Scenery - People

Pile of plastic soldiers

Figures produced for use with slot car circuits I felt were fairly expensive so if I wanted lots of spectators, officials, mechanics etc I would have to find something cheeper. My father has been 'converting' plastic soldiers for use on his model railway for years. These however were in 1:72 scale which are much easier to get hold of. When I mentioned this to my brother when the family gathered at Christmas, he gave me a box of 1:32/1:35 scale plastic soldiers he had lying around in his room.

Some soldiers are more suitable than others for conversion. I had to de-select any figures made of hard plastic, metal or were of the wrong scale. I then did a sift to find the figures that might look like convincing circuit figures after they had had their rifle, webbing, helmet etc removed. This depended on their pose. Some soldiers will always look like they are firing a rifle, even when the rifle has been removed. Some may need their pose changed slighly eg. bending an arm or rotating the head to make a convincing civilian. These are some of the shortlisted figures before conversion.

Plastic soldiers standing up
Plastic footballers standing up

My brother also had some partially painted footballer figures which he gave to me. I think I had the other half of the set, but I don't know where they are now. Some of these will make very convincing spectators wearing shorts and t-shirt (races do take place in summer). However some of the militaty figures are wearing long grey coats. They obviously cannot stand next to each other. Some of the footballers would require more work to make them look like convincing spectators.

The soldiers are converted using a new scalpel (see Tools). I blunt tool is more dangerous than a sharp tool because even a blunt blade will cut you, but you will be pushing harder (using more force) when using the blunt blade and are therefore more likely to slip and cut yourself. The sharp blade also produces a better finish and is easier and nicer to work with. Converting figures can be done while sat in front of the television because it does not require a table, just something to catch the waste plastic.

Before and after military bits being cut off.
Plastic soldier with military equipment removed

This is the first practise figure. I think the results are quite good as it does look like an ordinary bloke wearing a woolen hat (it could be cold), but his pose gives his past away. He looks like a civilian shooting a rifle, but without the rifle. If however I change the position of the raised (left) arm, he may look like an official speaking into a radio.

Some of the plastic soldiers have already been 'painted'. By painted I mean large amounts of enamel paint have been slapped on. A good way of removing this paint without damaging the soldier, is to soak it in Domestos for a few hours then scrub with a scrubbing brush.

Badly painted plastic soldiers
Painted plastic soldiers in jar of Domestos

Domestos is a thick bleach containing Sodium Hypochlorite made by Lever Brothers Ltd. If you are thinking of copying me, READ THE LABEL! It can kill all known germs, prevent limescale (as claimed by Lever Brothers Ltd) and strips paint (as claimed by me), so think what it can do to your skin or eyes! Goggles and gloves are probably a good idea.

Another source of spectators may be Britains figures. They are produced as part of a range of farm and zoo animals and personel, as well as soldiers, to accompany a range of metal vehicles (including Land Rovers). New the are fairly expensive so I will have to look next time I go to a toy fair.

Painted plastic farm figures, Bull, Farmer and Farm Hand
Smurfs including a mechanic and a winner who must be the driver

There are other painted figures available like these Smurfs that are about the correct size. You could also try Lego for people and buildings etc.

Some Smurfs may be dirty and require a wash in warm soapy water. If they are damaged and the paint has rubbed off, they may need repainting. As they are no longer mint and therefore of no interest to a collector, I don't see any reason why they cannot be painted in different colours from the original.

Petrol Attendant, Ice Lolly, Biker and Smurfette
Selection of Scalextric figures

I have now found a source of cheaper Scalextric figures so I got a load. Now I have to clean the excess plastic off and paint them.

Each Scalextric grandstand should come with two bocks of 5 seated figures. I think it looks more realistic if the groups are cut into individuals or small groups.

Blocks cut up
Eric Cartman and Kenny McCormick

There are even some celebrities from south Park watching the racing. It might not be very realistic, but it is fun if you have any character models that are about 5cm (2") tall. Kenny might need to be careful where he stands as motorsport can be dangerous!

I have just got these ready painted pit crews. There were produced by Barcelona Universal Models (in Spain). I will have to glue the tools into their hands. Click on the thumbnail to see more photographs.

Blue and red pit crews


Partially painted people

I wash the plastic figures with washing up liquid, then paint them in the following order; Undercoat (I prefer white but you could use light grey), flesh, hair, lightest coloured clothing and hat, darker clothing, boots and belt, belt buckle. Finally I paint the base green as if they were standing on grass.

Click on the picture for a review of the different paints I use to paint the people.

Different paints
Painted people

Click on the picture to find more pictures of my painted spectators. Hopefully this page will grow and grow as I paint more people.

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