Wednesday, 26 October 2011

New books and bits on the bench...

Hi all,
 Bit of a quick update an review of some of the new things that have landed on the workbench in this last month.  First of all, following my tree clinics from the recent NMRA Convention (and thanks to all for the good feedback), I had a chance to browse through a brilliant tree modelling book, and had to own a copy.  The book is "Modelling Trees, part one - Broadleaf Trees", by Gordon Gravett.  I was semi-familiar with some of Gordon's fine modelling from some magazine articles I had seen on his layout, "Pempoul".  This soft cover book is 92 pages of some of the finest modelled trees I think I have seen.  Superb photos, well documented step by step images and descriptions, and easy to read instructions make this a really cool resource for model tree builders.  One of the points that is made in the book, is the estimated time required to model some of these wonderful trees (often 10-20 hours per tree!).  It highlights the simple fact, that be prepared to spend the time, and the results are far more rewarding.  The book covers the modelling of elms, oaks, ash, silver birch, willow and beech trees, as well as ivy, hedgerows, and even birds nests.  I certainly look forward to giving a number of these techniques a try in the future.

Also new to the bench, was a few fine laser cut detail pieces from VectorCut.  Turns out, I'd been on the hunt for some 1/48 padlocks for some little detail features on door latches.  Knowing that Dave at VectorCut had done some crazy small details (I mean HO scale hamburgers and hot dogs, that need assembly!), I asked him if he would consider doing a set of mixed padlocks.  A few weeks later, he sends me the link to the new product on his site, saying thanks for the idea.  I had previously picked up some of the VectorCut tools and gears sets, so knew what to expect.  Well, the padlocks arrived (I also ordered some car parts for a future diorama), I wasn't disappointed.  They're laser cut in laserboard, etched in detail, and include skeleton keys!  NUTS!!!  His site is worth checking out just to see what other crazy details he has chosen to cut...recommended browsing (and not bad value either).

I also recently ordered in a number of castings from The Aspen Modelling Company.  I've known that these were really nice castings for a while, but took a while to get around to finally ordering some.  Some of you may be familiar with these figure and animal castings from some of the 1/48 animations the Laurie McLean MMR has been featuring on YouTube for the last few months.  The castings are pretty clean, minimal flash, and really nicely detailed pieces.  I picked out a number of the horses (will be needing a few of these for a future blacksmith/farrier scene), and a couple of the figures as well.  Prices again, very reasonable, and postage was great, just $6 for overseas orders.  I don't doubt I'll be back for more of these castings in the future.

And lucky last, a few detail parts came in from Sierra West Scale Models.  I suspect most modellers would have heard of this manufacturer before...well recognised for some well designed kits, but probably equally recognised for the detail castings that complete the kits.  I finally got around to ordering a few of these details as well (available as individual items, so you don't have to buy the whole kit just to get the detail castings).  Another set of superbly cast details, and I look forward to going a bit cross eyed painting them up.

At least I can't say I've got nothing to do in my spare time.  Plenty to read, plenty of small parts to paint.  On top of that, I've been playing with some LED strip lighting pieces as possible replacements for the old heavy fluoro tubes I would normally use to light layout modules (that will be a future blog report).  The new Outback Model Company kit, "Carver & Dawson", is due to hit any day now, so there's another project to pass the time.  I've been able to watch this kit develop slowly over the last 6-8 months, so its great to see it finally going into the box.

As something different to also throw in the mix, I sat down and had a chat via Skype with Jimmy Simmons, which has been recorded as an interview for the October edition#53 of "The Scotty Mason Show" podcast.  It was a fun chat, and I don't think I used too much local slang to confuse the wider audience.


Monday, 10 October 2011

The NMRA Convention wrap...

Hello gain, and I'm back now from a tiring, but certainly enjoyable and inspiring weekend at the 2011 Australasian NMRA Convention, held up in Melbourne.  I headed up on the Friday afternoon to assist with setting up the venue for the weekend, before enjoying two days of interesting clinic topics and conversations on a mixed bag of model railway subjects.  It was a fairly intimate event, with about 80 attendees.  The venue made it look like a small crowd, but it was all good company.  Early starts and late nights, with lots of ideas to think about while laying in bed at night can make a young-ish body weary.

Across the two days, we got to hear a good range of topics presented in either lecture or workshop formats, from DCC LED applications, casting techniques, CNC milling with live demonstrations, various discussions on model development and techniques, as well as a number of talks on some prototype settings and modelling thoughts. As well as that, I was also there to host a couple of workshops on how I go about building my gum trees, which was well supported by all, and I was happy to receive plenty of positive feedback (as well as some good after discussions brain storming some new ideas).  Thanks to Mario Rapinett for the couple of shots during the clinic.  I'll add here a link to my clinic notes on how I do these trees (its a 10.4MB file as a word of warning)...

As well as the clinics and workshops, a couple of traders supported the event, with thanks to Brunel Hobbies, Outback Model Company, Narrow Gauge Downunder, and Fine Art Model Trains, for being there to happily accept some modellers hard earned dollars. 

There was also the modelling competition that is usually a part of such an event.  I was quite happy to accept the award for best diorama (with my Kawarren piece, as featured in the previous blog posting), as well as the "Rick Shoup Award" for best model of an Australian/New Zealand prototype.  I also thought I'd have the Kawarren goods shed structure judged under the NMRA criteria, and was happy to score a merit of 108/125 with it.

And then here's a selection of images from across the weekend.  Congratulations to those others who were awarded in the various competition categories.  If I could have one slightly negative thing to report from the weekend, it was the perhaps low number of participants in the said competitions.  I would prefer to see more entries to this area, even if the model is not entered with the intention to receive any awards (I don't neccessarily enter things with the prize in mind, although I do like to offer my best work), but to atleast put more on offer for fellow modellers to admire and discuss during the show.

There was a number of private layout tours available for the Sunday afternoons entertainment, with a mix of scales and gauges to visit, but I had a long drive ahead of me, so opted not to head out and visit any of these (another day maybe).

 Thanks to the organising committee of the 2011 Melbourne NMRA Convention for the hours dedicated to planning such an event.  Its a tiring job with little reward, but their efforts were thoroughly appreciated by all in attendance.