Static Cling

I’ve previously written about the dual realities of The Hills Line. Long story short, there are elements of the layout that are only present for photographs or videos, and exist for as long as it takes me to create said media. Otherwise they’re kept elsewhere. The two biggest examples are figures and automobiles.

My aversion to these elements existing on a permanent basis stems from the simple fact that I’m lazy. I’ve got enough to do on the layout that actually adds value to the operating scheme. In my opinion figures and automobiles contribute little to that goal, so I’m not inclined to spend my time, talent, and treasure on them.

But James, you say, you have detail parts on your layout? Those are purely atmospheric and add nothing to the operating scheme, so why are those okay to add but not people?


I could counter that the detail parts do add to the operating scheme since they establish era, locale, and theme… all of which help impart the industrial nature of The Hills Line. But that’s a weak argument.

So let me go at this from another angle. Detail parts don’t move. People and automobiles do.

On a model railroad the standard is that the trains move, everything else stands still. But that’s obviously not what happens in the real world, where a lot of things are in a state of perpetual motion. And replicating those kinetic elements with static figures just doesn’t work well for me. Hence why I have functional grade crossing flashers, but no people.

However I now have an opportunity to have my cake and eat it too. The completion of the Johnson County DHS Parking Garage gives me the perfect venue to have non-moving automobiles installed permanently on the layout in a place where they would naturally not be moving. I recently picked up a bulk set of inexpensive, slightly undersized toy automobiles for use in the garage. They’re not anywhere near the best quality, but again… lazy.

Who knows? This could be the start of a brand new chapter in my ongoing quest for prototype realism.

7 thoughts on “Static Cling

  1. OK, I can’t help it, I’m going to throw a wrench into the works.

    Are these vehicles abandoned, or in long term parking, if they all stay in the same spot from day to day? Do we need to call the police to check for a body in the trunk of one of them?

    I said I couldn’t help myself. Heheheheh…

    Excellent points all around. People and vehicles all move, at least most of the time. The only people I ever show are the figures in the cab. There better be someone taking care of the power.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I struggled with the same on my layout. I ended up taking the approach of moving vehicles around between operating sessions. It does give the sense of change. Of course, it is not dynamic scenery. But for the most part it works.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Just an observation – the cars are 1/100. To be a strict adherent, should they be 1/87? Not a complaint – just seeking to understand the HO world. Great piece!


  4. James

    When it comes to detailing a scene we can go too far. I’ve seen multiple layouts ruined due to massive over saturation of details, especially people.

    It’s about “meat and potatoes “ then letting your mind fill in the blanks. Your parking garage auto additions are the perfect example. Your minds eye will fill in whatever is missing thus giving you a good, balanced scene .

    With our layouts we’re trying to build an approximation of the real world, not down the the last grain of sand.

    Don’t change a thing !

    Liked by 1 person

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