Nothing gives your railroad a human touch like, er, people. Little people, waiting on trains, looking in store windows, or relaxing on their front porches. And nothing says "human habitation" like "stuff." This page will link to other pages that discuss people and details that will bring your trains and communities to life.
Garden Railroaders are People Who Need People - For years before I had a permanent outdoor railroad, our family would set up a Large Scale train and little village around the Christmas tree each December. I had a box full of people, animals, street signs, fire hydrants, fences, and the like that I would use to populate the town. Then when I got my first loop of track installed outside, I moved the same town there, and set out all the same accessories. So far so good (except when the raccoons would wander off with something). But then I finished the "other half" of my railroad with its little towns as well, and spread what had seemed like a ridiculous amount of figures and accessories through all of the "communities." Suddenly my previously "busy metropolis" looked like a ghost town. When I tried to take photos, I found myself "borrowing" people and stuff from one scene to use on the next to keep every setting from looking virtually abandoned.
So I started looking to accumulate more figures and other details on a relatively restricted budget. I also started examining how other people used figures and other details and accessories on their railroad. From examples like Wil Davis' Buckeye Falls (now in mothballs but hopefully reviving next year) I learned that the right figures, effectively used, lend a sense of proportion and purpose to your railroad that nothing else can.
"Stuff" Doesn't Just Happen - When you add the "clutter," that is, the stuff that those figures are ostensibly making, using and discarding, your railroads and communities take on new life. In addition, many, if not most, of your non-railfan visitors, once they've seen the trains come past a few times, will pay more attention to the communities and the people who inhabit them than they will to the trains. Though it many sound sacrilegious to some, your choice and use of figures and other details could be just as important to some visitors as your choice and use of trains. Most people have never spent time around real trains, but people have been around "stuff" their whole lives.
The following articles are currently available in the Figures and Details category, though we hope to see new articles soon:
Other articles will deal with signs, accessories, and other subjects as time permits.
Phil Creer's Hints - On his Toenail Ridge Shortline Articles Page, Phil finds a bunch of ways to use easy-to-find household stuff to make details you can use throughout your railroad. They're all on one page, but it's worth your time to scroll down. Examples include:
Anyone else have any tips or links they'd like to share in this space?
Note: Family Garden Trains™, Garden Train Store™, Big Christmas Trains™, BIG Indoor Trains™, and BIG Train Store™ are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications (www.btcomm.com). All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 by Paul D. Race. Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically
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