Always Approaching Infinity

Why do I collect N Scale figures? Well, why do some people collect matchbooks? It's often difficult to rationalize a pastime. And it's but one of my many interests. I've no idea how it started; I suppose it's been an interest for as long as I've been modeling in N Scale. I still recall the Merten figure sets I purchased for my first "serious" layout (right), which I'd started building around 1973. Later, after I'd "graduated" to Preiser figures, my fascination slowly grew, and I began buying sets even though I had no need for them. But it wasn't until I was well past middle age when I could finally afford to collect them in earnest. By then, many items were gone.

Thus this database was born out of a combination of my nearly obsessive fascination with N Scale figures and, more particularly, my frustration at not being able to find comprehensive information about them anywhere. I relied on three resources to build this website: the burgeoning collection I'd amassed over the years; countless long, deep Internet searches; and contributions kindly provided by other modelers, in particular Markus Schiavo, creator of N Scale Vehicles, and Ken Jones, a student of N Scale manufacturing from the UK.

But the database is by no means complete and accurate; it could not possibly ever be. During the half-century that N Scale has been around, countless little cottage industries have come and gone, often disappearing without a trace; plus, established businesses have discontinued many products, leaving no evidence of their existence, simply because such information wasn't important to anyone. Because of my silly little hobby, though, it's important to me.

I'd maintained a spreadsheet of N Scale figures for the last dozen years or so. Then, a few years after retiring, I decided to create this website, thinking it may prove useful—or perhaps at least interesting—to others. It took over a year just to launch the site, what with over two thousand photos to take, edit, and wire into the pages. Plus, I've researched every manufacturer, a process that's taken me down many new roads of discovery.

Some of those roads became rather strange side trips. For instance, the Japanese are obsessive about toys, and lately there's been an explosion of new products. In addition to a glut of culture-specific figures, where Pro Hobby and Kobaru take top honors, N Scale has been invaded by gaming, amine and fantasy figures as well, thanks to the likes of Tomix, Sun-Star Stationery and Fujimoto, to name just a few.

These and other emerging products present a challenge as to where one draws the line. Although I'd established some rules, I've broken them on occasion just to provide a glimpse into how deep and twisted the rabbit hole can get (have a look at the military and wargaming figures for some idea). Plus, the rate at which companies and product lines are bought, sold and terminated is accelerating. Not to mention the 3D printing revolution—this alone is sure to cause the database to expand continuously for years to come. It's all I can do to keep up.

And so the research continues—as it likely will until the end of my days. I'll forever be chasing those last few little N Scale figures.


Copyright © 2017-2019 by David K. Smith. All Rights Reserved.
Corrections and contributions greatly appreciated. Thank you!