Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Straco Layout, Part 19 - Ambulance (and taxi) chasing

Can a toy train layout have feng shui? I think so.
I'm always on the lookout for more vehicles to add  to the Straco Layout (read more about the whole project here). Small Japanese tin toy cars pop up on eBay all the time. But there are reasons why I don't often bid on them.

First, the starting price is often higher than I'm willing to spend. The guiding principle behind this layout is cheap -- cheap toys, cheap materials, cheap expense.

Second, for a lot of the items that start at the $0.99 level, once the bidding gets going the price shoots past what I'd be willing to spend (which is when I drop out).

But recently I was able to snag two small cars that worked on all levels. First, they were inexpensive (I was the only bidder on both). Second, they were in great shape. Third, they met two other requirements I was looking for -- color variety and additional railroad station-related transportation.

I have to wonder what the quality of care is
with patients riding sitting up in the back of
a two-door ambulance.
The Ambulance -- a splash of color
This layout is unabashedly for toys, and is filled with vibrant primary colors. The problem was that the traffic on the highway didn't have a lot of contrast. The fire chief's car was red, the bus was red, the stake truck was red and yellow, and the cattle truck was yellow. No blue, green, or orange to break things up.

That's why I purchased the ambulance. Its bright blue body is just what I was looking for.

The Taxi - serving passengers
A lot of these small Japanese cars came in sets of four, and were basically variations on  a theme. The same stamped tin car would be decorated as a police car, an ambulance, a fire chief's car, and a taxi. Since I had a busy-looking terminal (judging by all the people lithographed on the sides), I thought a taxi would be nice, especially as a compliment to the bus I picked up at York.

Taxi, anyone? Two in the front, and two in the back.
That cab's packed!
Although the taxi was red and yellow (see above), it still served its purpose. I now have two vehicles serving the station.

A problem of projection
After I received the cars, I noticed something quite interesting -- there's an error on the lithography of the taxi.

The front shows a male driver and female passenger. But the driver's side window shows a female at the wheel. Whoops. The left-hand side of the car repeats the error -- female passenger in the front, male passenger in the side.

So who's really driving? The man or the woman?
It's certainly not a deal-breaker. And conversely, it doesn't make this some kind of super-rare variation that's worth thousands. It's just the way the car was made. And I think it's part of the charm.

Total cost for the project:

Layout construction:
  • Pegboard: $4.95
  • Flathead Screws: $0.40
  • Molding: $2.49
  • SilClear: borrowed from a friend
  • Green Paint: left over from another project
  • Wood Screws: $3.60
  • Felt Pads: $1.99
Power Pack: $5.90
Small Houses: $3.00
Testor's Gray Paint for road: $1.29
Two Japanese toy cars: $2.00
Bandai Areo Station: $8.99
A.W. Livestock truck: $4.99
Taxi: $2.99
Ambulance: $2.99

Total Cost: $45.58


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