Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Days out: The Wonderful World of Trains and Planes

A few weeks ago my family and me went for a day out to a place in Birmingham, England called "The Wonderful World of Trains and Planes".

Now I'm not a model train enthusiast beyond the fact that as a modeller for wargames *anything* hand-crafted in miniature is interesting to me. Neither do I fly model aircraft, but I can see and appreciate the skill that goes into making and flying the models. So off we went.

There's a lot to see at the venue. They have several layouts each of which replicates a different period in Railway history. Some have special features (like allowing you some control over the trains or being fully illuminated).

The venue have also cleverly produced an activity to get younger children looking more closely at the models: checklists of "things to find" are produced for each layout so you need to hunt for "man with wheelbarrow" or "3 foxes" and so on. It's a great idea and turns viewing the models into a game where everyone can get something out of it.

The 1950s layout

The 1960s layout

Sodor for the Thomas the Tank engine fans. This layout is operable by visitors.

Now as the name of the venue would suggest, it's not all about trains. There are also various model aircraft (unfortunately none of the pics I took were worth reproducing here) - some are purely "cabinet display" models and others are genuine flyers. Also in the aircraft arena are a bank of flight simulators - four (maybe five) booths where the Microsoft flight sim is set up with proper flight yokes, pedals and throttles for visitors to have a go on. There are staff supporting guest's attempts at flight so everyone will get off the ground.

In addition they also have Scalextric layouts on different floors, one of which is more challenging than the other.
My son Noah running a McLaren F1

And of course more trains:

The venue also has a cafe, disabled facilities and lifts and the ubiquitous shop where you can purchase various modelling, railway and Scalextric supplies.

All in all there's enough there to sustain interest in a visit for 3 - 4 hours. The staff are helpful and overall I'd definitely recommend it as worth a visit.

Check out their website for prices and opening times: "The Wonderful World of Trains and Planes". It's a bit misleading for school holidays where they tend to be open throughout - phone to check before setting off.