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Suncoast Center for Fine Scale Modeling reopens after summer hiatus

A fine scale model of a fish market and produce stand is part of the works on display at the center, which added new dioramas this year.
A fine scale model of a fish market and produce stand is part of the works on display at the center, which added new dioramas this year.
Published Oct. 22, 2013

ODESSA — The Suncoast Center for Fine Scale Modeling has reopened after a summerlong hiatus with some new additions that will delight fans of trains and miniatures.

Visitors can marvel at a large-scale U.S. tank and crew on a rotating table, added in January. The Silverton Central railroad model, which features more than 100 feet of track, will show off some new, updated lighting. There are also some new dioramas, including Civil War models, a new F-15 Eagle cockpit and an outdoor full-sized model of a Shay logging engine, built by a Disney supplier in California and embellished by the center to include smoke, working lights and an audio track.

The center still features its signature displays, including two railroad models donated from Australia, military models from the Civil War to present day and the Sundance Central Modular Railroad, which spans almost 500 feet of track and has traveled the country. The Sundance Central will be the subject of a DVD documentary produced by the center, due out in time for Christmas.

Visitors will appreciate the handiwork of the six Suncoast Center modelers, who have spent nine years working on the featured models.

"The time it takes to make our displays is probably way too much to estimate," said Sundance member Dale MacKeown, who has been working with toy railroads for 65 years. "As an example, one 14-inch tree (takes) about eight hours of labor to build. We have over 100 of them. ... There are tens of thousands of hours of hand labor on display in our museum."

Samantha Fuchs can be reached at (727) 869-6235 or sfuchs@tampabay.com.