Speeder crew

 photo SpeederCrew-Tank-02_zps89dc3151.jpg

Following some great feedback from readers (you know who you are!) I’ve added not one but two figures to the speeder setoff scene.

Sometimes, moving figures about a scene can suggest stories that their final placement can tell. In this case, I grabbed my box of figures, sorted about a few likely candidates, and started trying various arrangements.

The guy at left in the above photo has both hands in front of him – I believe he’s supposed to be a brakeman hanging on a boxcar ladder. Naturally, I tried positioning him on the water tank’s ladder – but then I started to wonder, “What’s he doing up the ladder?” “How long is he going to be up there?”

Frankly, he looked hokey.

Then I realized he could be leaning on the speeder – but the question was, why? And what would the second guy be doing?

The second figure provided part of the answer – he’s looking down, and wiping his hands on a rag. He looks like he’s thinking. And then it occurred to me that if I added one more detail to the speeder, they could be planning their work at the job site. The two figures together look like their having a discussion, and the first figure could be holding down a plan to keep it from blowing away.

It was a simple matter to cut a couple of small rectangles from a paper bag and create some plans for the guys to be studying:
 photo SpeederCrew-Tank-01_zpsd67bed26.jpg
(As the photo shows, I’ve also stained some 2″ x 8″ strip wood and added it between the rails to make it easier for crews to get their speeder on and off the track.)

Maybe it’s a leak in the plumbing? Maybe it’s an inspection of the pump? Or maybe the guy in blue is showing off the plans for his new layout? Whatever it is, I think it works.

14 thoughts on “Speeder crew

  1. Once again, I like seeing how you think through you decisions on what you place into your scenery and why. I often get the impression that many do not think through but just put so many of this and that into place which does not always create a likely scene. This idea of may little scenes to be discovered is what I have often enjoy in some of the small British layouts, while using small size manage to convey a lot of different stories n the detailed scenes that they create.

    • Hi Christopher:
      Thanks – and you’re right. I think some modellers acquire something (a set of figures, some detail parts, even a structure) and then when they look for a place on the layout to put this stuff, their only criteria is “Does it fit in this space”. That tends to create layouts that are overcrowded – and it detracts from the vignette created because there’s too much visual interference from other vignettes.
      It doesn’t help that figure companies use novelty as a way to add to their lines. So, instead of giving us more of the same – more early 1950s era male commuters, for example – they give us one set of commuters, then give us “1950s Greasers” and “Cheerleaders” and “Santa’s Parade” and so on.
      I’d love to see a company offer fewer novelty themes in favour of greater variety of the typical. As some examples:
      – I would love more train crew figures, of different body types and in different poses (but relaxed poses – standing or sitting, not hanging on ladders or hooping up orders, because when there’s no train in sight the order-hooping figure looks goofy).
      – I’d love to see these crews offered in a variety of eras and seasons, so that the train crews on a layout set in the summer of 1950 look different than those set in the winter of 1950 – and that crews from the 1950s look distinct from those of the 1970s. A crew on an SP freight in Fresno, California would look very different than that on a freight in St. Williams, Ontario – the climate would dictate different clothing.
      – The same could be said for other figures too. Someone modelling the November scene in 1950s New England – a popular theme, thanks to influential hobbyists like Paul Dolkos and Lou Sassi – needs a lot of people wearing raincoats and hats. Good luck with that.
      I understand why manufacturers do not do this. Novelty sells – the typical does not. I expect hobbyists need to be more vocal in asking for the typical.
      And while I have my reservations about the hobby’s current fascination with 3D printing, I also expect 3D scanning and 3D printing will – eventually – make it easier to offer bespoke figures. At its best, we’ll be able to put on appropriate clothing, strike an appropriate pose and create our own figures. Eventually…

  2. Very nice side lighting on the second shot, it dramatically highlights all the subtleties and nuances of your stunning scenery!

  3. Trevor, You have nailed it, a scene in a quiet area with two railway employees going about the assigned task for the day. Well done.

  4. T-
    Great stuff, but…your posting gets me thinking.
    I have ridden a speeder once and it was a very bumpy ride.
    How does the crew store/secure the pipe wrenches and the shovel?
    I guess they could lock them up in the water tower base…
    I’m thimking that a tool box or bag for the wrenches.
    The shovel? Maybe these were carried in a small trailer?
    Thanks for getting me to think about this stuff.

    • Good question, Charles.
      My thought is that they’ve been at the job site for a few hours and the tool kit is elsewhere – perhaps near the water tank. They might tie the shovel to the deck – or one guy carried it.
      Or perhaps the conversation they’re having is about who dropped the tool wrap in the river?

  5. Ahh, that’s more like it! Very nice.

    I love it when one takes the time to think through the placement of figures, objects and other material (as was mentioned above). The figures imply action (studying the plans) without ever moving. This looks natural to me.

    Good work.

    • Thanks Jack. Implying action without movement is exactly the look I go for.

      These guys are having a discussion – so are the figures on the porch of the white house in St. Williams.

      Ages ago, I read an article about figure placement – I wish I could recall where. But it advised against using figures in “action” poses:

      No guys running to catch a train.
      No firefighters getting a cat out of a tree.
      No baseball games, kids on swings, etc.

      And no novelty figures – like a street Santa, a marching band, or a guy in an opera cape.

      As with everything else in the hobby, the most convincing figures are those that represent the ordinary. I look for figures that are the equivalent of the “mineral brown box car” and then try to arrange them in realistic scenes.


      • I’ll have the additional advantage of modelling a very remote line, so there will be less people around.

        Of course the Port Rowan line modeled here, while running through a much higher population density than the northern Ontario wilderness of the Algoma Central, is a pretty sleepy rural Ontario branchline, so not super busy with passengers and pedestrians either.

  6. Great scene Trevor! I think you are spot on with the figure issue. Particularly train crews. There should be more figures of train crews doing what they do best … which is nothing. Also, they have a tendency to be far less svelte than what is available. There are some guys like that … perhaps they were all thinner back in the 50s. You always do great stuff and I DO have you to thank for the monkey on my back … Proto48, which of course, is your fault … but that’s okay.

    • Hi Jim:
      Thanks for joining in – and yes: it is my fault.
      To be fair to train crews, there is a lot of waiting around involved. As you know first-hand, trains are big and dangerous, with a lot of inertia to overcome and a lot of momentum once on the move. It’s not an environment in which you want crews sprinting about, or acting without thinking and checking what they’re about to do. So, yes, they appear to be doing nothing: They stand or sit about. But more likely, they’re planning their next cut while waiting for the train line to charge.
      I have some good photos to illustrate my point about train crew variety – I’ll have to dig them out and do another post.

  7. Respectfully, Trevor, while I don’t disagree with you that trains are large, dangerous things (the best quote I heard from when I was hiring onto the railroad was: “The railroad is a very safe place to work, it is, however, very *unforgiving*.” If you follow the safety rules, you won’t get hurt, if you don’t … well, I won’t go there …) and that there is a large amount of waiting involved, as someone who works for the railroad, I can ASSURE you that what train crews do best is nothing (lol). They will work very hard to do just that and then get their “work” done as quickly as possible so they can get back to their card game …or nap… or whatever else … I work with a lot of people like that … more so now then when I worked in freight, but even then …

  8. Trevor, the motorcar that your model reminds me of is a Fairmont M-19. Made by Fairmont Railway Motors of Fairmont., MN, these cars were popular with many railroaders, including track inspectors and signal maintainers. Sylvester Steel Products of Lindsay, Ontario built a competing car, the K-54 inspection car.

    Tools were carried in the tool trays above the axles on either side of the “seat” housing over the engine. Everything that can be carried in the trays will be stowed in them. The most important device carried on a motorcar after requisite tools for the car is a flagging can.

    To me it looks like the guys are having the same issue that I am having with my lawn tractor right now–“why won’t it start?” A little more troubleshooting, and they’ll catch the Daily Effort back if they can’t get moving soon….

  9. Hi Trevor, A great little scene; because it looks so natural. This makes it very convincing and again gives the person seeing it a pleasant feeling of the once relaxed times. Thanks for your work and sharing it on this blog.
    Cheers, Gord

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