Five unusual (and fun to watch) ideas from around the world for your next model railway layout

Let’s face it: a lot, and I mean a lot, of model railways look the same. But they don’t have to.

Despite all the effort, energy and work that we pour into our model railways they often look very alike. A branch line here, a shunting yard there, a goods shed. They all get very familiar. Boring even.

The following list includes some more inventive, unusual and frankly bizarre ideas for things to do with model trains to entertain and amuse.

Like this glorious micro layout, for example.

How cool is that! Who could like this and not be impressed?

You shall not pass! (Without looking)

Hobbiton Railway

The immensely lovable Hobbiton End model railway. Click on photo to see more detail.

Or this one. It’s just delightful and so inventive. It’s sure to wet the apitite for more fantastical layouts.

Zombies, trains and coffee

Speaking of wetting the appetite and the fantastical.

That Railway Girl – Amy – has caused quite a “stir” with this coffee table Zombie themed layout.

And if the undead isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other fantasy themes to explore. Just take a look at what Movie special effects artist Chris Walas has come up with for his whimsical model world.

And the ideas don’t stop there.

The Same, But Different

If you like model building, want some movement in the layout but aren’t hung up on trains there are always trams.

(The fun starts at 35 seconds in).

Lush cityscapes, the same technology and techniques as model railways but without the trains.

And if you just want to have fun with your track and trains you can of course always do something completely different. Take this model railway based roller coaster.

I’m not sure I’d want to risk my track and trains but it does look fun and is certainly different to the usual layout.

Sure, It’s Silly 

And if you really want to be different, and yes silly, you can just forget the trains completely.

Or get a “taste” of something different as the irrepressible Tim Dunn did recently.

What have you done with your trains that’s outside the usual “model railway layout”?


> A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.
Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of modelrailwayengineer.com. He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.

Afflliate disclosure:The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, Amazon, eBay and Scale Model Scenery, where you can purchase the product under affiliate programmes. This means I receive a small commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change. You can read my full affiliate policy here. I also sell my my own ready to use, pre-made and painted buildings and terrain features. browse the range.

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