Sunday, February 25, 2024

A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats


Westerfield PRR X23 box car (coming in styrene from Rapido)

I used to be able to look at layout photos in a magazine or visit a layout and immediately know that a person was a builder of rolling stock (or not) just by perusing what was riding on their rails. It was easy to spot cars that you could only obtain by building a kit from Sunshine, Westerfield, F&C, WestRail, Yarmouth or Speedwitch. However, the market has made it so that cars specific to a single or a small number of railroads are available as high quality, ready-to-run offerings that rival and, in some cases, surpass the resin offerings. This means that a great number of model railroaders can populate their layouts with exceptional cars without the fuss of building them or to paraphrase, this rising tide of cars lifting all boats (and sometimes overpopulating... how often do you see a non-B&O or Milwaukee layout with three Wagontop or Ribside box cars, respectively, a figure all out of proportion to reality?) However, as my late friend Richard Hendrickson used to say frequently, "these are the good old days..."

Above and below are a sampling of cars that I built as resin models that have been released (or will be) as injection molded, ready-to-run offerings.

Westerfield New York Central USRA-design steel box car kitbashed with narrowed IMWX roof (released in styrene by Broadway Limited)

Sunshine Models UTLX X-3 tank car (released in styrene by Rapido)

Sunshine Models B&O M-53 Wagontop box car (released in styrene by Fox Valley and Exactrail)

Sunshine Models Milwaukee Road Ribside box car (released in styrene in various versions by Exactrail, Intermountain, and Ribside Cars)

and just to illustrate the reverse, here is a Rapido model that I built (of a car that I had also built from a Sunshine kit years ago.) While there are many ready-to-run versions of this NP prototype available from Rapido, I bought an undec and painted and lettered it, with a few detail enhancements (read more about that via this link.)


  1. Still love to build the resin kits. I only buy the R-T-R if it’s not available in resin.
    With the 3D printed kits available, it can make things interesting!

  2. Well said. Funny that I do have 3+ Wagon-tops, but then when I got them it was to put into the fleet at LMRC, which had over 1500 cars at the time, so we're just trying to get *up* to percentages in most cases! I remember running down there at the TT/TO sessions and still only seeing one of those wagon-tops a couple of times a session. Sometimes it really was like trying to find one drop in an ocean of cars there.


Comments always welcome!