What are cameos layouts?

Cameos are small layouts, usually up to about 2m/6ft long, that present a realistic, self-contained scene. They can be single-ended  with an integrated or add-on fiddle yard (imagine an industry at the end of the line or a terminus station) or through scenes with access to a fiddle yard at each end (imagine a section of mainline or a through-station).

If you’re still can’t picture what I mean, a brilliant example of an N-scale cameo layout is Cross Street by David Lund.

To truly meet the definition of a cameo the layout should:

  • put the ‘horizon line’ of the scene as close to eye level as possible, typically 63in for the average person standing;
  • feature high levels of detail and ideally, fine-scale wheel and track standards;
  • be as self-contained as possible, with an integrated display and support structure to ease transport, set-up and storage.

In many ways a cameo is similar to a module and a series of cameos built to a modular standard would allow those cameos to be connected together and even to other independent modules. The only difficulty in this situation might be edge-of-board scenery: a cameo is usually built as a self-contained scene with realistic scenery right to the edge of the board whereas modular standards tend to put an emphasis on plain, standardised scenery near edges to help independently built modules look better when connected together. It’s not an insurmountable problem though.

Inter-connected cameos could be used to showcase very different scenes from a particular region or stretch of railway (for instance, the mountainous Lötschberg Line in Switzerland or the Rhine River Valley in Germany). A group of cameos could be used to show scenes from a large urban area (for instance, passenger services in Berlin, Germany or industrial spurs and switching in Toronto, Canada). The cameos could be operated as a group when space allowed but as each cameo is a self-contained scene it could still operate as stand-alone layout when needed.

Click here for more ideas for cameos and modules.