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Built Review
Large Fir Trees
Fir Trees
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by: Matthew Lenton [ FIRSTCIRCLE ]

Introduction

NOCH produce a large variety of landscaping items principally intended for railway modelling use at HO and N scales. Many of them can of course be useful for diorama building in other modelling genres. Here we will look at some new fir trees in HO scale.

Contents

A quite large blister pack with a card backing contains six ready-made trees. Thereís no additional packing to hold the trees in place, but they are very lightweight and flexible so do not damage each other within the packet, although there is some evidence perhaps that the branches may become a little bent and distorted; more on that later.

The trees come in three sizes, a pair of each: 16cm, 18cm and 20cm (approximately 6, 7 and almost 8 inches) so these represent quite big trees; 20cm in 1:87 scale represents a tree of 17.4metres (57 feet), or in 1:72 scale thatís 14.4metres (47 feet).

The bases of the trees have a plastic planting pin under the trunk, and some brief instructions on the pack back state simply that a hole should be drilled in the base and the tree fixed in place with a hot glue gun.

I believe that the trees are probably closest in appearance to some type of Spruce, probably Norwegian, Black or Siberian.

Review

In photos 1 Ė 3 we see pairs of trees by height: 20, 18 then 16cm, and in photo 4 we see how together they provide a realistic looking variation of sizes and appear agreeably non-uniform (also photo 5) as of course do real trees.

In photo 6 we can see an example of how, on removal of the trees from the pack, some of the branches are rather misshapen and bent. The branches themselves are plastic filaments that are firmly attached to the narrow stem, and they can withstand quite firm pulling without breaking off. I found the best way to reshape the branches and make them point in the direction you want, was to warm them with a hairdryer while pulling them straight with tweezers.

Looking more closely in photo 7 we can see how the boughs are covered in fine green flock, representing pine needles, glued on to the plastic filament branches. The plastic planting peg can be seen and also the base of the trunk, which has quite a decent shape to it. Close up it can be seen that above the point where the branches attach, the tree trunk is considerably thinner, so it would not be possible to remove any of the lower branches without needing to then build up the trunk thickness to a more realistic size with perhaps some modelling putty. I mention this as it is quite common for trees of this type to have the lower branches missing, displaying a considerable length of bare trunk.

Photo 8 shows a comparison between a tree straight from the packet on the left, and one which has had its branches reshaped using a hairdryer on the right. As you can see, a blob of Plasticine is useful to keep them upright when working on them. As well as straightening the branches I found myself disentangling some of them where they had become stuck together, presumably during the flocking process. This had a tendency to remove some of the flocking and leave the branch looking a bit bare. If you happen to have any flocking, then recovering bare patches is easy enough, using some PVA glue and sprinkling the flock on; you might even get enough loose flock out of the bottom of the packet to cover some of it.

I also tried painting some of the trees to see how it would take, and also to create a slightly darker, more blueish shade of green that was more matt. This was done with an airbrush, using various Vallejo greens, and a comparison can be seen in photo 9 Ė the painted tree on the left, the out of the box tree on the right. Note that I also painted the trunk a shade of greenish grey which seems more realistic for a tree viewed from a distance; while the paint adhered very well to the foliage, it didnít take too well to the trunk, which is some soft type of plastic and might benefit from some heavy duty primer prior to painting.

Finally, giving an impression of scale, we see the trees surrounding a 1:72 vehicle in photos 10 and 11. In the final photo you can see the three unpainted trees contrasting with the slight variation between the three painted examples.

Conclusion

Although Nochís intention is that these could be used straight from the box, a little work on straightening the branches improves their appearance, and I think that painting enhances them even more. When viewed very close up, one can see some shortcomings in terms of the filament ends of the branches and the thin trunk, but from normal viewing distances they have a pretty good appearance. I particularly like the differences in sizes and the irregularity of the foliage, so that when planted together they definitely appear as six different trees, and not six of the same tree.

They are also an impressive height, and although primarily intended for large model railway layouts, where they might occupy hills and valleys in some numbers, Iíve now found myself inspired to see how they will work all together in a relatively small diorama.

We thank NOCH for supplying this copse for review here at Armorama!
SUMMARY
Highs: Ready-made, nice variety of sizes, decent appearance.
Lows: Some misshapen and clumped branches.
Verdict: A nice set of big trees for a small scale scene, benefiting from a little work.
  Scale: Multiple S
  Mfg. ID: 24255
  PUBLISHED: Dec 06, 2014
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 84.53%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 89.22%

Our Thanks to NOCH!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Matthew Lenton (firstcircle)
FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH EAST, UNITED KINGDOM

Earliest model memory is a Super Sabre my grandmother bought for me around 1972. Have always dabbled in painting and making things, and rediscovered doing that with plastic in 2008. Vowed then to complete the 30 year old stash, and have made some progress. Hobby goes hand in hand with BBC Radio 3...

Copyright ©2018 text by Matthew Lenton [ FIRSTCIRCLE ]. All rights reserved.



Comments

Well, it's one step above a "bottle brush". Maybe a glorified "bottle brush". These are made for very large model railroads, and when viewed from a few feet, are only meant to represent spruce, or fir, or pine, or whatever trees they're supposed to be! They don't even look very realistic in a 1/72 scale dio. Although they might just be passable if you dump enough "snow" on them.
DEC 06, 2014 - 09:48 PM
I don't really disagree with you, but having said that, I still haven't seen any with my own eyes that really do look the part. I've been looking for some trees to set my almost finished 1/72 Dicker Max in, based on this photo: I was therefore interested to try these Noch firs out, although they're not quite the right type of tree seen above. This try out also gave me the opportunity for practicing a few other aspects of diorama building, having done little previously, as well as providing a mount for this now bit battered SU-122. Some aspects of it came out OK I think: the black PlastiKote spray paint on the surround went on beautifully and I think I eventually got something like the right colour for dead pine needles, even if the material wasn't that great. The trees look OK if the focus isn't too sharp and the lighting not too bright, but then again, this is looking quite close up... I repainted the tree foliage itself, but didn't finish painting the trunks, nor did I blend the trunks into the ground, they're just as they glued into the holes, but mostly it's hidden. So anyway, I quite like the look of the piece, being so tall, with the vehicle half hidden - while remembering that hiding in the woods was highly necessary - while at the same time I still don't have a solution for the D Max piece. And having spotted some tiny Christmas lights for sale on the day I was finishing it, why not... Merry Christmas.
DEC 10, 2014 - 03:49 AM
Merry Christmas to you, too! I think the diorama works exceptionally well. The dead pine needles look like what I see under my trees.
DEC 22, 2014 - 07:06 AM
   

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