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Hello!

So I am extremely inexperienced when it comes to model trains and scenery. I have a decent amount of experience with models in general, but not the world of railroad models.

Even with that disclaimer, this is going to seem super random: I have a pet gecko that is going to need a bigger cage soon. I was going to just buy a bigger aquarium and put some fake plants in it, but I've always been a big "Godzilla" fan, and after I saw the new film I thought "You know what would be way cooler? If all the terrain in the cage were miniatures and I made it a downtown city block in the process of being destroyed."

In that way, the whole cage essentially becomes a scene from a monster movie, with the otherwise unimposing gecko becoming the kaiju.

I have enough experience with reptiles and enclosure construction that I will be able to make pretty much anything safe for inclusion in the cage. This is a species of gecko that does not need supplemental heat, so nothing will melt, and even if scenery is not waterproof, I can make it waterproof with a special coating that is used for vivarium scenery. I will also adapt the models I include to serve specific functions in context of animal husbandry (eg, a hollow building can become a hiding spot for the animal, or I can put a fogger into a damaged building so that it both looks like it is burning and also keeps the enclosure humidity up, which is a husbandry requirement).

So my question for you folks, as experienced hobbyists is essentially, where should I start? The gecko is about 5 inches long. She'll get about twice that size as an adult. The cage is about 18" tall, 12 wide, and 24 long.

1) What scale would you recommend for that size aquarium? I was envisioning 3-5 buildings, between 8 and 18 inches tall, pushed to the back of the enclosure. That will give me a little space in the front to put down a city street with trees and tanks or something. The goal is to make the lizard look suitably large, maybe train car sized, although larger or smaller looking would be acceptable if need be.

I went to my local hobbyshop to look at different scales, but they don't have much in the way of urban buildings. No skyscrapers, or corporate office buildings or anything of the like. Mostly just little Americana scenes. I have been looking at "N" scale online, but it is very difficult to tell the size of the buildings... It looks like "N" scale office buildings buildings tend to be about 10 inches, but I'd want some variation in height..

2) Are there commercially available kits for urban looking buildings? Corporate offices, downtown skyline style? I could probably make my own out of paper and do a decent job. But that would take hours upon hours of work, the first one would be terrible (because it always is), and then i'd need to repeat that 5 times. Are there brands I should look for, or avoid?

3) Any links or ideas for how to make convincing looking asphalt?

4) Thoughts? Concerns? Feelings?

Thanks for your time guys. If there are any forums or resources you think I should check out, please let me know.

Best,

Ron
 

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There are several H.O. train manufacturers who make buildings, usually kits that are not hard to put together, out there.
1. I'd recommend going to your local hobby shop or big bookstore and buy a copy of Model Railroader mag. and check out all the great ads in there by hundreds of suppliers, builders, and online sellers, etc.
2. Surf the net by entering what you want and seeing where it takes you. Ebay has lots of sites where people are selling stuff relatively cheap for what you seem to be looking for.
3. Depending on where you are, link up with any local train hobbyists/train meets/shows for good deals on used buildings, model cars, people, etc.
4. For shooting scenes, read up on "selective compression", a technique many quality modelers use to create a sense of depth in their shots. In a nutshell, selective compression relies on larger things closer to the lens, and smaller things further back to increase the visual perception of depth, i.e.: "O gauge buildings/people closest to the lens; "S" gauge a bit farther back, H.O. scale stuff further back, and "N" scale stuff much further back.
Good luck!
 

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There should be several choices for N scale skyscrapers and other urban structures. I would start with looking at Walthers for kits and preassembled structures from several manufacturers. Kato is a manufacturer that makes N-scale office buildings that would look at home in Tokyo or an American city.
http://www.walthers.com/exec/search...ategory=Structure&scale=N&instock=Q&start=840

If you go the paper structure route (and can make them moisture proof), then check this thread for links to paper skyscraper structures that you can print and assemble.
http://www.modeltrainforum.com/showthread.php?t=24034

Theres a N scale layout that is usually displayed at the Great Train Show at the Timonium Maryland Fairgrounds (next show is in late June 2014) that depicts a Japanese setting and has Godzilla as part of the display. I took a couple pictures of the layout but not of Godzilla. But if you look closely, you'll see Godzilla in the pictures.
 

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I have recently put together several paper models made by CubicFun that make superb additions to my urban layout. Price on ebay ranges from $12-25 per building, and they are easy to assemble. The material is rigid and the buildings are free standing. My tallest structure is the CN Tower (36").

http://www.cubicfun.com/index_en.php?m=Products&a=pro&cid=7
Not that we don't welcome input of all kinds, but this is another dead thread, 18 months old. The original poster is long gone.

Take some pictures of your buildings and post them in the "My Layout" thread. We'd love to see them!
 

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It's easy to make you own "kits by just finding good orthogonal images of buildings you find on the internet and printing them out, etc. You have more control over size, etc (and its cheaper). I edited them, printed them out, etc. I used foamboard rather than heavy paper in back. It's cheap and stronger, etc. The two buildings at the end of the street (next to the blue and white Olds, and behind it, in this photoa are paper on foamboard. The one to the left of the Olds, I cut a window out and have a figure looking out, and mounted a window AC unit there. I really like them, they were fun to do, and the price was next to nothing.
Scale model Mixed-use Building Town Human settlement
 
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