Intended scales: H0-1/87, TT-1/120, N-1/160, Z-1/220
Media: Natural foliage
SummaryI Think that I shall never see
A model lovely as a tree.*
Trees are one of the most frustrating subjects to model. Especially winter trees, bare of their leaves. Short of making a model tree your life's work, there is really no way to do so. Making trees from strands of fine wire can come close but it is a chore! Even high-quality premium trees can not replicate the intricate branch structure of most trees.
Real plants have been used since the first diorama and today, several natural plants are favored by modelers to model trees. NOCH has found a species that allows modelers a fine structure of branches, twigs and shoots.
NOCH offers Natural Trees, a package of many individual plants with fine armatures that allow modelers to create trees, bushes and shrubs with extremely realistic results. The Nature Trees package contains different tree sizes and forms.
Dozens of these plants are densely packed into a hinge-opening box with a cellophane window. The back of the box features instructions in several languages, and a useful chart showing height gradations for the scales suggested.
I don't know what kind of plants these are. They have extremely fine branches attached to stems. They also have tiny round seeds that fall off when the branches are disturbed. Each stem has a few long flat curled leaves; removing them makes the "tree" look better.
Handle these trees with care as the plants in my box are brittle. This is a problem because the plants are intertwined and loose branches of varying size when the trees are separated. It is also a problem because only a couple stems are straight. Attempting to straighten them will break the stem.
These stems are thin. So are the trunks of many species. If you want to represent a mighty oak then you will have to find a way to thicken the stem. Or use these stems as branches and attach them to a bigger trunk.
Making Nature Trees
How do you make a tall straight trunk tree?
You don't, necessarily. In unmanaged woods many trees can be found with bowed or crooked trunks, warped by their search for sun through thick canopies, or by other trees leaning against them (See the photos at the bottom
of this review). Regardless, clever modelers can use forced perspective and placement to hide bent trunks.
However, suppose you want your trunk as straight as possible. Those brittle stems will either snap or just not hold their shape out of the box. What to do? Hydrate them! Many modelers soak plants in a glycerin/water solution and seal them. I simply soaked my trees in water. It limbered them up well enough to bend; I straighten them by hanging them upside down with a weight (I used a clothespin.) on the tip. When they dried, I sprayed them with NOCH Spray Glue (Sprühleim), item 61160. I don't think NOCH dyes these plants yet each turned my water an amber-red tint.
These trees make convincing winter trees with their fine branches, twigs and shoots. Those fine armatures also make an excellent base for flocking with foliage material. I made my trees and shrubs with NOCH Leaf Foliage Set, 4 Colors, item 07167. Select a nice plant, spray it down with glue, then shake a good canopy onto the plant. I shook the leaves from a NOCH Multi-Purpose Applicator, item 08099.
Judge for yourself the results. One modification I will use is paint. The majority of tree trunks and boughs I see are a gray color. I will spray these stems with gray paint prior to shaking on the leaves.
You don't want to use these for a tree? These stems can be stripped of branches to use as boughs, twigs and shoots on other model trunks.
The longest plant I found is about 9 inches (23 cm) tall. In your favorite model scale that is:
1/32 (No.1 Scale): 24 feet, 7 m
1/48 (O Scale): 36 feet, 11 m
S scale (1/64): 48 feet, 15 m
1/72: 54 feet, 17 m
OO scale (1/76): 57 feet, 17 m
HO (1/87): 65 feet, 20 m
1/100 (TT*): 75 feet, 23 m *UK/US TT scale
TT** (1/120): 90 feet, 28 m **European TT scale
1/144: 108 feet, 33 m
N scale (1/160): 120 feet, 37 m
Z scale (1/220): 165 feet, 50 m
Illustrated are these trees with 1/35 soldiers; 1/48 (O Scale) figures and a sedan; 1/72 biplane and figures; HO (1/87) figures and a modern van. Further, the trees are shown with an HO train.
Whether you want to make mature trees, saplings, or shrubs, these plants look great. If you need to branch out from your wire tree to add twigs and shoots, here's your solution.
The fine web of branches looks great. However, many closely packed plants are deformed and intertwined in the box. The brittle brush is easy to damage.
Fortunately, one can soak the plants to limber them up. Overall I am impressed with these plants and happily recommend them.
We thank NOCH for providing these Natural Trees for review. Please tell vendors and retailers that you saw it here - on RailRoadModeling.
* With apologies to Joyce Kilmer.