Mini-Me, printed in 3D

Do you have a mini-you on the layout?

Every layout should have a miniature representation of its builder.

The little you may be a train driver or fireman on the footplate, a passenger on a platform or perhaps a farmer in a field but you should have one. It’s a the law*

It’s a personal touch and little detail that adds to the uniqueness and character of your model world.

The challenge has been finding figures that look like yourself.

Often some imagination was required and most of us end up with a miniature that, if we’re lucky, is roughly the same shape!

Until now that is…

Modelu is a British company, run by Alan Buttler, that offers an innovative 3D scan and print service to create a miniature version of yourself.

I caught up with Alan at Warley 2017 and after chatting for a while let him loose with his scanner.

The electronic version of me, ready for printing.

This was simply a case of standing in the position I wanted the model to appear in as Alan walked around with his handheld scanner.

After a little manipulation of the data, a file was produced.

This went back to the Modelu office where it was printed on a 3D printer to the scale required.

In my case, I opted for OO but other scales are available (Z, N, TT, S, O, Gauge 1, Gauge 3 and 16mm).

Posted, ready for painting

The little figure was then posted back ready for painting and positioning on my layout.

The painting is fiddly, given the size, but no more so than any other object on the layout. A brush, size 1 in this case, is fine although I also used a cocktail stick to dab paint on in places.

I’m really happy with the finished result (first picture above) and it’s now got pride of place next to my engine shed.

3D Printed FIgure

My figure washed and primed ahead of painting.

> Modelu is on 07887 803 737 and can be regularly seen at model railway shows where you and family members can be scanned. Prices, at the time of writing, are from £48. Full details are available on the website

* Okay, I joked. It’s not law. But it should be 😀

Disclosure: Modelu scanned me and sent the figure used here for free in return for review but no assurances were sought or given as to the content or conclusion of this review. 

> A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.
Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.

Afflliate disclosure:The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, Amazon, eBay and Scale Model Scenery, where you can purchase the product under affiliate programmes. This means I receive a small commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change. You can read my full affiliate policy here. I also sell my my own ready to use, pre-made and painted buildings and terrain features. browse the range.
    • Hi, you’d need a 3D scan; there are apps to do this with a mobile phone (Google 3D scanning apps mobile) but they will probably struggle to give you the detail wanted. The best solution would be to get in touch with Modelu3D (link above) and how they can scan your husband.

  1. Hello! I got a handheld scanner for Christmas, and a railroading friend would like a mini of himself for his N scale exhibit. Is there a guideline as to what size I should make him in N scale? He is about 5ft 10 inches tall, so what size should that be in N scale? Thanks!

    • Hi Linda, N scale is between 1:148 and 1:160 – depending if you’re in the UK or America/Japan. Converting 5ft 10 inches or 177cm to 1:148 works out at 11.9mm (177cm / 148 * 10) and sure enough the N scale figures I have from a leading manufacturer of model railway figures (Preiser) measure 11.5 to 12mm. Hope this helps, Andy

  2. That had never ever occurred to me before i saw this.
    Awesome idea.
    Get a seated version made and you can sit in all your rolling stock cabs.

Add Comment

Required fields are marked *. Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.