People in 1/4" scale are large enough to be seen so require a model with some personality. I modify plastic figures to suit my needs. This makes figures that won't be seen on other layouts adding to the realism.
I like Preiser plastic figures. This is their 1/50 unpainted set. It has 60 figures in mostly relaxed poses. Prieser figures fit my 1905 era because they tend to be thinner in stature than most model figures.
Presier has three 1/48 WWII military sets which contain more poses. The center set of WWII German figures contains a wonderful card playing scene. There are also extra heads. This is a popular set with the military crowd and is usually in short supply. I get mine from Walthers.
The figures can be easily modified into civilians.
Circus Crafts has sets of seated figures. They are no longer in production but can be found at toy train meets. They also have women and children.
This 1/50 seated figure will become our fireman for #30
The problem in the cab of the 2-8-0 is the track for the window. The track is out of scale to accommodate the sliding window. The track takes up most of the seat area.
Initial seating by putting the figure shows that the figure will fit with some modifications. His butt is too wide and the arms interfere with his sitting on loco seat.
There is minimal room for a person in the cab. Hats off to the real crews for these conditions.
Use a jeweler's saw with a super fine blade to remove arms and legs. File the butt of the figure to fit down into the seat.
Joints are cut with a single edge razor blade to minimize the thickness of the cut.
Take off material at the shoulder to narrow the figure across the shoulders. The right arm is rotated upward. Attach the arm with enough liquid plastic cement that the joint is semi-movable. This allows the arm to be moved into position.
The left shoulder is narrowed and angled inward and the arm is re-attached and the figure is fitted to the cab.
One foot is cutoff and reattached in line with the leg and the other leg is glued to the opposite leg.
When parts such as hands and feet are cutoff with the razor blade they will fly all over the place. A new hand was added from the Circus Crafts sprue after losing the original. It is attached to look relaxed. Apply ACC glue to the joints to reinforce them
This 1/50th guy becomes our engineer.
His butt is narrowed by making a groove up his crotch, OUCH!!, and squeezing this hips together. A space of styrene was added to lengthen the body. The legs of the engineer have to be close together because of the Johnson Bar in the cab.
The figures torso was twisted slightly and the head was elevated with a thin styrene spacer. I wanted the engineer to look like he was taking a break.
I wanted legs and feet on the figures in the cab because they can be seen from the outside.
The Circus Crafts figures make for an easy conversion. They lack personality and look like a typical model engineer.
They just need there butt fitted into the seat and the arms rearranged. The right arm was extended to reach the throttle.
The legs will clear the Johnson Bar by crossing them. This is a really easy conversion.
This 1/50th figure becomes our outside fireman.
Initial fitting shows the figure almost fits. This fireman is riding outside for a break from the sweltering heat of the cramped cab.
The left arm is cut diagonally at the elbow and moved downward. to grasp the rail. The figure is still too close to the boiler and too far from the cab.
Liberal use of liquid plastic cement at the joint makes them flexible for a short period.
The arm is cut from the body at A and rolled back. Cut at B and the lower hand is rolled inward. The arm is raised at C to grasp the handrail.
The right arm is attached with spacers to maintain shoulder width. The shoulder on the arm was filed flat perpendicular before attaching.
The arm was cut at the elbow and repositioned to fit against the window frame. The fingers were flattened and bent back to fit to the cab back.
Modifying figure only requires some basic cuts.
A & C are diagonals across the joints to make the arm and legs move inline.
B is the hip cut to rotate the leg back.
D is across the member to rotate the arm inward or outward
The yellow arrow indicates spacers to regain width across the shoulders. I use an 1/16 inch paper punch and .020 styrene.
ACC the joints to add strength and fill in the minor gaps. I use Duro and Squadron shop putties to fill the larger crevices. They can be thinned with liquid plastic cement. Gloves were built up with putty. A hat was added to fireman Arnold by cutting off the top of his head and a .005 thick brass hat rim was ACC'd to his head. The top of his head was used as filler for the hat top.
Prime the figure with flat white primer. This will show the defects and flash lines. Eliminate them and reprimer.
I use tube acrylics. The pigment is more finely ground than craft paints. This is a basic set I found at Walmart. Craft paints can be used also for figure painting.
I use a 3/0 brush for most of the work and a 6/0 for the mustaches. I squeeze small amounts of color onto a piece of heavy duty foil as a palette and mix the colors there. Right we have a flesh mixing, red and yellow to make an orange with white mixed to make a flesh tone.
The painted crew. A good oily blue jean color is blue, burt umber and white. After the paint dries I give them two coats of Testor's Dullcote to make the paint durable. Polly S Flat finish is applied until the figures have a truly dull finish.
DO NOT try to paint facial details other than facial hair.
Fireman Arnold hitching a ride on the 30. Bracing himself from the jostling of rough riding #30. I put rubber cement on the bottom of his feet and glued him to the 31. The rubber cement make his removal easy but keeps him in place while operating.
I dry brushed some silver craft paint onto the injector to make it visible. I try to make figures appear to be in a staticly-passive position. One that could be maintained.
Here fireman Dale rests against the injector.
Engineer Bob takes a break and relaxes as the drag freight of gravel plods along.
Engineer Sam works the throttle on #31.