6. Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption


“I think a man feels more like a man when he’s working out of doors in the springtime if he can have a bottle of suds.”
– Andy Dufresne

Andy, Red and Dickie Betts taking a break while one of the bulls looks on.

Build Notes:
I had to piece the figures from a variety of sets and make Red red-headed. The props too.
They’re doing the roof of my record store, which was just begging for some attention.


Checking in – Layout


After using the weekend to build a juke joint, I figured it was time to toss out a little layout candy. The table is 4×6 (a little smaller than industry standard, so to speak) but it’s plenty of room for a theme like this one. As you can see there are lettered areas where some scenes are but mostly where I suspect they will go. Here’s the key:

A – Weeds
B – From a Buick 8
C – The Dead Zone
D – Christine
E – Trucks (and maybe 11/22/63)
F – LT’s Theory of Pets
G – Uncle Otto’s Truck
H – Dolan’s Cadillac
I – Children of the Corn
J – Cujo
K – The Breathing Method

Most still up for grabs, of course.
It crossed my mind to make the juke joint The Black Spot from “It”, but it isn’t really in the style of the story’s building, so I may just chalk that one up to the many non-King pieces of scenery that I’ll need to place to make the table truly breathe as a town.

5. From a Buick 8

Fill 'er up...with BLOOD. Oh, and a car wash.

Fill ‘er up…with BLOOD. Oh, and a car wash.

A mysterious figure leaves his not-quite-a-ride at the local gas station.

Build notes:
This isn’t quite the right model of car, but it’s standing in right now until I get my hands on a proper Buick Roadmaster so I could build a general purpose gas station all around it. As you can see from the pics, the station is essentially done, but the ground is not. That’s coming soon.

IMG_20130217_165543 IMG_20130217_183422 IMG_20130217_183506 IMG_20130217_203749 IMG_20130217_212253-1 IMG_20130217_225624

4. Cujo

Bad Cujo...BAD Cujo!

Bad Cujo…BAD Cujo!

The rabid Cujo wants Donna and Tad to come out and play dead.

Build notes:
Right car, wrong color, and I’m not good enough yet to repaint a model car the size of a broken pencil. Puffy chest moment: cars generally come without people in them. While King’s stories feature a number of unmanned cars, Cujo is not one of them. The whole point of the story was to have people trapped in a car. So I had to do my first figure operation: cutting the woman in half so that she fit in the car. The doors don’t open, so it’s not a simple glue and slide. I had to glue up the interior of the car and then use tweezers to really get the figures to sit in there right. I should have cut the boy in half as well to get the proportions right, but I really wanted legs to be visible up close.  I made Cujo a little bloody, obviously. You don’t even want to know how hard it was to find a decent St. Bernard. In the pics below you can see some of the detail work: people in the car, scratches on the doors.

IMG_20130224_130602 IMG_20130224_130538 IMG_20130224_130842-1 IMG_20130224_124805

3. Weeds, aka The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill

Jordy needs a haircut...and some Scott's weed killer.

Jordy needs a haircut…and some Scott’s weed killer.

Jordy’s house gone bad.

Build notes:
I was directed to a little train shop in town that sold old, beat-up structures for cheap. I bought this one (one of the few of the right size, as it turns out) for about five bucks as I recall. It wasn’t pretty but it didn’t need to be. I knew exactly what fate was going to befall it. I added a bunch of weeds to it and BOOM: Jordy’s demise.

This was also my first shot at landscaping and man, there were moments when I would have  rather cut MY grass. Once I a) got the water/glue mix down, and b) learned to quit being so impatient (“Is it dry yet? Nope. Is it dry…now? Nope.”), it started to look like something.


IMG_20130218_181600 IMG_20130218_183416 IMG_20130218_193936

IMG_20130218_194021 IMG_20130224_124952

2. Christine

Christine going for burgers...AND BLOOD.

Christine going for burgers…AND BLOOD.


Build Notes:
No building necessary! I bought this as is. It was kind of a gimme, so not much to say here. Thanks Woodland Scenics!

1. The Dead Zone

This is a scene bitten more from the movie than the book, since the book isn’t as descriptive as the film on this one. Thanks to Johnny’s psychic ability he discovers the identity of a killer at a town’s bandstand, where a young woman was killed. I’ll be adding Johnny to the scene later (I finally have the right male figurine for it but have to fashion a cane). For now, here it is, not yet placed on the table, but ready to be.

Don't do it, Frank!

Don’t do it, Frank!

Build notes:
This was my first metal build. I didn’t have the right glue initially, but it all worked out. I was pleased with the paint job and though the male doesn’t have on a rain slicker here, I’ve allowed room to replace him later should I find the right guy.

Gazebo fall down, go boom.

Gazebo fall down, go boom.

Hey girl.

Hey girl.

Crossing Over

It’s hard for me to relate how much fear had to be conquered to just stick something to the table. Gluing something down meant it was on, that what was being done was the last word, that I was making a commitment  – an expensive commitment – to something I didn’t really have a strong vision of. I didn’t know what I was doing from one day to the next on this thing, and I’d built a huge table for it that I couldn’t just tear down. Even if I did, I don’t have the money to take a hobby hit like this. So there was some “practical fear” to conquer here.

So I put down a railroad crossing. No flashing lights, no moving arm bars. I used the wrong glue, but I used so much of it that it will never matter. Most important is that the crossing is symbolic. It says, “Cross here and you’re in it, kid.”

So I was in it.


Roughing it Out

No matter what theme you want to skin your set with, you need the actual foundation of a town to tweak. You need roads and sidewalks and grass and all of the stuff that establishes what you’re trying to say.

So I secured the track to the table…

I sure hope I'm using the right glue...TOO LATE NOW.

I sure hope I’m using the right glue…TOO LATE NOW.

…and bought some roads.

Where the table meets the road.

Where the table meets the road.

These were rubbery, stick-on roads that I thought looked good. At two lanes they were good for the small town feel I was going for when I was originally thinking of making a whole juke joint theme out of this.  You can see in the pic where I was thinking about making a side street, but every turn just added an unrealistic train crossing to the mix. I mean, what town this size has four railroad crossings? (Answer: some town some internet troll will be digging up soon, I am sure.)  Anyhow, months later I threw caution to the wind and started actually laying them down.

Don't taz me, road.

Don’t taz me, road.

As you can see, they lay down real nice. Also, you begin to see the start of an ACTUAL vision, as I mark-up the table in anticipation of roads and buildings to come.


I needed to put the train on something stable to do anything, even just to run an infinite oval. So I read up on benchwork and set about building my own.

Building the bench.

Building the bench.

Adding the top and setting it right.

Adding the top and setting it right.

Mine took a couple of days to build even with the most meager of skills because I didn’t have all of the tools I needed. Conversely, I had to have the guys at Lowe’s cut my wood for me, then bring my cut wood home and pray I’d measured it right. For the most part, I got this right out the gate, save some rookie mistakes. The size is 4′ x 6′, which is about as small as you can go and still be able to run an HO scale size train in a big loop with no frills. Not that it’s small, mind you: it eats up some pretty valuable space in my basement, not to mention that even at 4×6, if I ever want to get it out of my basement I’d have to saw the legs off and carry it out on its side. Eh, you live and you learn.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have BENCH.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have BENCH.

And then?  It sat there for a year.