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Outland Buildings


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Ooh, nice ones.  We don't need skyscrapers that big in our cities though.

Yes, snipping out excess mullions and squaring off the inside corners is a bit tedious, but simple work that pays off well in the end.

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Now you can order these buildings directly from Outland CN.   I particularly like the destroyed / abandoned office towers.  But are these truly to N scale, whether 1 : 150 or 160?  They seem a bit on the large side to me.  I heard the office towers were originally developed as an environment for some kind of monster-figures, not for trains.

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Model buildings by and large are not scale models.  They have greatly reduced footprints from the types they represent to take up less table space.  As long as whatever scale figures you have, from 1/144 to 1/160 look like they can fit through the doorways, then the models are good to go on the layout.

I've still been ordering Outland through EBay where they cost a bit more but have free shipping.  Haven't yet put in a large enough order that paying the shipping for a direct order offset the price.

Edited by Cat
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Thanks for those links. I hadn't ever considered browsing AliExpress before. You've sent me down another rabbit hole. I'll see you on the other side...


Those are some big buildings, but they look really well done. They make me think of the scenemaster buildings, and I was going to comment that I have seen any stock for scenemaster buildings on eBay for a while, but I scroll down and see some on AliExpress.


It's just nice to see all the different building offerings out there, both for consideration and just inspiration.

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Just remember if Aliexpress shows something that is an official item it's bootlegged


I'm amazed with their shipping speed though, I ordered an engineer hat last night and they sent me a message just now saying it;s in US customs. Either it's a glitch or I got super lucky (since it normally takes 1-2 months).



Edited by Yugamu Tsuki
typo and strange formatting
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Aliexpress shipping can be fickle, much like ordering stuff from China thru ebay, there are a myriad of shipping companies and agents that get used. At least aliexpress lets you choose some options in the shipping and lets you know what they are. I’ve had ebay stuff shipped from China thru shipping agents that end up transshipping stuff thru many ‘Stan’ countries and taking up to 90 days to arrive and are 4 shipping labels deep! Other pop over with economy shipping in a week!


also do watch aliexpress orders as their protection plan is very short and at times the shipping delivery window may be outside the protection plan and it requires you to go in and extend the protection plan and it’s not all that straight forward. Also if something goes wrong after any protection plan ends all the sellers I’ve dealt with basically could care less and say tough luck. Bit more room with ebay to deal with things that go poof and ebay will step in aliexpress seems to be at arms length.


i had 2 Outland building last fall that they claimed were delivered to another state, took some banging on the door that they were not looking at the right order. Then finally they showed up. But the seller kept insisting that the delivery confirmation was for my order when it did not match any of my Alexpress info.


i still use them, I’m just careful and watchful.



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Well, other than the buildings linked above, I don't think I really saw anything new on AliExpress that I haven't seen on eBay. Pricing varies, but the best price on eBay is good enough that I don't feel compelled to order anything else from AliExpress particularly given the challenges you've described. At least not for now.


Also, is it just me or does the search algorithm suck? Most of what it returned for me we're not buildings at all, and many things were not in the n scale 1/160/150/144 range. I tried several different searches. I just got tired of searching after a while and gave up, so there may be some more hidden gems out there.

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The algorithm for AliExpress was good until around last November. I'm not sure what changes they made or why but now it's a good chance that what you're looking forward is not going to show up at in the results or become so diluted with other things that it's too much of a hassle (why I stopped ordering through them unless I have no other options). I've wanted to buy landscaping (trees etc.) from them but gave up in frustration.


If anyone does purchase one of those buildings through them, I'd be interested in reading a write-up on both the scale comparison as well as quality. I know some things in the past labeled as resin type material has shown up as plaster (garage kits), but I don't think that would be an issue but something as thin as a building where plaster would be impossible to use.

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Yeah that’s about the time I had my first issues, like 4 problem issues from like nov to March. Part I put up to covid in China at the time, but I never even had to think about their protection plan before. And I have noticed search is now murkier. 

im guessing this is CNC or lasercut abs and acrylic from the looks of it. Some of places that do architectural models will do a few of these kinds of 1/150 I think as a side biz. Some of the earliest sellers of the Chinese architectural figures, vehicles and trees were architectural model building companies that I think had extra stock, then all the suppliers came in and secondary sellers.


im still circling it...



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What an unexpected plethora of answers and infos!  Thank you all.  My query is due to the feeling that the doors in the back sides and the roof sheds seem too big for N scale people, too small for HO.  I am happy if they are OK.

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The first floor is 2 floors there in the all window bit, Im guessing an atrium area. Floors look to be about 14’ which is a bit tall but bigger footprint modern high rises usually do taller ceilings to not make the large area feel like a low hanging cave.. many 1/150 high rises like Tomix are 10-12’ per floor which is actually a bit low as usually 1’ min for waffle cement floor, then at least a foot or two for drop ceiling to cover the chaseways doe vent elation, plumbing, lighting. Although they are doing some smaller high pressure ventilation now to save space.


good thing is doors are only on the ground level to compare to people height and even then many first looks have atriums or higher ceilings and big, tall entrance doors. I never find my eye tries to line up floors on tall building right next to each other as I think ew are just use to them varying some in real life and especially in japan where you see lots of different construction and architecture right next to each other all the time.


i succumbed and got one... I am weak...



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Can't wait to hear what the building is like when it arrives. Hopefully it goes smoothly!


I agree, I wouldn't worry about the scale of that building. Most of the buildings I have bought so far (Tomytec, Outland, Kato, scenemaster) have each floor at 2cm spacing. Some, like the Kato Boutique have taller floors at about 2.2cm per. So that gives a scale equivalent between 3-3.5m (or 10-11.5ft) depending on if you use 1:150 or 1:160. And lobbies can be taller. The woodland scenics North American buildings have main floors that are about 2.5 cm high.


So just like the prototype, it varies. If that's a hospital or a university, those larger floors make sense. Maybe less so for an ordinary office, but I doubt it would look out of place scale wise. The only reason I'm not jumping at it myself is that it's got a pretty big footprint, and I want to use that space for more buildings. That and I've already more than blown the train budget for the year.

Edited by James-SNMB
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Actually the other way around, places that have all their floors carved up into smaller rooms, offices and hallways, have the shorter floors as 8’ ceiling in a smaller room is fine. But in modern offices that tend to me more shared or cubicle space in the middle and just ringed by smaller offices and conference rooms around the edges you need a higher ceiling area or the big space feels really oppressive (cubicle farms do that anyway!). My wife’s company had to do this in their newer building as they were moving to more of the fluid and open office environments but it didn’t work well in more traditional spaces with lower ceilings. When they were waiting for the new building they were in temp leases spaces and they had to do smaller spaces to get over this issue. Will be interesting to see the workplaces evolve post covid.


yeah it’s a good chunk of real estate, but I’ve always wanted to have a few deep tall buildings. At some point here I want to start scratch building some as they actually are not horrible to scratch build.


ill post when it comes!



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I take the recurring special pleading (lobbies, atria, deep ventilation spaces,...) to mean that the buildings are indeed slightly overscale, but that this is negligable given their convenience and attractivity.  

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Yeah, that may well be a fair interpretation. But just because it's different from other commercially available buildings doesn't mean it's wrong for n scale by any means.


I think the important question is how it will fit on your layout in amongst everything else your planning, both in a physical sense and the overall visual impression. For me it's close, but not quite. For Jeff, it sounds like it works.


But looking at pictures on the internet and dimensions is one thing, having it in person is another, and Jeff will be able to share that experience.


One thing I've done in the past is mock up a building with paper or cardboard from cereal boxes. I can draw lines on it, to mark the floors, or even paint the thing to make it a more long term placeholder for a future structure. This has helped me decide not to buy some buildings or follow through with a kitbash that, although I liked the look online, where a bit too skinny for my taste, or too short, etc. And the mock-ups have given me ideas for scratch building projects I'd like to tackle.


In the end it's your money and your railroad, so it's going to be your call. And it's a big ticket item to not end up liking or using (although I think it's a good price for a building of its size and perceived quality). So I appreciate your deliberation. If you think it's going to be wrong for you, you're probably right.


Personally I've got too many projects on the go and not enough finished, and I need to stop buying buildings and save room for my scratch building ideas. But even as we speak I have another shopping cart on the go at HobbySearch...

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I got it mainly as it was just different and almost no larger buildings out there. Old atlas are about it and those are very underwhelming in looks and details (yes they are a 70s dark glass box and many out there!). It’s a bit of money but just not options out there and it may be a while until I get down the list to building some of my own. I probably have most all the larger Japanese buildings made and most of the Outland now. I have 3 or 4 of the Chinese architectural Model high rises as well. I’ve been collecting buildings for a long time now and can afford to focus on just the new stuff that pops up now and then! 

its a very good practice to mock up buildings out of cardboard to get an idea of space fulling! I’m always championing that idea. I’ve done tons of that in my professional life in the past on exhibits and museums. I learned early on by really talented designers that are master visualizers that it’s still good to mock things up and not just be arrogant that your internal visualization is perfect as we would always find some improvements and sometimes whole new ideas during the mock up process! Even Gehry had his wads of paper taped to his desk (this is not an urban myth as my design partner worked in the eames office next door and was in gehry’s office in the 70s and there were wads of paper taped all over in various forms that his staff slowly evolved into more and more refined mock ups and still do) and you have idiots like piano who obviously are so arrogant to never think this way and drop box turds that are crap.

There are a lot of free PDFs out there for larger buildings at smaller scales you can Rez up if you want a bit more detail for some physical visualizing.


ive done my streetcar Ttrak and also the city section of our last club layout for many years as a set up on the fly differently each time. I have most all the Tomix, Kato, Tomytec buildings and fun to play with different setups so lots of playing like this so enjoy a new building option. Different way of modeling but good for the temp stuff and good practice for eventual permanent layout city design. The big thing I love in modeling japan is there are few building restrictions so it’s much more anything goes and some very odd things can be side by side.

another option for some larger buildings from papercraft are the paper structure site. You can buy the pdf or a cardstock printed set. I cut out one of their free ones years ago and it was decent at 3’ with a just tape together build. I’ve been meaning to do a more decent build on a free one or buy one of the pdfs (they look like they have more detail bits in them) and also look at trimming out windows to put real ones in. Very reasonable price. $50 gets you the whole city! 

https://paperstructure.jimdofree.com (Use translate to nav)


free ones here





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Awesome! Another rabbit hole! I haven't tried any paper kits yet, but some seem really nice. I particularly like the ones in your link that fit the dense Japanese commercial areas, with lots of signage etc. Lots of inspiration there. Really captures the feel better than a lot of stock plastic kits.


I plan to light my buildings, which adds another layer of complexity for paper structures, so I've often just decided that I would be better off scratch building something similar. But the paper structures include so much detail out of the gate. And for free, it can't hurt to mess around with one.


Larger buildings do appear more scarce, and it's encouraging to see more of these architectural style modeling companies adding some offerings. Other than that, of course there's Custom Model Railroads offerings, but probably not many that are suited to a Japanese prototype. There's also Leutke that has some good modern offerings.


And I find that although these larger buildings come with a larger price tag, it would be difficult to kitbash my way to a building of similar size for less money (Outland buildings not withstanding). I could even see scratch building getting spendy, and who know if I'd be able to achieve the same results. These offerings are definitely worthy of consideration.


At minimum this discussion has lit a fire for me to get going on all the half finished kits I have and get them ready to paint over the winter. I have a "mixed prototype" thing going on with buildings from DPM/Woodland Scenics and Faller/Vollmer European buildings, and Kato/Tomytec Japanese. This explains why I'm already running out of space... But still tempted by all the new buildings I see, and am highly appreciative of everyone sharing what they see out there!

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Ok, so if anyone hasn't seen the Layouts people have put together using the paper structures from the site that @cteno4 linked above, you absolutely must! Such vibrant realistic feeling scenes! The one by the Chiba University of Economics makes me want to tear up everything I've got and switch to full Japanese prototype! Wow!


Several examples of lighted versions as well, using styrene to make the structure and presumably paint the inside for light blocking effect.


I might just have to go for the full download kit.

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Martijn Meerts

Definitely interesting stuff there.. I probably wouldn't build the paper versions, or at least, not without modifications. They look a bit too flat to me. However, using them as a base for scratch building is a whole other story 🙂


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The best way is to do the sankei layering of them and also cut out windows. Most of those layout photos do this.


actually doesn’t take a lot of light sealing other than joints if you just turn the leds way down and use a few of them instead of one mini sun! But backing with palite or such is good in any case as these start to get big and that’s when papercraft buildings can start to warp. Could also make a styrene or chipboard core work floors and a central elevator column that you can run wiring up in and easily remove for styling.

even w.o layering they have enough going on you don’t knots e the flatness at a few feet! Definitely the trick if you are on a budget.



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Anyone have any guesses on how the modeler "Dontonbori" got such a nice backlight effect on those large billboard signs? The translation isn't any more specific than paper glued to plastic. Would standard laser/inkjet prints have translucent colour that really shows through like that? Does styrene give adequate distribution of the light? Or are we maybe talking about a more specialized sign paper product, like this:  https://ledwindowdisplay.com/backlit-paper/ or this https://www.amazon.com/Inkpress-Media-Backlight-Film-Paper/dp/B00TFXECTI?


I've been half heartedly researching ways to make lighted signs, and there's a variety of ways with mixed results and varying levels of explanation.

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  • cteno4 changed the title to Outland Buildings

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