All go to the university,
And they all get put in boxes,
Little boxes, all the same.
And there's doctors and there's lawyers
And business executives,
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same.
- Little Boxes, Malvina Reynolds
Something that I find really neat about the Tranz Alpine is the number of people who hang out on the viewing decks. A few weeks ago, I was buzzing around the train at sunset in the middle of winter and yet the decks were packed. As an occasional passenger, I know why: they're one of the differentiators that makes train travel special - something that I hope won't be eliminated when the new carriages arrive in a year's time.
On the flipside, one of a plethora of things I hate, is ordering Tranz Alpine passengers from a website, waiting a week, calling them up to see what's going on, and they say "uhhh, they're out of stock". Well why the hell did your website say they were in stock then??? You couldn't have emailed me?? So I cancelled, vowed to never send any more business their way and re-ordered my collection of 1:120 passengers from US model RR industry stalwart Walthers yesterday afternoon. Walthers is not the cheapest, but they seem to have almost everything, will ship overseas, and they're utterly reliable. Imagine my delight when in under 24 hours the mailman dropped off a bunch of little German people in little boxes who came all the way from Milwaukee to New York in under 24 hours.
And despite the obvious language difficulties, teutonic stiffness, and Eurotrash pricing, they're cool. Wearing a few too many hats, overalls and light coloured suits and ties perhaps, but they still look really neat.
For starters, being TT figures, they're obviously the right size for the first time in my NZ120 career, making the HO scale children I've been employing at sweatshop rates look like steroid-pumped WWF wrestlers and my former choice, the N scale adults, look like skinny midgets -although I'll happily continue to hide a few of the big little fellas and the little big fellas in the background to use them up. A touch of paint here and there to cover a hat, tie or sports jacket, chop off a few bags, paint on a few pairs of Levi Strauss' legacy and they should look quite the part admiring the scenery from my AG vans.
'Grans Who Like Each Other A Bit Too Much', 'Custody Every Second Weekend But I Get To Keep The Porsche' and the ever popular 'Girl Trying To Evade Stalker In Polyester Pants' sets
I used the following (because that's what they had in stock) and there's nary a dud among them.
590-75001 Waiting Passengers
590-75002 Passers By Standing
590-75011 Shopping promenade
590-75018 Male pedestrians walking
Preiser makes 'Trainspotters' as well, and I would have liked to have gotten a set of those as they have cameras, but Walthers didn't have any. I'd also be interested to see if I am one of the models. Googling Preiser 1:120 figures indicates that Acorn models in Christchurch is a stockist, as indeed other Aotearoan shops may be. For the patient and fiscally sensible, you should try to get hold of the unpainted bulk 1:120 packs.
At left, 'Unkempt Otago University Student ' hooks up with 'Woman In Tight T Shirt Immune To The Effects Of Gravity ' who herself is trying to avoid 'Drunken Yobbo In Unwashed Green Shirt from Car F' (taunting fellow passengers with a belched rendition of the national anthem far right) after their relationship ended messily in the servery car