up. Has anyone ever seen that?

-Matt

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

  • Member since
    December 2004
  • From: Bedford, MA, USA
  • 20,702 posts
Posted by MisterBeasley on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 1:24 PM

I have put smple interiors in many of my buildings.  I did but a few signature pieces of furniture, but mostly I simply realized that the small windows of HO scale structures don't really demand even that much.

First I'll show Baldy's Barber Shop, a Model Power kit where the interior was provided for the first floor shop.

The kit had everything you see except for the counter and, oddly, Baldy himself who I actually sanded bald and painted.

The City Classics supermarket is simple, but has large windows.  I downloaded a floor, walls and shelving, and printed them out, folding the shelving into 3-dimensional parts.  I picked up shoppers and shopping carts somewhere.

From the outside with the roof in place, all you see is the details through the windows.

Finally, the City Classics Diner.  Again, a simple walls-and-roof kit, to which I added printed floors and tablecloths.  I made the counter from styrene and the counter stools from carpet tacks.  The figures are just from assorted standing and seated figure collections.

From the outside, the interior looks like a diner.

My interiors don't take long to create, and cost almost nothing, but they add a nice illusion to models, which I specifically choose for their windows and interior visibility.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Bradford, Ontario
  • 14,454 posts
Posted by hon30critter on Monday, June 13, 2022 11:59 PM

SeeYou190
No lighting either. I don't ever remember seeing a caboose lit up on the inside.

Hi Kevin,

When I did my Algoma Eastern caboose fleet a few years ago I did add an interior light, but it only shows through one window where the conductor's 'office' would be. I walled the office area off so the rest of the caboose is in darkness.

There are no other interior details except for the seats in the cupolas for exactly the reason that you suggested. The windows are too small to see anything.

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 23,177 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Monday, June 13, 2022 9:33 PM

hon30critter
 
richhotrain
I have been periodically checking eBay, and I just noticed that two sets sold, one yesterday and one today, for $24.99 each. I wish that I had seen that sooner. They went fast. 

Hi Rich,

Did you know that you can set up your eBay account to watch for specific items? Whenever something that you are interested in is listed, eBay will send you an email.

Dave 

Good point, Dave. Whenever I am interested in something for myself, I check eBay a few times a day. It just takes seconds. In this case, I was just watching for Mike (Water Level Route), so I was much less diligent.

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Bradford, Ontario
  • 14,454 posts
Posted by hon30critter on Monday, June 13, 2022 9:26 PM

richhotrain
I have been periodically checking eBay, and I just noticed that two sets sold, one yesterday and one today, for $24.99 each. I wish that I had seen that sooner. They went fast.

Hi Rich,

Did you know that you can set up your eBay account to watch for specific items? Whenever something that you are interested in is listed, eBay will send you an email.

To set this up, first do a search for the item you want, then select 'Save this Search'. It will be in blue print beside the number of search results shown.

I suggest doing a fairly detailed search. If you make the search too broad you could be inundated with emails. You might consider setting up a few searches with any possible variations in how the listing might be worded. For example, you could set up one search for"Canadian Pacific GP7" and a second search for "CP GP7" You can also go to the 'Advanced' option to refine the search parameters. 

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 23,177 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Monday, June 13, 2022 9:16 PM

richhotrain

It was Walthers Part# 949-6009. Check it out. Four little cuties on roller skates. Nothing on eBay right now, but you never know.

Rich 

I have been periodically checking eBay, and I just noticed that two sets sold, one yesterday and one today, for $24.99 each. I wish that I had seen that sooner. They went fast.

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    July 2021
  • 155 posts
Posted by NorthsideChi on Thursday, June 9, 2022 7:30 PM

2.5 years ago I was annoyed how you could see a ghostly void inside all my models.  I bought a few kits to populate the interiors but they were expensive and hard to find. I used styrene sheets to make walls.  I eventually was like "I can't do it this way anymore"   Bought a 3D printer and it's been wonderful creating heavily detailed interiors.  I think the printer paid itself off after maybe 15 interior builds because using kits would otherwise be expensive 

  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 16,515 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, June 9, 2022 4:17 PM

gmpullman
Looks like they all go to the same hairdresser!

Ponytails all around.

-Kevin

Living the dream and happily modeling my STRATTON AND GILLETTE Railroad in HO scale. The SGRR is a freelanced Class A railroad as it would have appeared on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954, in my personal fantasy world of plausible nonsense.

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 23,177 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, June 9, 2022 4:12 PM

gmpullman
 
richhotrain
Check it out. 

Looks like they all go to the same hairdresser!

Ed 

And, according to the dallasmodelworks website, they are all named Laverne. No joke.

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    August 2003
  • From: Collinwood, Ohio, USA
  • 14,816 posts
Posted by gmpullman on Thursday, June 9, 2022 3:43 PM

richhotrain
Check it out.

Looks like they all go to the same hairdresser!

Ed

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 23,177 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, June 9, 2022 3:23 PM

It was Walthers Part# 949-6009. Check it out. Four little cuties on roller skates. Nothing on eBay right now, but you never know.

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    February 2015
  • From: Ludington, MI
  • 1,319 posts
Posted by Water Level Route on Thursday, June 9, 2022 2:40 PM

richhotrain
Since those figures are shown on the box cover, surely they are actual HO figures. I cannot imagine Walthers simply drawing them in the otherwise actual photo of the shop.

The mystery has been solved.  A very nice representative from Walthers just emailed me back.  It seems the figures that were used inside the building for the box photo were from a now long discontinued carhop figure set.  He offered up some alternatives that could work with some modification, but none like what are in the photo, and all but one coming with lots of additional pieces.  Parts bin fodder I suppose.  I'll have to decide what to do next.  I lack the great Mel's skills, but I guess you never get there without starting.

Mike

  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 16,515 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, June 9, 2022 2:33 PM

dknelson
Someone mentioned caboose interiors.

The windows on STRATTON AND GILLETTE cabooses are so small that interiors will not be needed.

-Photograph by Kevin Parson

No lighting either. I don't ever remember seeing a caboose lit up on the inside.

-Kevin

Living the dream and happily modeling my STRATTON AND GILLETTE Railroad in HO scale. The SGRR is a freelanced Class A railroad as it would have appeared on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954, in my personal fantasy world of plausible nonsense.

  • Member since
    February 2018
  • From: Flyover Country
  • 4,495 posts
Posted by York1 on Thursday, June 9, 2022 1:53 PM

Whenever talking about HO figures, it would be hard to do better than Mel's homemade and hand painted figures. 

York1 John       

  • Member since
    November 2013
  • 2,357 posts
Posted by snjroy on Thursday, June 9, 2022 10:36 AM

Well, about rolling stock interiors, I always found odd that so many of my passenger cars have great details underneath the car (that I cannot see), but without any details inside the car. 

Simon

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Heart of Georgia
  • 5,085 posts
Posted by Doughless on Thursday, June 9, 2022 10:29 AM

John-NYBW

In lieu of interiors for structures that aren't near the front of the layout, a simple view block will eliminate the empty shell look. I got the idea from a structure that was a prebuilt version of the Gemini Building. It had two sheets of black construction paper fastened in an X shape and inserted so that each sheet ran from one corner to the opposite corner. It's easy to replicate. it prevents looking into the structure through the windows of one wall and seeing the windows of a lower floor on the adjacent wall which makes it obvious it is just an empty shell of a building. Some people think it's important to have some level of detailed interiors but to me the focus should be on the railroad aspects of the layout and the structures are just there to provide a realistic backdrop without being a distraction. I have very few structures with detailed interiors and none of them are a distraction. 

 

Yes.  Looking through multiple front windows and seeing through the back windows gives that empty building feel.  Simply preventing that helps a lot Painting the backside window glass black from the inside works too.  From the distance we view the models...and the typical reflection of glass windows during the day...not much detail is going to be seen...unless the rooms themselves have bright lighting.  Buildings along the foreground matter more.

- Douglas

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
  • 13,108 posts
Posted by wjstix on Thursday, June 9, 2022 10:22 AM

dknelson
Someone mentioned caboose interiors. Someone, I think Campbell, used to sell such an interior rather cheaply and I installed it in one of my cabooses. But with no interior lights and no removable roof ... well, I guess I know it's in there.

I think you're thinking of the old wood interior kits from Suydam (Kit 421) in the little yellow box. I always grab them if I find them at a train show. They work great with the old MDC caboose kits, since it's very easy to build those with removeable roofs.

About the Walthers / Preiser figure sets I mentioned, I think one reason they did those is that they weren't 'kit specific'; anybody modelling an engine service facility could use the roundhouse worker figures regardless of who made the structure.

BTW the new Walthers interior kit for gas stations is an example of one that would fit several manufacturer's kits rather than being specific to one.

Stix
  • Member since
    May 2019
  • 1,061 posts
Posted by BEAUSABRE on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 10:32 PM

Water Level Route
Probably would have increased the kit cost by a negligible amount.  No big deal and boy would I have been happier with it.  And if somebody didn't want them, leave them out.  How many of us have left parts off kits or saved them for other uses?

And you would get complaints from people about having to pay for "useless" figures they can't use. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Having gotten my start in an era when superdetailing was a high art, I'm used to the idea of having a basic kit (loco, car, building, whatever) and then buying aftermarket items to bring it the level of detail I want. And in my sixty years of modeling, I've never seen the quantity and variety of what we are offered today. 

  • Member since
    August 2003
  • From: Collinwood, Ohio, USA
  • 14,816 posts
Posted by gmpullman on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 9:38 PM

Water Level Route
Ed, where do you get your stuff?  Shapeways?  You seem to have no shortage of bits.  I'm envious sir!

Thanks, Mike! Fifty years of building kits and saving every bit of "stuff" leftover. Plus always keeping an eye out for detail goodies as they come along. Often, I toss in a few odds-and-ends when I send in an order especially if I need a minimum amount to get reduced shipping.

Often times if you don't get this stuff when it is available it seems like you never see it again. I've bought a few things from Shapeways, sometimes other eBay sellers, Tichy, MB Klein or Hobbylinc.

Other stuff is kitbashed or cabbaged together with styrene, wood or what ever is handy.

Good Luck, Ed

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • 2,088 posts
Posted by John-NYBW on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 5:06 PM

In lieu of interiors for structures that aren't near the front of the layout, a simple view block will eliminate the empty shell look. I got the idea from a structure that was a prebuilt version of the Gemini Building. It had two sheets of black construction paper fastened in an X shape and inserted so that each sheet ran from one corner to the opposite corner. It's easy to replicate. it prevents looking into the structure through the windows of one wall and seeing the windows of a lower floor on the adjacent wall which makes it obvious it is just an empty shell of a building. Some people think it's important to have some level of detailed interiors but to me the focus should be on the railroad aspects of the layout and the structures are just there to provide a realistic backdrop without being a distraction. I have very few structures with detailed interiors and none of them are a distraction. 

  • Member since
    March 2002
  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
  • 11,211 posts
Posted by dknelson on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 11:35 AM

I certainly agree that there are certain structures, particularly main street stores, industrial buildings, roundhouses, etc with such large windows that the lack of some level of interior detailing (AND the lack of actual floors on a multifloor structure) takes away from the realism even if the structure is not lighted and even if the roof is not removable.

Related to that was Tony Koester's suggestion years ago -- why didn't someone make sets of after-market windows and doors for particular otherwise-good kits where the windows and doors were the weakest link and way too bulky (AHM/IHC/Revell/ConCor/ LikeLike, and I suppose you could even put some Plasticville in there).  

Now having said that unless it is a contest model or is well lighted and room lights are dimmed on the layout, much interior detail can need not be great models and indeed just about any generic shapes of "something" can be good enough.  For example, take a normal two story house.  Second story floor?  Yes needed because you can see there is no floor.  Interior walls?  Yes otherwise you can see from side to side.  Beds, dressers, bathtubs, bookcases?  Well .... even with fairly large windows vague shapes of wood or plastic painted minimally might be good enough to convey the notion that that is what is in there.

Someone mentioned caboose interiors.  Someone, I think Campbell, used to sell such an interior rather cheaply and I installed it in one of my cabooses.  But with no interior lights and no removable roof ... well, I guess I know it's in there.  For another caboose I just took various pieces of balsa, painted them that gray green of most caboose interiors and got exactly the same very slight benefit from a full interior.  A person looking in that caboose window might even proclaim it to be super-detailed!

Someone else mentioned Greenway.  When they used to come to train shows I did load up on some of their really nice die cast machine shop tools for a factory on my layout where on summer days the big doors (that admitted freight cars and locomotives) were wide open and even from the street you could see the big lathes and large milling machines and huge drill presses that were near that door.  A little further in and all you could see was "big things."  To model those "big things" I have kept and use stuff that would otherwise go into the recycle bin: the threaded rod and gear like twist thing from containers for deoderant sticks, the interior support and short cylinder from dental floss, the odd caps and tops from hotel/motel shampoo bottles, scotch tape dispensers, and other such things. 

Dave Nelson  

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • 112 posts
Posted by Mark B on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 11:13 AM

So who has the FSM detail parts? Always liked them but lost track after FSM stopped production.

Mark B.

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: west coast
  • 7,208 posts
Posted by rrebell on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 10:12 AM

There are thousands of detail parts available including being able to buy boxes of FSM details now that someone new owns the company.

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 23,177 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 8:43 AM

Water Level Route

Never thought about contacting Walthers. Dunce I'll try them and see if they can offer any insight as to where they got them.  Thanks.

Since those figures are shown on the box cover, surely they are actual HO figures. I cannot imagine Walthers simply drawing them in the otherwise actual photo of the shop.

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    February 2015
  • From: Ludington, MI
  • 1,319 posts
Posted by Water Level Route on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 8:36 AM

Rich, I had the same experience trying to find them.  I scoured both the Walthers and Preiser sites.  Nothing.  I even tried shapeways, but that was a nightmare trying to find anything.  Nothing like the last time I tried them.  Maybe I was having a brain fart that day.  Never thought about contacting Walthers. Dunce I'll try them and see if they can offer any insight as to where they got them.  Thanks.

Mike

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 23,177 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 7:30 AM

Water Level Route

My wife bought me the Walthers Vintage Dairy Queen kit a couple years ago.  The photo on the box shows a couple servers inside that are perfect for it.  Think I could find any though?  No way.  No idea where they got them for the photo.  I can't understand why they don't include a couple on the parts sprue for the building.  Would be easy enough to do. 

Water Level Route
richhotrain
As for figures, there is a wide choice out there already, so most needs should be able to be satisfied. 

Most, probably, but I challenge you to find the servers (dressed in pink with white paper hats on) shown on the Walthers Vintage DQ box photo.  Unobtainium.  And what would it have cost Walthers to include two figures on the parts sprues for the rest of the structure?  Not much.  I can make some basic shapes to represent the ice cream machines inside, but figures in the right uniform-nope.  Probably would have increased the kit cost by a negligible amount.  No big deal and boy would I have been happier with it.  And if somebody didn't want them, leave them out.  How many of us have left parts off kits or saved them for other uses?

You do raise a very interesting question here, Mike. Where did Walthers come up with those figures for the Vintage Dairy Queen structure.
 
I searched through 60 pages of HO scale figures on the Walthers website and found nothing. The only thing even close were some in-line skaters and some roller skaters struggling to maintain their balance.
 
Have you contacted Walthers to inquire where those figures might be purchased?
 
Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    May 2020
  • 752 posts
Posted by wrench567 on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 6:59 AM

  Items such as shelves, counters, machinery, desks and chairs is one thing. They are timeless and span the eras most people model. Figures would be harder for a manufacturer to put in kit form. What era? The era I model women wore big hats, long dresses, and heels outside the house. Men wore hats and sharply dressed unless they were working at a laborious job. Figures for the modern times would be sweat cloths, pajamas, jeans, T shirts, sneakers, suits, ties, pant suits, short dresses and so on. Impossible for a manufacturer to predict.

    Pete.

  • Member since
    October 2020
  • 2,802 posts
Posted by NorthBrit on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 6:42 AM

We have similar challenges here in the U.K..

It would be nice to have figures included.  If kit companies do not want to add them,  surely they could name other companies where suitable accessories could be bought.

 

David

To the world you are someone.    To someone you are the world

I cannot afford the luxury of a negative thought

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!