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Written by Paul D. Race for and

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    An Explosion of Halloween Fun - The "holiday decorating season" used to start with Thanksgiving. But more and more families are getting started even earlier with their "seasonal decorations," not with pilgrims, turkeys, and maize, but with elaborate Halloween decorations. Our "Halloween Trains" pages have received an explosion of interest. And many of our new readers have never owned a collectible village or electric train before, so we have put together this "primer" page targeted to beginning Halloween train and town hobbyists.

    This page will answer a few basic questions, then list links where you can go for more information and project ideas.

    How Big are Halloween Trains and Towns?

    • Towns - Most name-brand Halloween village structures average between 4.5" - 8" in all directions, with a few pieces up to 9" or 10" tall. This makes them small enough to fit a nice village on a tabletop or large shelf, and large enough to see clearly.

    • Trains - Almost all train sets made to work with Halloween villages can fit a track circle into 38". If you don't have a table quite that size, consider getting a 40" or larger square of 3/8" plywood cut for you, or get a piece of 4'x8' insulating foam and cut it down to size. (I use a "coping and scrolling" blade in my B&D hand-held jig saw, but I do it outside to keep from filling the house with "styrosnow.")

    For detailed information on the scales of Halloween villages and trains, please see our article "Halloween Trains Sizes and Scales".

    Where Do Halloween Towns Come From?

    Click to see the free, downloadable Spook Hill™ Halloween village building and accessory projects.If you want to make your own Halloween-themed town, or are looking for ideas to "flesh out" the Halloween town you already have, check out the free, downloadable Spook Hill(tm) Halloween village building and accessory projects, some of which are shown a little further down the page.

    On the other hand, if you're interested in shopping for Halloween-themed buildings, here are some major manufacturers whose products you will enjoy.

    • Dept. 56(r) has two Halloween series, the Halloween issues in their "Original Snow Village" collection, and their new "Secrets of Sleepy Hollow-een" series.
    • Lemax(r)'s "Spooky Town" collection is available at craft, department, and even hardware stores each September.
    • Hawthorne Village - makes several Halloween-themed village collections, which you subscribe to like a magazine - then you get and pay for one "issue" at a time.

      Click to see articleMost of Hawthorne Village's Halloween collections are based on specific movies such as the Nightmare Before Christmas, so they hold great appeal for movie fans as well as Halloween fans.

    For more description of these vendors' offerings, please refer to our article Halloween Village Manufacturers.

    Where Do Halloween Trains Come From?

    Halloween villages and trains are both fairly new, but you have some very good choices. Lionel makes some O gauge trains (the kind that run on 3-Click to go to article.rail track) that are useful for Halloween villages.

    Hawthorne Village (now owned by Bradford Exchange) occasionally issues Halloween trains that run on HO track.

    Update for 2019 - Hawthorne Village hit some rocky times during and after the 2008 recession, and all the Halloween trains they used to sell were discontinued, replaced by trains from another supplier whose quality I wasn't quite as impressed with. They seem to be doing better now, and I will try to update the Halloween Train buyer's guide pages when I have a chance.

    Lionel's Halloween trains come and go, but Amazon has a pretty good selection here.

    For a review of your major choices for Halloween trains, please see our article "Halloween Trains Sizes and Scales".

    To jump right to a buyer's guide listing individual Halloween trains and towns, please check out our Halloween Trains and Towns Buyer's Guide page

    New for 2019: Hogwarts Express Background and Modeling Ideas

    After finally purchasing a Lionel Hogwarts Express train (or two), and spending several days at the Wizarding World features of Universal Studios Orlando, Paul Race wrote up the history of the real-world trains that have been repurposed to serve Hogwarts students in the movies and theme parks. He also added descriptions of the models available and a project for repurposing toy castles to serve as backgrounds for his outdoor version of the Hogwarts express.

    • The history and present disposition of the very real GWR Hall class ten-wheelers currently masquerading as Hogwarts Expresses around the world. Includes hints about available models and more. Click to go to article.The Real Hogwarts Express - On a recent trip to Universal studios, we met up with two genuine Great Western Railways Hall class locomotives - decommissioned by 1965 - that had been cleaned up and repainted for Hogwarts Express. This article digs into the history of the Hall locomotives, including why they were chosen for the movies, and opportunities to model them. Probably more than you ever wanted to know, but I had a great time learning this stuff.

      To jump to the article, click the following link:

    • Repurposing damaged toy castles to serve as a dramatic background for a G gauge Hogwarts Express railway. Click to go to article.Trashbashing Fisher Price Castles - When we considered using a discontinued G gauge Hogwarts Express train for our annual Christmas-themed open railroad, we also wondered how to make that train look at home without spending hundreds of dollars or hundreds of hours, or both, trying to build a representation of Hogwarts Castle. We settled for repurposing some battered old toy castles in a way that would let us use them for other purposes. But they served this purpose just fine, I think.

      To jump to the article, click the following link:

    • Lionel's O Gauge Hogwarts Express train set and accessories.Lionel's O Gauge Hogwarts Express - We posted our first article about the Lionel Hogwarts Express train on our BigChristmasTrains.com site, before we even had a HalloweenTrains.com site. It's still there. But in the meantime, we've had these in our hands and tested them out, and can say that they're very nice trains and good representations of the originals.

      To jump to the article, click the following link:

    Halloween Train and Town Projects

    The following articles from our collection apply specifically to Halloween (several others that apply to any holiday village or railroad are listed farther down the page).
    Bringing Autumn to Your Railroad or Display Village - How two easy crafts can make your model railroad or display village look like it is enjoying the fall season.Click to see article.
    Introducing Spook Hill™! Designer Howard Lamey, together with author and graphics artist Paul Race, bring you a series of free, 100% original Halloween building projects in O or S scale, enough to give you a complete, unique, and totally collectible Halloween village.Click to see the Spook Hill™ projects.
    Halloween Storefronts A unique vintage-looking Halloween craft inspired by tinplate candy boxes of the early 1900s, many of which found their way to the train table once the candy was gone. Though they keep the vintage lithographed-building look, they have unique colors and signage that will bring a bit of spooky cheer to your own little communities. Click on the picture to the right to go to the free downloadable graphics, plans, and instructions. Click to see our tinplate-inspired Halloween Storefront projects.

    Halloween and Fall Textures - If you want to design your own buildings for a fall or Halloween village, check out this brand-new addition - roof and wall patterns for making your own seasonal structures. The Halloween and Fall Textures page includes brick, siding, and roofing tile patterns in colors that are ideal for fall decorating. Click to see building textures for Autumn or Halloween
    Sizes and Scales Halloween Trains - Which trains are best for around a collectible village or other indoor use? How much room do these trains take up anyway?

    Combining Trains and Towns - Why combining collectible village pieces and model trains is a growing and rewarding hobby. Click to go to article
    Portable (Foam-Based) Indoor Displays - Using a foam-based portable scenic foundation to display your trains and towns to their best advantage. This photo shows three of the scenery ideas on our primer pages combined. Click to see the Portable Indoor Display article.
    Easy Indoor Lakes and Rivers - How to get the effect of waterfalls, rivers, lakes, and streams on both temporary and permanent indoor railroads and display villages. Click to go to Article.
    Winter Trees from Floral Picks- A quick and inexpensive way to add interesting textures to your late-autumn or winter railroad or villageClick to go to article
    Desert Accessories from Playmobil Products - How repainting carefully-chosen toys can add fun details to a Large Scale desert landscape. Many of the ideas shown here will work for other scales as well. Click to see article.
    Easy Homemade Trees - How to make realistic and inexpensive trees using (mostly) natural materials. Click to go to article
    Free Scenery Set Pieces - Add a vertical dimension to your holiday village for little or no investment. The technique can easily be adapted to all seasons. Click to go to article.

    The following Spook Hill™ projects are currently available. We already have three more projects on the drawing board for 2009, but if you get started early, you can have a nice Halloween community by this Halloween.

    Click to see the Shakey Pane Manor project.
    Click to see the Spook Hill™ Station project
    Click to see the Spook Hill™ Water Tower project
    Shakey Pane Manor - the first building specifically designed for our Spook Hill™ collection. Spook Hill™ Station - The FIRST EVER model train station designed specifically for Halloween. Spook Hill™ Water Tower - Any easy and unique structure to complement the Spook Hill™ Station.
    Click to see the Spook Hill™ Billboard project
    click to see the 'Frost is on the Pumpkin' house project
    Spook Hill™ Billboards - The easiest Spook Hill™ project to date - great for kids, works with almost any Halloween village. Howard's "The Frost is On the Pumpkin" project - the one that started it all.
    Click to see Vine Covered Tinplate-Inspired Cottage, with new Halloween graphics.
    click to see the Jeckyll Park Station, a seasonal twist on a tinplate classic.
    Click to see the Halloween-themed options for our 'Picture Window House.'
    Click on the picture above to see our Vine-Covered Tinplate-Inspired Cottage, now with a Halloween graphic option. Jeckyll Park Station is the Halloween version of our Lewis Park station. Click on the picture above to see the Lewis Park station with new graphics for a Halloween version. Click to see the Halloween-themed options for our "Picture Window House."

























































































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Return to Family Garden Trains Home page Return to Big Indoor Trains Home page Garden Railroading Primer Articles: All about getting a Garden Railroad up and running well Big Indoor Trains Primer Articles: All about setting up and displaying indoor display trains and towns. Garden Train Store: Index to train, track, and other products for Garden RailroadingBig Christmas Trains: Directory of Large Scale and O Scale trains with holiday themes
On30 and O Gauge trains to go with indoor display villages and railroads


Note: Family Garden Trains™, Garden Train Store™, and Big Christmas Trains™ are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications (www.btcomm.com). All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 by Paul D. Race. Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically forbidden.
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