Picks and Pans Review: Great Toy Train Layouts

updated 12/07/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/07/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Tom McComas and James Tuohy

Anyone who as a child fantasized that modest train set into an elaborate panorama of tracks, locomotives and papier-mâché mountains will find this book enjoyable. It includes photographs and descriptions of 13 layouts—with only one intended for youngsters—at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis. On his setup in Glenview, Ill., Stan Roy can operate 27 separate trains automatically at the same time. Bruce Manson of Lancaster, Pa., says that in the evening he likes to reflect that in his little model world, "there's no crime, no graffiti, no pollution. Everyone's a Republican." Ward Kimball, the Disney animator who designed Jiminy Cricket, has table layouts and two real locomotives in his backyard in San Gabriel, Calif. Frank Sinatra has a lilliputian railroad at his Rancho Mirage compound. It took hobby store owner Paul Kirby 11 weeks to build it in 1982, working with a team of six to 10 people. Kirby says he found Sinatra "is upfront about things. If he doesn't like something, you know about it the day before it happens. The absence of conversation is acceptance." McComas, a commercial and documentary filmmaker, and Tuohy, associate editor of Chicago Lawyer, include plenty of technical details for the serious collector. There must be quite a few of them, since this is the pair's eighth book about toy trains. (TM Books, Wilmette, Ill., $29.95)

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