Like most modellers I started out in the hobby with a set of HO scale trains when I was quite young. I had a fantastic layout that my Dad built for me (I was really, really young) and it was on that 4×8′ layout that I experienced so many of my firsts. Gosh that was fun and I played with it for hours. In the three decades since those days I’ve gotten more “serious” about the hobby and these days I worry that I’ve forgotten how to play with trains. I still really enjoy the hobby and lately I feel like I’m discovering new exciting things about it that I can’t wait to experience and share. Always looking forward sometimes I forget those roots. With that sentiment in mind I wanted to share something neat that happened to me this morning.
I hadn’t been on the M.B. Klein website in a long time. By accident I noticed that they were now selling Fleischmann trains. In my opinion Fleischmann are still the makers of the finest N scale trains…bar none. It was fun surfing through the Klein’s website and seeing what other European treats that they catalogued that I’d never seen before in their listings. It was on their HO scale website I saw a drop-list option for Heljan. My imagination instantly screamed out a list of British Rail diesel models that Heljan now produce and I’d like to add to my model collection someday so I hastily selected that option and waited for the website to return it’s wares. What I got wasn’t what I expected. What you get when you pick “HO Scale” and “Heljan” is a great list of their HO scale building kits. These days now that we’re all saturated with so many craftsman kits and it seems like no one even acknowledges things like Revell, AHM and Heljan structures it was really cool to see this list. When I was young we had one of the original Leisure World stores right here in Charlottetown and Gerry would stock all sorts of these kits. I’d steadfastly save paper route and pocket money dollars for the next kit – I’ve always enjoyed making model buildings. Gradually I managed to buy, and build, almost all the Heljan Danish stores and little houses. I even collected some of the American kits that they produced under the guidance of Con-Cor. Some of those kits became fodder for my own Art Curren-inspired kitbashes but I built a ton of them.
What surprised me the most from the Klein website though was how some of first kits I bought were still online. Walk with me down this road for a second (with all the chatter about sharing content I’m going to cower and only share hyperlinks instead of photos from someone else’s website. I’m sure I have my own pictures…somewhere…and I’ll dig them up later!)
This is the first plastic model kit I ever assembled, purchased at Hobby House in Ottawa when they were downtown:
Heljan HO 1772 Tract House Kit
I built that little house with Testor’s plastic model cement, the tube stuff, and a kitchen knife that I had taught myself to hone into a decent model making blade. I was careful and remember only smudging the plastic “glass” a little with glue.
Later on and a move to Charlottetown and now buying the kits from Leisure World:
Heljan HO 1773 Suburban House Kit
That one I really messed up. I was rushing and recall really mucking up the little alcove at the front of the house.
Heljan HO 211 Small Brick House Kit
I never liked that one but it was inexpensive and fit my buy with what I’ve got right now mentality at the time.
Heljan HO 301 American Farm House Kit
That one was my favourite. It’s lines seemed so familiar and almost Canadian and I treasured it dearly. I remember trying to find just the right spot on the layout and it would eventually get quite the fun model backyard and garden added. On a family trip I had purchased an old British model railway magazine and it had contained instructions on how to model garden plants in OO scale with only paper and water colours and I remember making little cabbages and bean poles. What fun!
Here’s the main query from the Klein website to take a look at the Heljan kits they’ve catalogued. I know I’m not alone for these familiar beginnings:
It’s fun to see some kits that I really, really wanted way back when and it’s tempting to order them today.