Friday 14 September 2018

El Plastico

A big part of my layout is trying to get the scenery looking right. Sometimes it works and sometimes doesn't, but more good than bad.
I have joined a Facebook site On30 Railroading which is mainly USA narrow gauge based. I am aware of the East Broad Top railway with its green environment in the north east corner but the remainder seem to be in the wild west where the scenery is totally different to what I am trying to achieve.
Take the Rio Grange a well know narrow gauge line based in rocky territory. Most of the scenery is 'rock based' as opposed to 'greenery' based which I prefer. Just a personal preference.
My choice of modelling Victorian narrow gauge really didn't leave me with the rocky scenery option as all their lines were basically forest based. I could have run my fictional line and base it around the Ayers Rock (Uluru) area. I may have had it finished by now!
You only have to take a ride on the Puffing Billy to fall in love with the magnificent scenery complete with their tall trees and abundant tree ferns. Replicating this type of scenery is a challenge, so what we do is to use the materials available to represent it.
The modeller of today has way many more scenic material available today to make it all happen compared with when I started modelling many years ago. I think the best we could do for green scenery was to buy a bag of green lichen and place it around the layout. We accepted it at the time because that was all that was available. Todays modeller is spoilt with the choices now and you often wonder why it wasn't available sooner as what we have now is not rocket science.
Take a look at the products that Woodland Scenics, Mininatur, Scenic Express, Busch and Heki now provided and there is no reason that a great outcome cannot be achieved. I have been using a combination of those brand products and they all work well together and I will never buy another bag of lichen.
The leading photo shows an area where I have been working around a level crossing that divides one baseboard. The last post has shown a photo on how this area has progressed. You look at your bare baseboard and wonder how it will all come together. It does but slowly and as each item of scenery is placed it all comes together. You can then go back into an area and superdetail it. When your layout is finished and the scenery is completed, the scenery takes second place to a train running through a scene, the eye will follow the train and not stop at a tree that doesn't look right.
Now moving on from that last sentence there are some items of scenery that just aren't available commercially but placed in the right spot they blend quite well. Having upscaled from HO to On30 now makes it easier in some way to have more use for various plastic artificial plants that I have spied at various 'two dollar' shops and other outlets.
The picture on the left shows two of the plastic artificial 'plants' that I have removed from the 'donor' plant. One thing is for sure is that looking at them they don't readily identify with anything I have seen growing in nature.
Again it doesn't matter as they are there to represent a slice of scenery you are making.
I suppose the plant on the right may look like a birds nest fern, maybe more if I try and spread the leaves flatter.
The driver would measure out just under 6 foot tall so the plants are on the larger size.
I haven't paid any more than $15 for these plants and also look out for bargains when their price is reduced.
A few months ago our local Aldi store had some artificial plants for sale. I spotted them as a possible candidate for South Coast Rail. While they seem to be getting better with plastic representations of real plants many of them linger on the shelves as they just don't look right.
In the photo above I was lucky to score the plant in the white bowl after I was watching the price drop after being in the store for over a week. It was already down to half price and I noticed there was a chip in the bowl. When I took it to the cashier and showed him the chip and asked if he could lower the price more he then knocked it down to around $7 which I considered a bargain. You can see when it is bunched together it can form a type of bush to be placed into the scenery. The top right ball in the above photo contains all the 'birds nest ferns' and as can be seen there are quite a few encircling the foam ball. They just pull out readily from the foam with a spigot that holds them in place. The plant on the bottom was just another one I spied at another place. You must remember that I am modelling in O scale and I don't think any of these items would work in HO. Sorry guys you will have to join the 'black sheep' modellers as we have been tagged by the US fraternity.

My latest acquisition today was another Aldi special. It was a supposed model of a bonsai tree. The end foliage on closer examination looked once again suitable for inserting into the scenery. Initially when they came out they were priced at $25 which I though a bit rich for what I wanted them for. While I was happy to play the waiting game and see if they would reduce the price a week later and it was a chance that they would all be sold and I would miss out or that they would just return the unsold plants back to the warehouse. As there were about 25 of these plants available I took my chance as on the following week they had been reduced from $25 to $15. I was still not budging on purchase and took a gamble they would still be there a bit longer. Our local Aldi had recently enlarged the store and now had a larger area for unsold overflow. I went in there today and there were still quite a few there left but on closer examination I saw they had come down further to $12.50. My wife who knew what I wanted it for was quite happy for me to purchase it. The cashier was not the slightest bit interested when I told him I didn't want the pot, the pebbles or the trunk and only wanted the green bits for my model railway. There would be nearly 100 separate plants I was able to get of this one plant. Maybe I might consider getting another one if they go down in price again. Still a bargain for what you get.
The following photos are to show how some of these plastic plants readily blend into the scene.

You can see  from the above photos that these 'plastic plants' blend in quite well and suit the type of scenery I am trying to replicate. Some of them might appear a bit crude in the photos above but viewed at normal level they work in well.
I would also like to put in a plug for the Modellers Warehouse run by Dave McPhee. He is a great guy to deal with a just deals with scenery products. He will be at the Liverpool Model Railway Exhibition, Sydney in around two weeks time. Check him out while there or his web site.
So next time you are in a 'two dollar' shop or Aldi check out their range of plastic plants, you might come out of the store a winner!