Airport diorama vehicles are an interesting subject. Gemini has held an almost exclusive market share for these with its now very expensive plastic set that can retail anything between £17-26 ($26-40US) in the UK including tax. The thing is they are actually pretty rubbish – very dated to say the least, looking like something from the early 1960’s. They are barely passable for a modern airport and the catering trucks are so badly made most of them either don’t work when elevated or sooner or later have to be glued into place. Faced with the need for a third set I just couldn’t bring myself to buy it and pay Gemini for this dross. I did without and found a couple of pieces of the really rather good Dragon Wings yellow-red-white. They are at least well made but impossible to find.
Herpa do do a few bits and pieces but while modern they are frequently very low quality and not particularly stunning, never mind hideously expensive. Witty did a now fast becoming hard to find set that had a mix of 1:200 scale catering and luggage conveyors along with some terrible air bridges but some rather neat luggage tow tractors and carts, and a dire tractor or two.
It was during “RLSI One” construction I needed to find more than just air side vehicles, and that’s when I came across Orn Castings, owned and operated by John Dersch, in Sydney Australia.
My eyes were suddenly opened I have to say. Quality items, in white metal of some key airport equipment. Based mostly on US/Australian types it may not suit everyone but believe me you’ve never seen such an array of useable vehicles and they’ll make your diorama come alive. One of the things that amazes friends who are allowed entry to RLSI is in fact the 1:400 cars and equipment just add amazing detail.
I do appreciate that some of the cars are a bit 1955-1970 – but really I find that a bit amusing, and for those with an older era diorama set up they are perfect. However the commercial vehicles, vans, small and larger trucks – and especially the coaches are pretty dateless and work really well. The crown jewels however in the ranges on offer are the fantastic tractors. Simply brilliant!
Tractors include two types of Goldhoffer AST, a Douglas and a Komatsu.
Coaches are heavy and solid. Painting them was the hardest of the types to actually do. I wanted black but found it really hard to manage to get them as I wanted, the body glossy with black matt windows.
In the end as with all of these , there is only one process that works effectively you need patience, if you expect instant gratification, this is not for you.
1) Trim any flashing off then wash them in warm soapy water and leave to dry for several hours after rinsing them off. This gets rid of any dust, grease or oils that can stop the paint from bonding easily.
2) Organise the vehicles into groups, mix up the types for cars and work out a plan based on a set of colours. Red, White, Black, Blue, Grey and Silver are the most popular car base colours. For the trucks, again a similar approach. I wanted white base colour tractors so the same there.
3) Paint everything that needs one base colour, then do the next, and so on until the base colours are all applied. Leave them 24 hours
4) Paint on the black for tyres on everything (unless you’ve already done this on the black coloured cars). Leave them alone for 24 hours.
5) Paint on any red tail lights – leave them for 24 hours, they are so difficult to handle that keeping this systematic and simple is the best way of doing it to avoid problems.
6) Paint on silver wheel hubs, headlights, leave 24 hours.
7) Ancillary colours – apply one at a time. Paint on but leave them again, 24 hours. Its the best way to ensure paint doesn’t run and handling them with fingers or tweezers doesn’t mark the paint.
Windscreen & side window detail I found was best as a very light grey, just keep the design simple and don’t overdo the detail – a small amount of precision applied colour goes a long way.
They do take time and they do need patience, but the end result is superbly rewarding.
If you order these in bulk the package is quite small, John is aware of the customs/VAT issues many of us have to deal with and will help you by labelling the values accordingly for no hideous shocks. He accepts PayPal so go on go buy them. Really, I cannot see how if you’re prepared to pay for the plastic rubbish Gemini produce, these and some paint are a virtual bargain, they will last for decades!