PRODUCT REVIEW: 1:20.3 OR 1:22.5 SCALE DEPOT KIT
Manufacturer: PIKO Modellspielwaren GmbH, Torackerweg 7, 97488 Fuchsstadt, Germany. Price: 62000 "Sonneberg" Station plastic kit; see your dealer for prices.
PIKO'S SONNEBERG DEPOT most closely seem to reflect European architecture but it is close enough to some American style buildings to be acceptable. It is a very high quality plastic kit and its design and construction follow the practices of other easy to assemble large scale structures. PIKO lists its scale as 1:22.5 but the doors measure 80 inches high in 1:20.3 scale. De facto, that makes the building equally usable in either size.
The model measures 18 actual inches wide, 6 1/4 inches deep, and 17 1/2 inches tall at the highest point of the chimney. The wall texture represents stucco, the roof scalloped tiles, the walkway overhangs rolled composition material, and the trim stone blocks. The remainder of the parts represent wood or metal. The basic wall thickness is about 5/32-inch and, as other PIKO kits, most sections are modular. The finished model is rigid and should be as durable outdoors as any similar structure.
I worked quickly but still spent about nine hours assembling our sample. It presented no difficulties. The instructions consist entirely of line drawings and are perfectly clear. Each part fit as it should and, considering manufacturing tolerances, rather precisely. That helps to make assembly a pleasure.
The most difficult aspect of construction is the roof because nothing holds the parts in place as the cement dries. (PIKO includes the familiar tubes of solvent-type glue with the kit.) As a result, I had to use CA (superglue) to bond the roof sections. Since each piece fit perfectly, the inconvenience was minor. A rank beginner should be able to build the kit with results as good as those of an advanced modeler.
The model has some very positive features: Most obvious is the red, yellow, and green ground foam to represent flowers in the window boxes. The instructions neglect to tell you to pour "flowers" into each box and adhere them with an equal mixture of white glue and water. A drop or two of liquid dishwashing detergent will help prevent the mixture from sitting on top of the foam. The resulting effect is very effective.
The paper "curtains" PIKO includes are equally effective. They are simply printed photos of a variety of curtains and other window coverings but, when you install them, they look very convincing. The plastic rain gutters and other "metal" trim look enough like their actual counterparts to add realism.
But the nicest touch is the fully operational station clock, an inexpensive battery operated wristwatch. Our sample even arrived showing the correct time!
PIKO's advertisement on our back cover shows the station's color scheme: Light green walls with slightly darker green stone trim, white "wood" trim, gray roofing material on the overhangs and matching metalwork, dark green shutters, clear plastic window glazing, and a terra cotta orange main roof. The kit comes with printed stick-on signs. Two names were European. We used "Denver" to see how many of you would think we actually had built a model of Denver Union Station.
So far PIKO is batting 1.000 with us; Sonneberg Station is their third consecutive excellent product. If the structure's architecture appeals to you, it will make a top quality addition to your layout.-RR