Having picked up a copy of the new Model Rail (162) in the office on Tuesday, I'm pleased with how this month's Masterclass turned out. The subject - figures - is a big one and I enjoyed the challenge of compressing it into 7 1/2 pages. While Chris Leigh demonstrates a few ways of altering poses, I offer a few hints on painting and 'planting'.

We also decided to illustrate what we thought were 10 of the best miniature scale figures available. There are obviously more than 10 brands out there, but some of them are a bit on the dodgy side. There were also a couple of brands that I would've liked to include but sadly they're no longer available. Inkerman Castings is the most prominent omission, the small range of superb characters seemingly no more.

However, the brand new range from Supercast was a treat to work with and Dart Casting's ever increasing selection is full of believable characters. Painting figures can be great fun and a well turned-out and positioned character certainly brings a scene to life. But we all have our own foibles in this area of the hobby: many of us like to create amusing cameo scenes while others think this is sacrilege. But, who cares - do what you want to do! Maybe subtlety is the keyword, though. For years I've been populating my layouts almost exclusively with ginger haired figures, yet nobody except Mrs D has ever even noticed...

Sometimes less is more: a single NCB donkey jacketed figure adds atmosphere to this corner of Maudetown Colliery.

A cameo scene doesn't have to be a grand performance. This resting gardener and his dog describes this idyllic scene perfectly.


  1. Hello George! I'm definitely looking forward to the Belgian mail delivering my copy of MR162. Hopefully I'll find tips and tricks to address my eternal concern with figures: how to make them look natural and properly "in situ" in busy scenes when they are so desperately static? The resting gardener is definitely a very good idea in this respect, as well as the jacketed figure standing idly by his lorry, but these tend to be exceptions. In general, the figures I see around layouts try to suggest action by waving immobile handkerchiefs at trains nowhere to be seen, by gesticulating motionlessly in heated discussions in car crash cameos, or by being frozen in running postures that look everything but natural.

  2. Hi,
    Thanks for the comment - hope you like the magazine when it arrives!


  3. Fully agree with pre-zli's comments about 'frozen-in-motion' figures. Your gardener looks real and plausible, George. Well done!

    Now where do I buy Supercast figures? They were reviewed in the August 2011 issue of Hornby Magazine but only a phone number contact was given. No address, website or e-mail address was given. I've also not seen Supercast figures advertized... or at least the advert hasn't 'jumped out at me' from the pages of the magazine. I live in Canada so am unlikely to pick up the phone and start dialing no matter how good the product looks! I stick with those I know how to contact.

  4. Hi there,
    Thanks for the kind comment. We also reviewed the Supercast range in the November 2011 issue of Model Rail magazine. I'm afraid that there is no website for Supercast, but I do have a postal address of the proprietor: Mike Pett, 12 Chatham Street, Ramsgate, CT11 7PP, UK. I also have an email address:
    With all best wishes,


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