MINIATURE TRAIN SETS
History of scale standards
Comparative sizes of the most common modeling scales
The first model railways were not built to any particular scale and were more like toys than miniature representations of the full size prototype. Eventually, the authenticity of models grew and benefits of standardization became more obvious. The most significant and the most basic area of standardization was the model track gauge. At first, certain gauges became de facto standards in hobbyist and manufacturer circles. While the first unofficial standard gauges made interchangeability possible, the rolling stock were still only a rough approximation of the full scale prototype.
Eventually the unofficial or manufacturer specific scale standards became more established and were adopted by various model railway standardization bodies such as NMRA and MOROP. However, despite of existing scale and gauge standards they were very often poorly implemented in design and manufacturing processes with commercial manufacturers before the World War II. The conformity to scale standards grew strongly in the 1950s and 1960s when many new model railway accessories manufacturers were born and to whom the standard conformity was vital.
For most standardized model railway scales, the nominal scale reduction ratio is not applied systematically to all the components of a scale model railway, and normally the standards give scale specific design guidelines for all the scales they cover. Reliability of operations requires that certain parts be made oversize. A typical example is the wheel flanges, which must be proportionally higher in smaller scales to ensure that lighter and smaller models do not derail easily as they would if universal flange proportions were used in all the scales. For instance, a Z scale wheel flange as defined in the NEM standard should be about 9% of the scale nominal standard gauge (6.5 mm/0.256 in), whereas the same standard gives only 5% for 45 mm (1.772 in) standard gauge I scale.
While standards that put the emphasis on operational reliability satisfy most users and the industry, certain groups of dedicated hobby modellers who were dissatisfied with the scale inaccuracies in the name of reliability have developed alternative scale standards where prototype proportions are maintained to the extent possible. These alternative standards are called finescale standards. Finescale standards are very much restricted to discerning hobbyists since, by definition, finescale model railways are generally less reliable and more expensive to manufacture, which makes them unsuitable for mass-production products.
Mixing of scales
It is possible to use different scales of models together effectively, especially to create a false sense of depth (referred to as "forced perspective"). Scales close to each other are also hard to tell apart with the naked eye. An onlooker seeing a 1:43 model car next to a 1:48 scale model train might not notice anything wrong, for example.
Some common examples of mixing scales are:
Just like the rail thing: Photos of miniature train’s 'journey' across Canada showcase the country's stunning natural beauty
But no passengers were on board to enjoy the stunning scenery as the locomotive involved was just a two-inch high model.
Photographer Jeff Friesen placed the replica 1955 Canadian Pacific Railways 'Streamliner' at different locations across Canada to showcase the country's incredible natural beauty.
Miniature: The view from this train as it travels through Five Islands, Nova Scotia, in Canada, is spectacular - but sadly no passengers will be enjoying it as it is just a two-inch high model
Soaking: The train, seen here teetering on a branch at Luskville Falls, in Gatineau Park, Quebec, was taken on a tour of Canada by its owner Jeff Friesen
Dramatic: Mr Friesen used the model train - pictured here on a farm near Brandon, Manitoba - to showcase Canada's breathtaking natural beauty
From a dramatic stone outcrop skirting the sea in Five Islands, Nova Scotia, to a field of corn in Manitoba, the incredible images show the huge contrasts in landscapes across Canada.
To the untrained eye the train looks to be moving through the countryside, often on some of the most inhospitable terrain.
Giveaways of the train's true size include a tree root pictured arching over the track in Rock Lake, Algonquin Provincial Park, in Ontario and the wooden rail of a bird viewing platform in Chaplin, Saskatchewan.
Lake view: the 1955 vintage model appears to be travelling across the water as it skirts the shore of Lake Louise, Banff National Park, in Alberta
Fog Forest: In this image the 'Canadian Pacific' train is seen apparently climbing a moss-laden hill as a huge waterfall thunders beside it. The photo was taken in Fundy National Park, near Alma, New Brunswick
'Golden Harvest: They may look like trees but in this picture the train is seen weaving through a field of corn on the outskirts of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Mr Friesen said his work, entitled The Canadian: Ghost Train Crossing Canada, evolved from his wish to showcase his native country.
'I started The Canadian project to show Canada from an unexpected vantage point,' he said.
'The journey has a surprise twist: I carry the train rather than it carrying me. At just two inches tall, it fits into a shopping bag.
'While it is tempting to document such a huge country from a helicopter or plane (in fact, it has been done several times) I wanted to get closer to the heart of the land. Two inches off the ground seemed about right.'
'Algonquin Morning': A tree root arches over the track as the train is pictured on the shore of Rock Lake, Algonquin Provincial Park, in Ontario
'Prairie Skyway': It looks like a huge wooden bridge, but in fact this picture shows the train perched on a a bird watching tower near the town of Chaplin, Saskatchewan
Rocky terrain: The model is shown disappearing into what looks like a mountain tunnel on the shore of Lake Huron in Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario
Mr Friesen said the model train provides 'a vehicle for the journey's visual narrative, linking far places with a ribbon of tiny steel rails.'
The model is an exact scaled-down replica of the 1955 Streamliner that was first named 'The Canadian,' which travelled the route between Montreal and Vancouver.
'There is some peril in introducing a model train to the full scale world,' said Mr Friesen.
'The Crossing': The train is partly obscured as it sits under a waterfall in Black Brook Beach, Ingonish, Nova Scotia
'Salish Sea': A pile of what looks like driftwood provides part of the dramatic backdrop to this photograph on Dallas Road Beach, Victoria, in British Columbia
'Totem Forest': The blurry image of a totem pole can be seen overlooking the model as it appears to be travelling over rocky terrain in Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia
The train fell into a fast moving stream in Nova Scotia while in Algonquin Park, Ontario, it tumbled from a log into a marsh of 'thick mud and dark water.'
'I had to feel for the train in the bog's murky depths,' said Mr Friesen.
The photos will be particularly interesting for model train enthusiasts - most of whom could only dream of running their miniature collections through such dramatic scenery.
'Early Autumn': The autumnal shades on the distant trees are captured by the sun in this beautiful image taken at Taylor Lake, Gatineau Park, in Quebec
'Tree Bridge': the train looks to be making its way over a moss-covered log in this picture, taken in La Mauricie National Park, Quebec
Mystical: These small stones are made to look like huge rocky outcrops by the model train as it was balances on a log in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia
'High Water': The 'Streamliner' looks to be ploughing through the water in this picture taken at Roche Lake Provincial Park, near Kamloops, British Columbia
Best hot wheels track ever: Artist creates massive circuit featuring 1,000 cars going 230mph
The 1927 science-fiction film Metropolis is an expressionistic portrayal of a dystopian, capitalist society which has become a cult classic among movie lovers.
Artist Chris Burden used the film by German director Fritz Lang as the inspiration for his racetrack sculpture and spent four years building Metropolis II.
The model city features 1,100 toy cars zipping around a track through miniature skyscrapers, at speeds of up to 230mph. The kinetic sculpture is set to open to the public at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in California on January 14.
The grid is made up of steel beams and has 18 roads, including one six-lane freeway and train tracks. The speed of the tiny vehicles, which were custom-made, means that more than 100,000 cars pass through the system in an hour. The cars are pulled up the conveyor belts by magnets and then roll down the other sides.
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Dystopian vision: Metropolis II took sculptor Chris Burden four years to build at his studio in California and is on show to the public at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from January 14
Sculptor Chris Burden told ABC: 'They can crash, they can fly off the track, they can bump into each other.'
The buildings, many similar to the Art Deco style of the original film, were made from blocks of wood and glass. Some particularly detailed models took five months to make. The installation was not intended to be an exact replica of the original film but a comment on life in the urban sprawl.
According to the artist: 'The noise, the continuous flow of the trains and the speeding toy cars, produces in the viewer the stress of living in a dynamic, active and bustling 21st-century city.'
He added: 'I love hearing that the cars are going 230mph. It makes me very hopeful for the future as that's the speed they should be running. The noise produces a level of tension too.
'It wasn't about trying to make this scale model of something. It was more to evoke the energy of a city.'
Intricate design: Crowds gather at a preview of Metropolis II - based on the cult film from 1927 - at the gallery in Los Angeles
Futuristic: The sculptor Chris Burden, who is based in Topanga Canyon, California, has more than 1,100 moving toy cars in his installation that travel at speeds of up to 230mph
When the silent film was released in 1927, it was more than two and a half hours long. It tells the story of the futuristic city of Metropolis where society is divided into two classes - managers, who live in luxury skyscrapers and workers who spend their lives underground.
The two worlds collide when the son of a manager falls in love with a worker girl, leading to an implosion of the status quo.
Metropolis was panned by critics, including the author H.G. Wells, when it was first released. It was cut substantially and a great deal of the original footage lost. A restored version was screened during the Berlin Film Festival in 2010 where it came to be considered a masterpiece.
Chris Burden, 65, is an artist originally from Boston, who creates performance, sculpture and installation art at his studio in Topanga, California. Many of his pieces focus around the automobile and technology.
One of his most controversial works was created in 1974 and saw the artist lie face up on a Volkswagen Beetle with nails hammered through his hands as if he had been crucified on the car.
Cult following: Metropolis was directed by German director Fritz Lang in 1927 and has been noted by film fans for its expressionistic shots of a dystopian world
Terror: Shots from Fritz Lang's futuristic film Metropolis where buildings tower above sprawling freeway as workers toil underground in a nightmare vision of capitalism which gradually descends into madness
Workers unite: Hoards are sacrificed to the capitalist machine in the 1927 film by German director Fritz Lang - although it was panned when it first came out
Visit Tim Dickinson's HO Scale model train layout for an unusual sight - Norfolk Southern locomotives and TopGon coal cars traversing the line between Spokane and Seattle, Washington. In due time, we'll cover awesome Burlington Northern action from the mid-70's on Tim's layout.
Celebrity hobbies that make even Rod Stewart's railway models look cool
As Rod Stewart is 'outed' as a model railway fanatic, Mail Science Editor Michael Hanlon has a small confession of his own to make...
You can see them in the newsagent's - shifty, furtive, eyes glancing to the left and to the right, in case anyone they know might see them.
These men - they are nearly always men - then slither over to the specialist magazine stands.
With a quick movement, the required publication is grabbed and the till approached.
Sometimes, the shame is too great; a disguise is needed. So another magazine is taken, something wholesome and respectable - anything will do - into the pages of which the offending publication can be slid.
Then, at the till, the final hurdle, the hope that the cashier will not, as in that Woody Allen film, bark out the name of the publication across the shop floor.
"Railway Modeller? Does anyone have a price for Railway Modeller?"
For then, the shame would be complete, the humiliation absolute.
I know of what I speak because I - and I confess this publicly for the first time (friends and family are already in on the secret) - am not unacquainted with the so-called hobby of model railways.
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Cover version: Stewart's model of Grand Central Station in the Forties
"Hobby", "Railways" and "models" - are there any three more shameful words in the English language?
For years I have kept it quiet, but now, with a bit of celebrity endorsement, it is time to come out of the attic and declare my interest in the pastime that dare not speak its name.
It is a relief to find out that I am not alone.
For it was Rod Stewart, no less, he of the skin-tight leopardskin trousers and a string of slinky blondes to his credit, who emerged as the unlikely champion of this most unlikely hobby.
In between the crooning, the blondes and heaven knows what else, it seems that Rod has been creating a wholly magnificent replica of New York's Grand Central Station, complete with 100ft of track, buildings and figures in 1940s period dress in one of his no-doubt numerous attics.
Model Railroader: The magazine features the 62-year-old rocker's American model
Rod's impressive layout graces the cover of this month's Model Railroader, an honour he says means more than "the cover of Rolling Stone".
And he's not alone.
Jools Holland, one of the coolest men on the planet, pianist, mover in toff circles and doyen of live music, is also a model railway man.
As is impresario Pete Waterman, and was (rather less fashionably) Hughie Green of Opportunity Knocks fame.
So what is the appeal of this most arcane of pursuits?
And can it really be the case that toy trains are about to become cool?
According to Tim Rayner, editor of Railway Modeller magazine, "the hobby", as railway modellers like to refer to their pastime, never really went away.
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The latest model: Stewart with wife Penny Lancaster
"It's always been there," he says, with men throughout the land making their excuses after dinner and retreating to their lofts to be at one with their soldering irons and track plans.
But in recent years a quiet revolution has been under way.
In 2002, Hornby, one of Britain's oldest model railway firms, was declared Company of the Year by the Financial Times and Stock Exchange - making millions of pounds per annum from its models now made in a stateofthe art factory in southern China.
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In print: Stewart spends car journeys reading about his two passions (other than music) - football and model railways
Some of this is undoubtedly down to the traditional children's market.
Hornby has cleaned up with its Harry Potter and Thomas the Tank Engine ranges. Children seem to be turning away from "virtual" toys, played with on a computer screen, and back towards something more substantial.
But the bulk of Hornby's profits come from a series of beautifully made, delicate models that can cost hundreds of pounds a pop and which are certainly not aimed at children.
So who is buying them? People like me, it seems.
Men - not exclusively, but mostly - in their 30s and 40s who had a train set in their youth and are looking to recreate that lost hobby, this time with the cash to do it properly.
A friend of mine, who is also afflicted, put it neatly: "You grow out of model trains. You get into girls and music, jobs and so on, but you always come back to trains in the end."
The demographics have changed, too.
In the old days, making model railway layouts was associated with the skilled working classes, the preserve perhaps of retired fitters and boilermen and people who worked on the real railways, the sort of folk who used to be the bedrock of Britain but who now belong to a vanished age.
Now, miniature trains have become a classless hobby.
According to Tim Rayner, exhibitors book fancy stands at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, whereas in decades past this pastime was showcased in church halls and schools.
So, what is the appeal?
It is hard to say.
For me, it is the sheer number of skills you need to master to create a working layout.
You have to be a semi-competent carpenter, electrician, metalworker, painter, sculptor and designer to make anything which functions mechanically and looks good.
There is something about trains that is endlessly fascinating.
To me, the idea of standing on a cold station platform and counting train numbers as they zoom past is beyond madness.
But then again, some would say the same about my habit of disappearing into the loft to build tunnels and stations and watch miniaturised Staniers and Gresleys, Bulleid Pacifics and even modern diesels whirling past at top speed.
The idea that one can create a world, however imperfect, in miniature is hugely appealing.
And the point of model railways is, of course, that one is never finished.
I started my layout seven years ago and it is nowhere near complete.
Indeed, I dread the day when it is, because then, I suspect, I shall start to lose interest.
My next project is to build a small mountain range at one end. That should take me safely up to 2010.
Confessing to having a model railway habit is hard.
It usually happens at a dinner party, after a few drinks.
It'll probably be my wife who spills the beans.
There will be tittering, some embarrassment, people looking at their watches and wondering if it's time to leave and considering whether they still want to be my friend.
But then, almost inevitably, something strange will happen.
"Er," someone will say. "Can I have a look?" And up to the loft we all troop, being careful not to trip over the unfinished wiring or fall down the ladder-hole.
"Does it work?" someone will ask.
Yes, of course it does. I fire up the transformers and set a train in motion. Yes, it goes, and then you can see the light in their eyes, those oh-so-cynical friends.
"Hmm," you can almost hear them thinking, "I'd like one of those. Wonder if we've got room. . ."
Model railways may be more popular than ever, but they still retain the image of perhaps ultimate nerdery in this country.
Not so abroad.
In the U.S., 'model railroading' is hugely popular, with millions of adherents of all ages and
(most importantly) both sexes.
Most U.S. cities contain several model shops, well- stocked cornucopia compared with our dusty stores, and there is no shame attached to having some trains in the attic.
Certainly the most impressive model railway layout I have seen is the gigantic construction in the Industrial Museum of Chicago.
The size of maybe a couple of tennis courts, this magnificent creation is America in miniature, complete with a 3D facsimile of the Rocky Mountains, the Great Lakes and Chicago itself, skyscrapers and all.
And this was built not by a few beardy, middle-aged geeks, but by dozens of volunteers, including many teenage boys and girls who belong to local model railway clubs.
There should be no embarrassment associated with model trains.
If Rod Stewart and Jools Holland can do it, then it is cool enough for anyone to admit to.
Modellers of the world unite: you have nothing to lose but your shame.
It began as a distraction in a hobbyist’s basement, but the world’s biggest model railroad is now anything but. Here's a look inside the world's largest model railroad. It boasts more than eight miles of track and features more than 100 trains, as well as almost 400 bridges and took some 16 years to complete. Northlandz, in Flemington, New Jersey, is scaled down but its anything but small-scale. The spectacle contains more than 3,000 miniature buildings in cities and villages, 50,000 trees and 40-foot bridges spanning huge canyons.
LIfe's work: It took creator Bruce Williams Zaccagnino 16 years to finally bring his dream of Northlandz--the world's biggest model railroad--to life
It is the brainchild of owner and creator Bruce Williams Zaccagnino, who not only built the 52,000 sq ft building in which it is housed but also painstakingly designed and handcrafted almost all of the uncannily lifelike scenery. 'There's nothing like it,' he said. 'Visitors come out saying it's one of the Wonders of the World.' Or at least one of the wonders of the Northeast Corridor.
Urbane: City skylines, sure, but the New Jersey attraction has more to offer, as well
Spans: Northlandz boasts some 400 bridges for its model trains to cross A look inside the world's BIGGEST model railroad
Swiss Alps? No, its Northlandz, the world's largest model railroad in Flemington, New Jersey
Steady stream: Visitors, 2,000 came on its busiest day yet, to Northlandz see many of the world's biomes represented, including this alpine waterway
Ingenuity meets ingenuity: A pit mine is seen in the 52,000 facility
Famous clientele: Many visitors take in the sights of Northlandz each each. Sometimes they're even famous: Pee Wee Herman, Neil Young, and Joe Piscapo have all stopped by
BEHOLD! What began as a hobby in a man's basement has become Northlandz--the world's biggest model railway in Flemington, New Jersey
Precarious! Buildings look over steep cliffs in Northlandz. There are over 3,000 such buildings in the giant model. Bruce loved model trains as a kid but it wasn't until he was married that he started to build models in his basement. His hobby got so out of control he then added five extra basements to his home to house his collection until he finally raised the money to create Northlandz. He says he has sunk 'several million' dollars into the project, which has been open to the public since 1997. 'I worked 18 or 19 hours a day, seven days a week, non-stop,' Bruce said. He said the attraction is recognized by Guinness World Records as the biggest of its kind on the planet.
Ex-SPAN-sive: Forty-foot bridges span 30-foot canyons in Northlandz
Altitude: The tallest peaks in Northlandz clock in around 30 feet
Serpentine: 50,000 feet, or 8 miles of track, wind around Northlandz
Bridge and tunnel: There are about 400 bridges and trestles throughout the giant model railway
Perspective: Northlandz' many spans are even more impressive when viewed from below. It has even attracted several celebrity visitors - including famed model railroad fan, rocker Rod Stewart, and Neil Young, who went to the attraction in disguise. 'We didn't even know he was there until the next day,' said Bruce. Stewart and other stars signed a special 'celebrity wall' inside the exhibit. The path through the exhibit - spread across 16 acres - is almost one mile long.
Cross-section: This view shows the range of environs the Northlandz' 100 trains crisscross for delighted spectators.
Intricate: Northlandz, like any self-respecting town, has a theme park complete with roller coaster and other rides
People: There are lots of mini-people in Northlandz and they depend on the trains. Visitors are told at the beginning it will take at least two hours to make their way through the whole thing. And as astounding as his Northlandz is, Zaccagnino isn’t the only train enthusiast dedicated enough to single-handedly create a locomotive tourist attraction. Just this past weekend, Elaine Silets of the Greater Chicago area opened up her personal 10 acres of model train-filled estate gardens. She does so once a year as a charity event and this time around she greeted about 6,000 visitors.
Evolving: Zaccagnino began Northlandz some 35 years ago. It started in his basement and eventually moved to its own building where it continues to evolve
World inside a world: Northlandandz' citizens take in the sights along with the bigger visitors to the New Jersey attraction
Richard Scary eat your heart out: A busy train yard hints at Northlandz frenetic daily life
Elaine Silets is a train lover like no other. Not only did she make a career out of building model train displays but her expansive estate is an homage to the locomotive. And over the weekend, Silets did something she does but once per year: she opened up her gardens to the public and something like 6,000 curious train lovers descended on her home. With 10 acres of gardens, waterfalls, lakes, trestles, bridges, and replica towns and pastoral scenes, her Glorée & Tryumfant Garden Railway in North Barrington, Illinois, it’s no wonder they call her the Train Lady.
Elaborate: About 6,000 visitors got a chance to view Elaine Silets' elaborate, train display-covered estate outside Chicago Saturday. Silets began her new life as the Train Lady after her beloved late husband Harvey’s law career took off, leaving her in search of a hobby. That hobby became Huff & Puff Industries, a company that designs and manufactures model railroads for home and garden displays. Huff & Puff’s work has been seen in the Nieman Marcus Christmas book, in the lobby of Chicago’s Hancock Center, and in Tiffany & Co. window displays.
Serious business: Silets (pictured) turned a love of trains into a famous business that creates high-end train displays, one of which even appeared in Chicago's Hancock Center lobby
Expansive: The ten acre Glorée & Tryumfant Garden Railway features Japanese gardens, waterways, topiaries, and seemingly endless displays, all with model trains chugging through year round
Intricate: Miniature people even populate the model train worlds But Silets’ biggest accomplishment is her own garden display. Eleven model trains chug about the lavish gardens all-year round. The half-inch G-scale trains ply a Japanese water garden with waterfalls, a pond garden, rose gardens, a Snoopy topiary built especially for Silets’ grandsons, and other floral landscapes. Also open to the day’s visitors was the private train museum on Silets’ propertyThe Harvey M. Silets Memorial museum was built in honor of the Train Lady’s husband, a famous attorney who once represented Jimmy Hoffa. The museum is a scaled down replica of Greater Chicago that has 16 trains of its own, a drive-in movie theatre, and other transit-related exhibits like elevated trains and subway trains.
'I live in heaven': A train traverses a Japanese waterscape in Silets' expansive gardens that she calls heaven
Durable: There are many water features in Silets' gardens. The trains that chug over and around them run all year round
Down to business: Though Silets (left) has plenty of personal passion for her trains, they are also her business. Huff & Puff Industries (right) creations have appeared in Chicago's Hnacock Center, Tiffany's window displays, and on the Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, NBC, CNN, CBS, FOX, NBC, the Travel Channel, and PBS
Choo-choo: Silets preoccupation, before it was an occupation, began when her husband's law career took off, leaving her with time on her hands
For visitors, the once a year opportunity was well worth the $10 entrance fee.
‘It was fun,’ young Ethan Sparks told the Barrington Courier-Review as he reluctantly stepped off a replica Hogwarts Express train, inspired by the Harry Potter film and book series
Visitors continually thanked Silets for inviting the public onto her estate.
‘I always feel like Queen Elizabeth for a day,’ Silets said.
She even offered tips on how to create one’s own Glorée & Tryumfant Garden.
In Memoriam: Elaine Silets, known as the Train Lady, maintains her huge, locomotive gardens in part as a memorial to her late husband Harvey, a lawyer who once defended Jimmy Hoffa
High flying: Like the bustling metropolis of Chicago, which is close by, Silets' garden has elevated trains as well as purely terrestrial ones
‘I tell everyone it’s real easy,’ she said. ‘All you need is to live here 40-plus years, and buckets of money.’ ‘I’ve lived here 44 years now,’ Silets clarified. ‘There was almost nothing here — the pond was here and a shabby, 1,000-square-foot house.’ And no matter how much her home and gardens are appreciated by visitors, Silets seems to love it all the most. ‘I live in heaven,' she said. 'I do. Isn’t it beautiful?' Proceeds from Saturday’s event will go toward providing scholarships to promising artists who hope to attend the prestigious Interlochen Summer Arts Camp in Michigan, of which Silets is an alum, but who don’t have the financial ability.
The town of Elgin Park isn't located in a state, it is a state of mind within the town's creator and photographer Michael Paul Smith who has faithfully recreated the mid-century America of his youth using super accurate model cars and landscape and with the help of a little camera magic.
By placing models in just the perfect way in front of the well-preserved historic New England structures in his actual town of Winchester, Massachusetts, Smith is able to create photographs convincing enough to fool Norman Rockwell with a $250 camera.
The collection, all of which is on his website and Flickr is so perfect in part because of the quality and accuracy of Smith's collection of hundreds of model diecast cars and trucks, which he uses instead of people in each scene.
He blends the model cars and the sets he builds into real life backgrounds, and the result is the fictional--though entirely believable--mill town of Elgin Park.
'I’m creating a mood, something familiar in the viewer’s mind,' Smith told the New York Times.
Nostalgic: Michael Paul Smith has been building and collecting models for nearly 30 years and he's used them, and some photographic magic, recreate the the mid-century suburbia of his youth
Realistic: Smith's fictional town is called Elgin Park, and it exists only in the mind and photos of its creator. But thanks to uncannily real model looking models, the town is transporting
Perspective: By placing his models in front of real life backdrops in just the right way, Smith is able to create the illusion of a fully realized world frozen in the 1950s and 60s
Yesteryear: Helping Smith create his perfect town is his extensive collection of models cars and trucks, whose realism transfers into Smith landscapes
Talented: Not all of Smith's compositions utilize real backdrops. Some use only model sets built by Smith, whose lost list of former occupations includes museum display designer advertising art director
Popular: The popularity of Smith's Flickr account, which he uses to post all his photos, went from virtually nonexistent to hundreds of thousands per day in 2010 as users began to share his fascinating work
Picturesque: Also helping Smith create Elgin Park are the well-preserved old buildings of his actual town of Winchester, Massachusetts
Foothills: Though a New Englander now, Smith's imaginary town is based on the Allegheny steel mill town of Sewickley, Pennsylvania where Smith grew up
'Elgin Park is not an exact re-creation of Sewickley,' says Smith, 'but it does capture the mood of my memories'
'I don¿t put people in my photos,' Smith said in 2010. 'I want viewers to put themselves into the scenes. I¿m creating a mood, something familiar in the viewer¿s mind.'
One of the many pleasant streets in Elgin Park, whose name originates from the deepest recesses of Smith's mind. 'One day, it just hit me,' he said
Smith uses trial and error to create the optical illusions in his photographs. 'It¿s all by trial and error,' he told the New York Times. 'Moving a set around, watching how shadows fall.'
'As a teenager, I was a car enthusiast for the design, not so much the horsepower,' he says. He's adding to his extensive model car collection, but there are still many more unique shots to be had
Low tech: As for special effects, Smith insists he uses Photoshop only as a way to add filters that make his photos appear more dated
'Our past is a powerful draw, and in so many ways we try to capture it in order to explain it to ourselves,' he says