Fire Engines and Cliches

Category: Trains
Tue, 03 Feb 2009, 20:28

While having breakfast in a small hotel in Bavaria years ago, I heard some music playing outside. I saw a small group of people, some playing instruments, all singing. They then came into the hotel and continued their music inside. Later, the desk clerk told me that they were celebrating someones birthday the night before, and they decided to come back to continue the party. After that, I thought that a small group of musicians playing on the street would make a nice addition to a Bavarian-themed layout.

A parade in the Rheinland.

That's what I was thinking of when I read the "Railway of the Month" article in a recent issue of one model railroading magazine I regularly read. The author wrote the following about his layout:

"There are none of the clichés that seem popular - not a fire engine or burning building in sight, no cavorting couples, and certainly no Bavarian brass band. Instead we have chosen the few figures on the layout so that they are in natural 'still' or 'resting' positions."

This person has a reputation for building fine layouts, and I would love to see more layouts like his at the local shows. But is it wrong to use a cliché in a layout? What exactly is a model railroading cliché? Are burning buildings, cavorting couples, or Bavarian brass bands really so out of place on a model train layout? Do such things not exist in real life? As I pointed out above, bands occasionally do parade down the street, either in an official capacity in an annual event, or just on a whim.

Not that there's anything wrong with being selective about the little touches on a layout. But one should not be critical of those who choose a different approach, or a different style of layout. My point is that there are different tastes in model railroad design. While one modeller might not want to have a burning building (along with the requisite smoke) on a layout, such touches can be quite popular with visitors to model railroad shows, especially children.

T3 emerging from the woods on my layout.

In closing, I'd like to add a photo taken on my own layout. I've always said that a layout can never have enough trees, and lately, I've been slowly growing a small forest on mine. Bachmann offers a nice line of ready-made trees, including some nice pine trees. Perhaps I'll add some wild animals within my forest. Or would that be considered cliché too?


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