The Hoboken Manufacturers Railroad quickly gave rise to a number of opportunities, as well
as just as many quandaries. At the time, the Jersey City Industrial faced some issues with
respect to its temporal setting: I couldn’t decide between the 30s and the 80s—each had
strong appeal. With the arrival of the HMR and its shared geographical setting, I realized
one could be set in the earlier era, and the other in the later. But which would be which?
To this day I’ve not decided. It basically comes down to which one gets to keep the
elevated railroad, because its existence helps define that layout’s era. In my mind’s eye
they’re both visually appealing, so it’s been very hard to choose. Ultimately it doesn’t
matter, because I have the rest of my life to decide: both layouts are in “stasis,” so
there’s no compelling reason to make a choice anytime soon.
Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that many of the layout’s structures were well along at the
time it went into storage. Even more significantly, I’d nailed down the season I’d represent:
winter, complete with dirty, slushy snow. I’d made this choice not because I wanted to
model winter scenes—although that’s always had a strong appeal—but because of the
track: Kato Unitrack is rather unsightly, and it occurred to me I could “bury” the bulk
After a quick test using white “fun foam” for snow, I determined the track would indeed
look a lot better. Then I did a test to see if I could model the “ugly” snow of a typical
The results exceeded my expectations, so I quickly proceeded to blanket the layout with
One mistake I made was to assume snow was shiny; in fact, after photographing it
myself, I determined it’s actually dead flat. Yes, it does “glisten,” but only in pinpoint
spots of light that I determined weren’t worth attempting to model. Once I arrived at
this awareness, I reworked the snow I’d already modeled, and it improved immensely.
Indeed, after applying several coats of artist’s acrylic matte gel, I accidentally created
a subtle sense of surface translucency that further heightened its realism, although the
effect proved virtually impossible to photograph.
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