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Best and affordable don't really go together.

Melgars suggestion is a good one. No one offers the variety of figures young and old in any conceivable position or circumstance as Arttista.

On top of that they are heavy pewter and usually stand without any adhesive.

Imo. Second would be Woodland Scenics. These are realistic looking and a bit less costly, but plastic.

I have a mix of both on my layout along with a few bug eyed k line military figures waiting for the train.

Ebay is as good a place to buy figures as any. I usually find a selection from the same vendor, and add as many as I can to the cart to save on shipping.

I agree re: Arttista, and also Ebay as a good place to buy them. When I'm looking for figures on Ebay I like to type "1:48 figures" or "O scale figures" in the Ebay search window, and I get a big selection of figures to choose from.

Some of the Woodland Scenics figures are good, too, but a few of them are not correctly proportioned. Some Rail King / MTH / K Line collections of figures say they are O scale but turn out to be bigger or smaller than other "O scale" figures. I think you have to take your chances, and group similarly-scaled figures together on your layout.

Last edited by West Side Joe

I do agree that quality detailed figures and affordable are not exactly dance partners.  

Indeed Artista makes some wonderful figures for sure!   Woodland Scenics too!  You might also try Choohooligans ( sp?) sold by Scenic Express.  I have some of their fireman, a Queen Elizabeth, and Mother Theresa.  The Choohooligan fireman are a little portly standing beside an Artista fireman ( but hey humans come in all shapes, sizes, and heights ).  The Queen and Mother T look great IMO.  Scenic Express has several lines of figures made by other manufactures as well as well.

I tend to place my quality figures more toward the front of my layout with lesser quality/ detail/ less expensive toward the back.

i agree about arttista (my favorite) but not about ebay. google arttista and you’ll find one or two retailers who sell arttista for discounted prices. few ebay sellers do. in fact, many sell above list and if you’re buying only one or two, IMO the shipping is too high. definitely search before you buy.

as bob says, scalefigures (fun and games) figures are also good and reasonably priced. wish they’d expand their line as their selection is way more limited than arttista. also, some are of an early time period which if you’re modeling a modern era or possibly the transition era, might not be appropriate.

woodland scenics figures, sold in sets, are ok, although, as mentioned, they’re plastic and not quite as realistic as arttista but, for the price, quite good. you can populate a lot of real estate for relatively modest cost. they’ve made quite a few sets but haven’t updated the line in about two years now.

like trumptrain, i also really like choohooligans  by scenic express. pretty realistic, reasonable cost and wish they made much more.

preiser makes some very good figures. quite realistic. but they’re in many different scales so you have to pick and choose. everything from 1/50, 1/45, 1/43, etc. i like the 1/50 as they’re close to arttista 1/48. i’ve also used the 1/43 but, have to use them sparingly as they’re a bit tall. just noticed some 1/45 which should be good but haven’t seen them in person. also, as a german manufacturer, some figures may too european for u.s. scenes.

there are others, more expensive or in some cases, not really to scale (i find model power 1/43,  for example, a little oversized and less realistic but, could be used in some situations).

Last edited by Jerrman

This is a question that has been asked many times by just about all O Gaogers/O Scalers.  There is no substitute for quality figures and cost.  In recent years, with Shapeways, and other creative techniques, figures have come a long way.  But the saying applies, you get what you pay for.  Here is a selection from a company in England, called Model U.  Real people are scanned and models are made in the scale of your choice.  I like 143.5.  I paint my own, a little easier then 1/48 but i have plenty of those as well..  Another company, "Printle" a shapeways affiliate, also have real scanned figures. Not cheap, but excellent. Of course I love Artista.  I have a variety of all the brands.  But lately have leaned to the ones from Europe.  Only reason is, I like detailing my own, and enjoy that part of the hobby....

Some examples:  Model U 1/43 scale.

IMG_20191023_140702748_HDR

Printle 1/48 scale

SAM_0787

This shot shows a mix of Artista, the above two, choochilgins,and S&D another company in England.

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The men are 1/43.5.  The women are all 1/48 scale.



This shot is a good example of the mentioned manufacturers  in one setting.



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Last edited by Quarter Gauger 48

Thought I knew it all when it comes to O scale figures, but I learned a thing or two from this thread.  The 3D scanned are definitely the most realistic I have seen, but also the most expensive.  I knew Scenic Express had figures, but didn’t give them a good look till I saw this thread.  I might just add a few to my next order.

In my opinion, Artista is the best compromise for realism and expense and they do have quite a variety.

Barclay Company classic o scale is another source and MetalFigures.net which is usually at York.  Web site does not seem to be available at this time.

Last edited by OGR CEO-PUBLISHER
@CAPPilot posted:

To add to Ben's question, are any of these figures bendable (arms/legs) to put in a slightly different position?  The Arttista figures, being pewter, seems like they could be bent.  Thanks.

I would also like to know the answer to this, especially with regard to the Arttista figures. I have wanted to move some arms or legs, but haven't had the nerve to do so for fear of breaking them.

I would also like to know the answer to this, especially with regard to the Arttista figures. I have wanted to move some arms or legs, but haven't had the nerve to do so for fear of breaking them.

Joe, if you heat the pewter with a soldering iron, a candle, or a lighter, using a tweezer to hold the figure, then another tweezer to move the part.  You will have to repaint the figure though... But this technique works well.  Don't try and bend cold metal...or it will break........

Great topic with new resources!  Thanks to all.  I made a waterpark several years ago and called Arttista directly for ideas.  I told the guy who answered  (owner?) that I was looking for a sitting lifeguard for my lifeguard chair and assorted figures and he told me a list of figures off the top of his head.  I bought them all direct from them.  They did not have a sitting lifeguard but, as you can see from the photo, the sitting guy in shorts sure looks like one.MIKES WATERPARK

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@joedaddy posted:

I think some of the 3D printed figures from Shapeways are really lifelike. I also like the figures from Scalelink in the U.K. One of my other hobbies is painting military miniatures so I'm generally pretty picky about the people who populated my layout!

Joe Shipbaugh

I'm generally not a fan of so-called "realistic" human figures. Although people get almost religious about one brand or another, to my eye almost none of them make it out of the "uncanny valley". This is why some of the very best hyper-realistic modelers refuse to include them in their work.

I have to admit, though, that the picture you just posted is starting to soften my position. Those two 3D-printed figures are just about the first I have ever seen that have not reduced the realism of the scene in which they were included. It looks like the scanners and printers have gotten to the point of photo-realism in capturing the shapes themselves. Of course, that still leaves painting. Getting that right requires skills comparable to those of a fine-art portrait painter. The two figures in your photo are truly masterful. I offer my sincere congratulations.

Last edited by Avanti

We love Arttista figures as many have agreed. Modeltrainstuff.com offers these at excellent prices and puts them on sale 3-4 times a year. We have bought a lot of figures from them and keep a list of what we still need for when they go on sale again.

Model Power made plastic figures and I still see them advertised so it appears that they are still in business. Several years ago, a dealer bought almost their entire stock and offered them at a very acceptable price. We bought several hundred to use for populating the interiors of structures where we needed bodies and not finely detailed figures that would be examined closely.

You might want to check the internet to see what is available. If priced right, they can save you a lot for these kinds of uses.

Good luck.

@Avanti posted:

I'm generally not a fan of so-called "realistic" human figures. Although people get almost religious about one brand or another, to my eye almost none of them make it out of the "uncanny valley". This is why some of the very best hyper-realistic modelers refuse to include them in their work.

I have to admit, though, that the picture you just posted is starting to soften my position. Those two 3D-printed figures are just about the first I have ever seen that have not reduced the realism of the scene in which they were included. It looks like the scanners and printers have gotten to the point of photo-realism in capturing the shapes themselves. Of course, that still leaves painting. Getting that right requires skills comparable to those of a fine-art portrait painter. The two figures in your photo are truly masterful. I offer my sincere congratulations.

Thanks! I know exactly what you're talking about. I've seen some beautiful work spoiled by the inclusion of terribly proportioned and painted figures. I think that the "less is more" philosophy (less track, less buildings, less people, etc.) is directly applicable to model railroads. Oftentimes a single solitary figure painted in the right colors and placed in the right spot can say more about a scene than a whole street full of people. But that's just what floats my boat in my own little pond.

Joe Shipbaugh

Damit Odell, are you gonna help?

The two figures I posted are O scale. No Photoshop. These are from AndIan Models. They now have US type figures. Real people dressed costume and then 3D scanned. Custom painted then by Ian Fainges.


odell

I've not seen these figures before so I ordered a couple (not these particular two) to try them out. It's a good thing I don't use too many figures because these little guys are pretty pricey! (Shipping from Australia doesn't help) But like I said in an earlier post, the right figure(s) in the right place can really make a scene pop.

Joe Shipbaugh

Regarding Arttista, you can also buy them directly from man who makes them. He is in Delaware and has an easy to use website. It goes without saying that they are made in the USA, which to me is a neat aspect. I must have a hundred or more Arttista figures that I've purchased over 20 some odd years. I also appreciate that they stand on their own without needing glue.

So, have any of you serious high-quality figure fans been 3-D printing your own figures? I imagine that libraries of high-quality body scans are (or soon will be) starting to accumulate. The current generation of resin printers ought to do an excellent job of reproducing such models.

Also, note that very good lidar sensors are starting to appear on current-generation smart phones (such as the iPhone 12). It won't be long before doing your own scans will be easy.

I guess the next stage of this hobby will involve list members dressing up as hobos and train conductors.

@Mike Wyatt posted:

I bought "Chinese people" - painted in some VERY interesting color combinations, 100 for (I think) $12.  The men are al;;l 5'6" in 1:48.  I also have some Lionel, some RMT "BEEPEOPLE", and some Arttista.  I use them so that the people in a scene are pretty much one vendor's, so the difference in sizes is not so apparent.

I bought those same people and taught myself how to paint them. 1A553202-46C6-4012-886B-DC896315AE0BCAA1223A-A9A0-4DEC-BFF0-88F6973FAFBA99B578F8-F368-4DCF-98C5-EDE3F457F8B7The hardest part is painting the hairline around the ears.

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I'd suggest MERTEN figures, you can find them on EBAY (be careful, they also made HO and N scale figures). From the packaging I'd guess that they were made in the '70's. Made in Germany.

I recently picked up a bunch of Spur O (O gauge) people made by them. They are really nice and are different from the usual offerings. They were not expensive, averaging $1 each even after factoring in shipping.

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