Large Scale Central

Low $$$ Figures: Scale and Painting

Last month one of the NMGR members donated a passenger platform he had repaired and asked if I would paint some peeps for it. The club is so hard on its scenery that I am reluctant to spend much on this project for fear that it will just get trashed. Fortunately I have a sack of those low dollar figures from E-bay. I bought them for use on a 1/22.5 passenger train but have never gotten around to it.

They are advertised by different sellers on E-bay as both 1/24th and 1/25th. They are marketed by JTT Scenery as spectators for slot-car tracks or as people for architectural models at 3 for $6.95.

You can also get them unpainted in a bag of 100 for under $25 mailed. Or painted in groups of 20 for $25. Just remember when it comes to figures you get what you pay for.

Still it sounds like the bargain I need. Lets start by checking the scale.

This is Green Man. He is a 3D scaling tool for figures. I made examples in three sizes. Below you can see from left to right a 1/18th figure then Green Man in: 1/20.3, 1/22.5 and 1/24th.

If you want to know more about Green Man and see comparisons to other G scale manufacturers products here is the link:

Here is Green Man in comparison to the bargain figures. I believe they are a solid 1/24th.

On a side note these figures are also offered on E-bay in 1/30 scale. This is a legitimate offering and not seller error. You can see the duplicate examples of the smaller scale in the bottom row. The farmer figure is advertised as 1/32 as part of New Ray’s “Country Life” toy sets.

So how do they look in use. Okay on the layout I would imagine. Here are some pics of them in seats from a Bmann Big Hauler coach and an Accucraft coach.

The legs would have to be cut off for the Bmann seats which should not matter as they would be very hard to see through the windows. They are definitely under scale for the Accucraft. Their heads would barley be seen over the bottom of the window. For reference here are some of my 1/20.3 Cheaple figures in the same seats. Way to large for Bmann.

Made to fit the Accucraft so no surprise here.

I will be using both standing and sitting figures on the platform. One of each from the set except for the man with his arm out. I only have a few of those left and I often use them for children in 1/20.3 scale.

I started by cleaning the molding flash off the figures. Here is where you pay the real price for those figures. They are made using well worn molds and have plenty of misalignment and flash. There are also molding divots on the backs and legs of some of the figures that need attention. I was at first motivated to fill these with model putty but decided they could be sanded out with no real harm to the appearance. 220 grit paper is your friend here. The worst figure is the lady wearing the short skirt. Her legs are so poorly aligned that they are almost square on the insides and backs. Overall it took about two hours to clean the group.The best thing I can say about the figures is they are made from hard plastic similar to good quality disposable table-ware which cuts and sands well. They also glue good with Testor’s model cement ( the orange tube).

To help them stay on the platform I drilled holes up the legs of the standing figures and inserted a piece of floral stem wire. These are hard steel unlike regular floral wire which can be very soft. I bought mine at Hobby Lobby. You can get a package like this for less than $5 and it will be a lifetime supply. I used super glue to hold the wires in.

I normally prime with Walmart cheapy spray paint in the blue can ($1.15 a can). This is because most primer is made of trash. In some cases it is dry residue literately swept off the floor and dumped in the pigment barrel. Why pay the same price for primer as you would for high end gloss topcoat? Walamart was out of grey so I had to go with Krylon primer. It is way to heavy for this small of work but what the heck. I learned my painting in the 25mm war-gaming hobby. Water based acrylic enamels have bee the standard in that hobby for over 30 years. It is a soft paint compared to oil based acrylics or lacquers. The logic goes like this. The enamel spray paint sticks to the plastic or metal parts and the water based paints stick to the primer. Thus it does not rub or scrape off like paint used over an un-primed surface. Moral of that story is $1 for a can of budget grade primer is cheap insurance for the hours you are going to put in painting.

I like grey primer for most projects although I sometimes use black or white. The primer helps the paint cover. White under bright colors black under subdued and grey for multi-colored. This is important with all paints but even more so if you use the cheap craft paints. I prefer and recommend Games Workshop or Vallejo for base coats although I use Plaid, Apple Barrel and Folkart brands as washes and shades on occasion. Yes I am a paint snob.

I am sitting down to paint these this afternoon. Should have more results in a day or two.

wow a lot of those people must work for your RR , lots of Cibola green clothing. LOL looks good you may inspire me to try painting people soon.

Figures are now all blocked colored. That means that every section is one solid color. The pants are one block the face is one block the coat is one block. etc… If you have basic coloring book skills then you have already mastered this part of the process.

Tomorrow I will give them a wash using Battlefield Armor by Windward Washes. It is a dark grey rather than a straight black. I have found that it gives a better transition. The difference between this and paint thinned down with water is that the wash is a clear paint with very fine pigment. It goes on in a transparent layer that shades into the smaller areas. This gives the effect of shadow. Paint thinned in water will not work this way. It tends to bead up and form drips and runs.

A lot of bare bones modelers make their own washes using Mop and Glow mixed with artist inks. It works very well but the investment in numerous inks can erase any savings from purchasing the commercial stuff.

Do we have to stay inside the lines?

The figures have now been given a wash of dark grey. This really mutes the colors and can make them look dirty and drab. To brighten them back up I give each block a semi-dry brush of their original color. This is different from normal dry brushing as it is a single heavier layer rather than gradual highlighting. The technique is to brighten the high points while leaving the dark wash in the recesses and crevices. This is what creates the shading effect. Since i only want fresh paint on the high point I find that I have to thin the paint a little to get a smooth coat in one swipe.

You can also tell in the picture above I have not yet painted in the eyes. If your figures are at the back of the layout or being used as passengers inside a car there is no need to do this. Just leave them as a shaded area. Since these folks will be right up front I did the eyes by carefully painting them in with antique white and then dotting in the iris with basic black. A couple of touch-ups with the flesh tones and they were done. With the entire figure coated in dark grey the eyes seemed to bug out so I went back and gave them a little wash. Once dry the eyes looked much better.

A simpler eye technique is to skip painting the whites and just dot in the iris with black. If you want to save some time or are looking for a middle ground for coach passengers try that.

So that is the method: prime, block paint, wash, touch-up the high points and paint in the eyes. Pretty simple and you only need a basic pallet of colors. I think they look pretty good for .25 cent figures.

Now I can get this off my workbench and back to the club. And that is my $2.50 opinion on these low budget figures.