Mocking Up the Hilltop

It’s very pink, but with a bit of imagination you can see the forested hill rising behind the houses, which will have a small Shinto shrine tucked in amongst the trees, with a stairway down to street level, a very typically Japanese scene. This mock-up was part of my final refinement of the design for the Hilltop Scene. I’m not quite done, but I’m beginning to accept that I have a sound idea for what I want to do.

Bus Models for Japan

Jerry’s recent post on Quintopia about cars and the arrival of my order for four N-scale Tomytec bus models have me thinking about road vehicles.

One of the hardest parts of modeling a contemporary model railroad is the lack of contemporary road vehicles. By far the majority of what is available seem to be things not seen on roadways for half a century. And an urban railroad needs a LOT of model vehicles to look even slightly realistic. And they can’t all look exactly alike either.

As Jerry noted, Tomytec’s collections of cars, trucks, and busses (links are to Japanese pages) are a very good way of acquiring fairly detailed models in bulk at reasonable costs. A typical car collection bought from Japan runs US$67 before shipping and contains twelve boxes, each containing (typically) two vehicles. Even with shipping, that’s likely less than $5 per vehicle. Not as cheap as the low-quality Chinese models available off Ebay, which are suitable for filling in back streets, parking garages, and other places where the car is more glimpsed than seen. But a good price for a detailed model, and about a third of what European models go for.

Shipping from Japan isn’t cheap. I use EMS (express mail), and shipping my order of four busses cost me $15, about 50% of the cost of the busses themselves. But I’m impatient, and EMS gets the package to me in about five days. If you can wait weeks (or sometimes months), shipping SAL (standby air) will be a lot cheaper for small, lightweight, models like these. But it’s still going to be a significant part of the total cost. If you want to order these, see the websites of the Japan-based hobby stores listed on my Suppliers page for more specific information.