Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Eurospoor 2014

DB says (in lieu of actually doing any NZ120 modeling at the moment, although I did buy some spoked wheels here):

Eurospoor bills itself as Europe's largest model train show, and as its just a short tram ride away, I thought I'd check it out.

Initial impressions: at 17€ for one adult to get in, its pretty expensive.

Covering two large halls in a convention centre, it's pretty huge.

I doubt I covered 10% of the trade stalls, but did see most of the layouts, so here are some things I noted. There were a few layouts which really "wow"d me that I'll present in upcoming episodes.

There were a LOT of layouts on display.  Big and small, from Z to Gauge 1.

A4 Dioramas

Gauge 1
Piko even had a few unmanned circuits of track on the carpet in one area so kids and parents could play trains.


This was a stunning wee Z scale layout that operated flawlessly, including electric points and automatic uncoupling. The trains ran out to a small staging yard via a horseshoe curve out to the right. Nice scenery for Z.

For some lovely scenery on a larger scale, US northeast styled 'Mara Bay' in On30 or so.

How's this for a big bridge?

And how's this for a big layout?

Zounds. Yes, that guy is driving that tugboat along the river...

A few common themes.

Computer controlled layouts, signals and layout lighting were being pushed by many vendors I'd not heard of. As with most new technology, one has to wonder 'why'. This stuff is still in its early days, andvery expensive, but will probably be the way that lighting and sounds and even some of the trains on future layouts will be controlled... RGB LED lightstrips seem to be the in thing for pelmet lighting, so that you can change your lighting effects from sunrise to nighttime.

Its nice if the pelmet holding the lighting - or at least the lighting itself- can extend out beyond the layout though so that items close to the edge receive some 'sun'

Noice light
As opposed to:

The Dark Side
This layout did have a nice staging tray setup, instead of the more common yards (often ending in large turntables) and there were a few transfer tables in action too.

Shadow boxing of layouts, especially smaller ones, was very common and very effective, drawing the viewer into the scenes.

One odd example of shadow boxing was this 'international' layout that linked scenes from different countries. Presumably built by different people. This lacked a little cohesion to me and the fact that each overly- short module seemed to use quite different colour temperature lights didn't help.

A more convincing modular shadow-boxed example was this one that came from France. Its (presumably) a very accurate model of trains doing their thing on the mainline, and unlike the one above, all the modules 'looked' like they were part of a single effort. As has been mentioned on this blog many times before, there doesn't have to be a port or a city or a steelworks around every bend for a layout to be effective.

Every caternary mast and lineside box was modeled faithfully - with prototype pictures and videos of the line to prove it! They also used a CTC machine and closed circuit cameras to help with their operations.

As you can see, matching team shirts were also must-haves. The one thing that this layout lost points with for me (in an exhibition setting) is that being almost entirely single track, while a train ran around the layout at scale speed, there was nothing happening for most of the punters, with seemingly long pauses between activities. This was true for a few layouts who seemed more interested in doing their own thing than 'exhibiting'.

Spaghetti Junction
Modular layout shapes were definitely freeform. Even the French layout at the top was set up like a wave, rather than a straight line, to break apart the locations, but many layouts were in the shape of an octopus, for want of a better descriptive, with one of these at the end of every leg:

Here's an operating junction between legs. The train at right is waiting...

Strange the way you can walk all around these maze-like layouts... And here's another junction, although the left tracks just ended beyond the frame here. I guess they could have assembled another leg out there if they needed.

On top of loco sound setups, which seem to be getting more effective every year, there were also a fair few speakers around throwing out ambient sounds - farmyard animals, steelworks noises and so on.

Most Bizarre Award

You'll have to listen very closely, I will say this only once.

The O scale railbus moves off from it's stop (as seen here) to the right (into the tunnel).

A few seconds later, an OO scale railbus appears from behind the tunnel, moving from right to left across the stone viaduct.

A short while later, an N scale one appears in the back right and heads to behind the mountain (above the railbus in the above pic)

And lastly, a Z scale one heads out of there for the back right corner of the layout.

Afterwards, the cycle reverses and the railbus journeys back via Z, N, HO and ON30 to the foreground. How's that for clever use of forced perspective!

And as with many layouts, this one had an animated blacksmith and welding shop and sound effects (including distant eagles!) were provided. Some cool video here - note the guy waiting for the train about half way though who is gone after the bus leaves...   more (and more accurate!) info here

As well as animated cows, people cutting hay and vehicles, this J-shaped Swiss layout based on the Furka line had an animated couple being... how should one say this... 'amorous' in the trees. I'm not sure how they got the variable syncopation so perfect but that couple above the bus and the parked Harley sure has some staying power. She must have thighs of steel.

The MO of this steeply graded layout is running a train from either end and crossing them in the middle. There's about 4 feet of vertical separation between the top and bottom stations and the trains seemed to be running on center-cog rails but I'm not sure if that was just for looks.  Rimutaka incline anyone?

And a general roundup of some other layouts that caught my eye:

This layout (love that narrow gauge German stuff - note the standard gauge wagons running on top of narrow gauge wagon transporters) was unusual in that it didn't have a backscene - it seemed quite an interactive experience for the operators as well as the crowd.

The big Altberg layout. Meh, whatever. 
I've always liked hide-and-seek trains 
This one almost forces you to look down long the valley rather than the usual side-on perspective. Reminiscent of some modules Rhys made once for a layout we had at the Waimate Vintage Car Club...

Second Most Bizarre Award

Speaking of forcing you to look from a chosen viewpoint...One approaches this box labeled 'Tunisia' and are encouraged to peep...

 A train is circling - you might be able to make out some gondolas going away in the lower pic, passing a bunch of camels and robed figures on the next track! Interesting and effective...

There were three or four other layouts that I thought were really special - I'll present them next time...

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