I think it’s a fairly safe bet to say that everyone has come into contact with a wooden train set at some point in their lives. It might have been when you were younger with bits of wood littering the living room floor, or as a parent cleaning up the mess.
Personally I fell under the former category, attempting to build an extensive rail network that would transport my small toy train from the door, over chasms on the sofa, through the city of table legs and finally reaching the small engine hut on the far side of the room. Despite my vision of creating the next rail empire, I always fell dramatically short on pieces.
Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg, Germany, puts all of my efforts to shame. The set contains over 1,300 trains, 300 cars and 60 aeroplanes. It’s so large that it has different countries to visit.
The project started with Germany but has parts of the US, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland to name just a few and in 2018 they were working on adding Venice to their world.
Three computers are used to control flight programmes and the planes and cars drive themselves independently into their charging stations. The track boasts a length of over 15km, a staggering achievement for the creators behind this marvel and subsequently holds the world record for largest train set.
You’re in good company
You may be surprised by the variety of people who are passionate about building train sets. For example, Rod Stewart, the famous rockstar, revealed he actually books a hotel room for his model railway set when he goes away.
So what makes railway building so popular?
Creative freedom is key. It provides an exciting challenge to which people answer in their own way as the rules of ‘the game’ are undefined. There is no right answer to set building.
The challenge to create ever bigger worlds becomes more aesthetically led. Perhaps you want to create a snowy landscape, something reminiscent of Snowpiercer, or an autumn scene.
For the more advanced builders there is a great deal of crafting involved, creating towns and cities with working features to bring yourself ever closer to real life.
More stunting than stunning
Or maybe you want to be a bit more rock and roll and build some stunt ramps and send your miniature trains tumbling through the air. I am, of course, talking about the 5MadMovieMakers viral sensation Thomas Train Stunts.
Whether you want outrageous stunts or a more reality-based service, train set building offers you so much freedom to explore something that can be truly rewarding.
Article written by Will Stallibrass