To one used to British model railway exhibitions, the 'Faszination Modelbau' in Sinsheim is immense. It covers just about everything: model railways, trucks, diggers, planes, boats, racing cars, and tanks. Eldest Son and I were going to meet Alexander Rainer and see his 'Rittigsmühle' model, but it took 20 minutes for us to even find the model railway section, and even then finding a shoebox-sized layout in the huge hall proved difficult. Eventually we stumbled across it by accident while craning to see around the back of a well made N scale model:
Track going off bottom right leads to the mill itself.
I'll admit I went a bit overboard with pictures- but It's been so long since I went to an exhibition, Alexander's scenery was really nice, and besides, I'd been invited to take my little diesel and mess van to do a guest turn, and despite them being far too big for the tunnels, I wanted to take pictures of them on a real railway as well. I've tried to keep down the pictures here, instead putting most of them in a new album on my fotopic gallery
Of the other layouts, the majority seemed either to be in the 'Overgrown train set' style, with lots of automation but rabbit warren tunnels and carpet-like grass, or very, very big (although very beautiful) modular layouts based on German and American prototypes. Fortunately, around 'Rittigsmühle' there were a couple of other small models which not only looked as if they would fit into a normal house, but were also very well built and presented.
One of these was 'Blockstelle Eselsbrücke' in 'N' gauge, which looked like you could hang it up in the living room. Maybe that's what the owners do when at home. It was backed by a massive sandstone cliff, with a double track main line running along the bottom, along which trains ran every few seconds.
The cliff fronted by a double-track electrified main line is probably based on a famous section along the Rhine between Frankfurt and Köln, and like that line, trains ran past every few seconds. It was also carefully detailed without being overdone, with some German details like the cliff top viewpoint and the cross on an overhanging rock. The model had sound, but this was confined to a CD of birdsong playing on a continuous loop. Very nice. On second thoughts, I wouldn't hang it on the wall, I'd put it where the TV usually stands.
The other layout I found myself repeatedly looking at was the 'Döppenauer Kreisbahn', a narrow gauge local government railway in 1950's West Germany. It took me a while to figure why it looks so open, but I think it was the way the track is angled to the front of the model, and the scene rises gradually towards the rear, rather like a stage in the older, grander theatres.
This model also had a lot of Cameo scenes, but what I really liked was the way the line and station was part of the landscape, and the separate scenes were linked by the railway. I guess I'm also biased because it had some nice big diesels as well...
Of the larger layouts, my favourite was 'Balen', a visiting model from the Netherlands which included this Dutch street and fortress. The townscape had a boat running past through the canal.
Further along it had this realistic modern double junction, with a large construction site behind.
American outline models aren't really my thing, but this little scene caught my eye, and appealed to my dark sense of humour
I think I'm failing in my education of eldest son though. As we came into the hall for the first time, he saw these and fell in love, and all the rest of the time he kept asking me to take him back for another look:
All the way home he was talking about radio controlled boats.
I think a new project is coming soon...