Way back in February I blogged about how fun the Tomytec building collection ('The Town (Machinami) Collection No.7' to be exact) was. Although the quality isn't great (more on that below), the relative value and diversity of building types is very intriguing for anyone looking for something a little different in their N Scale structures. Plus, they're a lot of fun.
I've done a couple of minor modification to a couple of these, I blogged about the KFC 'conversion' already, and below is a photo of a Chinese restaurant with relatively minor changes.
This was an easy three or four LED modification, with a 'homemade' Peking Garden sign (backlit with LED's) over the front.
You can also make out some of the 'quality' issues with this series in that photo, and its really to be expected. The walls, floors, etc.... are somewhat warped, and the method that is used to assemble them (which is really just sliding tabs into grooves and held there by friction) tends to result in less than flush corners and joints. This is not a design problem for Tomytec, as it appears these are aimed for more of a toy-like collector than serious modelers. In truth, this doesn't bother me much, and there's some things you can do as a modeler to address these issues that are pretty simple.
On the other hand, the amount of screen printing or painting that goes into each one of these models is very much surprising compared to the standard fare seen in most 'serious' kits, and I've yet to actual repaint one of these Tomytec models as their colors and detailing actually work quite well (particularly for 'fill areas' in my city that won't be highly visible). I should also mention that you get a little packet of 'detail parts' with virtually every building as well, including stairs, signage for the roof, and other various pieces that are made to snap into various holes placed in the roof, floors, walls, etc....
One thing that doesn't look right about the above picture? Well, if its going to be in a 'city', then its not going to sit all alone without some neighbors next to it! And that, my friends, is one way of addressing the 'warped walls'.
The next project combines three of the TomyTec buildings, removes all the walls (in fact, the center building is actually a corner building that has a triangular footprint) and leaves nothing except the storefronts (only one of which was modified from a very 'traditional' looking Japanese storefront, to a more modern plate glass sort of front).
The following photos show these buildings in the middle of construction prior to the lighting and final 'details':
The building with the clear plastic 'front' is going to end up as a 'bank', the middle building stays untouched (I like the "Fuji Grill" name and graphics too much), while the corner building on the end, with a sort of stucco exterior, gets some crazy color-changing LED's (a nightclub perhaps? not sure what the Japanese characters on it say the building is, but I think a shady little club in the city will work!).
Yes, that brick building on the far left is not part of the Tomytec collection, but I think it looks like it would fit right into this neighborhood. I think this will make an interesting little area of my city...after the cold, serious 'high rises', this will look like that block not too far off where things are just a little bit edgier!
One other recent project has been the Tomix 4048 'bow front building' conversion to a hotel. This was relatively easy, but took me forever due to distractions from other projects. I originally came across this building on Scaper's impressive Flickr site, and knew that I had to have one. I used two kits, and tried to use the extra ground floor as a 'normal floor' (albeit with high ceilings), to pull this off, I added a strip of styrene in the doorway gap, some clear plastic for the window, and hopefully pull of something that looks like it could be a 4th floor ballroom or something.I also went a bit overboard and added some interior detail. I made two 'beds' out of various plastic parts, used scrap paper for wallpaper, and added an LED for a table lamp (in addition to a third LED that is right above the window shooting down) and of course, a figure doing something.
By the way, its important to get a light source as near to the window as possible (you can see my LED in place below, which did require some milling of the frame above it when I put it together), if you place a light near the 'back' of all your detail, it puts all your detail work in shadow, thus losing a lot of the value of doing this sort of work in the first place.
Here's a shot of the final 'room' with the lady standing there.
Arghh... yes, there's still an unslightly gap there between the building sections (still not done). And a final shot of the building just prior to its getting its signage (the "Mercuit Hotel"....a name my daughter came up with that means nothing at all!).
The ground floor has some basic 'hotel registration' detail as well, nothing fancy (although I did use the elevator banks that come with the Tomix kit), just a few figures, scrap paper glued to foamcore to simulate a desk, etc...
With this building, I also used an old technique that modellers have used to simulate window blinds for the first time. I don't recall the name of this tape (and it was hard to find), but prior to duct tape, this is the sort of thing you would use for packages. It really does give a good simulation of blinds or drapes (and now I have a huge roll of it for future buildings)!