AP Program

This category is the newest in the Achievement Program, having only been added in 1987. It is also the category which many consider to be the most challenging. It goes beyond the Master Builder – Scenery which calls for creating scenery in a prototypical manner, and evaluates how well you create a specific prototype scene.

To qualify for this certificate:

  1. Construct an animated or static model of a prototype scene containing at least six models of prototype equipment or structures.The first difference that you should notice between this category and Master Builder – Scenery is that there is no minimum size requirement for your prototype scene. The only requirement is that it be big enough to adequately display the required models, and give the overall effect of the intended scene.

    At least four different types of models must be represented:

    1. Rolling stock
    2. Railroad structure
    3. Caboose or passenger car
    4. Motive power.
  1. Terrain (35 pts)The ground and all natural features such as rocks, water, trees, hills and depressions, as well as manmade features such as railroad roadbed, cuts, fills, drainage ditches, embankments, streets and roads, etc.Also remember different types of vegetation and the effects of weather animals and humans. Remember the detail on streets and roads, whether in urban or rural areas: sewers / storm drains, man-hole covers, shoulders, drainage ditches, cracks, patches, road wear marks, oil stains, and tire ruts in dirt roads. Look at the photograph(s) that you are working from, and notice the details there, then work to recreate them. If your model includes areas which are not included in the photographs, make sure to carry the same level and type of detail throughout.
  2. Structures (35 pts)Structures are considered from the standpoint of prototypical suitability, placement, and appearance as scenic effects – Not as to construction, which is covered under Master Builder – Structures. This includes bridges, trestles, culverts, buildings and all other types of structures (towers, power lines, signs, fences, retaining walls, etc.), track and right-of-way features such as turnout controls, signaling structures, crossing gates and shanties, turntables and other service structures, etc.These are but a few examples – additional features are encouraged. Also remember that structures should be in the ground, not sitting on top of it. Again, notice the little things about the structure that you are trying to model, such as the number of chimneys and other roof details. It is those things which will give your model the look and feel of the prototype. Selective compression is acceptable as long as the character of the original is preserved (modeling a six-door prototype freight house as having only four doors to save space, for example). If you are in doubt, consult your local or regional AP Manager.
  3. Background (15 pts)Treatment of the wall, backdrop, and/or ceiling to realistically depict depth, distance, horizon, and sky.This doesn’t mean that you have to have a photographic quality background. Your background should continue the ‘illusion of reality’ that you are trying to create with your scenery. Make sure that the background matches the scenery, and the transition where the two of them meet is smooth and/or hidden. Skyboards behind the model are a good way to control the background.
  4. Lighting (5 pts)Illumination effects from three aspects:Railroad cars, signals, etc. Buildings, streets, and roads, etc. Overall lighting effects – day and/or night.
  5. Realism / Conformity (35 pts)

2. Prepare a written description along with photographs, documented evidence and/or maps, which will verify the actual prototype scene, used as a basis for the modeled scene.

3. You must submit a completed Statement of Qualifications (SOQ, see below) which shall include the following:

  1. The signed Merit Evaluation Form from Section 1
  2. The supplemental material with the photographs of both the model and the prototype attached

Further Information

Contact National Achievement Program General Manager, Frank Koch achiev@nmra.org, or your Region or Division Achievement Program Manager for more information.

Also refer to the articles “Master Builder – Prototype models” NMRA Bulletin, March 1991, and “Prototype Modeler…Getting Judged” NMRA Bulletin, April 1991.

Forms available for this category: