Over the past ten years several fundamental changes have taken place, normally as a result of the on going dialogue we maintain with our customers.
Originally the range was sold only in the form of kits although this in itself was a little misleading as the word ‘kit’ gives the impression of a number of parts that need to be put together before the model is painted.
In fact a large number of our models consist of single piece castings requiring no construction prior to painting. Many potential customers were confused and this put some off. We now grade every one of our models for its ‘Degree of Difficulty’.
Grades go from 1 to 5 with 1 representing those single piece castings that only need painting and 5, the more difficult models we advise are not for beginners.
The model railway hobby is a very broad one and contains within it modellers with widely divergent interests. Some may only want to construct complex locomotives; others may want to reproduce in exact detail a particular location.
Others will have a large number of tracks allowing multi-train movements but have them running on bare baseboards. Some will not want to build anything because, for example, they do not have either the time or the skills. They are often prepared to pay a small premium to have the models built for them.
To meet the needs of this large group we introduced a range of our models in hand-painted and finished form. Over the years more models have been added and we now have more than 80 different hand painted models available from stock in N and 24 in OO.
In the past, our range has comprised a large number of individual detail parts that can be used on their own or in groups to add detail to larger models or layouts.
Card Construction (Back to Top)
Traditionally in the UK models of buildings have been made from card or plastic and a number of excellent ranges exist in both forms. Customers often ask for information about specific prototypes although there are many situations where there are few or no available models.
Card is at its best portraying fairly flat surfaces such as in houses, stations or warehouses. Plastic is more versatile in portraying awkward shapes but the tooling costs are much higher.
The UK market is fairly small compared to say continental Europe, the USA or Japan and its structures differ quite noticeably from these other areas. Any manufacturer committing a large investment to a new model will want to be sure sufficient sales can be made to spread this cost well enough to make the retail price affordable.
This has meant that most if not all of the large plastic models are of designs that are not suitable for modelers of the UK scene without some (often severe) kit bashing. In the US, using card seems to be the exception rather than the rule (they have severe changes in humidity and temperature which do not suit models made of card), rather they have a tradition of using wood for many of their structures.
Originally the wood was supplied in thin laminated sheets together with a set of scale drawings, which were used as templates to cut out the required shapes that were then stuck together. There is, of course, a limit to the type of shape that the wood can model and so a tradition grew up of including components from a variety of sources chosen for their suitability in portraying the subject being modelled.
These kits came to be known as Craftsman models as it was assumed the modeller had certain skills to undertake the various, different, stages of construction. With technological advances these models became much more sophisticated, the plans were drawn using advanced computer software and this was then loaded into special laser cutting machines that translated the designs into a wholly accurate ‘jig-saw’ of pieces.
This is somewhat unfair as the pieces remain held in place on the thin sheeting using small tags that are cut through by the modeller. Often copies, or ‘laser maps’, of each sheet are included in the kit to allow easy identification of the parts.
For many years we have provided detail castings to one of the major N scale manufacturers in the US (The N Scale Architect) and during 2002 we reached an agreement with them to begin production of a range of these models designed specifically for the UK.
This approach allows fairly large and complex prototypes to be modelled at an affordable price with more realistic production runs given the size of the UK market. The models include sufficient detail parts to allow the model to be completed without the customer having to look elsewhere for the bits and pieces needed to complete the project.