How To Make Your Own Track Figures
Add Realism to Your Track
Trackside figures (1/32nd scale) can be purchased from several manufacturers, either in unpainted form or fully painted. They can be expensive and the numbers of poses are limited. The Scalextric figures were first designed in the sixties and haven't changed in the last thirty years. When was the last time you saw a spectator at a race wearing a shirt, tie and jacket? I don't think so!
The solution is to make your own. I found that the easiest way was to buy a package of inexpensive plastic soldiers (or cowboys and indians) from a children's toy store. You sould be able to find packages with 50 soldiers for less than $2.00 US. The figures are usually made of molded plastic which has the great feature of being carvable. Also, epoxy sticks to them very well. You get a wide variety of poses with these figures and they are easy to modify for additional poses. All this for a few pennies a figure.
LEFT: Your basic WWII machine gun toting, grenade throwing, combat soldier.
RIGHT: Original arms & weapons removed, helmet shaved and new pipe cleaner arms added.
The threads are used to give hands some definition (removed when epoxy dried).
Awaiting hair, priming and final painting.
Here are the steps I follow to create my figures.
- With an Exacto knife, remove all rifles, grenades, ammunitions, handguns, bows and arrows, backpacks and other military paraphenalia. Carve away at any helmets, leaving the approximate shape of a bare head. Be carefull not to destroy any facial features.
- Also with a knife, remove an arm or leg or two. No anaesthetic required. Cut clean to the body. After you've replaced a few arms and legs, you can try cutting the torso in half and putting it in some interesting positions.
- With your smallest drill bit, drill tiny holes in the body where you removed the arms or legs. I then mix a dab of 5 minute epoxy.
HERE IS THE SECRET...
glue in a length of pipe cleaner for the new arm/leg.
Pipe cleaner is roughly the same dimension as a scale arm, can be bent to any angle, can be cut easily to the proper length and holds it's position (due to the twisted wire inside). The fabric soaks up the epoxy and becomes rigid when the epoxy sets.
- With a small file (eg. nailfile) or sandpaper, smooth out any epoxy bumps on the new appendages or apply more epoxy to fill in any gaps.
- To make realistic looking hair, cover the bare head (after shaving any helmets) with epoxy and dip the head into a small bowl of sawdust bits. When dry, brush off any excess and you have beautiful head of hair that most people would die for. To add variety (and more realism), you can always create the occaisional bald spot.
- Prime the figures with a base coat of white paint. This ensures that you get even colour distribution on your final coats. I use Acrylic paints rather than the oil based model paints. They are easier to work with and they clean up with water. The paint doesn't dry up and is easily mixed to create new colours.
- Paint the final coat, let dry, put it on your track in a conspicuous position and wait for the compliments to start flowing!
Work In Progress: A Tribute to All Ferrari Mechanics and Engineers
In various stages of completion.
- Make each figure unique. Put them in different poses and paint them differently (unless, of course, they are wearing the same uniform).
- To make a driver figure, cut off their heads (ouch!) and epoxy a small round plastic bead of correct proportion for a driver's helmet.
- Glue your figures in a cluster to a small base. This way they won't get knocked over and have to be reset.
Finished Product in Place on the Track
I'd love to see some photos of your track figures (any scale) or hear any tips you might care to share.