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Winnipeg miniaturist goes big at Toad Hall

Shoppers can watch Darryl Audette build his latest snowy mountain train model.

Toad Hall Toys' Darryl Audette, works on a model train in Winnipeg Manitoba, December 1, 2016.

Lyle Stafford/For Metro

Toad Hall Toys' Darryl Audette, works on a model train in Winnipeg Manitoba, December 1, 2016.

Toad Hall Toys’ miniaturist in residence is giving customers a peek into his process with his latest model: a train scene.

Darryl Audette said people told him a train wouldn’t be able to take the sharp turns up the snowy mountain, but he’s proved them wrong.

“The learning curve was very steep because rarely has this configuration been done before,” Audette said. “To do this many turns in a small space is extremely unusual.”

Audette begins his models with a story, but for this scene he had to take a different approach.

“Whatever story I came up with just stopped working, so I just let the track dictate the story,” Audette said.

That’s where trains crashing along the side of the mountain came in, Audette said, pointing to a train flying over a tree.

He’s had a lot of positive feedback from other miniaturists and railroaders, and from customers who stop to watch.

He said almost everyone who passes comments on the model, which has been difficult to get used to as he usually works alone in his studio.

“I felt like I was on display and I should have sold popcorn,” said Audette.

He became interested in miniatures as a teenager, but it was just a hobby until he left his career as a dentist to take theatre design at the University of Winnipeg in 2012. There, he said he learned so much more about miniatures by creating set models for professors.

“I would put as much detail into them as I’m doing here, and that’s a great crossover,” Audette said.

He expects the model to be complete by Dec. 5. Audette said he just needs to add in more trees, place people and animals, and then light the model.

The scene will stay on display at Toad Hall.

Fun facts about Audette:

-He has designed sets for many productions, including Forest Nickerson Theatre’s Snow White.

-Many of his miniatures are on display at Toad Hall Toys.

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