Since returning from Italy, the butterfly driving the decision making part of my brain has dictated that I add the railways of that country to my list of model making interests. The Yorkshire component in charge of the wallet opening mechanism had grave worries that it was going to get costly.
I'm not a naive newbie, there's almost fifty years worth of making trains under my belt, I've taken a keen interest in the overseas scene for many years now, but I still held this preconception that continental HO meant deep pockets and opening boxes. I'm pleased to say that this is wrong, that budget options are available, along with kits and components which enable model making in the style to which I have become accustomed.
The photo above shows pretty much where I've got to with my Italian interests, and serves to illustrate that economy and craft can be brought to bear. From the right we have a Lima model of a FS D445 which cost fifty quid, forty for the loco and a tenner to post from Bologna. For that you get all wheel pick up and drive, five pole motor and a heavy cast frame. The body is finely moulded and well painted. It seems to me to be on a par with the sort of 00 gauge ready to run diesels we're used to seeing from Bachmann. The one area where compromise is obvious is the lack of cab interior and the intrusion of the cast frame into this area. However for forty notes it's a steal.
In the centre is a part finished conversion of a Piko German brake van into an Italian baggage van. There's been much cutting and sticking gone into this model so far (detailed here), but it's been most satisfying to be able to deploy familiar model making techniques to an unfamiliar prototype. The donor van cost me three quid, it's one of those cheap and cheerful continental items which turns up at toyfairs and on e-bay at minimal cost.
Finally on the left is an Italeri kit for a goods van. The kit costs about a tenner, about on a par with similar UK kits from Parkside once I'd added couplings (not included with the kit) and replaced the plastic wheel sets with metal. To build, it again stands comparison with Parkside kits hitting the sweet spot where the balance between ease of construction and the fine detail included is at the optimum.
I have spent considerable time on the interweb researching this new and exciting sphere. I was very pleased to find that many of our fellow Europeans practise the sorts of model making which we are familiar with in the UK. Here's my favourite.
Perhaps it's the efforts of some of our home grown practitioners which have led to the stereotype of pay through the nose and deploy the box contents continental modelling.