HO Scale Modern Buildings?

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Broski, Oct 23, 2006.

  1. Broski

    Broski New Member

    I am just thinking of getting back into the hobby after being gone for about 6 years. I really like building modern layouts, which is really easy for the actual trains since there are modern engines and cars availabe. But all I can locate from most of the building kits are normally 1930-1960's era old buildings. I'd want to recreate a modern downtown of a major city, like San Diego (trains, trolleys, and tall buildings- who could ask for more?) so I need 10-30 story buildings. Obvisouly I can also use some of the older buildings in between, but where can I find tall ones?

    Please e-mail me off board, I just joined but I doubt I'll be checking in much.
  2. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    10-30 story buildings?? Wow, in HO scale those are pretty big.. A 30-story building in HO scale would be 3.5 feet tall.

    If you want modern office buildings, remember that they are relatively easy to scratchbuild. Glass skyscrapers are not that much for external detail-- You can use tinted lexan sheets, and glue on strips of styrene to simulate the window pane framework. It would do post-modern architect Mies van der Rohe proud. :D

    Personally I would use poster photos of a modern city with its skyscrapers as a background rather than model the buildings.. I think that's much easier.
  3. Broski

    Broski New Member


    that's about the height I'm going for, but the detailing on some of the buildings is probably above my level of scratchbuilding. And then having to install lights and facades and weathering is just not my forte. Having a kit is much easier.
  4. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    That's the thing-- Modern buildings are usually pretty minimalist. There shouldn't be much detailing involved.

    And you still have to weather store-bought kits too, remember. ;)

    Anyway, you might want to check out these kits to start with (yes, they are HO scale): http://www.oakridgehobbies.com/construction_kits/girder_and_panel_building.html

    You know those models of skyscrapers that architects usually build? Those are easy to do with materials like cardboard, foamboard or sheet styrene. I would give scratchbuilding a try.

    Hope this helps!
  5. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Thing is, normally the trains are nowhere near the skyscrapers. Some folks who model cities will put the skyscrapers on the backdrop, rather than model them, in order to avoid filling the entire layout with a handful of buildings that would totally dwarf the trains. Normally the railroad tracks run closest to older sections of town, even in modern cities, where older buildings abound. Walthers has a few modern factory type buildings if you want to mix up ages: take a look around any major city today and you will find that many of the buildings near the railroad tracks are 1930s-1960s vintage, but still in use. Just replace the "Pop's Soda Fountain" sign with "Starbuck's" and your urban renewal is complete.

    If you're dead set on it, a common technique is to use panels of Plexiglas for the walls of the skyscraper, and then run lengths of vinyl tape up the sides of the Plexiglas, then use horizontal strips of tape across the sides, to create "windows" and walls. As mentioned above, modern buildings don't need detailed facades or weathering. Bachmann did a series of larger old downtown buildings but they didn't sell very well so they took them out of circulation. They are available on eBay sometimes for a pretty penny.

    Modeling the San Diego trolley would be a challenge indeed...I think there are very rare brass models of the older Siemens/Duewag U2s but if there are models of the new Siemens light rail vehicles I would be amazed. Modern LRVs are a very under-represented category of modern equipment--trolleys in general are kind of rare, other than the old four-wheel single-truck trolleys, or PCCs and Brills from Bachmann or Bowser.

    And then there's stringing overhead...
  6. EasyE

    EasyE New Member

  7. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    By far the most detailed part of a modern building is the roof, followed by the ground level. So if it's tall enough to not see the roof, and in the background enough not to see the first floor, I'd say it's dead-easy scratchbuilding. Heck, I might even give that one a shot, and I'm a lousy scratchbuilder...

    An alternative to a fully-built-out building or just painting one on the backdrop might be a low-relief building on the backdrop, only an inch or two thick. If it's placed where you don't get a "side" view of it, you'll get the realism of an actual model, with most of the benefit of keeping it to the backdrop.

    I have a city scene on my layout which will likely require some higher buildings for the right effect... That's among the last areas I'll build out (i.e. probably 2-3 years away), and I'm in the transition era, so hard to justify the "easy" modern buildings for me...
  8. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

    Well hey, if you model San Diego & the trolly I'd love to see it.
  9. There was a range of kits back in the1980s, Skyline,(?) very similar to what was mentioned above. Comes up on erBay from time to time.
  10. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    You could also make it somewhat less than HO scale, to get some forced perspective.
  11. mojo

    mojo Member

  12. gottaBreal

    gottaBreal Member

    Those are very NICE....I LIKE
  13. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

    Oh wow, I like those skyline kits and the CMR ones too! I wonder if I have a use for taller buildings...

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