December 15, 2011

Nice Backdrop Painting and Models

The 2012 Wigan Model Railway Exhibition in Yorkshire, England featured some awesome layouts. You can find a nice summary of them here. I am a big fan of British exhibition style layouts and want to build one or two myself, once I get the Aquia line finished.

What is a exhibition layout? I could not find an simple definition on the net, but I define it as a small, portable, self-contained model railway designed to operate with a public audience. In the United Kingdom a tradition has developed where trains shows invite layouts to display at their exhibitions. The shows pay the layout owners to bring their layouts and usually cover their expenses. In return, the shows charge an admission fee which can be up to $20 US. Only the best get invited so the quality of the work is usually quite high.

This is rarely done in the US. In most US train shows the layouts are displayed by volunteers without recompense. Some shows actually charge the layout owners a fee to cover insurance. The US attitude is more come one, come all, and run-what-you-brung. As a result some of the work you see displayed at US trains shows can vary widely, from contest quality modeling to cotton ball tornados wiping out a cartoon town.

The thing I find attractive about the exhibition style layout is the manageable scope allows for a high level of execution.  Many have self contained lighting and theatrical stage-type presentations. They can be little jewels of craftsmanship. However, these are not just static dioramas but operating model railways.

The Eaton Gomery layout by Peter Thomas has a particularly nice backdrop. This was done in 1:76th scale.

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