You know you have an amazing family when...

A couple of weeks ago, I finally received my birthday present in the post from my wife: a gorgeous reprint of the British Rail Corporate Identity Manual.

On my birthday itself, my eldest son presented me with brick-built BR double arrow logos! I can't believe that I hadn't thought of making them myself. In any case, I doubt I could do better than his brilliant builds. I think he perfectly captured their size and proportion in an elegant and clean stud-ups design.

The BR identity manual is a feast for the eyes, especially for train and graphic design geeks such as myself. Its lovely to see many similar identity manuals of this era being re-issued through the magic of crowd funding projects. Examples include the NYC subway, the EPA, IBM, and other public and private sector agency identity manuals being lovingly reproduced for posterity. Its a pity that the same care and attention to quality public branding and imagery is not often found these days. Not every logo or brand needs to become a design icon; however, it would be nice to simply avoid the garish self-indulgence of the latest trendy design fads (I'm looking at you Xerox and others who embraced trendy 3D-swooshy logos!)

I couldn't have asked for better presents as these. Sometimes love can be expressed in the purity of a logo! (and not necessarily a heart-shaped one!)

A Few of my Favourite Books

There's an active thread on Eurobricks discussing the possibility of relaunching a Lego train magazine publication following the demise of the excellent Railbricks.

I posted my opinions on this topic to essentially say that whilst I'd love a Railbricks replacement, there probably isn't a commercially viable way to make it happen.

It also got me thinking about what I loved about Railbricks and other great model train publications for that matter. The common factor was aspiration. By seeing a showcase of the very best models and layouts, inspired me to push my limits and to have the confidence to do so.

Shown above are three publications which inspire me in pursuit of this hobby in very different ways.

1) British Rail Design by James Cousins
Ironically published by the Danish Design Council, this book satisfies both my love of British trains and graphic design. It chronicles the radical impact of British Rail's rebranding strategy of the 1960s and how many elements of it survive to this day. This was an extremely difficult publication to find since it was long out of print. I heard of one copy being available in a Tokyo bookshop and one torn copy available from a Danish museum. (Obviously I got the torn copy from Denmark!)

2) Layout Design by Iain Rice
Iain Rice is no stranger to the UK model train community; having published many books and magazine articles on fine scale modelling. His approachable and witty writing style combined with uncompromising practical advice offered no end of inspiration to my scale modelling efforts. This book focuses on the topic of layout design. Everything from research, planning, operation, visual design, and much more are covered. What really strikes me about this book is how relevant it's content is to any model train scale and standard (including Lego!) Iain Rice has also published articles on layout design in the US Model Railroader magazine, so his name might be familiar to some US based modellers too.

3) 2016 Kato Model Railroad Catalog
Its not because I have a soft spot for Japanese N-gauge modelling, but I simply love this book! Or should I say catalog? At 258 pages it qualifies as a book! Even though I can't read most of it; I derive no end of inspiration. It shows how mind-bogglingly comprehensive a product line can be made and organized. Kato offers its lucky customers a complete "candy store" of products all designed to work together. Everything from baseboards, track systems, scenery, buildings, infrastructure, control, and yes the trains themselves! They offer a complete range of spares and conversion parts as well as practical how-to guides. It is expertly photographed with superb visual design. It is a fantasy version of what we would all love to have available in our niche Lego train hobby. It evokes the nostalgia of the relatively rich product range of the 12V Train era. And, it inspires me to offer a similar "product" range at A range which is systematic, organized, and accessible to everyone.

Happy reading!