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Top Ten Fine Scale Miniatures Kits

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, May 14, 2023 9:16 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Now, here is the thing - I have lots of these, and will likely buy more: http://www.laserartstructures.com/

I have four kits from Branchline Laser Art, and might get one or two more.

There is not much character in the line of buildings, and these date from a time when laser cutting was offered as a short-cut to scratchbuilt appearances.

Nickle's Milling And Feed is my favorite, and I'll bet with painting and some extra details from RailKits and SS Ltd it will be a nice structure, but right from the box it is pretty bland.

-Photograph by Kevin Parson

An example of as-built from the kit:

Sleep

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
I did say "actually using".

Except for the generator enclosure at L.C.C.C. all my examples were in use.

From my observations, management decides to stop maintaining a building long before employees decide it is no longer a good place to stash stuff.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, May 14, 2023 9:18 AM

rrebell

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL

Sold them for years when I worked in the hobby shop. Had a good friend who's layout had that sort of theme and he built lots of them. They are works of art, and in my opinion my friend made them better than the originals.

I've built lots of other craftsman kits, Campbell, etc.

But in general, FSM kits don't fit my era or theme all that well.

I'm sure I could take one and turn it into my vision for my layout - but as presented they are not my thing.

Never saw one that I felt would fill that perfect spot on any of my layouts.

While my layouts often have had some rural structures and industries, my theme has always been to depict a small city, a reasonably prosperous one, and the rural areas either side of that city.

Industry can be messy and dirty, and old building do show age, but even when I sold MATCO TOOLS in the oldest parts of Baltimore, few buildings/businesses showed the kind of neglect often protrayed in FSM kits as presented by their designer.

These kits are simply not in line with my life experiance - even with my considerable time spend in rural Appalachia. Even the people in West Virginia know what a paint brush is......

To those who are struck by the prices - look closely at the complexity and detail. I have no problem with their value - if I wanted one.

Sheldon 

 

 

 

Having renovated houses in Baltimore in the 70's, I can tell you there are parts of town like that, many. I live in California now and I see decay near the tracks in all major citys and minor ones like Napa in wine country where the average resort room rate can be $600.00 or more. 

 

 

But I'm not modeling the abandoned neighborhoods in Baltimore, near the tracks or not - it is worse now.

But the key word here is "ABANDONED". George Sellios presented these models as if they are still in use, with gapping holes in the roofs?

You all can model what you want, it does not interest me.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, May 14, 2023 9:19 AM

Anyway...

I was really interested in what Fine Scale Miniatures kits other model builders had as their favorites.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, May 14, 2023 9:27 AM

SeeYou190

Anyway...

I was really interested in what Fine Scale Miniatures kits other model builders had as their favorites.

-Kevin

 

I understand and I appoligize for being part of the somewhat negative view here.

Even with my Architectural talents, I just neve looked at one of those kits and said "I need one of those on my layout".

I like the cleaner, more to scale, look of the LazerArt buildings.

To each their own.

Sheldon  

    

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Posted by HO-Velo on Sunday, May 14, 2023 4:28 PM

Never owned nor built a Fine Scale Miniatures kit, but George Sellios's imaginative and masterful work helped further my interest in the hobby, structure modeling and attention to detail.  As a kid I watched my father build a wood and paper model airplane kit, ever since there's been a certain fascination in how a 'box of sticks' can be hewn into a remarkable model. 

Regards, Peter 

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Posted by John-NYBW on Sunday, May 14, 2023 5:52 PM

I own two.

2 stall Enginehouse

Roadside Delights

Both are top notch.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, May 14, 2023 5:56 PM

John-NYBW

I own two.

2 stall Enginehouse

Roadside Delights

Both are top notch.

 

Roadside Delights is about the only one that interests me from a theme/application standpoint on my layout.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Doughless on Sunday, May 14, 2023 7:48 PM

All of the FSM kits I have seen have attractive basic architecture with proper proportions. I'm sure they are very rewarding to build and detail if you have the patience for that sort of thing.

I'd build them reflecting pristine condition and skip the dilapidated look.  Afterall, you'd think that an operating lumber company could at least find some spare boards to fill in the holes.  

But I model somewhere in the neighborhood of 2010, so corrugated metal buildings (ala from Pikestuff) and poured concrete walls are the basic ingredients of my kitbashed and scratchbuilt structures.  I have never owned any FSM kits.

- Douglas

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Posted by MJ4562 on Sunday, May 14, 2023 9:56 PM

Wilfrid J Brambell Co.

Emporium Seafood

Rawlins Sawyer Chemical

 

FSM kits are amazing and really sparked my imagination as a kid. I always enjoy reading about them and seeing what other modellers have done with them.  

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, May 14, 2023 10:58 PM

crossthedog
I cant' afford those, not even at swap meet prices

I just got this one tonight on eBay. It was less than $75.00 including shipping and taxes.

Seems good to me.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by drgwcs on Monday, May 15, 2023 8:27 AM

I have always thought that a great deal of the attraction to the FSM kits was the huge amounts of detail parts included, all unique. In 2018 after FSM had closed George Sellios had licensed a company named railroad kits to make the detail castings provided they did not make the kits. I had bought  a few at the National Narrow Gauge convention in 2020. Not sure of address and it does not appear they have a working website. 

Jim

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, May 15, 2023 12:27 PM

drgwcs
In 2018 after FSM had closed George Sellios had licensed a company named railroad kits to make the detail castings provided they did not make the kits.

I have spent a small fortune on RailKits FSM castings.

-Photographs by Kevin Parson

All those laser cut kits I have stockpiled are getting the FSM detail treatment when I build them!

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by drgwcs on Monday, May 15, 2023 1:48 PM

SeeYou190

 

 
drgwcs
In 2018 after FSM had closed George Sellios had licensed a company named railroad kits to make the detail castings provided they did not make the kits.

 

I have spent a small fortune on RailKits FSM castings.

-Photographs by Kevin Parson

All those laser cut kits I have stockpiled are getting the FSM detail treatment when I build them!

-Kevin

 

WOW you stocked up... When I caught them at the national narrow gauge convention I didn't buy a ton just what I needed for my ongoing projects. I probably had more than enough detail parts....except for the whatever part i find i need now.....rats. Big Smile

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Posted by Tin Can II on Tuesday, May 16, 2023 12:01 PM

I have no experience with FSM kits.  I think I have stayed away from them is because I know I would mess up a very expensive kit.

 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 10:12 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Roadside Delights is about the only one that interests me from a theme/application standpoint on my layout.

Ah... so you do have a favorite!

I think Avram's Baking is one of those great designs that could also find a home on most large layouts. I will never have room for it.

-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

From what I have seen so far... these are the favorites.

2 - Roadside Delights

1 - Barnstead Lumber

1 - Sand And Coal Shed

Anyone else?

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by snjroy on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 11:14 AM

The 2 stall engine house is one that I would love to have. I never assembled a wood kit before - how well to they keep in storage? I'd be affraid to work with warped materials.

Simon

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 11:24 AM

snjroy
The 2 stall engine house is one that I would love to have. I never assembled a wood kit before - how well to they keep in storage? I'd be affraid to work with warped materials.

My two stall engine house is kit number 035 from 1968. There is no warping on any of the wood pieces, but the plastic baggies and rubber bands are pretty well rotted away.

Kit number 135 of the two stall engine house is from 1974 and is a better kit. It has more details and much better instructions. Then there is the John Allen Special which includes basically the same engine house and a few other small trackside structures. That kit is from 1981.

Kit 035:

Kit 135:

John Allen Special:

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by MJ4562 on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 12:31 PM

I think most modelers on some level appreciate the detail and craftsmanship of FSM kits.  Kind of like most people can appreciate classic cars or art.  It might not be for you but you can at least appreciate the work that went into it. 

That Avron's Baking is pretty neat. I've always loved the tiny little details on FSM kits.  That's really what got me interested in models is all those little recreations of real life in miniature.   

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Posted by John-NYBW on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 3:14 PM

SeeYou190

 

 
snjroy
The 2 stall engine house is one that I would love to have. I never assembled a wood kit before - how well to they keep in storage? I'd be affraid to work with warped materials.

 

My two stall engine house is kit number 035 from 1968. There is no warping on any of the wood pieces, but the plastic baggies and rubber bands are pretty well rotted away.

Kit number 135 of the two stall engine house is from 1974 and is a better kit. It has more details and much better instructions. Then there is the John Allen Special which includes basically the same engine house and a few other small trackside structures. That kit is from 1981.

Kit 035:

Kit 135:

John Allen Special:

-Kevin

 

Thanks for those pictures, Kevin. I bought mine on ebay a few years back and it is the 135 kit. I've been looking for a good colored photo of John Allen's original enginehouse because I want to build it as close to the original as I can. This is the first one I've come across that allows me to see the color. I believe the exterior is just unpainted aged wood which can be accomplished in a number of ways.

I knew there had been two releases of that kit but I didn't realize until now there had been three. I remember when the John Allen Special kit was announced in 1981. At the time I was living paycheck to paycheck and couldn't really afford the price at the time. When I found one on ebay a few years ago, I jumped at it. The one key difference between the original and the FSM kits is the original has round arches on the engine house doorways and the FSM kits have angled arches. I've considered modifying the arches to match the original. I'm trying to figure how to cut the round trim.

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Posted by maxman on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 4:14 PM

Did not John Allen burn down the original engine house?

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Posted by John-NYBW on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 5:37 PM

maxman

Did not John Allen burn down the original engine house?

No, John Allen's house burned down shortly after he died, destroying most of his magnificent Gorre & Daphetid RR.

If I remember right, it's suspected the fire was started by a faulty space heater that John might have known was defective and not used. Some of his friends had come by the house trying to see if the railroad could be preserved and might have turned that heater on. I'm going from memory so some of the details might not be accurate. 

 

 

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Posted by maxman on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 6:12 PM

Yes, I know his house burned down.  But I thought that he had done a scene showing his original engine house burned down with a loco in the wreckage.

(eventually being outdone by E.L.Moore blowing up his dynamite plant model)

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Posted by MJ4562 on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 7:45 PM

John had a model of a burned down house but not the engine house itself.  The house was built with similar board-by-board style as the engine house which is why you may be conflating the two. 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, May 18, 2023 6:41 AM

drgwcs
WOW you stocked up... When I caught them at the national narrow gauge convention I didn't buy a ton just what I needed for my ongoing projects.

As I mentioned in my post about Laser-Art kits, these spartan buildings NEED more detail, and RK Kits have some of the best at excellent prices.

A also strongly believe in always buying a lifetime supply.

Some of my building projects are also "craftsman rebuilds" of plastic kits. This Life-Like kit has an excellent design, and just begs to be made from wood siding, scale lumber, and a pound of RK (FSM) castings.

Several modelers have already made rebuilds of this kit. It can be an amazing model.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by John-NYBW on Saturday, May 20, 2023 12:14 PM

George Selios did sometimes go a bit overboard with the clutter and the distressed properties. For that matter, so did John Allen who was his inspiration. I don't think that detracts at all from the magnificent overall effect of their work.

When building FSM kits, one can include as much or as little of the details as they like. I left some of it off of the two I built. 

One detail I've seen that is completely wrong is the inclusion of nail holes in clapboard siding. If clapboards are installed correctly, the nails are covered by the course above it. Exposed nail holes in clapboards would be a sign of shoddy craftsmanship.  

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, May 20, 2023 1:00 PM

John-NYBW

George Selios did sometimes go a bit overboard with the clutter and the distressed properties. For that matter, so did John Allen who was his inspiration. I don't think that detracts at all from the magnificent overall effect of their work.

When building FSM kits, one can include as much or as little of the details as they like. I left some of it off of the two I built. 

One detail I've seen that is completely wrong is the inclusion of nail holes in clapboard siding. If clapboards are installed correctly, the nails are covered by the course above it. Exposed nail holes in clapboards would be a sign of shoddy craftsmanship.  

 

About clapboard siding - yes and no. 

Real wood siding was and still is nailed both above the lap and below - BUT - with finishing nails, or "box" nails (which have a bigger head, but not as big as a framing nail) that are set and filled and would not show a hole visable in HO scale even in a deteriorated state.

My pet peeve is exaggerated wood grain. On that note, modern vinyl siding with molded in wood grain is the worst looking thing ever put on a house.....

Wood siding is baby butt smooth when installed and painted, and it takes a LONG time and a lot of neglect to make it look otherwise.

On a model, NOTHING correctly simulates wood clapboard in reasonable condition as well as plastic with a nice paint job, even if you want it to look a little weathered.

To my eye, "exaggeration" is not "detail".

Modern cement board clapboard siding is completely "blind nailed" above the lap - with roofing nails interestingly enough. I have installed it on many houses, including my former home:

 

Here is a closer view:

 

Try to guess what is wood and what is not.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, May 21, 2023 10:27 AM

John-NYBW
When building FSM kits, one can include as much or as little of the details as they like.

Absolutely. There is generally enough detail in a FSM kit for 2-3 structures. Great stuff.

John-NYBW
One detail I've seen that is completely wrong is the inclusion of nail holes in clapboard siding.

I am on the fence about this one. I know it is not accurate, but it does add something to the model.

I have a 1/4" pounce wheel, and it is easy enough to do, but it does look exagerated.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, May 22, 2023 12:03 PM

John-NYBW
I remember when the John Allen Special kit was announced in 1981. At the time I was living paycheck to paycheck and couldn't really afford the price at the time.

I was in eighth grade when it came out. I wanted it so badly. I remember it as being the first high-end model train item I really desired.

I begged my parents, but no luck. They bought me Grandma's House from Campbell scale models instead, and told me if I successfully built it I could have the John Allen Special.

Then the John Allen Special sold out immediately. I switched to N scale the next year, and the kit of Grandma's House remained unbuilt for more than a decade.

I finally built it and put it in the corner of my fourth SGRR layout.

I was going to send a picture of it to my dad and tell him he now owed me the John Allen Special FSM kit, but he passed away while I was building the kit.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by John-NYBW on Monday, May 22, 2023 3:22 PM

SeeYou190

 

 
John-NYBW
I remember when the John Allen Special kit was announced in 1981. At the time I was living paycheck to paycheck and couldn't really afford the price at the time.

 

I was in eighth grade when it came out. I wanted it so badly. I remember it as being the first high-end model train item I really desired.

 

-Kevin

 
I was pleasantly surprised when I went out on ebay several years ago and found I could still get one of those prized enginehouses. At the time, there were several being offered. Now I don't see any and haven't for a couple of years. I guess I just got lucky to be looking when I did. 
 
Now Menard's is offering a pre-built enginehouse that is obviously a copy of John Allen's engine house. I still haven't gotten around to building mine and don't know when I'm going to find the time. I'm considering using the Menard's one as a stand-in until I can get the FSM kit built.
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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, May 25, 2023 9:14 AM

I own nine Fine Scale Miniatures kits, but they not all in my top ten. If fact, I only own two of the kits that are in my personal top ten.

SeeYou190
These are my top ten.

So, here are notes about my top ten selections:

195: Barnstead Lumber Company

I own this kit, and I have a space set aside for it on the plan. I will use Campbells Saez Sash & Door Kit #2 for the lumber house instead of the lumber shed that comes with the kit. 

190: R. Schramm Manufacturing

I also own this kit and have a space earmarked for its placement. This is one of the great kits that could be on almost any layout.

200: Rollin Sawyer Chemical Company

I love this kit, but will never own it or build it. There is no space, and I probably will never have enough time.

JS-12: Oatman's Mercantile

Do not own it, but would buy it in an instant if it was for a very good price. Otherwise, I can live without it.

JS-15: Brownsville Depot

This was originally intended to be the depot in Centerville, but then the prices of the Magnuson Califax Station absolutely fell through the floor. Seriously, they were selling in the $200.00 range, then almost overnight they were selling for $25.00, so I bought one of them instead. However, I am still considering this kit for the Centerville Depot, and time will tell. Currently I have no plans to buy it.

280: Cartwright's Machine Shop

Beautiful kit, but it has a huge footprint, and I will never have room for everything I want. This kit is out.

265: Swakhammer's Welding

I do not own this one yet, but I will. I have the Walthers Cornerstone Railcar Excursion Shop that will be built as a "seat-filler" for this kit's location on the layout. I will buy this one when all my other FSM kits are completed. It is a $400.00 kit, and I am not going to spend that kind of money until I am ready to build.

JS-10: Avram's Baking

Gorgeous model, but it does not fit in with the rest of my layout plans, so I will not have one.

175: Rail Car Shed

This one makes the top ten only because of the excellent casting set included. Even if you don't ever intend to build this kit, you should go to Railkits and buy the casting set for this kit. It is worth every penny. Great stuff. I bought the casting kit from RK Models and not the FSM kit myself.

Special Run: John Allen Structures

I will not buy this set. Too expensive, and I already have all the engine facility structures I will need. However, it is a great set of buildings, not just an enginehouse. The detail castings are extensive, and the design is wonderful. Kit numbers 035 and 135 both have a nearly identical roundhouse. Kit 135 includes an extensive set of castings. I have kit 035 for the enginehouse.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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