Can it be done? Is it possible? Can we modellers faithfully reproduce the smoky days of yore?
Well, here is a 1/24th scale head, still on the sprue because it’s easier to deal with that way.
It is not a happy-looking head. Next to it is the end of a length of fibre optic snipped from one of those awful UFO-lamp things that I put in the attic because it was just embarrassing to have around.
The squeamish might want to skip the next photo.
The Borg personal enhancement device is brought into play. This is much, much easier if you imagine the head you’re drilling into is the Dreadful Arnott or a politician. Pick a drill that is very, very slightly bigger than the fibre optic.
Next, insert fibre optic and test by holding a torch at the other end.
It does work. In 1:24 scale I can now have a truck driver smoking in his cab. The fibre optic will be painted silver first (not the end!) then overpainted black at the back of his head and white at the front. Clear red lacquer on the end or even easier, light it with a red LED because that doesn’t need much battery power. I believe flickering ones are available. The same batteries can power the mini-LED lights on the trailer. It could be a masterpiece.
In 1:72/OO scale, I could maybe do a pipe or a big cigar with these fibres. So far, in N scale, it would look like someone smoking a pound of tobacco in a rolled-up newspaper. I have seen it done but we were all very, very drunk and had been for more than one day, and baccy was not so expensive back then. The pile of baccy rolled in the Glasgow Herald is not going to work on a model scene. I need to find much finer fibre-optic and some almost invisible drills if I am ever to do that. I will probably leave it to someone with younger eyes because even if I manage to drill the hole, my chances of threading a fibre into it are zero.
I wonder what would happen if I made and painted an entire driver like this, including the lighting unit, fitted it into a model and put it on eBay? Would there be ‘Shock Horror Daily Mail Scoop’ or would I get people asking if I had any more? Would it be drone-mind-blowing if I had a friend sell it from a non-smoking home?
It could well be worth a try.
When my first smoking driver is installed, he and his truck will be on sale. Let’s see if I can become more notorious than Banksy. Can’t be all that hard.