A quick look at NZ120.org recently reveals that the scale - probably for the first time ever - has moved off the endangered species list and is entering its third and greatest age ...and going mainstream to boot.
Firstly, Russell at Trackside continues to churn out his range of kits, and as soon as he produces those lovely RTR items they seem to get snapped up. The availability of RTR (or close to RTR (btw, anyone remember Ready to Roll? Cringe.) items is a must for, and an indicator of, the scale's long term success, as not everyone who wants to run trains in NZ120 has the confidence, patience or time to make kits up from nothing or to scratchbuild things.
Secondly, there seem to be a lot of 'new' names on the forum, and not just armchair lurkers either, as the photos and videos of some really nice models and layouts show.
And lastly, over the past year a plethora of 3D printed NZ120 items have appeared as Shapeways models thanks to the efforts of some talented CAD designers. I've always wanted some CEs and more bogie box wagons, so being inherently lazy I recently ordered Peterlanc's ZM bogie box wagon and a few CE coalies from listers_nz to give the Shapeways channel a try...
|Piggyback Train (2013, Darryl K Bond, resin, brass, wire and paper) as installed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art|
After some discussion amongst the peanut gallery here behind the scenes at Motorised Dandruff Inc, I ordered these in white/strong/flexible material - primarily because its the cheapest. While it maintains a great level of detail it has a rough to-the-touch finish like sanded tile grouting, and while a coat or two of paint might cover that up, i'll probably run some sandpaper over the large surfaces to smooth things out.
Positively, with one exception there are effectively no signs of strata on the surfaces, so these are a lot better than some Z scale containers I received a year or two back. Yet the Shapeways printers are in a far lower league than Mark Gasson's Magic Machine, both with the rough finish, but also with fairly noticeable stair-stepping on the angled CE ends. Again, nothing a little sanding or filing can't deal to but I'll put them aside for now and look at the ZM. Not sure if you can see this clearly in the terrible phone-photo pics:
|No ribbing please.|
Having spent a lifetime looking at ZAs and not being terribly familiar with ZMs, I was initially worried that the roof pitch seemed a little shallow and that it was supposed to have four underframe braces and that I'd been swindled out of two. After finding a few ZM pics, the model of the more modern wagon is correct and I can stop worrying about this and concentrate on global warming, the future of endangered species and my receding hairline instead.
So, as predicted on this blog a few years ago, it's good to see CAD and 3D printing coming of age and revolutionising NZ120, and indeed all modeling. While building up a train of these models is still a fairly pricey and time-consuming exercise, the costs will fall in the next few years as more 3D printing services spring up locally. And of course the quality is improving all the time.
Nice work dudes!