Coming just 4 days after the heat, the semi-final was always going to be an uphill struggle for us - but as Team Grantham showed, even with minimal preparation time, it was possible to win!
In our heat, we had gone for pure fantasy, with our brightly coloured Mars layout. The track plan was that of a conventional shunting layout, but we felt to win the semi-final, we needed to demonstrate that we could do "straight" modelling to a high standard as well.
The theme of film blockbusters gave us plenty of choice, but we wanted to choose a film that actually featured a railway or two in the original plot. We also wanted to tie the film into a local location and James Bond gave us the opportunity to model some of the scenes shot at the Nene Valley Railway for the Bond films Octopussy and Goldeneye. We built both trains that featured in the film - the Octopussy Circus train complete with canon and the armoured train from Goldeneye, constructed from a Class 20 as in the original movie. The station building at Wansford was represented by a Metcalfe Models station, with a goods shed and river - albeit a bit narrower than the Nene actually is at that point!
Other aspects of the build included creating a film set using low relief card structures along with 3D printed film lighting, film crew, production village etc. One thing we'd avoided in the heat was laying elevated track, but we felt this could not be avoided with this layout. Our rationale is that model gradients are really much to steep to be realistic and unless really well done, can dominate the layout. We were pleased with the result at it gave us a good starting point for one of the animations.
The majority of our animations once again featured locos or railway equipment, starting with the loading challenge - Bond jumping on to a moving train then off into a swimming pool, an armoured train demolishing a Soviet tank and a car racing along the tracks before smashing into another train and flying off! We added to this a runaway bus swerving along a road and then crashing into a car and some deserted market stalls, before Mr Bond departed in his helicopter.
Our aim was to finish the layout to the highest standard possible and to take a lot of care over things like the ballasting and scenics, so that it looked as much like a real model railway as possible. We were extremely happy with the end result and in the end there was only a point or so in it. We were sad not to make it through to the final, but had all enjoyed the wild ride to get as far as we did.