Why grow up?
Everyone knows that train sets are the type of toy that some kids never grow out of – and we’re talking kids well beyond pensionable age here.
What is perhaps not quite as well known is that such enthusiasm is not limited to the cliched idea of an elderly gent, at the autumn end of an unremarkable career, flicking switches in a room that’s as much an escape hatch as an attic.
Oh no, not a bit of it. Model train sets are also the dream toys of some of the world’s biggest (and most rock n roll) stars – stars of a certain vintage, admittedly, and almost exclusively male (that we know of), but mega-watt stars all the same.
Fame and for-choo-choo-ne
Perhaps the most famous amongst them is Sir Rod Stewart. His pride and joy takes up the third floor of the rocker’s Beverly Hills mansion and consists of a 1:87 scale model of New York’s Grand Central Station, circa 1940 – and a 1,500 sq ft diorama of New York.
When it was completed, he invited hobbyist bible Model Railroader to photograph it and interview him. Now, he says, “they put me on the cover every three years and it’s better than Rolling Stone”.
If you want any more evidence of the former Face’s dedication to his craft, earlier this year, when a model railway exhibition in Lincolnshire was vandalised, Stewart stepped up to donate £10,000 to help the club replace its models.
In good company
And Rod’s not the only music biz legend to know the difference between a hopper car and a caboose:
Jools Holland has a 100 ft set-up recreating the journey from London to Berlin.
Roger Daltrey is a longtime collector who is actually one of the backers of a proposed model railway education centre in Ashford, Kent.
Pete Waterman has been hooked since childhood and describes his hobby as “better than getting Kylie to number one”. Sure, Pete, sure.
‘All Aboard’ for mega stardom
To find the biggest star with a penchant for a miniature buffet car, however, you have to cross the water and bend at the knee in front of the legend that is Frank Sinatra.
Yep, Old Blue Eyes, The Chairman of the Board himself, was sucker for model trains. He is speculated to have owned over a million dollars worth of model trains, including a replica of his hometown of Hoboken, New Jersey, a collection kept in a room in his Palm Springs compound Rancho Mirage, which he dubbed All Aboard.
If it’s good enough for Frank…
Article written by Dave Roberts