Pinching pennies- AKA: where dies one find figures without spending a mint?

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Biggerhammer, Apr 20, 2001.

  1. Biggerhammer

    Biggerhammer Member

    Hello all-

    I'm new to the hobby, just starting out really. My layout is a 4x8 with a single oval right now, and a dozen currently-unassembled building kits. I'm hoping to add quite a few figures. Herein lies my dilemma.

    I'm not rich (far from it, really). I've looked at the Preiser figures and dreamed happy dreams, then looked at the price tag and had nightmares [​IMG] Unpainted figures look like the way to go, but the current Walthers catalogue that my hobby shop has had a fairly small selection- four or five package deals. Is there a good source of unpainted or otherwise affordable figures out there, unmentioned by the Walthers catalogue?

    Also, this layout is pre-automobile. My wife has requested horses, to set the technological scene (and she just really likes 'em). Where would one find unpainted horses?

    Thank you all for your help and advice- and the encouragement.

    [This message has been edited by Biggerhammer (edited 04-20-2001).]
  2. George

    George Member


    I'm not exactly a Rockefeller myself, but you can populate your layout as if you were one.

    The cheapest way I can think of is by getting one of the bulk packs of Preiser figures. The figures are unpainted and on sprues so that you can. No Rembrandt? Neither am I. Do the best you can, and put them at the rear of the layout, and the profesionally painted figures you paid $$$ up front where they can be seen.....And appreciated.

    Where do you want the figures? Seated passengers? Restaurant patrons? Preiser makes an entire package of sitting people. The distorted plastic in most passenger cars will also help to make your paint job look JUST GREAT!

    How do you save even more money? I find that you can get these bulk packages at shows for a song,(US$8) for 100 figures. There's always someone with this idea who never gets around to it, then dumps the box at a show. Ordinarily, they may run you about US$16.

    My only complaint is that regardless of where the figures come from, they NEVER fit fully seated into the seats for passenger car interiors. That's probably due to seat size and not the scale figures.

    A friend showed me his solution to this problem years ago, he cut the legs off at the knees because you never see the figures below the waist through the windows. "Great", I said. "Now, how do you get them into the seats of an ACF, Budd or full length dome where the legs to feet would be seen??" His finger went back into his mouth.

    As you know, dome passengers are seated two abreast. Just try and get two "HO" or "N" figures into the seat, it's impossible. Each seat, regardless of manufacturer will fit only one scale posterior!

    Go Figure. So, with the problem of populating solved, comes the problem of comfortably situating them without creating a handicapped community!

  3. Biggerhammer

    Biggerhammer Member

    Thanks for the advice, George. I need to go to a show sometime anyway, I'll keep an eye out for the bargains.

    Preiser unpainted, 100 people for $8? Where did you find that number? I was seeing 50ish people for about twenty bucks, a much less attractive ratio. (this was in the Walthers catalogue- I do not remember the brand. I do remember being dismayed that I could populate my layout with several companies of soldiers from various countries and conflicts more easily than I could with 1900-era civilians)

    And, fortunately for me, my wife enjoys painting and details- she gets to play Rembrandt, I just get to play with the trains [​IMG]
  4. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi all,
    You can also buy for less than the price of
    Preiser figures "100 Model Power" un-painted, these are exact 3.5mm to the foot scale for HO also.
  5. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    According to my Walther's catalog (HO 2001), Preiser lists 4 sets of 120 figures at $24.99 apiece.
    Model Power has a set of 72 unpainteds for $7.50
    There's also a company called Finishing Touches that offers some unpainted metal castings of various animals. They have a set of 6 horses for $3.50
    I also have a little story to relate regarding the painting of figures:
    Awhile back, I was painting some figures for a diorama. I was using one of my prized "oo" spotters. My wife (or something) called me away from my workbench, & I fogot to clean the paint brush. Well, needless to say, by the time I returned, my "oo" spotter had turned into a "oo" SPIKE!
    I was ready to toss it in the trash, when it occured to me that I might still be able to use this thing. Well, it's become one of the best tools I have for painting figures, especially those tiny faces & hands.
  6. George

    George Member

    Like I said, go to a show first. That's where you'll always get the best price if you know what you're looking for. Walther's will always be the high end, so let them be your last resort.

    I must say that I have not seen the Model Power figures you mentioned, Shamus. Model Power gives a good product at a decent price, and for figures in bulk, I'd have to agree that they would be the way to go. However as I've mentioned in other threads, their flex track in "HO" is garbage.

    Model Power has many products that you would never know about unless you toured their site. A few years back, they even made 18" lighted Christmas trees for holiday table centre pieces.

    Model Power has also recently come out with a series of die cast aircraft, complete with small display stands. They'd be interesting hanging by invisible thread over your trains as well, and range from WW2 to contemporary fighter jets.

  7. Biggerhammer

    Biggerhammer Member

    Well, I did get to a show- a local one put on by the Lion's Club, with probably a dozen layouts ranging from a suitcase Z-scale to a couple of tremendous garden layouts. The many vendors there had dozens of locomotives, hundreds of boxcars, scores of hoppers... and not a single unpainted figurine in the entire show! The ones I asked muttered that the unpainted figures were slow movers. Foo.

    The layouts were worth the $3 admission, and my wife came and really enjoyed the show too, so it wasn't a wasted trip, but my layout is still populated only with three locos, a junkyard of rolling stock and a single Mercedes sedan [​IMG]

    Thank you all for the advice- I'll check out model power's website and order a few packages, crowd up River City a bit.

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