The Little World – Scale Down

rafIn the world of the Little World you can scale down nearly anything…except earth, air, fire, and water. These elements stubbornly insist upon being 1:1 all the time. We do our best to miniaturise them but in the end have to resolve the problem by adjusting our minds.

In the case of the earth, we can sometimes come as close to the thing as possible. You can grind up rocks to make sand and grind the sand further to make dust…and then spread it over your models. In some cases you make the model sticky with glue or paint before you do this an end up with a reasonable texture. In some cases you just dust over the lot and let nature take its course – if you need to re-dust the model you just go out and get more dust. In the most fortunate cases you do not need to purchase it in small bottles for $15.95 a  time.

But sometimes the scale dirt just doesn’t look right, and you find yourself at the hobby shop with your credit card in hand…

Air is invisible, but when you try to fly your R/C aircraft into it you discover that the gusts and eddies make the models react in anything but a scale fashion. It is only when the models get bigger – much bigger – that realistic action starts to take over. And you are in a world of work to get big models approved, built, operating, and paid for.

Water is never going to make a scale model shop look like a real one under way. The physics of the medium is such that everything bobs. Hollywood gets over the problem by filming models in slow motion, but generally the size of the splashes give the game away. Very few scale models can make a realistic bow wave, though non-scale underwater pegs and vanes can be used to almost get the thing right. Surprisingly, the wake at the stern can look very realistic if the propellers are deep enough.

Fire? Well, if you are really making fire – as in steam engines – you are going to have insulation troubles. if you are just trying to make smoke, be aware that most scale smoke is too light and wispy to be useful. Chemical smoke is costly and smelly but does come closest to the real thing. Most people just avoid the question.

Scale light is successful, however, and is going to be even more so in the future as LED ‘s get smaller and more sophisticated. As they do not generate heat, they can be incorporated into all sorts of models.

Scale smell? I must get you to view my 1:18 Chicago stockyards on a hot day. Breathtaking model…

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