Structures

eit27 Dec 29, 2013

  1. eit27

    eit27 TrainBoard Member

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    It appears all too often we hear what we are missing in this scale as far as rolling stock, motive power, etc.

    To me, what we truly are missing the most are structures. We have lost a few major players in the past few years. And as of right now, there is a real lack of downtown buildings in the scale.

    Maybe as a group we need to reach out to the manufactures to see if they would consider doing more runs?

    Just my two cents worth.
     
  2. BurlingtonRoute

    BurlingtonRoute TrainBoard Member

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    Buildings are always nice. Ones they have downtown and ones along the ROW of the Midwest are always good. Im happy for the new trains and engines, but they have to go somewhere.
     
  3. markm

    markm TrainBoard Supporter

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    Ed,
    Really a broad pondering.

    If you're referring to ready-to-run structures, I fully agree. A very limited selection and most not of top quality.

    There are a fair number of laser kits, but there is a limit to what one can do. There are probably too many mine related kits and not enough good ole suburban houses.

    The German makers have a good selection of plastic kits. A good source for scratch building parts since they use sprues with parts for multiple kits. For me the biggest problem is Americanizing the kits.

    I really like what the Town Builder kits did, both in details and their typical American building.But I understand, there are issues that will probably limit future releases.

    But the real issue is the difficulty to make a profit on structures. I believe this was part of the issues for TBS. Most of the Z scale American structure makers tend to be 1-2 person operations. That really can limit the ability to produce new products unless you make it a fulltime+ job.

    I've looked into producing structures myself: basically kits for tilt-up industrial buildings. But I just couldn't get the numbers to work unless I would produce several hundred upfront. I'm afraid I wasn't willing to take the risk and it would take too much time away from playing with my trains.

    As far as my preference for new structures I like to see something newer than the 1960s: Tilt-up buildings, strip malls, big box stores and fast food restaurants.

    Mark
     
  4. Alaska Railroader

    Alaska Railroader TrainBoard Supporter

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    Mark, you hit the nail on the head. TBS was killing David and I to produce. The only ones making money from TBS were the dealers. We made nothing on them and they took so darn much work and time. We finally had to stop.

    I love to design and produce kits but regrettably we laser companies cannot make a living on Z alone and we have only so much time in a day. You have probably noticed that SBM has cut back on new release Z kits because the customer base is so small whereas the larger scales are just as eager for new kits and I believe there is something like 6 N scalers for every 1 Z scale modeler. I have plans for more Z kits but my time is limited and it isn't as simple as one might think to just "shrink" the drawings. We just got a new and larger laser so I need to get accustomed to it before I can give a timeline for new releases but Z will be in there.

    I also plan to revisit my suburban homes and revamp the drawings a bit. I'll also make some different styles while I'm at it. And finally, just in this short thread the requests have spanned a vast difference in structure types. Its hard to please everyone but be patient, I think 2014 is going to be a good year for Stonebridge.
     
  5. EMD F7A

    EMD F7A TrainBoard Member

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    Has anyone started doing 3D-printed Z buildings? Something like DPM but without all the wall glue? I imagine Z's tiny size would make 'em pretty cheap to run...
     
  6. eit27

    eit27 TrainBoard Member

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    Karin you beat me to the punch on Mark's comments.

    I heard a while back that is what was the demise of the TBS structures. The cost over-weighted the production of the kits. With that said, have you guys ever entertained the idea of producing another run and making them a SBM exclusive? Even if the kits were to have an increase to the end cost, its better than nothing at all.

    It is no secret that Z scale is a small fish in the market of modeling. But I really think Mark is onto something, expressing the need for more modern structures. Take this lightly but, most of what is out there is either European or Steam Era.

    I believe the only way to draw the younger generation to model trains is to produce items that they are use to being around or have seen in the past.

    Once again, just my opinions.
     
  7. BurlingtonRoute

    BurlingtonRoute TrainBoard Member

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    There are a couple of 3D printed buildings out there, I was thinking of picking up. Still might have to add some details, but it is a start. I dont think 3D is at the point for fine scale detailed cars and engines quite yet, but buildings should be good to go. Still better than cardboard ones. Way better than scratch. European companies are dipping their toes into the laser cut market, but they want more money for them than they do for the plastic kits.
     
  8. markm

    markm TrainBoard Supporter

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    Karin,
    I had the time to build my TBS kits over the holiday. IMHO the best buildings I've ever built, in any scale. I like them a lot and I for one would be willing to pay a bit of a premium for any future releases if they're in the stars.

    I've been playing with the idea of getting a 3D printer. There are units available in the $2K. Unfortunately, the print accuracy isn't up to printing rolling stock shells or Z scale mechanics, but they just might work for Z scale structures.

    Mark
     
  9. minzemaennchen

    minzemaennchen TrainBoard Member

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    This becomes less of the choice too, Vollmer is closing down in 2014
     
  10. eit27

    eit27 TrainBoard Member

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    Yeah, I spoke with Chris @ Micro Structures today and he expressed no interest in doing any further runs in any of the scales he offered.
     
  11. Alaska Railroader

    Alaska Railroader TrainBoard Supporter

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    Hi Mark,

    There is no doubt that the TBS kits were a huge success but there are a couple of things I wonder... Would many modelers really be willing to pay more for this type of labor intensive (for the manufacturers) kit? Making them a Stonebridge Models exclusive would be a must but this would cause some ill will with ours and NZT's dealer base. I can't even say the idea is in the stars anymore but we'll talk about it. One mistake we made was releasing one a month or so and its a wonder either one of us can still breathe! Also, the N scale community had been waiting in line for the next round of TBS but that never materialized for them at all.

    Now, my opinion of the "inexpensive" 3D printers is several steps below the thought of doing TBS again! Stony Smith has done some nice buildings in 3D through Shapeways but they aren't cheap either and they don't have near the detail of either TBS or Micro Structures kits and his were made in 3D printers that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. No, I am afraid that folks will spend a couple of grand on something they will be most disappointed with. And this is my opinion only, you may want to ask Stony for a better perspective.
     
  12. DPSTRIPE

    DPSTRIPE TrainBoard Supporter

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    Modern Tilt-Up construction buildings would not be all that difficult for modelers to "mass-produce" themselves. With a half dozen or so one sided (open) silicone rtv moulds of basic wall sections, just about any modern industrial/commercial park could be constructed. While the cleaning and prep of the cured castings becomes time and cost prohibitive to the small manufacturer, for the individual, they aren't that bad. After the assorted wall sections are complete, they can be assembled in various configurations to achieve different buildings (DPM style). Different surfaces and textures couild be added to the buildings using evergreen or plastruct sheet styrene.

    Resin casting is fun and fairly simple to get started in (although, once you start, yoiu quickly want to try more complicated things). Simple open molds are easy to make. There are multiple brands of supplies out there. I prefer Smooth-on for ease of mixing and use (many of their products mix 1:1 by volume, not weight). For the beginner, I would recommend mold rubbers and resins with longer pot life and curing times. This gives ample time to tap the bubbles out. The Smooth-on site has a lot og good information and videos on all of their products. http://www.smooth-on.com/

    Once you get started, maybe you can start trading your bits with other people that make their own bits, and between you all, maybe you can get the structures that you want.

    Dan S.
     
  13. BurlingtonRoute

    BurlingtonRoute TrainBoard Member

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    What do people want? Modern buildings and businesses that take up empty spaces would be great, but people will complain it wont fit in their shoebox and jewelry box "layouts". Shrunk down copies of N and H0 scale buildings look tiny and weird on big layouts if they still have the built in compression. To modern, too old, too big, too small, to hard to build , to simplistic and toylike, too many parts, not detailed enough, too hard to paint. I can see were small companies would give up. Im sad I wont see any more TBS buildings as multi medium is the way to go for realistic buildings. They were just the right balance of everything.
     
  14. shamoo737

    shamoo737 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    If you guys didn't know, the TBS building series was build for me. :D It was release when I started building my street running module.
    I doubt if I could fill the city without TBS buildings. When I found out it was being discontinue, I stock up for the future. I love being a hoarder.
     
  15. Loren

    Loren TrainBoard Supporter

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    Dear John the Horrible Hoarder, Maybe David and Karin should have called the series "Johnstown" in honor of you. :eek:)

    I don't know if the team will ever do more of this type in Z, but I will always encourage them to think along those lines.
    And if they do so because of me, then I want a structure named "Loren's Lounge" Only seems fair to me :eek:)
     
  16. eit27

    eit27 TrainBoard Member

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    Loren,

    Since this series was only built for John and he is such a great hoarder. I see it only fitting for him to share with others less fortunate. Your thoughts???:question:
     
  17. tjdreams

    tjdreams TrainBoard Member

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    I got a email from Chris saying basically the same thing about a month ago. He commented that most of their sales were in The lighting kits and that they were phasing out the Z-scale buildings. But he did say that Miller Engineering would be releasing something in Z scale soon.
     
  18. shamoo737

    shamoo737 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Not on your life Charlie Brown.
     
  19. eit27

    eit27 TrainBoard Member

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    David,

    That is the same impression I got also. The part that makes you wonder, they are dropping all of the scales. Only thing I can think is the cost of brass to produce the kits.
     
  20. eit27

    eit27 TrainBoard Member

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    John,

    With the kits that I have already built, I have enough for my next scene. It's just done the road that I worry about. Its just kind of hard going to shows, people ask where you can get the supplies to build and you point out everything that is no longer available.

    From what I have experienced, the size of the trains attract the crowd for sure. But what you can do as scenery is the real winner!
     

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