4mm figures have often been, how shall I put it…..somewhat lacking. Many of them look like caricatures, apes in boiler suits or resemble something like the elephant man! I’ve often said the best figures currently on the market, are the Monty’s Models range, however with a limited number of poses (especially for a Pannier) you often end up reusing the same figures over and over again.
However, a new product is shortly going to arrive on the market. Alan Buttler’s Modelu has begun producing model railway figures in plastic. What makes these figures different to those that have gone before, is that they aren’t sculptures made to resemble a human being. They are in fact human beings shrunk and turned into plastic……..don’t worry that was a joke (and a 1970’s Doctor Who reference). What Alan can do is actually scan people and then produce them as a 3D print. I’ve been skeptical about 3D printing, as the results I had previously seen resulted in a lot of layering and somewhat poor quality. However these results are exceptionally good.
Modelu will not only be able to provide you with crews for your locos, but should you wish…you can be scanned (for a one off fee) and be able to populate your own layout. I shall be contacting Alan about having my Father scanned. I like the idea that when he is no longer here, he will still be watching over me on my layouts. Of course Alan’s scanning equipment will not just limit him to figures, he has already (for himself) produced some lovely 3D castings for locomotive detailing.
Now, back to my review samples. I had been given some direction regarding priming the figures. Alan had said that some primers didn’t tend to stick too well to the plastic. This was the case with mine (I used a white halfords primer) and found that the primer did rub off in places, although this isn’t a great issue to be honest. In future I probably wouldn’t bother priming. The top coat painting was done with enamels, the overalls coat was done using rail match garter blue mixed with matt white. The figures were then given a dirty wash, which helped to highlight particular areas.
Both figures are in ideal poses for my Panniers (these two chaps will be my footplate crew on 7414). The features are crisp (detail varied slightly on mine, but that is only as Alan is experimenting with different plastics) and they actually look like human beings, rather than something vaguely humanoid.
These really are superb figures, which really opens the door for people and detailing parts in 4mm. You could in theory, have a layout where not one figure is the same. In my case I’ll be using the 4mm range, but Alan will be producing figures in a variety of gauges (he has already produced 2mm and 7mm variants).