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"Trains for Boxer Rebellion - 54mm" Topic

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DFrameJ Supporting Member of TMP05 Jun 2023 5:42 a.m. PST

Am gearing up to play some of the scenarios in Mark Blake's excellent Righteous Harmonious Fists book. Several involve a train. I'm doing this in 54mm, so would like suggestions for acquiring said gear, probably O gauge. Who sells ‘em? Are there inexpensive ones out there? Any help appreciated.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP05 Jun 2023 5:56 a.m. PST

I'd look at toy trains. A lot have a Western or a Christmas theme.


Are there any train shows coming up in your area? Google to find out? Sometimes used O Gauge rolling stock can be picked up relatively cheap.

DyeHard05 Jun 2023 8:31 a.m. PST

Excellent question:

Being a rail fan as well as a wargamer, I would like to guide you towards some style considerations.

First, in the main, the rails were build by European contractors.


So, the rolling stock and some of the engines where more of the European style:


But American engines were also popular, but not of the wood burning 1860-1870s style with the bulging smoke stack, but more of a coal burning style with a straight stack (1890-1950).


This is a fantastic source of images:

Now the trick! Finding a train set with the right mix.
And assuming you do not want to go broke in the effect. Sadly 1/28mm figures fall between established railroad scales S = 1/64 and O = 1/48.

So, toys are going to be your best bet, Here are some to consider:
Cut off top of smoke stack for reasonable engine, cars are Euro style with fixed wheels, not USA trucks.

Very similar, again cut down stack, but out of stock right now:

A Euro engine and car, but just one passenger carriage:

Hard to tell from photos, but Engine OK, just cut down stack, cars are Euro style

From Amazon, OK but just one car:

An ever better way is second hand, if you have a GoodWill or other thrift store, these Christmas type sets will show up (perhaps around Easter). Look for the one with the Euro style fixed wheels, some examples not looked at too closely:

I suggest taking a nice 28mm figure with you to the stores to do the size comparison.

Oh! and this P.S. there will be no U.S. caboose cars in China, just cut the tops off to make an open top car.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP05 Jun 2023 9:43 a.m. PST

O Gauge is actually much smaller than 1/32, or G1 Gauge. Your best option is to scour the Internet for cardstock train models. Whether you buy pre-printed cardstock, or PDF's, I recommend gluing the pre-prints to 2mm-3mm thick cardboard, first, to give them strength to withstand gaming usage.

If you buy PDF's, print them on full sheet label paper, peel-n-stick to 2mm-3mm thick cardboard.

Large sheets of 2mm-3mm thick cardboard can be purchased from art framing shops, as back-board for frames. Cut to size, assemble, color the edges black/silver/etc., to mask the seams.

I do this with 28mm medieval buildings, castles, etc., for my fantasy games. The 110# cardstock will not survive long, and the color ink/toner is too expensive to waste on flimsy cardstock. I have castle wall sections, and towers, printed, adhered to 3mm thick cardboard, which have been around for 10+ years, have been used in multiple games, with less than delicate handling, and they look superb even today: Siege Tower 1, Siege Tower 2; Gatehouse, Square Tower construction view; Castle Tower/Wall and Siege Tower, in game. Cheers!

Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP05 Jun 2023 1:31 p.m. PST

Another--LOUD--recommendation that only "G Gauge" be considered for this wonderful project.

All related suggestions in that direction are sound, but definitely take a look at what's available in cardstock as PDF's for self-printing. They're out there--and inexpensive compared to the metal and plastic models--but you will need to dig about to find them.

Perhaps the good Sgt Slag might share with us any links he has for locomotives and rolling stock?


DyeHard05 Jun 2023 3:54 p.m. PST

I apologize!

Somehow I missed the note on using 54mm figures. And assumed the common 28mm. So yes! "O Gauge" and many toys will be much too small. A figure 54mm tall will be about 1/32 scale, and the matching model rail gauge is "Gauge 1". Which is 1/32 scale but very hard to find. A typical Locomotive would be some 27 inches long at this scale.

This scale was used when the models actually ran on real steam (Live Steam) on outdoor tracks.

So, creative shortening will be required.
Something like this might be a good start:

Scaling the print till you produce something you thing fits.

This vendor will scale and print a reasonable train, pick option 9 for 1/32 scale cost is $49 USD I have never used this service.

There are 1/35th scale plastic models of some rail items, but quite costly.

DFrameJ Supporting Member of TMP05 Jun 2023 7:47 p.m. PST

Wow, thank you gentlemen! Dyehard, that is some quality intel! A lot to process, but it seems clear that toy trains are what I'm after. I knew that O gauge might be on the small side, but as I'm going for the toy soldier look, smaller is better than bigger. I love the idea of exploring cardstock trains, too, Sgt Slag. We'll see. But thank you all for such a thorough response.


Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP06 Jun 2023 7:35 a.m. PST

Unfortunately, my Internet searches were a mixed bag for PDF train engines and cars. I never looked for them, prior to this thread.

My nephew hosted the largest game of Plastic Wars ever to be played, in January 2019: 12 feet wide, by 30 feet long, for the table size (too old to play on the floor anymore). In that game, he provided some sort of toy Train, with multiple cars. It was close to G1 scale, if it wasn't. Plastic Wars is a set of plastic Army Men game rules I authored back in 1998, for use with 54mm Army Men figures.

As everyone knows, the vehicles included with most Army Men sets of figures are NOT 54mm. Most vehicles are around 40 mm sizes, so they look off, for the Men figures.

It is possible to purchase true 1/32 scale Tanks, Trucks, etc., for Army Men games. However, these 'toys' are around $15 USD+ per vehicle! It is the same with toy trains: G1 scale trains are very expensive compared to the 1/32 scale, 54mm figures.

I made my peace with using 40mm vehicles with 54mm figures. It works for me. I would not use HO scale trains with 54mm Army Men, however. I might have to explore the G1 scale PDF trains, investing in some samples, to explore my own advice. i really like the option to include trains in my Army Men games, after that 2019 game -- it was a blast, in multiple ways! The train was a primary target for the invading Green forces, and they blew the hell out of it. Great fun for all persons playing the game. Cheers!

Mad Guru06 Jun 2023 3:29 p.m. PST

Sgt Slag, not to derail this thread, but I'm very curious about something: if your nephew set that game up on a table and not the floor… how did you guys move/maneuver troops and vehicles -- and trains -- across the TWELVE FOOT width???

DFrameJ Supporting Member of TMP06 Jun 2023 4:25 p.m. PST

As I followed up the links and suggestions you all provided here, it occurred to me to try looking for stl files in the scale suggested (1:32), as I will soon have easy access to some fairly high-end 3D printers. I found something called ‘Open Railway', for which various files—many of them free—can be found for rolling stock, rails, etc. Here's an example of a locomotive that might be suitable (with some changes):

Vintage boxcar: link

Rails etc: link

I've yet to commit to anything, but this holds promise as an option somewhere between the $500 USD locomotives in 1 G scale and the splendid card trains available.


Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP06 Jun 2023 7:32 p.m. PST

Mad Guru, we had a 24" gap in the middle, all the way. We ignored the gap, treating it as if it didn't exist. A little funky, but playable. Cheers!

ArmymenRGreat06 Jun 2023 9:33 p.m. PST

Coming from a plastic toy soldier collector, I'd personally go with O Gauge toys, modify them, and just have fun.

Thanks to everyone on this thread for the great links.

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