The Hobby On The Cheap
This page features a few money saving ideas and tips.

This approximately O scale die cast limousine, with opening doors,
was purchased at a neighborhood 'dollar' store.  $1.

Notice how this product is packaged as a play set.  Besides the limo, the figure and signs are included.
Many items on the layout were found in toy aisles of discount stores like WalMart and K-Mart.
(But don't throw away this plastic packaging material; the clear, flat plastic can be used as window
glass in layout buildings, and the recessed areas of the plastic insert makes great paint wells
and pallet when painting layout items.  The figure can not only be repainted, but details like his gun can
be easily removed from the plastic figure by cutting it away with a hobby knife or by simply filing it off.
What about the signs?  They're not perfect, but they can be repainted, or paper graphics,
made with an inexpensive color printer, can be attached to make
prototypical road signs, or your own designs.)

[Click here to see the repainted figure above.]

[Click here to make easy signs.]

This is what you want to look for in the toy sections of these stores. Blister packaging on hanging cards, or in bins.

Above is another example of a dollar store find, die cast with working doors.
This car is a little larger than O scale at 1:35, but still can look great on the layout
when placed  near similar scale objects and buildings.  Just don't place it directly near a 1:48 scale item.
Forced perspective techniques can be used so that smaller scale items can be used in the background,
and larger items in the foreground, or any combination that looks right to you.

A wall type transformer is a great way to deliver fixed voltage on a budget.
Many electronics surplus sources offer these for about $4, on average.
Be sure it is UL approved and have an extra in-line fuse in place.
Use caution and have a working knowledge of basic electricity before using any power supply.
Refer to hobby reference materials for safe and correct use information
regarding fuses, maximum loads, etc.  See the "Safety First" page for other safety info.

These craft acrylic paints clean up with soap and water, and are permanent.  The smaller pots are good for smaller projects.  Wait until they are on sale, then buy the colors you need.  They usually finish on the flat side, but semi gloss or gloss clear coats can be used on top, and some types are available in glossy finishes.  Check the craft departments of the discount stores for these paints and quality, inexpensive paint brushes.  Clean plastic surfaces with rubbing alcohol before painting, and lightly sand surfaces for good adhesion.

The dollar stores often have all types of tools and supplies, like this 20 gauge speaker wire, 50 feet for a buck.

These four signs were packaged with very toy-like automobiles, 2 autos and 4 signs on a card, $1.  So the autos were given away as stocking stuffers, but the signs will work well on the layout after a little realignment.  The signs were also scanned, edited, and printed to make more signs. (see link above)

These magnifying/reading glasses (+3.25 magnification) are a necessity for detail work on scale objects.  Yes, they were just a dollar, too.

For those who like the porcelain buildings, these were also found for a buck, but they are closer to S scale.

This close up of the O scale figures shows the variety of poses and themes available.  But shop early for the best selections.  The bases of the musicians can be repainted for use in non-snowy areas.  Imagine, it works out to just 25 cents each!

What a deal!  This dollar store lamppost has 5 LEDs and a battery holder.  Since it is designed to work with 2 AA batteries, an approximately 2.5 - 3 volt DC power supply could be substituted provided the correct polarity is maintained and proper safety precautions are followed.  The wreath is easily removed if preferred.

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