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Lesser known whitemetal figures

Posted by Mikkel , in Figures 20 January 2012 · 4,901 views

figures 4mm
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I've been exploring some of the smaller and lesser known 4mm whitemetal figure ranges recently. Here's a handful of photos showing a selection of some of them. These are cruel close-ups, but if we're concerned about the details of our stock, shouldn't we be equally concerned about whether the figures look right?

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Above: This group of horse shunters are from the Geoff Stevens range, which features sets of railway staff that can be used together in little cameos. As evident from the header photo, some of the figures in this range have well sculpted faces. Very often, I think, it is the face that makes or breaks a 4mm figure.

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Above: No, not a fight but a sheeting gang, also from Geoff Stevens. I am not normally attracted to figures that are frozen in mid-motion, and cameos like these can very easily become a cliché. However I couldn't resist the two sets pictured here, which fit well with a concept I have in mind for a future third layout in the Farthing series.

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Above: These figures are from Model Railway Developments (MRD). I've been wanting to have a closer look at these for some time, as the range is focussed on my own Edwardian period.

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Above: Two further MRD figures. This range demonstrates how whitemetal figures can vary considerably in quality and detail within the same range. The little girl seen here is very good, but I don't think she takes after her mother :-)

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Above: The same figure seen from two different sides. Quite often, I find, a figure can look unrealistic from one side but quite good from another. I wonder if this has something to do with the original sculpting process? In any case, careful positioning can sometimes bring out the good side in a figure.

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Above: This loco crew is from the small Alan Gibson range. Figures in the range seem to have a 1900s-1920s look and feel. The loco crew is made for L/H drive, which is a pity for GWR modellers. But I suppose non-GWR modellers deserve decent figures too ;-)

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Above: Two porters, also from Alan Gibson. I might change the pose of these, but the faces have a certain character! Captions, anyone?

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Above: A line-up of station staff from the above ranges, plus a figure from the better known Monty's range from Dart Castings.

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Above: Clearly there's a dinner party nearby! Another comparison here, with a couple from the large Langley range thrown in.

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Above: A group of Monty's figures. While there are individual useful figures in all of the above ranges, they don't trump the Monty's range, which in my view wins hands down every time. They have the right bulk, relaxed poses and the faces are usually good.

Related entries:
* Backdated Monty's figures
* Footplate crew
* HO figures for an OO layout
  • Like x 11

The MRD figures like tne Monty ones have a nice bulk about them. So many figures are just to whispy.
Some of those Geoff Stevens figures bear an uncanny resemblance to the old Airfix (now available from Dapol) railway workers...

Mikkel -
Nice resume. I'd not heard of the Geoff Stevens range. Does he have a web site?
Pete, yes I agree that the bulk is crucial. As a boy I was happy with the Hornby stick-men, but realistic they are not :-)

Halfwit, very interesting! I just did a search for the Airfix figures, and it turns out that the Geoff Stevens ones (or some of them, at least) are a direct copy: http://www.airfixrai...lwayWorkmen.htm. I wonder what that is all about?

Ian, I don't think there's a website, but they're available from Mainly Trains: http://www.mainlytrains.co.uk/
In 7mm you can get more detail I have a Cambrian and a GWR loco crew modelled from photos by Aidian Cambell. It moves things up a little when they can be specific for a railway. Mind you its how you finish them and pose them that makes the real difference.
Ah yes, 7mm figures, now there's detail! I keep returning to these, in particular: http://borderminiatu...platecrew1.html. Almost enough to make me change scale...

The Aidan Cambell range is one I haven't personally tried out yet in 4mm. They certainly have character!
Jan 21 2012 09:07
As a matter of record, the Airfix and Dapol figures, whilst very similar, are from different tools. The most obvious difference is the base (rectangular block on Airfix, tapered mound on Dapol), but if you look at the faces and various details, they clearly vary. From the modelling point of view, the best thing is that both are moulded in styrene so can be readily adapted, rather than that flexible (polythene?) that Airfix used for most of their figure sets.
Aha, so they are still available (but different). Thanks for that info, I hadn't realized. Just found a review of the Dapol versions here: http://www.plasticso...ew.aspx?id=1161

So presumably - being styrene- these would also be easier to modify than the whitemetal equivalents from Geoff Stevens. In fairness, the latter does include other figures in his shunter's set - as well as two fairly good horses, rope and chain and a few (very) simple sketches on shunting arrangements.
Jan 21 2012 12:06
Caption for the porters with the case between them:
"No, after you"
"No, after you"
Very good :-) I'm sure that happened very rarely in reality!

I was wondering if the bloke on the left is in fact reciting poetry. While the one on the right is wondering how best to shut him up!

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Thanks for the hint about the Geoff Stevens figures from Mainly Trains. I've jsut ordered some.

Jan 21 2012 14:04

This loco crew is from the small Alan Gibson range. Figures in the range seem to have a 1900s-1920s look and feel. The loco crew is made for L/H drive, which is a pity for GWR modellers.

They are actually a GWR loco crew, reversing ;)
Jan 21 2012 14:41
Thanks for this Mikkel, I know diddly about 4mm figures - the last time I bought any was back in the mid-80s - and we'll need a small but quality selection for the 4mm layout #1 son and I are planning. I'm astonished at the detail in the faces of the Stevens figures, both they and Monty's seem very well proportioned.

Slipping back to 7mm as well as Pete Armstrong's fabulous Border Miniatures, Andy Stadden's figures are also smashing, and you can have your favourite Locomotive Superintendent or literary figure too..
Yes the Stevens figures were a pleasant surprise, but as I said all the ranges seen here vary from figure to figure, so I usually discard or modify some of the poorer ones.

Thanks for the link to Andy Stadden's figures, they are superb. The idea of the loose arms is great. And the Collett figure must be one of the most lifelike model railway figures I've ever seen!

Rich, that's not a bad idea to use the AG loco crew for a reversing/bunker first loco! (as per this entry: http://www.rmweb.co....ker-first-1927/)
I wonder what Dapol Dave would make of them!
Jan 21 2012 19:41
That started an interesting little trip round manufactures of figures on the internet! I think Any Stadden is the son of Charles Stadden who used to design whitemetal kits of model soldiers. I think he had his own range at one time.
Jan 21 2012 19:45
...of course if I'd read a bit further into Andrew Stadden's website......
That story of Charles Stadden's life makes for some fascinating reading, especially the mule corp. I can understand why after all that he needed a quiet hobby!

On the Dapol-connection, I hope there is some form of agreement between the Geoff Stevens range and Dapol. Is it possible that Geoff Stevens was the original maker of these figures, and therefore has some sort of supplementary right to them? Judging by that review of the Dapol figures, it seems there is some doubt about what happened when Airfix withdrew them.
Now if there was something available of that quality in 2mm scale I would be a happy bunny :)

I have missed your posts Mikkel, dont go quiet on me again!

Missy :)
Hi Missy, I can see what you mean, 2mm figures must be quite difficult to get well detailed. But then again, I'm longing for the detail of 7mm figures, so I suppose the grass is always greener on the other side :)

In the longer run, surey plastic is the way forward for greater detail in model figures - also for 2 and 4mm scales. I do think wargaming has proved this.

In fact, I wonder if it might be possible to find a few wargaming figures here and there suitable for model railways? Eg some 25mm wargaming figures seem to be 1:73.2 (and there appears to be some in 1:152 too), see the table here: http://en.wikipedia...._figure_(gaming)

Of course, the trouble would be that most are armed and have three heads! But it appears there is a type of wargaming called Victorian Science Fiction, which might offer the occasional useable figure, eg: http://marbles.froth.../vsf_men_1.html
Hi Mikkel, you are lucky to have access to figures with so much detail.
One distinct disadvantage of 2mm!!
I will do a similar comparison of some 2mm figures I have on my blog, so you can see just how lucky you are!!!

I can see you doing great things with some of these figures.
Btw I assume it wouldn't be too difficult to swap arms around for the driver of the train crew?
Hi Chris, interesting comparison to the 4mm offerings. If anyone else want to have a look, here's thhe link to Chris' entry: http://www.rmweb.co....al-2mm-figures/

I'm wondering if it's worth the effort to change that driver's arms. Normally I'd do it, but the sloping shoulders and the position of the other arm would make it a tricky job.
Great piece, the pics give a really good insight to a few ranges. One I don't think mentioned is these http://www.freewebs....figuresinfo.htm
I was looking at them at the Wakefield show, I was pretty impressed they seemed very well detailed and cast....usual disclaimer!
Interesting! Great to see a new range, many thanks Devil. Maybe it's just the painting style, but they remind me a bit of the photos I've seen of Aidan Cambell's figures.
Jan 26 2012 20:58

Maybe it's just the painting style, but they remind me a bit of the photos I've seen of Aidan Cambell's figures.

Stylistically they are very similar, but I think it's more to do with proportions and the feeling that I'm looking at a caricature of a human. Or an orc. Posted Image
Agreed. There is a very fine line between a "character" and a "caricature" in model figures, and it's amazing how easily it can affect a whole layout if you cross the line.

BTW, here's a layout that is seriously into figures - in quantity, that is!
Jan 27 2012 21:51
Blimey! It does my head in just thinking about painting or sticking that lot down. I suspect the essential tools are pair of matchsticks for the eyes and Espressos administered intravenously at regular intervals.
I'm sure the words "domino effect" would keep him awake at night! :-)

I hadn't heard about this model world before, quite amazing:


Much more here.
MSV2, from Dart Castings for R/H drive GWR driver and fireman. I suppose you knew that.....


Yes, and they're very nice. The clothing isn't quite right for Edwardian engine crew, but here's a couple of modified gentlemen who owe their body (er, well yes!) to the Dart driver. New heads, arms changed and pockets filed down.





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