Photos by Richard Schumacher
Preassembled model railroad structures have gained in popularity with more and more modelers as a way to scenic layouts faster. Menard’s started offering structures for the O gauge Lionel collectors and modelers, and added HO scale versions of those structures last year.
Menard’s Hobby Shop is assembled from pre-painted laser-cut materials and features a number of figures, add-on details, two flashing signs, and a detailed lit interior. Jack the German Shepherd rests outside on the sidewalk while a father and daughter head into the store. A little boy dreams of the possible additions to his layout from the options in the window display. And the shop owner shares his knowledge with a customer inside the store. One thing most missing from structure models are the people. This model includes nicely posed and scaled figures which complete this scene.
The rear wall features a Menard’s billboard inspired by a classic Lionel ad. It unfortunately also has two holes for the on-off switch and electrical connector for the signs and LED lights. There is a second electrical power connector that is accessed through a hole in the bottom of the building so you can hide the wires powering the building and add some detail parts (not provided, such as boxes and alley clutter) to hide the holes in the side of the building. Menard’s is obviously targeting toy train enthusiasts and “Christmas Village” collectors with their structure designs. Their O scale buildings would look wonderful on a Lionel layout.
Another LED lights the door to the upstairs apartment or office. Additional details next to that door include a cat, dumpster, and a couple of trash cans. All of the LEDs are daylight white (6000K color temperature). This gives the look of florescent lighting for the shop interior.
A sidewalk wraps around the front walls and entrance to the hobby shop and is the structural base for the building. Two layers of printed details add depth to the window display. The interior also features multiple layers of details, but is difficult to see when not lit.
The sagging tarpaper roof is accessed by a ladder in the building’s alley. The roof has three vents. I plan to use a black paint marker on the tops of the two vertical vent pipes so they look hollow. The white cornice needs considerable touch-up as the edges of the laser-cut material are not painted.
The interior with figures and multiple layers of printed details is very cool. You will have to locate this building on your layout very carefully to ensure visitors have this specific narrow angle of view to see into the interior. It would also have been nice if the display window was illuminated, putting an actual glow on the glowing face of that little boy taking in all of the models on display. If the top half of the printed window display was not there, light from the interior would light up the display and the little boy, and would provide another window view into the interior.
I received my Menard’s Hobby Shop as a Christmas present from Suzi. She purchased it at a local Menard’s store. The Menard’s Hobby Shop retails for $59.99 (see their other offerings at https://www.menards.com/trains). You need a 4.5 volt DC power adapter with a 5.5×2.5mm plug to power the signs and LEDs. It is important that the plug’s polarity is configured with the inner positive (+) and the outer negative (-). Menard’s sells the power adapter you would need. You can also use a universal switching power adapter, like this one on Amazon, just make sure to set it to 4.5 volts before connecting it to the building.