Model Train

Scratch Building Disney’s Rapunzel’s Tower miniature from Tangled in HO Scale

Leave it to Disney to take a 200-year-old German fairy tale and breathe new life into with and unshakable spirit while the protagonist wields a frying pan with a pet chameleon.  On the surface that pitch may sound a bit iffy but Tangled took the country by storm.  It did well at the box office competing with the final Harry Potter films and got great reviews on the various aggregation sites.  But the metascores and box office can’t explain the full impact.  In our home we had the target demographic of a young girl age 4-7.  My daughter was at the perfect age and absolutely loved the film, its characters, and songs became household staples.   It was a great blend of humor and heart.  We had the toys, the soundtrack, and waited in the insanely long and hot line to meet her at the Magic Kingdom.


When my daughter first began to talk about the train table one of the first things we made was a Rapunzel tower.   It is such an iconic and classic piece and was a real pleasure to create.


The entire thing is built over PVC plumbing parts.  We started with something called a flange, which is a large flat piece that would serve as a sturdy base.  After that it was mostly just pipe and a lager coupling for the actual rooms at the top.  The roof is made from a long funnel.


The rocks are made from a substance called light weight hydrocal.  It is made like plaster, by mixing water and the powder, but is much lighter.  It is used by model railroad builders.  Simply mix up a small batch and more into these amazing rubber molds.  They have dozens of variations of different sizes and shapes.

Super Sculpey modeling compound by Polyform

The tower body and roof are covered with Sculpey.  Sculpey is an easy to use product we have discussed in the past (Mary Poppins Umbrella & Madame Leota Tombstone).  It is available at most stores with a craft section and hardens in the oven.  I rolled out very thin sheets of Sculpey and wrapped the body and roof.  We sculpted the designs with toothpicks and a mold of bricks that we pushed in to make the shapes.  We then dried the Sculpey using blow dryers mounted in a vice.

I did the base coat of paint on the tower and my daughter applied the watered down brown paint as a wash to age the tower.  She also painted the entire roof dark purple and dry brushed a lighter shade to highlight the raised areas.  Both the washes and drybrushing are techniques anyone can do, she was in first grade at the time.


Once we were done painting my daughter applied all the foliage to the tower.  She simply applied a school glue type of adhesive to the areas and sprinkled and applied the small sponge like green pieces we bought at the train store.


The end result is wonderful piece that is a true highlight of the train table. As with all our pieces, we signed and dated the bottom as a reminder of a shared creation and the memories we made.

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Until next time…


The Imagine Ears features the DIY projects, adventures, and thoughts of a father and daughter who use a shared love of all things Disney to create memories together through encouraging her interests in architecture, design, Imagineering, while exploring history and science.




3 thoughts on “Scratch Building Disney’s Rapunzel’s Tower miniature from Tangled in HO Scale

  1. Thank you for sharing this! We are trying to build one for our layout and are following your ideas and putting our own twist on it. What kind of paint did you use on the pvc and flange?


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