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Paper modeling is one of the fastest growing trends in model railroading today. Traditionally, most structures were built out of styrene plastic or balsa wood. Landscaping elements were mainly composed of foam, lichen and similar elements. Paper was literally relegated to the background, suitable for flat buildings glued against a wall to create some depth.

Over the last decade, model railroaders have become more and more friendly to the idea of using three-dimensional paper-based models on their layouts. The overall affordability of paper over plastic and wood products has certainly been a great motivator. However, the quality of paper-based modeling products has also improved exponentially in recent years.

In addition to being more affordable, paper scenery products can also be more flexible than their plastic and wood counterparts. Plastic is easier to bend, can be mounted to a variety of different materials and provides much more control over the thickness of the model. Paper also tends to come in a greater variety. The higher production costs of plastic limit the range of colors and textures.

Paper models also take advantage of photo-realistic images to provide a more “finished” look almost immediately. In most cases plastic and wood must be painted and weathered before it looks realistic. All of these factors have helped paper-based models to make the leap off the wall and into the center of the layout.

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