Allowed is what pleases – I like that. Manfred Danner from the FALLER company in Germany told me that. He works in the development department. All these fantastic model kits for the model railroads come from his brain. So to speak, via his desk to you on the workbench. I conducted the interview with him by e-mail.
All photos by courtesy of Gebr. Faller GmbH.
Allowed is what pleases – Big competition
Win this beautiful FALLER kit worth EUR 82.99 (!). It is a machine factory from the epoch 1880 – 1920. This fantastic model is designed for the N-program for your model railroad. Dimensions: Warehouse 276 x 118 x 160 mm / administration wing with production hall 344 x 118 x 160 mm. Please click here for the competition > Friendly sponsored by Faller.
About Manfred Danner
Born 1974, married, 2 small daughters. I have been doing model making as a hobby since my childhood. At the age of about eight I designed my first building model myself and built it out of cardboard. After finishing school I completed an apprenticeship as a model maker. For 20 years I have been a master in this craft. During this time I always remained true to my hobby. I created in the course of the decades countless models from different areas, in different scales and materials. This did not only apply to buildings, but also to model railways, dioramas, historical agricultural equipment, furniture and even a cruise ship built entirely by myself.
Which last model did you throw out the window because you failed?
Fortunately this has never happened before.
Please tell us in a few sentences what you do at FALLER?
I have been working in the development department at Gebr. Faller GmbH since 2011 and am primarily responsible for the building and accessory innovations in the H0 and N gauges. The tasks here are varied and range from research, preliminary planning, calculation, design and drawing preparation to product documentation.
What distinguishes your company from other manufacturers?
Faller has been the European leader in the model railroad accessories segment for decades. It offers the most comprehensive range in this field. In order to remain the first choice for our customers in the future, we develop numerous product innovations year after year.
Scalemodel.Zone’s reading tip: Super exciting interviews >
How do you do that when you want to produce a new kit?
In the first place is the idea. This is where we draw from an extensive pool of product suggestions. Every day we receive numerous suggestions from customers, which we enter into an idea database. If we have the feeling that one of these suggestions closes a gap in our product range, we start. Always with the interests of our target group in mind. And, of course, also to what extent a new product can be produced economically. We then also research which data would be available to us for a new product. Are there construction plans, 3D data, photographs, etc.? If it is a still existing building, this will be inspected on site if possible and measured if possible.
On the basis of first sketches and photos, a hand sample, so to speak the prototype, is then created in our model making workshop. In regular meetings we decide which of these samples will make their way into our product range and which will not. It is these hand samples that we also use for product photography and install in our showrooms.
“In order to remain the first choice for our customers in the future, we develop numerous product innovations year after year.”— Manfred Danner
Allowed is what pleases – Isn’t it totally interesting what Manfred Danner tells us?
In the next step on the way to the serial production of a new plastic kit, all components are designed three-dimensionally in CAD software and drawings for the in-house tool shop are created. Dozens of new injection molds are produced by our employees every year for subsequent production. In the meantime, several thousand of such moulds are stored in our mould warehouse. With the help of the molds, the parts of a kit are injected in polystyrene in our plastic injection molding shop. For a large number of products, further work steps are planned afterwards. For example, parts are printed, painted, patinated or heat-sealed.
At the same time, other components required for the kit are produced elsewhere in the house. For example, building instructions and self-adhesive sheets are produced and the box design is created.
Once all the individual parts for a kit are ready, they are packed on the assembly line and prepared for shipment to our distribution center. From there, about one million kits are shipped annually to specialist dealers all over the world and reach the hands of the customers via the specialist stores, as well as via our online store.
How do you research?
For research purposes, it is advantageous to visit existing originals on site and get a concrete picture. It is also of great advantage if the owners provide us with original plans or historical photos of the model’s development.
For models that no longer exist, we depend on any information that can be found. In the best case also construction plans belong to it, which can be found in railroad archives for example. Where this is not available, one is dependent on photographs in reference books, magazines, catalogs or from the Internet.
“Please build according to the motto: “Allowed is what pleases”.”— Manfred Danner
Among the model builders there are also people who are very fond of detail. How do you decide which details you want to make on your models?
Of course we try to show as many details as possible. But we also have to pay attention to the details that are technically feasible for us and that are perceptible on the model in the end. Depending on the scale, sometimes more, sometimes less details are realizable. In the case of components that have a wood grain or wall structure, for example, the necessary engravings are engraved by hand into the injection molds to achieve the most natural look possible and a high level of detail.
What is the story in model making that was totally funny or inspiring for you?
I find models or systems inspiring, in which a lot of heart and soul was put into and which show a high artistic level of the builder. These can be individual buildings, perfectly designed and patinated in color, as well as dioramas or entire model plants in which every blade of grass sits perfectly. So if at first sight you can’t tell whether it is a model or an original, I find it inspiring in the sense that you strive for an even higher degree of perfection for yourself.
What else would you like to tell the members of scalemodel.zone? A tip? A wisdom?
Please build according to the motto: “Allowed is what pleases”. This means that if someone is passionate about building according to the epoch and model, he should be happy to do so. On the other hand, wonderful constructions often originate exclusively from your own imagination. It should be left to everyone’s own imagination if they want to drive an electric locomotive without an overhead line or place a Dutch windmill next to a Black Forest farm.
The outright rivet counters may raise eyebrows, but if you build for yourself and for the fun of it, you don’t have to let anyone tell you how to do it.