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Card Models

There are some exquisite models made from card. And, it has to be said, some pretty horrid ones. It is a medium which is versatile and workable, yet at the same time quite hard to get right. My understanding of the genre is that there are four major classifications.

* Perhaps the most traditional is simply the use of card as a raw component in the construction of scratch built buildings.

* The second is the extensive range of printed card models produced primarily for the model railway market.

* The third is the (mostly) continental range of printed models of famous buildings. Sometimes sold as collectibles in their own right but appearing in my viewfinder most often in the gift shop as I leave an historic sight.

* Lastly, models produced as toys or novelties.

If I have oversimplified or missed something please do email Miniature Buildings and we will correct this.

Work in progress on Lilac Cottage by Nick Salzman

Card as a component

I have long been a fan of Pendon. You may have seen mention of it in other postings. What I hadn't realised was that work still continues. While looking for images as I was writing this I stumbled across the blog of Nick Salzman. He describes his blog as "The ramblings of a retired General Practitioner’s hobby of Railway modelling and Model engineering." He undersells himself. Take a look and admire some really high class work.

Work in progress on Lilac Cottage by Nick Salzman

Another exceptional modeller using foamboard ( which I'm happy to regard as a species of card) is French artist and master craftsman Emmanuel Nouaillier. These photos are copied from the interesting buildings pages within the County Gate website - built by an anonymous enthusiast (at least I couldn't find a page where he identifed himself). Within that site, take a look at this wonderful masterclass by Emmanuel.


Printed kits for model railways

Ten years ago a company such as Metcalfe would probably have been considered as the archetype of this genre.

This photo of their 00/H0 Scale Stone Built Wayside Station (PO238) shows all the detail and texture they continue to be proud of.  It comes as a die-cut card kit, with added laser-cut canopy brackets and awnings. They say it is based on Brunel's original drawings for a standard wayside railway station as used at Twyford and Bradford on Avon. But it is not cheap at £18 and the platform is extra. My biggest issue however with this style of precut kit is the corners, as seen front left next to the black poster. The fact the blockwork does not wrap around the corner really spoils it for me.

And one more little gripe, which is not unique to Metcalfe who are just following common practice. The OO/HO designation really bugs me. It may make sense for track but for a building it simply does not. Either it is made to 1/76 or 1/87. It cannot be both but is maybe something in between.

Superquick's Railway Hotel SQB33

Another long standing name is Superquick, who say they have "been manufacturing ....for the railway modelling industry for nearly 60 years". They say that "the innovation, that is the Superquick pre-cut card kit, has been developed and refined into the product you see today". As with Metcalfe, they use the meaningless HO/OO desigation.

Superquick's Railway Hotel SQB33

Despite the range of subjects,their long standing position and their attention to details, there is something that doesn't feel right for me. I just cannot quite put my finger on what it is. A little too bright and shiny? An old bias based on their offering from decades ago? Their continued presence means they must be doing something right. If you are an advocate for them please do write in.

By Nick Wood using Scalescenes material

But today I get the impression that Scalescenes, featuring the work of John Wiffen is the market leader. Home printing and internet usage has led to the domination of downloaded images to be printed and assembled (and modified?) by the individual modeller.

By Nick Wood using Scalescenes material

I just wish I was able to make them. Put together well they produce wonderful models but they are hard work. Certainly I have struggled, especially with window openings. Others have however mastered the art and the Scalescenes site features a gallery of what can be achieved. The two photos copied here are just a tiny sample of what talented modellers can create from PDF files downloaded from John's site. The range is not exclusivly railway prototypes but includes a church, castle, school and canal material.

Scalescenes material reduced to T scale (1/450) by Ian Wigglesworth

Scalescenes material reduced to T scale (1/450) by Ian Wigglesworth

He also supplies plain sheets for scratch builders. You will gather I am a big fan. My last use of some of some his stone walls was in constructing a nativity stable.

Returning to my gripe about HO/OO, there is no problem wth this kind of downloadable 'kit'. They are designed as 1/76 OO buildings but can just as easily be printed out that little bit smaller to make them 1/87 for HO layouts.

Or reduced dramatically to produce the crazily tiny Z or T scales. How do people manage to work at this scale? My eyes simply could not manage it. N scale is a stretch!

MRS low relief model of a 1930s factory

Scalescenes is, of course, not the only company in this sector. Model Railway Scenery is one arm of the Scale Model Scenery operation run by Justin Noble in Leicestershire. Their downloadable building kits are much grittier than some others. As this picture shows, their model world is a long way from the nostalgic chocolate box style of buildings for villages that might sit in Midsomer or Borsetshire. I will return to Justin's work soon in a piece I'm planning on laser cut models.

MRS low relief model of a 1930s factory

Other suppliers include Smart Models and Wordsworth Models.

Smart Models pub

If you are a fan of buses or the London underground you will probably already know of Kingsway Models. As well as their more serious offerings you will find this free download of a fictional Tube station.

Smart Models pub         &       Kingsway East End Tube

Kingsway East End Tube

An Italian display

Souvenir models

Wherever I travel, but especially in continental Europe, the souvenir shop at the end of the tour - of cathedral, chateau, bell tower, palace, etc offers me the chance to buy a kit to make a card model of what I have seen. Sometimes a big fancy model (at a big fancy price) in an A4 sized pack and sometimes just postcard sized.

An Italian display

The display sample             

Until now I have resisted the temptation. So the only examples I had seen were the made up examples in the shop display. But this month I tried my hand at making one - the Chateau du Clos de Vougeot. Take a look at how I found the experience? Have you tried them? Please share your experience.

Produced by Heinemann

Toys & Novelties

I stumbled across this 1983 example in a charity shop recently. It is waiting to be made up with a grandchild some wet afternoon. Though, actually, it may prove to be too hard for young fingers.

Produced by Heinemann

I'm sure there are plenty of other examples.

As always, write to us by e-mailing MiniatureBuildings.

David, December 2019
(last updated 6/1/20)