Model Tech Studios A026 "Mini-Himalaya"
New Hampshire, USA based Model Tech Studios offers an array of US-style carnival concession and ride models hand crafted from laser-cut wood, wood and cast resin. The A026 Mini-Himalaya is their only motorize-optional model. (The motor is not included.) If you are familiar with the precision injection molded carnival, circus and amusement park models from the various German manufacturers like Faller, Vollmer, Busch etc., the products from Model Tech offer, almost literally, an other worldly model building experience. No multi-colored parts racks here. No sir. Completing a Model Tech kit, like the A026 Mini-Himalaya reviewed here, is about as close to scratch building as you can get and turned out to be a whole lot of fun.
Once we decided that we were going to build the Model Tech A026 Mini Himalaya as a mini-diorama, the next step, as it is when building ANY model kit, was to inventory and inspect the parts. There is no parts list provided and the various wood stock, laser-cut and cast resin parts all arrived bagged so we went through the instructions and matched up the parts. The most involved and time consuming element of this build is the, mostly, scratch building of the, mostly, wood trailer and you pretty much have to take it on faith that you'll have the wood stock that you need. We did and, as it turned out later, we did. Next, we inpected the cast resin parts and, as is common, found a certain amount of flashing that needed to be cleaned up before painting and assembly. Our ubiquitous Blue Cushion Board proved up to this task. Following Model Tech's recommendations, we either sprayed or hand painted the cast resin and laser-cut parts with acrylic colors prior to assembly.
We decided to use a Faller 180629 16VAC Synchronous Motor to motorize the Himalaya and, frankly, we couldn't figure out how to make it work with the brass tube parts provided or the method suggested in the manual so, it was time to get creative. As a base for our diorama we used a one foot square by 3/8" thick piece of scrap siding provided by the cordial contractor from the construction site next door and landscaped it with grass using Woodland Scenics' fantastic SP4180 Grass Accent, S191 Scenic Cement, and S192 Scenic Sprayer. This took all of five minutes. Really. Next, we completed the straight forward assembly of the circular base the cars ride on. On to the motor assembly. Fortuitously, there is a threaded drive shaft included with the Faller motor which provided a simple and elegant solution to our motorizing dilemma. We (a) drilled a hole in the center of our base, (b) sandwiched two pieces of 1/16" plastic stock together for the motor mount, (c) mounted the motor to the motor mount and diorama base, (d) did a bit of measuring to locate the Himalaya center console casting at the proper height, (e) secured it in place with two nuts and (f) used Loctite on the nuts and the drive shaft, where it inserts in the motor, to make sure that everything stays in place as the motor spins.
The final step of the motorizing process was to mount the ride arms and cars to the center console casting now attached to the motor. We set the arms in place, making sure that they would move freely up and down, placed the cars in position according to the manual, crossed our fingers and turned on the motor. After one or two revolutions most of the cars started to fall off the arms. We tried again several times with the same result. To correct this we glued the cars to the arms with Walthers Goo, a flexible adhesive that, even when dry, secured the cars to the arms while still allowing them to move up and down as required. Problem solved. The Himalaya now worked like a charm.
Building the Himalaya Ride Trailer is time consuming and involves a lot of delicate work. For instance, the "V" shaped side supports in the image second from the right above are made up of two roughly 1/4" pieces of 1/16" stock! The only pre-shaped parts are the chassis, the six laser-cut vertical supports and the wheel assemblies. Everything else has to be fitted and cut to size from the supplied plastic and raw wood stock. Not only that, but all you have to guide you are three photos on the back of the manual. A daunting challenge you say? Not so. As it turned out, the only real challenge was to be VERY patient and careful. Fit, cut, glue and mount only a few pieces at a time, let them dry thoroughly before moving on and you will end up with one the most intricate and beautiful carnival ride trailers ever. One other hint: For illustrating some of the building steps, we left the wood unpainted until after each step was completed. Pre-painting the stock will save YOU time and effort.
With motorization handled and the Ride Trailer, after adding the three background panels, complete, all that remained was to add decorations and detail. The decorations provided aren't decals but are simply printed on a sheet of paper to be cut out and applied using a Glue Stick. Piece of cake. For fleshing, or plastic-ing, out the details we used a Faller 153006 36 Fair Goers #2 Figure Set, a Preiser 21000 Hanomag R55 Tractor, for night time operation, a single Viessmann 6331 Floodlight w/Metal Lattice Mast and, lastly, a few trees from a Woodland Scenics TR1580 Conifer Colors Value Pack. We think the results speak for themselves. What do you think?
You should consider these tools and materials to aid you in your project:
- A small file, such as our Blue Cushion Board, for filing off any excess plastic remaining after you have removed parts from the rack.
- A Modeling Knife, such as our # 540-5001, for removing and trimming parts.
- Your choice of various Acrylic Paint colors available at most Hobby and Craft stores.
- Paint brush for delicate work.
- Tweezers for handling small parts.
- "Elmers" Wood or Multi-Purpose White Glue.
- A Glue Stick for applying the paper decorations.
Building the Model Tech Studios A026 Mini-Himalaya, or any Model Tech kit, offers an entirely different and, arguably, equally rewarding modeling experience from that found in building fixed result plastic models from "across the pond". Here you have the ability, and flexibility, to make the end result totally your own. We highly recommend that you give one of these American craft-made kits a try.
We are interested in hearing about building experiences with this model and would like to share your impressions with other visitors to our site.
*Categories are rated on a scale of from one to ten where applicable and reflect only the opinions and experiences of our staff. We provide these ratings only as a guideline to aid you in your product choices. Your experience may vary.