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"Garden Railways" review

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(product review as printed in the December 2009 Issue of Garden Railways)

Upland Trains early 1900 storefront
The Corner Store
1:24-scale resin structure
By Kevin Strong
Published: Saturday, October 24, 2009
1:24 scale, ready-to-use, resin, late 1800s/early 1900s storefront
Upland Trains
1810 W. Foothills Blvd.
Upland CA 91786
Price: $49.95
Web site: www.uplandtrains.com

Ready to use, painted, cast-resin structure. Dimensions: Length, 11½", width, 9½"; height, 9½". In 1:24 scale, this works out to 23' x 19' x 19', respectively

Pros: Sturdy, one-piece construction; removable acrylic base allows for interior and lights to be added; good wood detail; crisp paint with nice, matte finish

Cons: Walls have very slight outward bow

If you look through photographs of small towns from the turn of the 20th century, you're bound to see one in the background-a small building with a squarish façade, likely with some kind of ornamentation on top, and simple board-and-batten or clapboard siding.

As ubiquitous as this architectural style is, it stands to reason that a model of such a building should feel right at home on most garden railroads. Upland Trains' model captures the look and feel of this kind of building very well. The large storefront invites adding the name of your favorite dry-goods merchant to it. Windows are large enough to see into but not so large that, if the building was placed in the background, the lack of an interior would be noticeable. The simulated wood has enough grain to be noticeable from a way away, but is not overdone. The front wall is clapboard siding with vertical boards for the signboard area. Sides are board-and-batten, and the roof is (simulated) corrugated iron.

The building is average in size, not quite 12" deep by 10" wide. It won't take up a lot of real estate but still has enough size to appear larger than a broom closet. Upland Trains states the scale as 1:24, and the doors match that scale nicely. If you're the kind of modeler who doesn't worry about slight scale discrepancies between trains and buildings, then this building will fit well into your operation. If you're specifically modeling 1:29 or 1:32 standard gauge, I think you'll find this building too large to be of practical use. If you're modeling in 1:20.3, the building has enough size to work well, but the doors will have to be enlarged a bit.

The building itself is well made. It's cast from polyurethane resin, which is stated to be weather resistant. Walls have a slight bow to them, which is noticeable when looking down the side of the building, but really only then. In the garden, viewed from six or so feet away, it blends into the surroundings. I've seen many such prototype buildings with similar bows to the walls, so, in that respect, it adds to the realism. Paint is crisp and, with the exception of some slight overspray on one of the windows, cleanly done. The white paint is a little translucent, which I think adds to the effect, giving the building a not quite "just painted" appearance. It softens the finish enough that the building can be set in the garden straight out of the box and look quite at home.

This is a way of adding a bit of everyday American architecture into your garden with no effort. With a sign and some details, it can occupy a prominent spot in your landscape.

(Copyright © 2009, Kalmbach Publishing Co.)