“Go on, what’s the THIRD verse?”

Well, looks who’s moved into the neighbourhood…

This is a story four years in the making.

Back in November 2013, I built a tree fort in one of the trees behind the station in St. Williams:

What kind of parent would build a tree fort for their kids that’s 15 feet off the ground???

The awesome kind!

Injury potential aside, a tree fort has to be the coolest place for a kid to hang on a hot summer day. And a tree fort with a view of the tracks? Well, the kid would have to fight for their space with most of the model railway enthusiasts I know… myself included.

Since I worked so hard on getting the trees right for this layout,I thought a tree fort would be a great detail to add to one of the big trees in the backyards at St. Williams. I built the fort into the tree armature before I planted it on the layout and added the canopy. It’s eight feet by eight feet, with a 42″ railing around the perimeter.

Here’s a closer look:

It’s actually fairly difficult to photograph, what with it being tucked away under the canopy and all. But at left in the above image, you can make out the open lid of the trap door in the floor – and behind it, a rolled up rope ladder on the deck. The sign featured prominently in many Calvin & Hobbes comic strips, and in fact I created it by finding a suitable comic online… cropping, resizing and squaring up the sign… and cranking out a copy on my colour printer:

When I first shared this detail, I idly wondered where I could find a suitable tiger….

Fast forward almost two years, and in October 2015 my friend Stephen Gardiner surprised me with a model of Hobbes, which he designed, 3D Printed, and painted:

Tigers are mean! Tigers are fierce!

Stephen crafted Hobbes as the stuffed toy that adults see, and hand-painted him. Thank you, Stephen: he’s wonderful! And he looks right at home in the tree fort:

Since then, I’ve been keeping my eyes open for a suitable figure that I could modify into a Calvin – but without any luck. There aren’t any nice models of S scale kids around – and certainly nothing with Calvin’s Peanutsy proportions.

Still, when Stephen got in touch and suggested we get together for lunch, adding, “I have something for you”, it never occurred to me what that might be. So I was completely gobsmacked – and delighted – when we met up yesterday and he presented me with a 3D Printed Calvin:

I carefully added a pin to the bottom of his foot, and placed him in a patch of light in the backyard. Everybody: Sing along with Calvin!

If Hobbes ever lets Calvin into the tree fort, he’ll have a good view of the passing trains:

Thanks Stephen – what an awesome surprise!

Published by Trevor

Lifelong model railway enthusiast and retired amateur shepherd who trained a border collie to work sheep. Professional writer and editor, with some podcasting and Internet TV presenting work thrown in for good measure.

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