Protests and Frustration in Quinntopia

While you would expect the "Little Plastic People" of Quinntopia to be quite satisfied with all the recent developments on the layout (a new tram line, a scenic viaduct, more apartments and offices for living and working) there is unrest in the city.

The other day there was a significant protest in downtown Quinntopia.  While the protester's messages varied, they all seemed generally displeased with the fact that this list of projects never ceases to end, and in the meantime no trains are running!
"We're just tired of all the waiting," said the plastic lady in a giant pink sack, "I mean, we were patient through the construction of the tram, the new train station, and all that...but where is our Nankai 50000 Rap:t?  All that effort to light it and get it to run in DCC...so WHERE IS IT!?"

A man wearing a blue thing demanded more prototypical correctness.  "Its bad enough you have trains from Japan and Europe together, but you have trains from different countries operating on the same lines! Who would believe that! We must put a stop to this prototypical heresy!"

Others were less concerned with these issues.  A man in front of the "Electronics Rip Off" store commented "Look, we're made of plastic, we should be happy just to be here. Someday I know I'll be CA'd to some nice piece of styrene sidewalk, but I know I need to be patient. Hey, I'm made of plastic, its not like I'm going to age or anything".

An onlooker outside the "Super 24 Market" wanted us to know that he was just getting some groceries and doesn't want to get involved in "all the political stuff".  He also added "and something else, looks like there's some monster attacking the city over there!"

It turns out that not only were no trains running (still), a full-on protest, but even monsters were attacking.  Fortunately the Quinntopia Xenomorph Self-Defense Force was on alert and ready to do battle.


Hilton (Heljan) Grand Hotel Mostly Complete

With some minor detailing and touch-ups, I was able to finish my Heljan Grand Hotel kit(s).   I was fortunate to get one, but a trade with a friend scored me a second one allowing me to double it up to get some more 'city height'!  And its quite tall!  My tallest building yet! Yikes! When will it stop!

I didn't make any major changes to the kit, but a lot of smaller things were done to it, or added to it.

As is always a good idea, even if you like the color it comes in, I repainted the entire building.  This includes a coat of black paint on the interior walls to impede translucency, and a light grey-ish color for the building exterior work (Model Masters Camouflage Grey), and a buff tan and metallic bronze for the windows and window frames (both of the later from conventional hardware store spray paints).

I liked the kit's exterior elevator with the glass walls detail, but felt like a second elevator was necessary (and yet, on my 20 story Aoshima apartment building, its all stairs! Go figure!), so I created my own 'glass' elevator shaft by painting the back wall for the shaft a dark grey (with some wires and other random strips of material to simulate the inner workings of an elevator) and using the metallic bronze paint on a strip of clear acrylic for the window trim on the glass face.

I also added an elevator, with an SMD LED in the elevator roof, to the left-hand elevator 'shaft'.  I think this is my favorite feature.

At the top of this new elevator shaft is a backlit "Hilton" logo.  This was fairly simple; used my ink jet printer on some decent paper (e.g. somewhat thin paper for photo printing), sandwiched between the same logo printed on my ink jet on transparency sheets to create the sign, and then backlit with three LED's.

On the rooftop, 3 Miniatronics flashing red LED's were added, with the center one sitting on a Plastruct girder-created 'antenna' tower.

On the ground floor, I wanted to do something to make the entrance less tall (and loose as much of the remaining legacy of HO this kit may have) so I added a backlit sign for the "Hilton Grand Hotel" using the same method as described above.
The windows received three different treatments: Thin black styrene sheets; masking tape, or packaging tape.  Each in turn gives the effects of dark, occupied and shades drawn.

Lighting the interior was the easiest part.  I used a flexible strip of 30 SMD LED's from trainaidsa called the FX 12 Volt Flexible Lighitng strip.

This was simply wrapped around a piece of styrene (actually, sintra) that goes up the interior of the building and was soldered to the leads for the other LED arrays in the building.  Wallah! The lights are on, but still nobodies home!
I was too impatient to set up the tripod for some 'night photography' but of the dozen or so I hastily shot, the below shows how it looks at night with some of the other structures:
As I mentioned at the top, still need to attach a few more details (e.g. the ground floor is empty and needs some detail, some sanding and touch up is also required of paint that got damaged, etc...).


Tramway Star House Kit Bash Complete

I posted last month about the arrival of three models of the new "Star House" from Tramway from Japan.   I've spent most of my modeling time since then working on this building and, as always, I'm now mostly finished and can share some photos and what I've done.
As I may have mentioned on original post on these models, they look fairly plain.  Not only is their no discernible 'ground floor', but there's no 'roof' area where you might expect to find HVAC and other utilities.  The color scheme was pretty atrocious as well.  These buildings don't come with any 'glass' or plastic for the windows, and there are no 'floors' to separate one apartment from the next.

My idea was to use a couple of spare 'ground' floor units from a Kato Tomix building and go from there.
Having determined the necessary width and depth I would need for the Kato Tomix buildings to act as the ground floor for this building, I realized I'd have to cut and kit bash the ground floor quite a bit to get this to work.  My Dremel tool came in very handy for this.
Given that I would be lighting this building using standard 3mm LED's, I need to create some floors (or ceilings) to seperate each floor and act as a base for the LED's.  I created a whole bunch of 'floors' and gave them various colors to help give the impression of carpet, woof floor, etc...
These floors each received either one or two LED's that go through the holes I drilled:
I'll save you from any photos of the excitement of watching me solder these things, but I wired all of the floors with LED's in sets of three, that way I can solder them in parallel using a 120 Ohm resistor for all three. 

Dissassebly of the kits wasn't too bad, and nothing broke in the process.  I decided I wanted this building to be somewhat colorful in a contemporary way.  Although the base building would have 'earth tones', I originally went with a light blue for the balconies.  Well, the family voted and they weren't thrilled with the color, so I went back and used Tamiya's 'gray-green' instead...still colorful, but a bit more muted than the below.
The building's base color is Testor's "Camoflauge Grey" and the accent color is Model Master's "SAC Bomber Tan".  If nothing else, this building is painted in the correct colors for a warship.  In retrospect, the TAC was too bold, but its done, and I can live with it, although I'm not crazy about it.
The above photo shows the seperated pieces and also gives an idea of the amount of masking that had to be done to paint this moded.  Except for the balconies and window gates, everything is cast into the building, so each window frame, accent color and piece of trim had to be masked to be painted.  Fun!  Of course, there are the obligatory touch ups where I apply too much spray and end up getting a 'leak'....
The most difficult and frustrating part of this build was the window gates.  The plastic is very 'flimsy' and does not like to stay flat.  Getting these mildly warped pieces to stay in their holes without covering the building in glue was not a lot of fun:
I did paint these black, along with the rails on the balconies.  However, since they sit in front of the dark brown window frames, I ended up given them some dry-brushing to make sure the railings stood out.

Fast forward past what seems like many hours of adjusting, sanding, gluing, soldering, and touch ups to the below!  This is actually the 'back side' of the building (the front is shown in the photo at top).  All of the balconies face towards the 'back' (not sure why, that's the way the kit was set up).  I also added in a 'parking garage' entrance....which is sort of a joke as it really doesn't go anywhere (but that's okay as my little plastic people don't really drive...and if we run out of parking space on the layout, and I can take cars off and shove them in a box.  How's that for solving urban congestion!).
Yes, it looks like the building is tilting in the above photo...its actually one of the wires that's propping up the back end and giving it that annoying tilt in the above photo. I'm actually very relieved that this was the case, because when I saw this photo on my computer I about freaked out!

On the ground floor, we have an "Elprice" (electronics store from Norway) with Mos Burger...which is something of a hit in Japan and other places in East Asia...and now with a franchise in Quinntopia!
Another shot of the parking garage:
And finally, a night shot of a new place where the Little Plastic People of Quinntopia can now rest their heads:


When Trains are Cool (Great Video)

Electrique feat. Solex - Train Grande Vitesse
Uploaded by NextBuzz. - Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.

Not sure how I came across this little video, but-despite the low quality-its a great little video of the French TGV accompanied by a cool little electronic ditty by a band named Electrique (whom I believe are defunct) name... "Train Grande Vitesse".  The song, by the way, explicitly features the distinctive audio notes played in SNCF stations for TGV announcements.  That's pretty cool.

Terrific editing on this video, and great staging for a model train layout on video.  Very inspirational!

Its stuff like this that makes trains cool and fun.  Not sure who was behind this, certainly a huge difference from the 'banjo-backed' music you find accompanying most train videos!