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 around 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, which I'd started building around 1973. I still have photos of it.

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. (My father, a coin collector, weighed some figures and determined they were worth several times their weight in gold.) 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.

This database was born out of a combination of my fascination with N Scale figures and my frustration at not being able to find comprehensive information on them anywhere. I relied on two resources to build it: the collection I've amassed over the years (I own about 65% of the figures in the database), and many long, deep Internet searches. It's amazing what turns up online.

But the database is by no means complete and accurate; it couldn't 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've 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 with the thought it may prove useful—or perhaps at least interesting—to others. It's taken nearly a year to build, what with over two thousand photos to take, edit, and wire into the pages. Plus, I've researched the manufacturers, a process that's taken me down many new roads of discovery.

Some of those roads became 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.

These and other emerging products present a challenge as to where one draws the line. Although I 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 © 2017-2018 by David K. Smith. All Rights Reserved.
Corrections and contributions greatly appreciated. Thank you!