Thursday, 25 October 2012

Copy Catcott

Having only recently considered a serious return to the world of indoor model railways I find myself faced with a familiar dilemma from the garden railway world: The danger of falling into the habit of copying other modelers rather than the prototype.

It is easily done, particularly with so many high quality modeling resources available in the model shop, the newsagents, and on line. Just look at the list of layouts in my links bar. I'm quite open about the fact that Chris Nevard's Catcott Burtle was the catalyst for my return, and I'm sure for many others, by proving what realistic results can be achieved with a mixture of out of the box products and a manageable amount of kit bashing and scratch-building.

My fear is that someone, worst of all me, will take one look at the finished Apa Vally and think "That's a poor man's Polbrook"

It is a bit like those amateur photographers who, whether consciously or not, waste their time trying to emulate a fashionable style of picture, rather than finding something distinctive to say. Of course that isn't a waste of time if you work out how to take a certain kind of shot, then disassemble the techniques and combine them with others to come up with something original.

Ian Stock, who has done so much to raise standards of realism in the garden - and whose N gauge layout will be featuring in the Railway Modeler in the New Year - talks a lot about authenticity. For me I guess there are two components to this authenticity. A layout needs to represent a perceived reality effectively, and it needs to have aspect of the builder's personality and skill embedded in it.

I'm going to have to work hard to ensure that on such a small layout I don't inadvertently add any elements that are pure modeling cliché. As I write that I can already reel off a list of elements that are just that. The hard choices this might involve include the choice of rolling stock, the scenic methods used, and the general feel of the model. In theory that means no Sentinel shunter, no Planet diesel, no Ratio 4 wheel GWR coach, no Morris Minor in the goods yard, no grass from teddy bear fur and not being able to use those excellent laser cut flowers.

Hmm, on the other hand imitation is the sincerest form of flattery....

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