|Written by Paul D. Race for and|
One question I get asked frequently is "Where Do I Go to Learn More?" I hope you'll check back here from time to time, since I have many articles on the "drawing board." But you also need encouragement and ideas from a range of resources. The books, magazine, and videos listed on this page are all great sources of inspiration.
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MagazinesClassic Toy Trains
Kalmbach publication prints more magazines about train-related hobbies than anyone else. If you have Lionel or are interested in Lionel trains, this magazine will give you some great background on the history and wonderful variety of these trains. It also contains occasional information about American Flyer or other vintage trains that you may find interesting. If nothing else, learning what accessories are available and seeing how people set up their Lionel or American Flyer railroads many decades ago may give you some ideas. This magazine will not be all that interesting to anyone who is running just On30 or Large Scale, however.
VideosLeigh Gieringer has a Fine Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her artistic talent shows in her ability to present collectible village structures and accessories in fresh and eye-catching ways. She has written most of the books on the subject (see below), but has added these DVDs recently. The Halloween 101 DVD includes many tips that apply to any kind of display village, so don't let the name put you off.
Recommended BooksStrange as it seems, no one has actually written one good book on using collectible village structures and model trains in the same display. I'm not complaining, because that will keep BIG Indoor Trains(tm) in business for a very long time. Still, the truth is that the more you work to provide a realistic setting for your towns, the more your trains will look like they belong there as well. (and vice-versa) As an example, most collectible village structures come with "character" painted right on. But model railroaders are used to "weathering" and detailing the plastic building kits they use until they have just as much "character." Put them both in a realistic setting and you'd be surprised how well they "complement" each other, and how good your On30 or O gauge trains will look running past them. The books below are chosen for this page because they each have unique content that can substantially improve the effect of your display (and railroad).
Displaying Collectible Village Structures and AccessoriesTo say that Leigh Gieringer has "written the book" on displaying Collectible Village structures and accessories would be an understatement. She has written three books and countless articles that will probably find their way into another book soon. As you can probably tell, the focus on the first book (1998) was the sort of Christmas villages first popularized by Department 56 beginning in 1976. Volume II, the middle volume to the right (2002) contained several new ideas that had been developed while Leigh was writing magazine articles and otherwise building on her original concepts. The "More" volume (2005) includes many ideas that are useful for year-round trains and for creating displays just for holidays such as St. Valentine's Day, and St. Patrick's Day. The book also includes detailed steps for using styrofoam, paper mache and Geodesic Foam, and a wealth of other decorating ideas from over 25 different collectors.
Designing Realistic Settings for your TrainsThe books listed below are written with the model railroader in mind. However, they will help you design realistic settings for your trains and towns. They will give you good ideas about arranging things so that your railroad looks like it really is "serving" your communities instead of just circling them. And if you want to try your hand at model-building or detailing, or at diorama making, these are an excellent place to start. Again, a well-detailed, realistic setting will show off both your trains and your towns to their best advantage.
If you come across any resource that you'd recommend to others, please contact us.
Best of luck,
Paul D. Race
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