The Little World – Meets the Big World

And they do not meet at the hobby shop – they meet at the DIY shop – the Home Depot – the ironmonger’s – the Bunnings. And you have to be ready when they do.

We are accustomed in the Little World to being done. In some cases over, and in some cases like a dinner. We have long realised that our wallets and purses are merely containers for someone else’s money. We have patronised hobby shops, dollhouse shops, gamers shops, and toy stores for decades in the sure and certain knowledge that we couldn’t possibly live without whatever it is that has taken our eye, and that it will also take our drinking – and in many cases our eating – money for a month or more. We swim up to the counter with mouths open and gasping for goodies. We’re like human goldfish. No need to be koi about it…

But it need not be so. We can be modellers, miniaturists, and collectors without becoming the natural fodder of the hobby shop. All we need to do is adjust our viewpoint and our scale.

As you get bigger in scale, the designs, materials, and techniques employed get much closer to real life. And they get, surprisingly , cheaper. Oh, it is more expensive to buy a 1:1 scale Chrysler hemi engine than it is to buy a 1:24th scale model, but the reverse is the case when all you want is corrugated iron. And when it comes to paints, scale equates in a logarithmically reverse order to price. If you painted a Ford Prefect in 1:1 with pots of Tamiya paint it would come out to the price of a Bugatti Veyron.

So. So take advantage of the low prices on paint when you need it for a 1:18th, 1:12th, or 1:6th structure or vehicle. You can get perfectly good coverage for any of these in the hardware store. Bucket or spray can, the paint can be made to look scale-correct with a bit of thinning and in the case of some of the enamel sprays can do a damn sight better job than an airbrush. You can score sample pots of paint and complete a whole project for $ 5.

Likewise fasteners, screws, nuts, bolts, and odd bits of casting made for many other purposes can all be swung into battery with the larger scales and at hardware shop prices. The oak strip wood and moulding racks are your friend and even the humble MDF stacks can be the materials of your dreams…if you dream big.

I have yet to find a good scale reason for regular doorknobs and bags of chicken manure, but I’m still thinking about it. At least in Australia you need not think hungry – Bunnings does a regular sausage sizzle on Saturday that most of us regard as sacred. Sacred with onions.

The Little World – Theatre In The Roundhouse

My visit to the West Australian Model Railway Exhibition is always enjoyable, but this year has been even more so…I have had time to reflect upon the theatre of what I was seeing. In some cases it was a complex thing and the layouts deserve praise for the sheer scale of their works.

None more so than that of the large-scale operators. I have a particular affection for them as I once owned a large amount of LGB rolling stock and track and took part in several of the rather crude early layouts at this exhibition. It was held in different halls on various years and we took advantage of hall tables and stages for the large brass track. It all arrived in boxes, we assembled a scratch layout on the floor, and then ran trains rather willy-nilly for a weekend.

No such crudities now. They have a large dedicated oval layout with three tracks available, plus shunting yards and steaming bays. They operate electric two-rail, battery-powered r/c, and live steam. I’ll bet they would run clockwork if they could get the mechanisms. The trains seem to be the same mixed bag consists that we used to lash up, but with better cars and more realistic operation. As the operation is of first concern, they are nor worried about mixing different rail systems on the layout…as long as the trains are accurate in themselves.

One thing I was bemused by was the different show that the electric trains provided vs the live steamer. The LMS locomotive with the wonderful carmine LMS passenger coaches was being driven by hand, and the minute adjustments needed to get it started and then trimmed for steady running around the circuit meant that the driver had to circle the layout at a fast clip himself. You got to see the train at intervals between seeing him. The electric people could stand in the centre and drive the trains past you for an uninterrupted view. I did note, though, that they had to contend with oil and material on the rails so there was a fair bit of wiping down after the steamers had finished. One thing – he got more healthful exercise that they did.

The temporary nature of the exhibition combined with the massive nature of the trestles and rail yards meant that scenery was kept to a minimum. It would be good to see some of these trains in a natural setting like a garden, or on a fully sculptured layout. The scale would hover between 1:22.5 – 1:29 but that is pretty consistent with the car model scale so there should be a fair supply of accessories available. Even dollhouse gear can be found in 1:24, if you wanted to get really, really detailed.

And I really, really think it would be a good idea.

 

The Mini-Motor Trade Monthly Report

Well, the last of the boxes have arrived from New South Wales – this year’s quota of new die-cast models for my collection are ready for unboxing and display.

Or, I should say, they are ready for further work. They have already figured in complex plans for photo shoots and now it is time to prepare them for their roles. They will be unboxed and the worst of the anomalies ground off them…by this I mean any mounting posts that the makers have left visible on the bottom of the chassis. They do this even on some quite pricey models and the result can spoil low-level shots if you are not observant.

Then it will be time to consider whether there should be any weathering. While I am quite enamoured of the normal wear and tear look of normal daily drivers, some of these cars are always going to be showpieces or central players in advertising scenarios. That means clean tyres and no road grime on the sides of the body. The license plates might need to be changed and little anomalies polished out, but essentially the models are ready to go.

There is one model scheduled for a big repaint straight away, and I have no idea exactly how to do it yet. It will be a complex pattern with advertising signage and extra accessories glued on. It goes to the back of the queue…

I am starting to collect more trailers and caravans as well, and have started to notice more of them in the smaller scales ass well. They certainly appear to have been a popular subject for the classic die-cast makers of England and France in the 50’s and 60’s. I would add some of them to the collection except that the market seems to regard them as far more valuable than new models. I am not a great fan of being driven to overspend by someone else’s urging.

And then we’ll start on the structure building and the set making for the new shoots. A new building was completed this week, and will show up in the studio shortly. I am getting better at assessing what degree of detailing is necessary for a good appearance on the photographic table and the new foamcore construction methods are speeding the construction no end.

And finally, the new series of Hot Rod Honeys and Hunks shoots started last weekend with a Hollywood starlet and a pesky news reporter at The Goldfisch Studios. The prep shots were all ready to go beforehand and I am happy to say that the talent were perfect in their roles. The only technical hitch occurred  when the studio cameraman inadvertently turned off the RAW recording on the camera and only saved medium fine JPEGs. Fortunately Fujifilm JPEGs are superb and the images are excellent. A dumb mistake…he’d get fired if it wasn’t for nepotism.

 

 

The Little World – Of What I Did On My Holidays

I went on my holidays to see my Uncle and my Auntie.

They live in a house at Tolleshunt which is out in the country, but not so far that you run out of roads. Also there is the Britishrailway, which my Uncle says is the only thing that Tolleshunt has going for it past the pub. But we did not go past the pub, and neither did the Britishrailway, so I don’t know what he means.
 My Auntie said that I was going to stay for a week but my Dad said I could stay longer and my Uncle said why. But he never told me why and that was the year that my little sister was born but it was 9 months later. My Auntie was very nice, and she laughed at my Uncle but he did not laugh back.
My Uncle said go and look at the railway because my Dad had let me bring the Ilford camera with me. It is our Ilford camera and my Dad said that it was loaded with a role of Seebacrome film and I was not to waste it but take good pictures because it cost a King’s ransome to develop. The Ilford camera is white and it has a strap that you put around your neck so that you do not drop it. And it has three speeds and Bulb, so you can take pictures at night, but I wasn’t allowed out after dark. I can wind on the film myself.

These are the pictures of the Britishrailway I took. The trains come by every so often and the steam one smells like a hot potato cart. The coach is very fast and it is not sharp but that is okay. My Uncle says that it is a wonder that the Britishrailways moved fast enough to blur but I don’t know what he means.

 I think it is wonderful to live so close to the Britishrailway and when I grow up I want to do this. I also want to be a cowboy. I also want to go to visit my Uncle and Auntie again for more than a week but my Mum says not if it is that again, but I don’t know what she means.

The Britishrailway has sandwiches that you can buy but Mum doesn’t. She packs me jam ones.

 

The Little World – Modelling Yourself A Story

The featured image is where I lived in 1959. This house still stands and is seemingly occupied by people no different from who we were. Google Earth has revealed their choice in cars and vinyl siding, and the prodigious growth of the tree out front of the place in the intervening years. The rest of the landscape – mostly volcanic rock – is unchanged. Apart from Mt St. Helens, not a lot can change in the rocks around there.

In making the model I have surprised myself. I was able to locate models of the cars that my Grandfather, Father, and Uncle owned at the time. I was able to fill the garage with the tea chests and Bekins barrels that were the common receptacles of our nomadic life. All that is needed now is a red Raleigh bicycle to complete the picture.

It has been the work of a month, and encourages me to think that I can tackle much more complex structures…if only I can think of them. As we lived many places there are lots of possibilities – but in the future I am going to be guided by the principle of modelling my own experiences rather than those of others. This is not to decry other people’s work or interests, but to tell my story rather than repeat that of others. We get enough second-hand and third-hand political, religious, and moral instruction as it is.

Or rather, we are enriched by other’s visions in art, and can be enriched by the same in modelling…but we are far better showing our own art rather than repeating that of others.

I am encouraged to think that I do not need to restrict myself to just the cars of the 50’s and 60’s…I’ve been driving since then and I’ve gotten to see some pretty exotic vehicles. It is as valid for me to stage modern car shows as it is to make models of old houses – I am still telling my own tale.

The Little World – A Rainy Sunday

” A Rainy Sunday In Cannington ” is not exactly the title of a show-stopping Broadway tune. Even given full Eurovision treatment, it is unlikely to get in the semi-finals…Yet it was as much fun as any exhibition could be. Here are photos of the day, and you can pore or gloss over them as you like. The aficionados will know what they are seeing and the rest of the populace can occupy themselves with looking at the enthusiasts and shaking their heads…

It was fun to see the wheelers and dealers circling each other’s wallets as well. It is quite reminiscent of the camera markets in Leederville…

The Little World – The First Exhibition

Yesterday was the first time I got to exhibit a model diorama at the West Australian Model Collector’s Club…and it was a good experience.

Dropping into a fresh milieu can be a daunting thing, but the members of the club made me feel welcome, and my display was easy to set up. It encourages me to try my hand at further shows.

I’m not a seller of toy cars. I’m barely a seller of anything these days, unless you count cheesy humour – but I did get a chance to show off what I do to an audience that knows what it is looking at. As any artistic person will tell you, that is the most valuable thing of all. You may not be liked, but you are understood.

I think they liked the display of McConnell Beach and Muzz Buzz. These are two dioramas…or snapshots of life…that I have created with my 1:18th scale cars and a buildings. They are both uniquely Western Australian and as such can be readily recognised. They resonated with all the visitors at the fair. I think this was reason I chose them out of all the other dioramas available – the ease of social access.

Later in the year I will try another club and another exhibition – and the more difficult task of showing dioramas of a different country and time. I am counting on the universality of western experience to fill in gaps of perception for the people who see Mangina Motors and the Tomahawk Cafe.

If it seems to work, I will forge ahead with Crestline Drive and Mission…my slices of life in Spokane, Washington and Calgary, Alberta in the 50’s. If not, I will choose a local subject from Victoria or a country town in WA.

Did I have a good time today? Yes, I did. Did I buy some new cars? Yes, I did…though they were the bargain sort rather than the premium offerings. I have an airbrush and the desire to make my cars look real rather than fabulous. I am not daunted by beaters.

All in all, I think that I shall be very happy with the WAMCC.

PS: My vote for the best in show was the Muppet Movie display. That man has style!