by Jay Ducharme
(All text and images copyright Jay Ducharme 2018.)
So from that I knew that the structures were simple white clapboard with windows on each side and flat roofs. I was able to quickly put the graphics together using assets I already had. Then I simply duplicated it since (except for the interior) they were pretty much identical. I had thought that the women's room had a sort of a porch in front, but I couldn't find any photographic evidence. I cut the walls so that they sloped down to a half-inch at the back. Then I cut foam core squares for the bases. They were all ready to put together. It took just a few minutes to glue it all together. I inserted small pieces of foam core around the roof line to make it simpler to glue down the roof. Before attaching the roof, I glued the buildings in place and let them dry. Then I turned my attention to the tunnel.
I used two strips of card stock with clapboard printed on them. Then I placed short bamboo skewers at the entrances to the tunnel. I looped the strip around the skewer and glued it. Then I glued the inner side of the tunnel to the backs of the buildings, curving around the men's room and looping around the bamboo skewer at the other end. Those skewers closest to the golf course would never be seen; the walkover and fountain would go there later, built with a 3D printer. For the outer wall, I glued down a strip of foam core board to add some rigidity and glued the wall to that. I also added a few more pieces of foam core to help support the roof, which I sized in place. After a bit of trimming, I affixed the roof and that whole section was complete.
I planned to next build the main arcade and adjacent games. As I pored through image after image, I noticed that the structure I thought was one unit (containing the shooting galleries, novelty stand, office and Action game) was actually two separate buildings with a single awning connecting them. The shooting galleries (originally labeled separately as Shoot Out the Star and Shoot Till U Win) in the 1980s had just one sign above them: Shoot 'Em Out. In the last couple of years at the park, Shoot Till U Win was replaced by a roller ball game. The office complex had a complex series of intersecting roof lines. But Shoot 'Em Out was a fairly simple box so I opted to build that one next. It was all pretty straightforward, with a foam core base and printed graphics. The only difference was, since the building was so long, I added some trusses like I had done in the Clambake Pavilion in order to hold up the roof. Then I glued everything in place and one more building was done.
Speaking of the Clambake Pavilion, I ran across some photos that called into question my design of the Towers area. Some images seemed to show a continuous level to the roof from the Pizza area. Other images seemed to show a stepped design. Another image seemed to show a long thin rectangular section of roof. All I knew for certain was that my design was incorrect. So to compromise, I added a stepped section of roof. It might not have been completely accurate, but it did add more visual interest to that massive expanse of roof.
I decided to follow up Shoot 'Em Out by working on the Playland arcade and adjacent games. But as usual, I got distracted. I noticed the small footprint areas for two buildings next to the carousel: the "new" rest rooms and the midway stage. The rest rooms would be another simple box with a gabled roof. The only difference is it had two walls out front directing people to either the ladies' room or the men's. So I started with that. The graphics were easy: white cinderblock. I created the walls with thin card stock bent around skewers. The stage was a little more complicated, involving more intricate folding. As usual I began with actual photos of the structure and inserted them into the graphics. I was going to use a block of foam core for the base, so I designed the stage so that it could wrap around the foam core. The building sides didn't go all the way to the end of the stage, so I made "wings" that I could fold in. I also made a piece resembling the back side of the stage that I could glue over the card stock. The roof of the stage was a bit trickier, since it continued out over the audience. I used two bamboo skewers for the supporting posts and cut a small gable out of foam core. I glued them together and painted them blue. The audience sat in rows of thin red, white and blue benches affixed to the asphalt. For that, I clipped small sections of the plastic ladders, painted them and hot-glued them in place. I glued the roofs on and after just a few hours, the stage and rest rooms were finished.
Over the next few weeks, I was tied up with other duties. But I did manage to start the process of adding trees. The 200 tree set were extremely uniform and looked unrealistic. So I tried to balance that with other varieties of trees that I had. It became clear that I wouldn't be able to populate the model exclusively with the large set. I had thought there would be more variation in them. But at least I started to get a feel for what the model would look like as more trees were added.
Another chore I had been putting off was painting the sides of the table. I didn't like working with spray paint indoors. But I made quick work of it and turned on our air purifier for a few days. I sprayed it all a dark grey, and it looked good.
I finally decided to focus on "Arcade Row", the strip of buildings that housed Pop It (the water gun game), Sock It To Me (Whacky Cats) and the Play Land Arcade. The buildings themselves weren't very complicated, but the facades were. The big puzzle for me was how to create the crenellations that adorned the roofline of the buildings, originally huge wood and metal geometric structures that looked impossibly large compared with the rest of the structures. My original thought was to use foam core, but I'd wait until the buildings were actually finished before approaching that.
The first task was to create the graphics, which I added to the previous buildings sheet. I had no photos of the first building, Pop It, except when it was closed. I knew what it looked like inside; it was a typical carnival balloon game with clown heads that rotated back and forth as you tried to squirt a water gun into their mouths. The building originally was a shooting gallery, and the steel wall from that game remained behind the clowns. That graphic took a few hours of research. I was surprised how few photos their were of such a popular game. Most were looking sideways down the row of clowns. I finally found one looking straight on, so I cropped it and inserted it. I did have a photo of the Sock It To Me game (also known simply as Baseball, where you throw a baseball at a small clown head, trying to knock it over). So that one was easy. For the signage above the games, I was able to salvage a photo of the Sock It To Me sign taken from the side, and I warped it to appear straight on. It was also black and white, so I had to hand-colorize it. The Pop It sign was a simple graphic of letters inside diamonds.
The buildings were straightforward rectangles with foam core bottoms. They were the same size. The only difference was in the roof structures: Pop It was gabled while Sock It To Me was flat and also had an upper level (like the Towers). So I created the gables with foam core board for Pop It and glued the base into place. Then I created the simple flat box for Sock It To Me and glued that down. I glued on the roofs and then moved on to Play Land.
This one posed the toughest challenge graphically because I had no pictures of the inside of that arcade. I remembered approximately what it looked like, with pinball machines, early video games and antique arcade machines filling the room. At the back was the redemption counter where my aunt worked, along with some Fascination tables (a sort of combination of bowling and bingo). It took me hours of combing the Internet trying to find appropriate images. Eventually I ended up creating a mash-up of about six different images. While it didn't look much like the inside of the original arcade, at least it gave a sense of depth.
Then I added the upper signage. I had a font that was pretty similar to the real sign. The curved light bars were simply red curves with yellow dots and drop shadows. I even added the little rainbow on the center support. The building sides were too long for a single sheet of paper, so I broke them up into three sections. Since it was such a large box, I added a strut down the center to help hold up the roof. That building also for some reason had a cinderblock chimney at the back right. I used a small piece of foam core for that. I glued everything into place, and Arcade Row was coming together nicely.
As for those crenellations, foam core would have been much too thick. So I opted to used double-backed card stock. I recreated the shapes in Designer. I printed out two copies at 16% of normal size. After cutting out the shapes, I glued them back to back and then affixed them into position with clear glue. The one between the Pop It and Sock It To Me stands didn't fit, though. It covered a large section of both signs. I couldn't understand why until I examined the photos carefully -- the two buildings were actually about four feet apart with a door between them, allowing access to the back of the buildings. I had placed the two buildings too close together, and it was too late to move them. So I cut down part of the crenellation so it would fit. Then I took a screwdriver and pried an opening between the two buildings. Arcade Row was pretty much finished.
The only thing missing was the awning that ran across the entire stretch of buildings. I had one, but when I held it in place it hid all of the graphic work below. I knew eventually I'd have to attach it. But I decided to hold off for a bit and instead get to work on adding more trees. That took just a couple of hours. I didn't want to add many to the midway, since I still had most of the rides to install. But I was able to rim the model with the heavily forested area between the roller coaster and Whiting Reservoir, and also the small section of the picnic grove. The four inch pine trees I ordered came in handy; I used a few of them just as they were, but many I cut in half to yield a small conical tree and a larger bushy one. The smaller ones I added to the midway areas; the bushy ones I placed in forested areas.
I wanted to add the roof to the Whip, the Satellite entrance sign and the overhangs to the Cutie Caddy and train, but I wasn't sure if I'd have enough time. Those structures (with the exception of the Satellite sign) weren't too complicated, though. So I hoped I had a little breathing room before August 22.
The next day I tackled what I figured would be two easy tasks: the aforementioned roofs to the Cutie Caddy and train. At first, I wasn't quite sure how I was going to do it. While in real life both roofs had a lip of about 8 inches, creating that wasn't practical at such a small scale. So I knew I had to use card stock. The roofs were supported by steel pipes about 3 inches in diameter. So I knew I needed to use the bamboo skewers. I just wasn't sure how I could attach the roof to them. I finally settled on good old hot glue. I punched four holes for the Cutie Caddie supports and cut the roof out of card stock. I did the same for the train station, with a few more supports. After cutting the skewers to the same length (about 3/4 of an inch), I squirted hot glue into the holes and pressed in the skewers. When they had set, I painted them the colors they were in the park (pink for the Caddie, yellow and green for the train). Then I had an idea: rather than squirt hot glue onto the skewers, I pressed the roof on top of them while the paint was wet. That created marks on the underside matching the positions of the skewers. When the paint dried, I squirted hot glue onto the dots, flipped the roof over and pressed it into position. That worked like a charm. I did get a little carried away with the hot glue on that one, though. For the Cutie Caddie I used less hot glue and made quick work of that as well. Then I took a deep breath and glued on the Play Land awning. I was worried that it was going to cover up all the graphic work, but it didn't turn out too bad.
As an added precaution for the display, I added Do Not Touch signs along the front and back of the supporting structure. That way if the plexiglass cover wasn't ready on time, at least there'd be a verbal plea to treat the model with respect. And the words would still be visible even if the cover were on.