“Go on, what’s the THIRD verse?”

Well, look who’s moved into the neighbourhood…

Calvin - Hobbes - Tree Fort

This is a story four years in the making.

Back in November 2013, I built a tree fort in one of the trees behind the station in St. Williams. You can read about that project by clicking on the photo, below…

Tree Fort in St Williams, with GROSS sign

… but at the end of that post, I noted that I was inspired by Calvin & Hobbes, and wondered where I could find a suitable tiger.

Fast forward almost two years, and in October 2015 my friend Stephen Gardiner surprised me with a model of Hobbes, which he had designed, 3D Printed, and painted. Again, clicking on the image, below, will link you to that part of the tale (or, tail?)…

Hobbes by Stephen Gardiner

Since then, I’ve been keeping my eyes open for a suitable figure that I could modify into a Calvin – but without any luck. There aren’t any nice models of S scale kids around – and certainly nothing with Calvin’s Peanutsy proportions.

Still, when Stephen got in touch and suggested we get together for lunch, adding, “I have something for you”, it never occurred to me what that might be. So I was completely gobsmacked – and delighted – when we met up yesterday and he presented me with a 3D Printed Calvin:

Calvin model by Stephen Gardiner

I carefully added a pin to the bottom of his foot, and placed him in a patch of light in the backyard.

Everybody sing along with Calvin!

Calvin - Hobbes - Tree Fort Comic

If Hobbes ever lets Calvin into the tree fort, he’ll have a good view of the passing trains:

Calvin - Hobbes - Tree Fort

Thanks Stephen – what an awesome surprise!

The visit was grand: We went for lunch at Harbord House and had a great conversation about a number of subjects.

We discussed the announcement on Monday from Rapido Trains that it would be producing HO scale models of the iconic Canadian diesel switcher: The SW1200RS. Stephen was at the launch party, and had a lot of details to share. This is huge news for the Canadian hobby, and Rapido notes it is their most-requested model. The good news is, the Rapido Trains SW1200RS is more than vapourware – the company had test shots from the tooling on display, and a running sample. The models are due early next year, and already I know a number of people who are considering switching scales back to HO just to take advantage of these. The SW1200RS certainly figures prominently in a number of the Canadian prototypes I’ve covered on my Achievable Layouts blog.

After lunch, Stephen and I ran a freight extra to Port Rowan and back. Stephen took the engineer’s seat in CNR 10-wheeler 1532, while I headed for the conductor’s desk in the van. The layout ran well, with only a couple of misaligned couplers to contend with. It was Stephen’s first experience with ESU’s Mobile Control II wireless throttles – a combination of Ambroid tablet computer and throttle with physical knob and buttons. I switched to this system late last year and it’s been a terrific experience. (Stephen was suitably impressed, I think – but I’ll let him provide his thoughts if/when he reads this.)

All in all, a terrific day – and let’s do it again!

8 thoughts on ““Go on, what’s the THIRD verse?”

  1. I’m glad you like Calvin Trevor, and he’s got a great spot for train watching if that dasterdly tiger ever lets him into the Tree Fort!!

    The Rapdio SW1200RS looked great, and it was nice to be at a product launch where actual pre-production shots from the molds were on display, instead of just renderings or artwork. I know that I will be ordering a couple of them, most likely in CN Green, though the possbaillities of doing something CPR with an SW1200RS and my Alco S2 I already have is also out there. The sample they had running was so smooth at a crawl around the loop of track it was on. The improvements in running quality out of the box on locomotives these days is really impressive. I still remember my early models (nee toys) that either ran like the wind or not at all, and no speed control in between!!

    I think the ESU system is very impressive. I think I almost even got the hang of changing directions by the end of the day!!! The feel of the speed wheel with the thumb divot for controlling was very nice for speeding up and slowing down without having to look at what you were doing, though there is most definitely a knack to the turning the dial backwards past 0 to change directions. The ESU system certainly gives me a third option for my ongoing consideration of a DCC system for my various small dioramas and future layout/module building activities.

    Thank you for an enjoyable afternoon during my week off talking trains and more importantly, running trains, something I enjoy but don’t do very often in my layoutless state at the moment!

    It was a good day eh?


  2. Certainly not switching scale! But seriously thinking about slightly moving the layout era a few years later to represent their incarnation as Chemin de fer Charlevoix (CFQ) sole power in the 1990s. That would turn my timeless issue of finding suitable motive power (CN M420) into a neat detailing, painting and weathering project to be proud of.

    However, the most interesting part of this new product is hidden in Rapido’s own words: ” their most-requested model”. In a world where everybody tells us high profile or oddball locomotives (Big Boys and others, I’m looking at you!) are the most popular, it’s quite puzzling to discover the most mundane model – an almost generic EMD/GMD switcher – gets the most request. Sure, the locomotive itself is rather “cute”, but it performed the less attractive and dull duty all over the country and never got a glamourous feel around it. In the other hand, I’m not surprised since it’s the nature of train enthusiasts to find beauty where others see dirt, rust and unrefined industrial machines. As you pointed out, a great quality “mundane” model opens a lot of possibility in term of layout design which is a good thing.

    As for myself, I have fond memories of SW1200RS. I remember hating them back in 1992 when they replaced the mighty M420, then lamenting their lost in the early 2000s. Looks like their charm won me over, at a point they were one of my first protography subject and my first try at kitbashing and repainting models.

  3. The SW1200s are far outside my era – and locale – but I agree they promise to be amazing models of a versatile prototype.

    But I’m commenting primarily about your use of whimsy on your otherwise-perfectly-prototypical layout. LOVE it! And – while probably not what he intended by his post on one’s layout telling a story – I’m sure Marty would agree that your mini-scene tells a great story (or at the very least will prompt one!)

    • Hi Chris:
      You make a good observation about whimsy. I keep it to a minimum, but I’m not averse to including some whimsical elements on the layout. I want them to tell a reasonable story, however. In this case, I could have put a couple of realistic kids in the back yard – one in the tree fort and the other on the ground. Having the two figures be Calvin & Hobbes amuses me, but the story is the same.
      I think it works in part because it’s subtle. Most people don’t even notice the tree fort – let alone the tiger in it. Whenever I include elements that tell a story like this – whether they are whimsical or realistic – I try to place them so that the visitor is rewarded for careful observation. In my opinion, these Calvin & Hobbes figures would not work if they were standing on the station platform at St. Williams. It would be too “in your face”. But in a backyard, under the trees, I think they’re perfect.

      • Well-known UK rail artist Terence Cuneo regularly included a mouse in his paintings as a touch of whimsy. I see Calvin and Hobbes in much the same vein.

  4. Trevor, What a treat getting Calvin! I agree, a touch of whimsy is fun. And it’s even better when its subtle location is discovered unexpectedly.
    When working on projects for the NEB&W, modeling the prototype is the only goal, but on my tiny C&V RR a little humor makes the layout personal and unique.

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