A solitary backpacker waits for the train at Herbst Junction after a few days of wilderness hiking. His bedroll and backpack – crafted from bits of Play-Doh – complete the scene.
Very few of the N-scale figures I’ve encountered seem to be carrying anything. That’s a problem when your layout is focused on a National Park and a tourist-heavy town on the edge of the desert. Visit your favorite rail depot, outdoor destination or vacation spot and you’ll see people hauling all kinds of gear – backpacks, roll-aboard suitcases, duffel bags, sleeping bags, and more backpacks. The factory options for this kind of luggage are limited, and what is available is spendy.
What’s a modeler to do?
Get out the Play-Doh.
I got playing with some bits of the stuff during a recent sculpting session with The Superintendent. After a few minutes with a toothpick, a steady hand and a scale rule I had crafted fashionable bags for passengers and shoppers, as well as rugged gear for backpackers.
A scale rule helps keep the size of the sculpted luggage in check. These Play-Doh pieces were dry after about 24 hours.
It takes about 24 hours for Play-Doh sculptures this size to dry. I brush a coat of Tamiya acrylic paint over each piece, then highlight pockets and edges with a contrasting color. I glue backpacks to the backs of a figures with CA and paint straps on with a fine brush.
Highlights with contrasting colors along the edges and pockets give the luggage dimension.
This tourist looks much more authentic carrying a backpack.
Pieces stacked on the ground add nice detail to any scene, from station platforms to the beach.
A rested tourist watches the luggage while his
wife does some last minute shopping. They’ll board the next train east, toward home.
The cool water of the Benjamin-Henry Reservoir were so inviting, this bather didn’t bother to unroll his beach blanket before wading in.
If you have people on your layout, are they traveling a little too light?