How to create cameo scenes

09 September 2021
How do you engage a non-enthusiast looking at your layout? Phil Parker presents a collection of fun scenes to captivate audiences, young and old.

Is there anything that says your layout is set in 2020 more than a cameo of figures buying all the toilet roll from a supermarket or local shop?

Both the man with the van and the man with a well-loaded shopping trolley are from the Busch range of scenes and come with extra signage to decorate your shops. Strictly speaking, they are HO scale (3.5mm:1foot) so slightly small for 4mm:1ft, but people are all sorts of heights, so won't look out of place in a car park.

Shopping list:

Busch (7911) Panic buying
Busch (7912) The Transport

Instead of chasing cats, it's far more civilised for a dog to be catching a Frisbee. Frisbees are post-war toys, not becoming popular in the UK until the 1960s. Before this, British dogs had to be content with chasing sticks.

In the background, workmen paint a children's climbing frame. Painting is a classic cameo subject. Add a man holding a brush and you can save yourself the bother of weathering a model, perhaps even making it shiny.

Shopping list:
Busch (7899) Dog playing frisbee
Hornby (R7177) Working people
Metcalfe Models (PO513) Children's Play Area

Dogs chasing cats might be a scene that has been around forever, but the round bale of hay is a more modern invention, not being seen in the UK until the 1970s. For a steam-era layout, you would be better with rectangular bales. Of course, this only applies if your layout is set in late summer when the hay has been cut.

Shopping List:
Busch (7920) Dog chasing cat

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It's lunch break in the timber yard and a worker is sitting on a pile of wood, munching on his sandwich while chatting to his mate. This scene takes a little bit of work since no-one makes a miniature person holding food, but a tiny piece of plastic glued to his hand will do the job.

Besides the figure, there is a piece of cigarette paper underneath more plastic sandwiches – we assume the real food would be wrapped up somehow, although you may prefer to model a lunch box. His flask is a piece of plastic rod, shaped slightly and painted.

Shopping List:
Hornby (R7118) Farm people
Hornby (R7119) Seated people

This one's not funny if you're a postman. Fortunately, this one seems able to outrun the plastic pooch, who probably only wants to play anyway.

Like many of the cameos, this scene suffers a bit from having someone frozen in time – that is, stationary, when he should be moving. It's generally more realistic for figures to be posed in a way that looks more natural when they aren't moving. That said, these scenes make people smile, so perhaps they aren't so bad after all? 

Shopping List:
Busch (7889) – The Fugitive

A perfect scene for any farm or workshop – a hard-working mechanic lying under a vehicle and 'attacking' it with a spanner.

Pedants might point out that the tractor under repair is a Porsche design, and they stopped making farm machinery in 1956. It's also not a common sight in the UK. Substituting a Ferguson or Fordson machine from Oxford Diecast would make it more typical, but perhaps the neatly organised tool tray suggests this is a tractor enthusiast rather than a farmer, and he might prefer something a little more exotic. 

Shopping List:
Busch (7937) Tractor repair

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