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01 Apr

Add Life To Your Model Railway With Figures

Noch OO/HO Model Figures On A Model Railway Layout

People People People, they’re everywhere. And so to make your Model Railway (Railroad for our American Cousins) look as realistic as possible, your layout needs model figures, and lots of them. Every station, every town scene, the goods yard, the countryside… you need them everywhere.

A layout with no figures is just wrong. I’m sorry, but unless your one of these people goes out and about at 4am when most of the world is still where it should be, tucked up in bed, then you will always see people out and about in the street. Our streets are rarely deserted. It goes without saying therefore that your layout needs people, and lots of them, to make everything look “Just Right”.

Unfortunately, this costs money, which for many railway modellers, myself included, can be a bit tight at times when it comes to splashing out on a ton of tiny plastic people! Remember that prioritizing is very important. THe one thing I make sure I never let off the wayside is my health, and my nutrition. I always make sure I watch what I eat. I even take a natural health supplement that has been working great for me, and I highly recommend it. If you would like to check it out you can Visit Our Website. So what the most cost effective ways of adding people to your layout without breaking the bank? Well, I’ve personally not got the patience to sit carving individual figures from stock plastic, so I have no choice but to buy them, but by shopping around, and keeping a bit of an open mind, you can bag yourself some real bargains!

For the UK market, particularly in OO, it looks initially like the range available is limited to less than 10 different sets from the Big manufacturers. Hornby have produced the same god awful people for about 20 years if not more, and Bachmann offer enough to populate a corner shop scene, and that’s about it. Peco offer a few through the ModelScene brand, but I don’t think Peco have realised the web is now quite popular… Their website looks like an early 90’s throwback. So, it’s on to the little guys. Springside do some quite nice hand painted white metal figures, but they are lacking in quality for me personally (yes I know I said money was tight but we want Value for money too right?).

There is light at the end of the tunnel though!

Ladies & Gentlemen, please welcome to the stage, Preiser, Noch & Faller (Massive round of applause!).

Yeah Yeah, them again I know… But, these Germans really have got their heads screwed on! Oh Oh but they don’t make OO Gauge stuff… I can’t use HO on my OO layout… Yeah but, we’re all 6 foot tall exactly right? We’re talking about mother nature here. A fully grown adult male I would say could be anywhere between 5 foot nothing and 6 foot 6 inches and it’s all fine. So what’s a couple of millimeters between friends? So shut it moaning and lets have a look at what they’ve got.

Preiser Model Figures

Preiser have to be the most dedicated of Model Figure manufacturers in the world. With a range of literally 1000’s of different figures, in every pose, guise and scale you can imagine. Their HO gauge and N Gauge ranges are simply Massive! There’s everything from Builders to Bankers, Track Workers to Transvestites (Eddie Izzard in HO, now there’s a thought), Nude Sunbathers to Nuns. Whatever scene you’re creating, Preiser have the figures for it. But they do come at a price. Their standard range runs around £5 for a set of 6 figures, their exclusive range £8 to £12 for 6 or more figures. The difference between the too being the quality & detailing. That said, their standard range knocks spots off any of the British offerings. They also offer comprehensive ranges in other gauges too including 1:32 which are suitable model figures for slot car layouts.

New figure sets & accessories from Preiser for 2010

10602 Track Workers By Preiser

10607 Vespa Riders in HO/OO By Preiser

10614 Flea Market Scene in HO/OO by Preiser

63097 1/32 Scale Figures For Slot Car Scenery

79219 N Gauge Passengers by Preiser

79220 More N Gauge Passengers by Preiser

Faller Model Figures

Faller, whilst not having such as large a range as Preiser as trying hard, and cater for those on a slightly tighter budget. With a good range of International figures in HO & N gauge, they offer great value for money. The overall quality of the figures isn’t quite up to Preisers standard, but they’re definitely worth a look.

153004 Bulk Pack Of Farm Figures From Faller

Noch Model Figures

Again, whilst not having such a large range as Preiser, Noch do have some very interesting scenes available in HO and N which add an instant touch of realism to any layout. Their prices are very competitive too. Whilst primarily aimed at the German & European market, by making a few wise choices, their model railway figure sets can be used on any layout, anywhere in the world.

15031 Working Men Figures By Noch

16042 City Figures Bulk Pack By Noch

11280 Street Cafe Scene by Noch

So where does that leave Hornby & Bachmann then?

Well, I’d say, in a resounding last place in the figure stakes. One redeeming feature of Bachmanns figures though is that they are (at least they where when I last looked), made by Preiser, so there, you OO gauge stalwarts have been buying HO figures for your OO layout all along!

Ready Painted or Paint Your Own?

This is one for debate. I personally don’t have the time to sit and paint them, but I know plenty of people who do, and they love it. So for me I’d opt for ready painted every time. This satisfies my craving for instant gratification and makes my layout look super realistic in double quick time. If you prefer to paint your own, there are a few cost savings to be made though. You can buy a bulk pack of figures from Preiser for under £20 and probably paint the lot for less than £20 too. Saving you nearly £100 maybe over buying them ready painted.

What about the other gauges – N, Z, TT, G, O,

Well, the best place to start again is the German manufacturers. For quality and variety, you just can’t beat them.

Think before you buy

So when you’re adding figures to your layout, think about the scenes that go on in the world around you. People chatting, people walking dogs, people, kissing & cuddling in public, people drinking in the street. Passengers waiting patiently at the platform, people crossing roads, kids playing in the park or in a school playground. All these different scenarios can easily be integrated into your model railway layout with a bit of thought and imagination.

Buy In Bulk & Save £’s

Noch, Fallern and Preiser offer some great value Bulk figure packs. Starting at around £20 for 30 ready painted figures, going up to over £100. These are some of the best value ones currently on the market that work out at just a few pence per image:

FA153001 OO/HO Pack of 36 Sitting People from Faller - £33.50

Noch OO/HO 16102 Traveller Figures by Noch - £24.90

Preiser 14400 Pack of 36 Passengers in OO/HO - £39.95

Where to buy Model Railway Figures?

Our regular recommendation here at Scenery Expert is of course Model Railway Shop, but there are hundreds of local model shops that stock Preiser, Noch and Faller. If they don’t ask them why! Otherwise, try
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31 Mar

Can Hornby win the Model Tree Showdown?

Hornby SkaleScenics Range 2010

Can Hornby take on the Model Tree Goliaths Gaugemaster, Noch & Faller? Are their new SkaleScenics trees worth your hard earned pennies? Lets find out…

Until recently, Hornby’s range of scenic products has been very very limited to say the least. Apart from its ever popular range of Skaledale Buildings which seemed to expand exponentially each year, anyone looking to add realistic scenery to their Hornby based layout was struggling to make any headway. It was a bit like Henry Ford and his Model T… You can have any colour you want so long as it’s Black. With Hornby, trees looked like bottle brushes, or foam tennis balls on sticks, and the grass scatter looked like nuclear fall out.

Well all that changed with the introduction of the Skalescenics range. Now the OO / HO modeller, British based or not, has access to a fantastic range of scatters, flocks, grasses, ballasts & gravels, and now finally… some very realistic trees indeed. Gone are the hideous Bottle Brush Pines et al… In are the Scots Pine, convincingly realistic Oaks, beautiful Beech trees, and perfect poplars.

So lets take a quick tour around the new range.

First things first… What’s the cost?

Prices start from around £5 for a twin pack of Economy Deciduous trees (R8931) which look great for bulking out wooded areas. For £16 you can bag your self a bulk pack of 24 Economy Conifers, Spruces or non-descript Decidous trees (R8928, R8929 & R8930), which gives scenic Stalwarts Gaugemaster a run for their money. For the more professionally finished trees the price increases up to a little over £12 for the pack of 2 Ash Trees (R8922). So all in all, the trees are mid-priced when compared to the current offerings from Noch, Gaugemaster & Faller.

What Trees Do Hornby Make Then?

The highlights from the current OO Gauge Tree lineup looks a little something like this…

Hornby R8929 Econo Spruce Pk 24

Hornby R8930 Econo Tree 75-100mm Pk 24

Hornby R8908 00 Gauge Skale Scenics Oak Pk 2

Hornby R8941 Weeping Willow Pk 4 Tree Armatures

Hornby R8902 Skale Scenics Chile Pine Pk 2

Hornby R8907 00 Gauge Skale Scenics Oak

Hornby R8943 Starter Tree Kit - Deciduous Tree Pk 16

R8933 Skale Scenics Econo Sycamore Pk 2

R8905 Skale Scenics Oak 63mm Pk 2

View Hornby’s full range of Skale Scenics Trees Here!

Above are just 9 of the 45 variants of OO gauge Trees and tree kits from Hornby, which is nothing short of astounding. From in one fell swoop, Hornby have gone from producing THE worst trees in the Model Railway area to some of the best looking on the market.

What about the competition?

The Model Tree and Model Railway Scenery arena here in the UK has long been dominated by Gaugemaster and their excellent range of trees and scenic products. Manufactured on their behalf by German Scenery Gurus, Noch, you could never go wrong with any of their trees. It goes without saying that the even wider range produced by Noch has been very attractive to the UK modeller, along with the vast array of Standard & Professional trees from Nochs arch rival Faller. Price wise, Hornby are looking very competitive and comparing three like for like trees from each manufacturer we can see that competition is going to be quite hot this year!

Faller 181365 OO/HO Top Series Ash x 2 at £9.50

Noch 21790 Ash Tree 19cm at £10.50 each!

Hornby R8922 00 Gauge Skale Scenics Ash Tree 100mm Pk 2 Professional Trees at £12.75

Comparing these tree offerings from Hornby, Noch & Faller, it’s plain to see that Hornby are sitting smack bang in the middle price wise here. Appearance of all three is indeed very realistic, although the Hornby offering does show slightly less foliage than the Noch and Faller equivalents.

Are the Hornby Trees any good?

The samples we got our grubby mitts on here at Scenery Expert Towers were supplied by a local model shop and they look very good indeed. The trees are scaled such that they are suitable to both OO / HO gauge and N Gauge model railway layouts, plus they will also look the biz on any 1:76 Military Diorama or Wargaming terrain to. As with all things in nature, the size of the tree is relative to its growth, therefore mixing and matching different tree heights and different tree types will add a greater degree of realism to the scene you are creating.

Being professionally made, these trees are definitely not toys. So if you’re looking for a few trees to use with a non-permanent setup, then these aren’t going to be the best choice. A pair of £12 R8922 Ash trees isn’t going to last 5 minutes in the hands of a 3 year old. But if you’re going to be positioning these trees in a permanent home on your layout, then I have to give these trees a whopping 9.5 out of 10 for realism and value. Nice one Hornby, and about bloody time too!

Our Verdict


Browse the full range of Hornby SkaleScenic trees here…