Wednesday, April 14, 2021

TRAIN TIME: My New Train Layout - Pt1

Wellll, for the last 6 years I wanted a train layout which could accommodate larger engines and rolling stock than my Edge of Town micro-layout. My older Marxville and Plateau (MaP) layout was technically very nice and had great scenery but it was made with Marx O-34 track and I couldn't run some of the stuff I wanted to, so this layout will have O-42 diameter track.

The older Marxville and Plateau was a ca 9' x 14' 'U'-shaped layout but after dismantling it in 2016 I ended up with an 'L'-shaped board ca9'x8'. It's this cut-down board that's seen a lot of use for temporary train layouts and Little Green Army men and toy set-ups over the past five years, but after I start building the new layout I'll have to figure out a different way to play! :-)

Anywho, after removing the last piece of terrain leftover from the MaP, I quickly placed an oval of Menard's O-42 tubular track down. This track is what's called 'Standard O' and has a larger profile than the O-27 track I've been using all these years (I hesitated to use Lionel's FastTrack because of all the complaints out there about conductivity issues). I also find it odd and a bit funny that a lot of railroaders out there cover their FastTrack with ballast, even though it's made to look like there's already ballast.

Enjoy! Opa Fritz

Removing the last remnant of my old Marxville and Plateau layout. I'll keep this terrain piece for future use.

I have several new buildings from Menard's and right now it looks like this will be a more urban setting than the Edge of Town micro-layout

Marx, Menard's, and Lledo buildings populate the board today - tomorrow that will likely change!

a quick test run

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Collect A Daxiatitan (2015)

Doing that Alamo set-up was a lot of fun but it's been dismantled now and I think I'll swing on back to dinosaurs and whatever else suits my fancy.

Gone are the days when a toy dinosaur could fit comfortably in the palm of a child's hand. Today you can get them in a variety of sizes and a quick perusal of the toy aisle at Target reveals huge figures made as tie-ins to the Jurassic Park series of films. Many of the dino's now available sport realistic color schemes based on the latest scientific estimates of what a dinosayur may have looked like when alive. Primary colored critters are still available in header bag sets but by-and-large the modern crop of dinosaur toys come in more natural colors. 

The Daxiatitan is an herbivore from the genus of titanosaur sauropod dinosaurs whose fossils were found by the Daxia river, a tributary of the Yellow River in the Gansu Province, northwestern China. They roamed the Earth around 140-100.5mil years ago - give or take a week or two :-) 

Collect A is a name I was totally unfamiliar with until starting to get a bit more serious with this whole dinosaur thing. It's fairly large, soft plastic, at 10 1/2" (26.67cm) L x 7 1/2" (19.05cm) H with a primary body color of light green with darker green, reptilian-type markings. I have two of these and both of them have gimpy left front legs. Enjoy! Opa Fritz


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

TRAIN TIME: My Edge of Town (EoT) Train Layout Made The Cover of Classic Toy Trains (CTT)

Welll, the big news of late is that my Edge of Town micro-layout made it into the pages of Classic Toy Trains! I have the cover photo as well as a feature article! Whoopee! LOL When I was a young 'un and into HO scale model railroading, I marveled over the layouts of people like John Allen, Jim Findley, Earl Smallshaw, John Olson, and Malcolm Furlow. Their layouts were stunning and I wanted a big layout like theirs and have it featured in Model Railroader magazine (a Kalmbach Publishing product). Alas, my HO scale mega-layout never came to be, Classic Toy Trains magazine didn't yet exist, and I wasn't into toy trains until much later in life.

Fast forward to 2016 when I dismantled my larger Marxville and Plateau layout and resurrected my small portable layout from its resting place out in The Cave turning it into a permanent display. But that was fine and I enjoyed running trains on a smaller board. By 2019 I had grown tired of its toylike appearance - perhaps my yearning to go back to my HO scale days when detail was king! I didn't want the layout to be micro-detailed like the HO-scalers do, but I wanted it to be more than it was and so I embarked on an evolutionary journey to transform the relatively plain, uninspring train board, into a semblance of a model railroad - albeit with toy trains running on it. The process started in late 2019 and after nearly a year of on-again, off-again work, the layout began to take on the appearance of nicely detailed model railroad. Towards the end of 2020, one of my Y'allTube subscribers (Cody Holmes) mentioned that I should submit some photos to Classic Toy trains - it couldn't hurt! I was expecting perhaps a photo or two to show up in their 'Photo Album' section but in Nov-Dec 2020 after a series of discussions with Roger Carp, Senior Editor at CTT, an extensive questionnaire, and a few extra photos it became apparent that we were aiming for a full fledged article. It was to my great surprise then that a couple of weeks ago I saw the pre-release announcement of the upcomning May 2021 edition featuring my layout AND cover photo. WOW! Was I stoked.

So as it turns out, I did make the pages of a Kalmbach magazine, it just wasn't Model Railroader. AND, not only was it not a mega-layout, but was among the smallest layouts they've ever featured for 3-rail O-gauge trains. Everything worked out in the end. A Big shout-out and Many Thanx to Cody for giving me that nudge to submit photos, and to Roger Carp for working with me to polish up a nicely done article on my tiny Edge of Town layout!

For anyone interested, digital copies can be purchased at Zinio:

Enjoy! Opa Fritz

Sunday, April 4, 2021

My Franken-Alamo Set-up - Pt 3 Final

Here's the final version of my Alamo playset set-up. I took out the Disney gate on the west wall (the wall closest to the viewer), then I bought a second tin adobe hut from Peter Wassmiller and used it as the Trevino house. From what I've read, the Trevino House apparently had a peaked roof, but this will do as a stand-in. I bought more ladders: now there's 25 and the set-up could use more! The horse corral is now behind the Long Barracks and the two plastic Marx walls have been replaced with Atherton Scenics walls. This was another fun build and I enjoyed seeing my Alamo toys out and on display for a while, but now it's time to dismantle the thing and move on! Enjoy! Opa Fritz

If I'm disappointed in anything it is the ladder climbers NONE of them stay on the ladders in a 'natural' ladder climbing pose, so they all appear as if they're already climbing over the walls or being shot

Saturday, April 3, 2021

John Wayne's "The Alamo" and My Mexican Dragoon's Uniform From The Movie

Some years back I was really into buying movie props. I was also really into the history of the siege of The Alamo and those two converged such that I was able to acquire one of the uniforms worn in the film. After recently viewing a television special on the making of John Wayne's "The Alamo" it appears there were approximately 2200 extras playing the Mexican forces as either infantry, calvalry, or those pressed into service by Santa Anna. That means there were a lot of costumes to go around but the uniforms and helmets were sold separately and it took me years to acquire the helmet after buying the uniform. Enjoy! Opa Fritz

This was a well done reproduction of a larger sized poster. The originals are quite pricey

This is also a reproduction publicity still

The following two scans are publicity stills - not lobby cards - that would have been included with the Press Kit for the movie. Press Kits were sent to the theaters and included small books on the making of the film, biographies of the stars, perhaps a one-sheet poster, advertising art to use when submitting advertising to the local newspapers, lobby cards printed on heavy cardstock, and many stills printed on normal photo paper (some stills could be B&W while others could be in color). Big production films, or films the studios deemed important, would get a ton of stills included in the kit. The theater managers could do what they wanted with them but the idea was to display them in the lobbies as promotions for the film.

The uniforms were made by the Western Costume Co., which was also mentioned in the TV special I saw. Now here's the rub: I also have props from Billy Bob Thornton's "The Alamo" that could make this unform more complete looking but they're buried out in The Cave and not easy to get to at the moment!! arrrgh! LOL

The helmets are fiberglass with liners