By Denis Holland
All the figures on the layout are Preiser HO with the exception of 3 merit 00 dogs. The set we used was no. 16337 which contains 120 unpainted figures, comprising standing, walking and cycling poses. It also contains several bicycles and items of luggage.
Some of the cycling figures were modified slightly to become seated people on the bus and one became a cowgirl sitting on the stockyard fence. This and a walking man had scratch built Stetson hats. To do this, simply cut off the top of the head flat across, just above the eyes. A disc of 005 plasticard can then be stuck on the head to become the brim. A shaped crown made of a short length of plastic rod is then cemented on top of the disc. Finally gently curve 2 sides of the brim to give the characteristic ‘cowboy’ hat shape.
‘Superman’ started off as a running figure holding his hat on with his left hand. His right arm was carefully cut away and repositioned so that he appears to be pulling his shirt open. The shirt was scraped away on his upper chest to reveal his Superman logo, which was simply painted on.
The Mountie was originally a man in a safari jacket. His lapels were sanded down and the legs below the knees were reduced in thickness to form boots. His hat was made in the same way as the cowboy hats, except that the brim was dead straight across, and the crown is a short piece of plastic rod shaped into a cone. Finally a holster and pouch were made from plasticard. The belt and insignia were all painted on.
The tramp was an old man with 2 shopping bags. One arm was cut away and the bag discarded. The arm was then cut in two and repositioned so he could hold a plastic rod with a kerchief full of belongings over his shoulder. A thick bushy beard was added to his face. Both the beard and the kerchief were made from Humbrol model filler. By the way, the Preiser set contains separate spare arms, which are useful for modifications such as above.
Marilyn Monroe started life as a standing female figure wearing jeans and holding her hands in front of her. First I scraped off the jeans and shaped the legs to appear bare. Then I had a cold shower! The skirt was a disc of thin paper folded concertina fashion to get a pleated effect. The figure has pouting lips which, if you are careful can be enhanced by dry brushing red paint onto them.
General modifications included altering hair-styles on some of the male figures so they looked as though they belonged to the short-haired fifties, and in some cases sanding down the flared trousers!
When painting these small figures I use the flesh colour first, applied roughly over the appropriate areas. A good flesh colour can be made by mixing Humbrol Matt Flesh 61 half and half with Matt White 34. The other colours can then be added, but you must expect to have to touch up all the painted areas several times before the figure is finished. People do notice figures on layouts and if they bend down for a closer look it can spoil the illusion if the demarcation line between colours is ragged. For all figure painting I use a 0000 brush with occasional use of a 000 for large areas of colour. All modifications were made with a Swann Morton surgical scalpel (appropriate really!) with a 10A blade, and all items were stuck together with Humbrol liquid poly.
In conclusion I would say that painting figures is a bit like drawing it is one-tenth skill and nine tenths observation.