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Ibaraki Shorty Construction


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We're still a few months away from beginning module construction, but got a start tonight on a small kitbashing project.  As this will be a B-Train Shorty layout, we're not looking at doing any full scale models, just visual representations of signature buildings in our locations.  A number of stock building kits will work quite well for the job.  Others need varying amounts of kitbashing.  Tonight's project turned out to require more effort than it seemed like would be required.


The Kato Salon & Hobby Shop has a pretty good starting semblance of The Drunken Duck in the back streets of Katsuta.  The one tweak we want to make is to put one corner at an angle to match the prototype.  This would usually be a simple matter of dicing and splicing.  Never took apart a Kato building before though — these are solidly put together!


Loosening the  clip on tabs on the under side of the base, the building wiggled slightly free, but was still held on solidly.  A connection with a hollow center post was the source of trouble.  Started drilling it out with a pin vice, but then discovered some metal filings coming out, hmm.  Could now see a shiny screw head inside.  The drilling had removed the blackened finish which had prevented me from seeing it earlier.  But now with the screw head damaged, the plastic post needed destroying.  That was a job for the cruiser-class pin-vice!  Destroy the post and remove the base.  Then remove the screw with vice-grips.  Then remove more screws discovered deeper within with a screw-driver.  Disassembly achieved.


The main body of the building, including an under-roof is all cast as a single piece of plastic.  Dicing and splicing that corner is going to take a bit more work than is typical for multi-piece buildings.  But that is a job for another night.







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Phase 2 completed tonight while Roxanne was reading aloud the first two chapters of The Hoose at Pooh's Neuk (Scots language edition).

Don't have a detailed plan here, just following the XActo knife and cutting things apart.  The mission is to put in an angled corner.  Removed the second story corner and then the lower corners.  The lower corner bits will get spliced into a single pieces long enough to bridge the angle.  Then I will stare at the upper wall pieces and decide how I want to go about dicing and splicing to re-arrange the window placement and get a matching angle at the corner.


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This kit just arrived, it took some hunting to finally find a good model to use for the Kaimon Bridge over the mouth of the Naka River.  At 20cm, the arch span is a perfect length and we have two free standard truss bridges for the bits pile.  The arch on this is much more butch than the real one; but when they widen the bridge to accomodate a rail line, they will need to beef it up.
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Edited by Cat
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Wow that is svelte! Almost like it’s just for aesthetics and not needed structurally. 


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This past week, we've begun working together on detailing the Shorties.  We've both been doing the weathering.  These cars have picked up some road dust on the skirts from a long day on the rails.


The fine detail work of cutting and applying stickers, and any other tight tiny work is for my hand and eye.  Just finished adding the "JR" logo on the Series E231 and E531cars.  There were no stickers for these; my guess is that it would have taken an additional licensing deal with the JR Group and Bandai only paid out to JR East.

Picked up a crisp new 5/0 brush and a fresh new bottle of white enamel paint for the job.  After letting the paint dry thoroughly, went back with the .005 pens to touch up any spots along the outer edges of the lettering that needed help.  The XActo is handy for cleaning up the edges too — a very light scrape with the tip can trim away wayward wet paint or ink.


Both the Sakura Micron Art and Faber Castell pens work great for this sort of work.  They have archival ink and don't run when varnished.  (Never try this with fine tipped Sharpies!)  For a few days, the ink will be prone to smudging if handled, but can be safely varnished at any point.  Tomorrow, I'll mask off the windshields so we can spray Dullcote on all the car parts and then proceed to assembly and putting in the side windows.



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Phase I complete on the Mito SIlver Star Movie Theater.  Had a Tomytec Main Street Cinema in the stash pile, so went hunting to see if there were any small old style movie houses anywhere in Ibaraki.  Finally googled onto one — the Tomytec front was too fancy for it, but dicing and splicing parts from two other Tomytec kits  gets a pretty good approximation, and we were happy to have a use for the lovely stone mosaic panels.  Parts from the Pachinko and Show Time will get combined to make Karaoke castle and restaurant building in Katsuta.

Extended the slots in the base to match where wall tabs line up.  Will putty in at the curved corner after the walls are glued in.  A little bit of trials revealed that Plastic Weld is a great cement to use for the Tomytec ABS plastic. 

Also used Zap-a-Gap on the inside seams of the back of the house to nail that down.  Hadn't glued it before the weathering.  That glues it fine but also strips the paint right off — this is on the inside of the base and not at all visible, but good to know.

Roxanne was doing the weathering on the back of the house while I was chopping up parts for the front.  She had already weathered the roof before I re-spotted that we could have painted it blue first; but I will paint the roof for the front blue.  Now to do some masking and spray painting the parts before assembly and detail painting of the front.  It is a dirty movie theater.... (seriously!)

The actual Ginsei:



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My very first kanji hand-lettering.  I can absolutely guarantee that it was done in all the wrong stroke order!  I did it in whatever order helped me get the right alignment and spacing.

Ginsei Movie Theater 銀星映画劇場 got shortened to just Ginsei 銀星 so I would have room to write it legibly. 


I found some nice images of movie posters at this theater that I've sized for printing out next time I can take a trip to Staples.


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The pink movie theater is open for business!
There is some interior detail which I wasn't sure if it would show or not through the tiny windows.  It doesn't.  But at least the floors and the walls block being able to see down and through the building.  The mezzanine level walls and doors to the balcony are structural and support the third floor.  Little blocks of office details in the third floor were just in case they showed up.

It turns out that Plastic Weld did not bond the acetate window material to the ABS walls.  So I re-glued them on with CA glue.  And following my axiom that you can always trust a mechanical bond, I then nailed them in place with tiny dabs of two-part green stuff putty overlapping some of the edges.

Added more hand-lettering for Mito Ginsei by the side door, and the Open For Business placard out front.  The movie posters for now showing, and coming next week are actual poster images from the Ginsei. Shrunk them to 5mm x 8mm, pushed the resolution to 600 pixels per inch, and they printed out pretty nicely.






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On 8/1/2020 at 11:05 AM, MichiK said:


Any idea, which movies are running currently?

I can't identify them exactly, but they are definitely rather pink.

But we do know exactly which week it is now in Ibaraki Shorty though! 

We'll be doing November peak foliage, and it is currently the week of Tuesday November 2nd to Monday November 9th.  Coming attractions are for the 10th to the 16th.  These sets of posters were the clearest images I could find from the Ginsei.  I cut and pasted numbers to change the dates to line up.  

Oh, and I've discovered on teh internets that there are blogs by follks who do photo essays of pink movie houses.  The Ginsei appears to be a favourite for the intense Showa architecture.
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When we get to the more respectable Combox cinema at the front of Mito Station, we're looking at 2016 and big posters for Girls und Panzer der Film (we'll be running the GuP wrapping cars on the KRT, and buses for Ibaraki Kotsu) and Shin Godzilla.

Hmm, now enquiring minds want to know, were there Shin Godzilla bus wrappings?  @JR 500系?

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3 hours ago, Cat said:

Hmm, now enquiring minds want to know, were there Shin Godzilla bus wrappings?  @JR 500系?


Wahahaha yeah there should be ALL types of bus wrappings!  🙂

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Searching for シン ゴジラ バス, I've found:

* Shinjuku Loves Godzilla bus with awesome alighting buzzer from Keio Electric Railway Bus (2009)

* This pair from Tokyo (2018) for City on the Edge of Battle:

* And a Shin Godzilla double-decker (2016) from Hong Kong:

Hmm, might just have to create my own Shin Godzilla bus for Ibaraki Kotsu using the ghost model from the city bus casket.

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13 minutes ago, cteno4 said:

IMs sure you could sell some here! (Hint, hint!)

Would need more ghost buses to paint...

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Wrapping up a couple of days of roof greeblie festival here, finishing up detail pieces for the O-Hara and several future buildings.  A pack of Walthers HVAC Units provides 8 models which are larger and older fashioned looking than appear on the rooftops of Mito.  But they are an easy to work with styrene and cut down into more slender types that fit the part better.  The two units that are going on the roof of the O-Hara Academy have ducting added with strips of .080 square styrene.

Squinting at the zoomed in satellite view of the O-Hara roof, it looks like there is a rail with a bunch of lights surrounding the landing zone.  The rail is made with .060 half-round styrene, and then the lights are small pieces of .080 half-round glued on. 

The landing zone marking I hand-painted.  Drew on the outline in red .005 pen, brush painted between the lines, dullcoted, and then touched up the edges with brush painted light grey.  There also appears to be a fence around the landing zone, but we'll omit that.  All the roof greeblies are just perched in place for the photo-op and checking how everything fits together.

The rooftop billboard is more typical of the O-Hara corporations' schools and fits our model better than the actual signage used on the Mito campus.

O-Hara Medical and Welfare College Mito School actual rooftop:

Also got a pack of Walthers Roof Top Details which included an assortment of air conditioning units.  One of the small silver boxes will go on the O-Hara.  While I was assembling the others to have at the ready for other buildings, also put together an excess Outlands rooftop shed that won't be getting used on the Toa-Bussan building model that it came from.

The Toa-Bussan will have a large billboard, and the one from the Tomix Small Office Building is perfect for the job, once cut in half.  The leftmost pieces in the photo have been cut off to reduce the size.  The shortened end pieces in the middle needed a little finishing on the cut edge: glued on a strip of .040 x .040 styrene, and also filled in the sunken bit with a small strip of .010 x .040 to match the other side of the piece.




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Rooftops are probably one of the most important aspects of a building to work on as we have the clearest view of them of any part on a layout or module unless the layout is near eye level! Nice to see this thought and work.


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Yes, we certainly spend more time looking down on the tops of the models, especially with typical T-Trak display heights.

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Before painting the final bits for the O-Hara, decided to add banding around the duct work.  This was a pretty easy step to wrap short strips of .010 x .030 plastic around.  I first measured and marked notches along the top of the ducts for placement guides.  Thin strip styrene bends to shape easily when gluing it into place.  Each strip was cut 1/4" long, which is just a hair longer than needed.  applied glue to one end and the top, used the tweezers for placement, and then bent the piece over the top with the flat of the XActo blade.  Then applied more glue on the remaining end and bent that into place.  Trimmed off the tiny bit of excess from the bottom.  It all went up pretty quickly.


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