East Theater

East Theater was undoubtedly the most unusual and difficult structure to complete. Inspiration was drawn from a reference photo of a town hall that was converted into a theater. Components came from far and wide, but the core of the building was Miller Engineering's firehouse (and, in a curious twist, their theater became my firehouse). The theater was many months in the making, and remains my proudest achievement in Z Scale kitbashing.

Incidentally, East Theater got its name based on what I could fit on the sign, given the letters available in the kit. The choice of feature (Young Frankenstein) was based on what films were released around the time of the layout's setting—the 70s—and, admittedly, was also inspired by the Frankensteinian nature of my model theater.

 

  

The most challenging aspect of the project was incorporating an animated sign, which I'd chopped from a scale 30 feet tall down to a more reasonable 20 feet. Also, Miller Engineering's signs are quite delicate and easily damaged; I wound up building the sign twice because I'd accidentally nicked a couple of conductors.

The marquee was made with two of Miller Engineering's Pink Elephant Car Wash kits, which had the right Art Nouveau-ish style, not to mention the enormous flat roofs. Meanwhile, the entrance went through several changes, beginning with pieces of the City Scoop kit, but ultimately taken from the stainless steel version of their Crestline Theater, and flanked by windows from the car wash.

The back of the marquee reveals the patchwork assembly. I used styrene to join the disparate components, and I relied extensively on thick cyanoacrylate.

Two firehouse kits were needed to give the building the necessary width, plus a foundation made from bank kit scraps to boost its height. The parts had to be cut carefully so they'd precisely meet the sign in the middle. It took a couple of tries to get everything right. I also filled in the side windows and finished the walls because I could never be certain what—if anything—might be next door.

The prominent sign was wrapped with carefully-shaped stainless steel strips. Each arc was a separate piece.

The peaked roof was inspired by a reference photo. The shape disguised the need to clear the bulky electrical connections for the sign. I made it from Evergreen styrene board-and-batten sheet, sprayed it copper, then applied a green patina.

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