Solid oak

We tested the 'Profi Plus' oak tree by NOCH (art.no. 20820)

One thing is for sure: The overwhelming variety of modelling products and accessories really makes the hobbyist’s heart beat faster. Anybody who can (and wants to) spend the necessary cash is able to reproduce Mother Nature absolutely realistically. Conifer, broadleaf or mixed forest, venerable single trees or small, romantic groves - nothing is impossible!

die Eiche von NOCH

For our test we picked a tree in the genus quercus (Latin for oak tree) which is being produced by NOCH, a modelling accessories company based in the Allgaeu region of Southern Germany. The tested oak first appeared on the market in 2006 and has since been a cornerstone of the manufacturer’s ‘Profi Plus’ series. According to the German retail catalogue, to a large extent, these trees are artistically handmade from premium-quality natural materials and ‘leafed’ with realistic foliage. Of course, so much effort has its price: The RRP (2006) is EUR 16.95 - maybe too much for reproducing an entire forest, but it's certainly worth considering for modelling a small village square.

der Modellbaum in seiner großzügigen VerpackungTo make sure that this ‘piece of art’ reaches the consumer in perfect condition, NOCH pack the oak tree in a generous and most likely costly cylindrical see-through box. Nevertheless, looking at all the loose leaves on the bottom of the box, some demanding customers would probably prefer picking up the tree themselves in the factory. Our photo shows the broken branches and fallen leaves (manufacturer’s advice on the package: ‘Be extra careful with these finely detailed trees’), but you don’t have to be a tree doctor to fix such minor damages quickly with the help of some glue.

After a minute of silent admiration you might want to remove the packaging eventually - maybe you have even got an idea already where to ‘plant’ your tree. Well, the lid and the bottom of the cylindrical box are fixed with clear adhesive tape which has to be removed carefully. The roots of the tree are stuck to the bottom with loads of glue but can be lifted off by a patient and cautious hand. By the way, despite the puddle of glue applied by the NOCH people we saw a miniature oak in a shop that was falling about in its box.

At least you don’t buy a pig in a poke due to the see-through package. By the way, most railway modelling stores don’t stock a big variety of the ‘Profi Plus’ trees because of their retail price and the amount of space they need on the shelves.

Klebstoffrest unter dem WurzelfußOnce you have taken the oak out of its package you can enjoy an impressive sight. The tree’s mere size (15.5 cm / 6.1 in, so the real tree would measure 13.5 m / 44 ft 3 in) and the randomly applied foliage in different green shades create a very realistic appearance on a model railway layout or diorama.

But you might know that we always have a closer look at our test samples, and so we strongly recommend doing something about the unnatural glossiness of the bark (although the description in the retail catalogue promises ‘nature-like coloured’ trunks). At the same time, the noticeable burr on the lower end of the main stem should be removed.

The ‘tree artists’ working for NOCH used quite a lot of glue to fix the foliage, and its excess can be seen in some parts (just have a look at our last photo...). We will try to hide these brownish drops using some fallen leaves from the bottom of the box before ‘planting’ the oak into our taxi diorama. Furthermore, we detected a few thin threads of glue which could be removed easily.

viel Klebstoff stellenweise auch im GeästFinally, we need to have a closer look at the colours of the tree made by NOCH. Its trunk and its branches are single-coloured and show the glossy greyish brown known from the middle ages of model tree production. Despite the promising title of the production line ('Profi Plus'), that is a bit disappointing, and therefore ambitious modellers will not hesitate to make the bark look more realistic with some paint and a brush.

At the same time, the harmony of colours of the foliage undoubtedly pleases the eye. Just like on a real tree, the lighter shaded undersides of the leaves mix with the luscious green of their upper surfaces. After a while, you will spot a very funny detail though: Some of the leaves (which are, by the way, not absolutely true to scale) show noticeable numbers and letters - has the foliage been made from recycled newspapers?

conclusion

Despite minor drawbacks, the ‘Profi Plus’ oak tree by NOCH is a suitable and quite impressive item for creating a credible scenery on your model railway layout or diorama. Considering the laborious production process, the retail price is acceptable.
 

test synopsis*
Packaging (15) 12
'First impression' (15) 12
Originality (15) 9
Closeness to reality (15) 12
Wealth of detail (15) 12
Fineness of detail (15) 13
Closeness to scale (15) 12
Condition of all parts (15) 12
Quality of colours, prints or painting (15) 12
Gesamtwertung: gut 106
(max. 135)

*Find out more about the test criteria for modelling accessories here.

Tested November 2006    German flag  © Volker Labitzke - www.tiny-world-BIG.com - please visit our  main page