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This review is from Classic Toy Trains, July 1999. Reprinted with permission of Kalmbach Publishing Company.

Atlas O's Interlocking Tower Kit
Old Faithful

by Terry Thompson

The first product in the new Atlas O structure line, an interlocking tower, is actually a blast from the past for me and the many other modelers whose hobby wanderings have taken them through HO scale.

Though the Atlas kit is new to O, its design follows that of the HO scale Atlas tower, a perennial favorite of scale modelers. That’s no bad thing, since the Atlas tower has a realistic, generic look that allows it to fit well on layouts with a variety of geographical themes.

Injection-molded plastic pieces, cast in a variety of colors, comprise the bulk of the kit’s contents. Atlas includes preprinted clear windows and decals for several different place names. The parts are crisply molded with virtually no flash.

For the most part, the kit is well engineered. The one-piece hip roof is a real plus, avoiding seams in this most visible of places, and the kit parts fit together well after removing them from the sprues with either a hobby knife or rail nippers and filing any remaining burrs smooth. The rooftop chimney, however, did require considerable filing to fit into its hole, and my kit arrived with a broken light fixture, which I fixed using some steel wire.

The instructions, a series of exploded-view diagrams, are acceptable for most steps. The only exception here is the suggestion that the modeler cement the window frames into the walls and then insert the windows from behind. This procedure will work, but not if you cut the windows along the printed lines, which will make the lower-floor windows too large to insert from the back. I chose to cut more or less along the printed lines, then insert the windows into the walls, and then cement the window frames into the walls using liquid plastic cement. Be aware that if you choose this approach, some of the windows will be a bit too short if you cut along Atlas’ lines.

Once the windows are in, though, the printed shades add to the structure’s realism. The levers and chimney that are included to detail the upper story also add realism (though Atlas molded the levers in several colors, they really need a coat of paint in order to match). O scale railway worker figures, chairs, a desk, and other details items would be easy to find and fill out the interior of the switch tower.

If you like the colors the kit comes in, -yellow and red plus some brown and gray-you don’t need to paint it. To give the kit a retro look, though I painted its upper floor white and its windows green (Southern Railway Sylvan Green) to make it resemble a post-war Lionel structure.

I also used a wash of thinned white paint on the brick walls to fill in the mortar lines and painted the roof flat gray. After weathering the brick walls and the roof a bit with chalks, I sprayed those pieces with Testor’s Dullcote to seal the weathering.

I spent between 10 and 12 hours on my tower, but you could assemble it in an hour or two if you didn’t paint it and used CA (cyancaerylate adhesive) and a spray accelerator such as Zip Kicker to join the parts.

The Atlas O kit was fun to assemble and customize and it looks right at home with Atlas O’s other kit, the Suburban station.

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