Gerhard Berndt’s model railway has been three decades in the making, but this year it’s really been full steam ahead for the 72-year-old Berliner. The retired carpenter has had more time on his hands in 2020 because of coronavirus restrictions — and he has dedicated it to building up an intricate small-scale village in his living room. “This stuff takes time. And I have used that in this corona situation,” said Berndt, who would otherwise be too busy jetting off to railway conventions to spend hours a day working on his hobby. Berndt is one of many Germans who have turned to model railways and other analogue toys this year as restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19 leave them looking for ways to entertain themselves and their families at home. As a result model train sales have surged. Forecasts from the Association of German Toymakers (BVS) predict total turnover for the toy industry will be 3.7 billion euros ($4.5 billion) in 2020, an increase of eight percent on last year. The boost is being driven by board games and puzzles, outdoor toys and construction kits, according to the BVS. Toy market boom The country’s toy market grew 11 percent, or 172 million euros, on-year in January-October, according to the market research company npd Group. Germany has the largest toy industry in Europe in terms of both employment and turnover, accounting for a quarter of all people employed in the EU toy industry. Demand for toys has soared with bars, restaurants and leisure facilities closed for large parts of the year and social gatherings limited in the country, which has seen more than 1.3 million cases of the virus so far and more than 22,000 deaths. The model railway market in particular has seen a boost after years of stagnating sales. The pastime is especially beloved in Germany, which has the world’s largest model railway system — the Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg — and whose Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is a self-confessed fan.