This friggin’ year, am I right? 2020 is heading into the rearview mirror, and that can’t happen fast enough for me. I deplore the disruption and chaos COVID-19 virus has caused everyone, and if you became ill, or heaven forbid, lost a family member or friend, you have my deepest sympathies. With work, school, shopping and our general way of life still disrupted and tinged with uncertainty, we need distractions and hobbies, and thus the HOn3 Annual rolls on.
Everything is a two-sided coin, and while it is easy to identify all the myriad negative aspects of the current situation, we must acknowledge the positives as well. I have noted that modelers seem more energized than I’ve seen in quite sometime, and are starting and finishing projects that have long languished. The manufacturers and suppliers I talk with tell me that they are as busy as they’ve been in years, and it is showing no signs of slowing. And modelers are inter-acting with one another to an unprecedented degree, but more importantly, are doing so in a respectful, encouraging and positive manner. I’ve witnessed it on the social media platforms, in the online Zoom meetings I’ve hosted and attended, and you can see it on the pages of this magazine. In a time when seemingly no one can agree on politics, race relations, protesting, the handling of the virus, or any other issue, I am proud that the train guys kept the main thing, the main thing, and that is our shared passion for railroading.
Could it be the pandemic has a net positive effect on the hobby of model railroading? At this point, that appears to be the case, and for twelfth year of the HOn3 Annual, we want to do our part to keep the momentum going. Often, there is an inadvertent theme that runs through the pages of the Annual and this year it became looking at projects with a different mindset. I could see it developing as this year’s articles started to come in, and I purposely went out and sought others with that in mind. You’ll certainly find the building projects, layouts, dioramas and modeling ideas you’ve come to expect in these pages, but I think you’ll pick up that most every author found a different idea or a different approach to their modeling than they had done in the past, and that the exploration yielded them better and more satisfying results.
In last year’s editorial, I encouraged you to be influential and this year I’m going to give you a challenge again. It doesn’t escape me that the old parting phases like, “Have a good day,” “Be well,” and, “See you next time,” have been replaced with, “Be safe.” I would ask you to do exactly the opposite of that when it comes to your modeling. Get out of your safe techniques, habits and thinking and become adventurous. Unlike in the real world, shunning the safe in your modeling life may well grow your skills and enjoyment. Now to be clear, I am not talking about safety. So don’t get liquored up and try to run the table saw or experiment with arsenic as a lettering remover. Rather, leave the safety of the tried-and-true and expand your modeling horizons. I can almost guarantee you’ll increase your enjoyment and pleasure in modeling.
With that, I return you to this year’s HOn3 Annual. As always, I hope you find the mix of articles useful, entertaining, and inspiring, and all of us at White River Productions thank you for your continued support of this, and all our publications.
—Chris Lane, Editor