by Eric Mueller
The Oberammergau, Ogden & Olomana Railroad (a.k.a. the Triple O) operates across eras and continents on a small piece of land on Oahu’s windward coast (see Garden railroading in Hawaii – Trains). We have employed the German toy line Playmobil to bring it to life in all its incarnations, whether European, Wild West, or Hawaiian sugar cane, and, in fact a few incarnations devised by our kids in their own efforts to bring the Triple O to life.
If you are not familiar with the toy line, the figurines are 3” tall, which, in our nominally 1:24 world, makes them perfect denizens. They are durable (though not UV resistant), and my Wild West collection from the 1970s and early 1980s still comes off the shelf to participate in new adventures, often joined by the first responders, pirates, fairies, and what-have-you that my kids in turn received, enjoyed, and incorporated into the story of the Triple O.
All parts from all eras are cross-compatible, so, while the smiling, plastic denizens of the Triple O make no claim to being fine scale reproductions of human beings, they do help to create relatively realistic railroad scenes, whether maintenance of way, yard operations, business about town, or, of course, pirate raids!
Figurines, vehicles, animals, and accessories are available directly from Playmobil (Check some of the non-English pages of their site; sets do differ from region to region), seasonally at department stores, and here and there at garage sales. I have noticed that Ebay offers both new and used sets and figurines, but we have yet to try that source.
Away from the tracks, we have also employed Playmobil to help scale our scratchbuilding projects, and I jokingly refer to this reference point as “1:24-ish Playmobil scale.” If you have the space to store these figurines and their accessories indoors and have kids – and kids at heart – that are unlikely to try and swallow some of the smaller parts, Playmobil could be an affordable way to add a little slice of life and a whole lot of fun to your own railroad!
It’s the annual cattle drive. Eric Mueller photo
It’s business as usual at Mama’s Bakery, despite the ongoing renovations. Eric Mueller photo
The express passes Fort Union (near top of photo). Eric Mueller photo
The Triple O’s first responders try out their new caboose. Eric Mueller photo
The Triple O gang tries to coax a locomotive back to life. Eric Mueller photo
Two crew members inspect the drawbar. Eric Mueller photo
Two more Playmobil projects
By Bill Barnwell
I was talking with some friends after reading the article on “Kid-friendly garden railroading,” about using toys in the garden railroad. The argument got heated at one point, with the scale folks on one side, and me, the “if it works I use it” person on the other side.
I can’t remember who won the argument anymore, but the discussion brought back a lot of good memories. I have used Playmobil many times on my railroad. Here are two projects I’ve made using parts of Playmobil items.
I built a small rural station with freight house, and used Playmobil for part of the freight house. I had a safari add-on kit which included supports, railings, posts with floors, ramps, and steps. See more of that project here.
I also used pieces of Playmobil for my Grand Coquina Hotel. It’s painted coral and aqua blue to represent a Florida theme.
I use Playmobil items because they are a fraction of the cost of other large-scale products, they are modular, and they get visitors’ attention. I find using them a lot of fun, and hope that you will too.