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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Every once in a while, a question gets asked about figures. What are the best ones? What will fit in passenger cars? Etc. Forum members usually answer with a brief description of what we know or what we can remember at the time. I thought it would be good to have a thread with comprehensive info that can be referred to when the questions come up. You can probably find most of these just by doing an internet search for O scale figures, but hopefully some added description here will help folks decide what is best for their needs. So here is my attempt at a comprehensive listing. Anyone that cares to can reply to add their knowledge. I may (with permission and credit) cut and paste your reply into the original post so we have an alphabetical listing. I made a separate listing for passenger figures and may or may not refer the reader back to the alphabetical listing.

Arttista – Very nice metal figures. Both people and things. People are usually around $5 each, but worth it for displays that will be less than a few feet from your guests.
Arttista Accessories

Bachmann – Nice figures for a reasonable price. I have a few sets on the platform and a few in passenger cars. I like the waist up seated figures for some variety in passenger cars. They have no legs, but you don’t see them when they are in the cars anyway. Available at many retailers sometimes for less that you can get them direct from Bachmann.
Minature Figures : Bachmann Trains Online Store

Barclay – A large variety of classic O gauge metal figures. Made in USA. Most of them are around $5.50 these days. They are glossy, but if you don’t like that, you can hit them with some Dullcoat.
Classic O Scale | Barclay Products Co. (barclaycompany.com)

BEEPeople by RMT – The only standing figure I have used is little Wally. One little Wally figure was supplied with every freight car. I don’t think that is still true. I’ve bought seated figures (on sale $25 for 50), but I think those days are long gone. The detail is OK for passengers and it is nice that they are painted, but you need to do surgery with an Xacto to keep them from sitting too high in the seat.
BEEPeople® Figure Sets<br> AVAILABLE AND IN STOCK NOW<br> * UPDATE December 26, 2022 (readymadetoys.com)

China Ebay – That’s what I call them anyway. There are many sellers from China for mostly similar figures. Wehonest is one of the sellers. You can also find them at Amazon as well as other sellers. Probably the least expensive figures. Some are a bit large for O gauge. Some are OK. They come painted or unpainted, but I have found that the paint work is pretty sloppy and you need to repaint or touch up. It’s nice to have a few of these in a passenger car to get a variety of poses, but there are some that require surgery to fit and some that are just too big.

Evemodel – See China Ebay

Lionel - makes a large assortment of figures.

Metal Figures – A mom and pop operation out of West Virginia. They attend York regularly, though I haven’t seen pop there for a few years. Figures are similar to Barclay, but they are not glossy and they have some that are original/unique. Very nice figures for around $5 each.
Metal Figures

Mikes Train House – MTH makes a large variety of very nice painted figures for around $3 each when you get a set. The painted passenger sets are well detailed. I use them for the upper level of dome cars.

Miscelaneous – Do a search on Ebay, Amazon or the like and you might come up with some interesting figures. Just make sure to check the height to make sure they are suitable for O scale. I have found clue game figures, the Simpsons and Harry Potter figures.

Model Power – Some decent painted figures for a reasonable price. Some figures are lighted for more bucks (e.g.holding a lantern). Available at most retailers. Not sure if they have their own website. I linked to Nick Smith, but you can find them at a lot of places.
MODEL POWER : O FIGURES - Nicholas Smith Trains

Model Tech Studios - Makes some truly unique figures if you don’t mind spending the bucks.
O Scale People and Figures (modeltechstudios.com)

Preiser - Makes some very realistic figures for about $8 each. Some less costly Preiser figures have been duplicated by China ebay sellers.

The Railmen Company – Irvine, CA. Diecast figures. Not sure if they have a website or even if they are still in business. I’ve gotten some waist up figures from them at York that are good drivers for die cast vehicles.

Veranda Turbine (nee Vera Lou Tubrana, aka Vera Lou Tubb) – An O gauge movie star that lives in San Bettadaise, CO. You won’t be able to buy a Veranda figure, but I couldn’t very well have a comprehensive O scale figure thread without including her. There is only one true Veranda, though there are some Veranda wannabes.
Shameless Plug for my Books and the back story on the Union Monitor | Model Train Forum

West Edge 3D – These figures look exceptionally realistic on the web site. They better be at around $12 each plus shipping from Australia. Make sure you specify USA O or your figures will be 1:43.5 scale. Thanks to Mike-R.
USA O Archives - West Edge 3D

Woodland Scenics – A nice variety of nice figures.
Figures & Accents - Woodland Scenics



Passengers
From what I have seen, most O scale figures will not fit into O scale passenger cars, at least not without major surgery. The best figures to use are actually S scale.

Atlas O – Atlas has figures made from MTH tooling. Atlas PN 3009951 is the same as MTH PN 30-11067. Atlas PN 3009952 is the same as MTH PN 30-11068. There is also Atlas 3009950 and most likely others. Credit to Earls Trainboy23.

Bachmann – Waist up passengers work well and give some variety in poses. See above.

BEEPeople – See above. Seated BEEPeople are larger than some of the others so I would recommend not mixing them in the same car. Some need to have butt surgery of they will sit too high in the seat.

China Ebay – See above.

Golden Gate Depot – Little People 1930s-1950s. I perform surgery on these to make them fit and sit up straight in their seats.
GGD INSTOCK SALES (goldengatedepot.com)

Lionel – They fit into the cars, but they are kind of creepy looking and the set I got seemed like the paint never dried – it was tacky. Set number is 6-83653.
21" Passenger Scale Figures Pack (lionel.com)

Mikes Train House – These are my favorites. They are actually S scale. Painted figures come out to about $3 each, which is a bit much to populate a train, but they are nice to use in the top level of dome cars. Atlas may have bought some MTH figure tooling or the rights to use it. Unpainted figures come in 120 packs for $30 (30-11043) with about 80 seated and 40 standing. Tedious to paint, but they almost always fit with no surgery.
30-11043 | MTH ELECTRIC TRAINS (mthtrains.com)

A few examples

Passengers for a bus are China Ebay. The driver is The Railmen Company.
Wheel Tire Vehicle Toy Mode of transport


Passenger car occupants are (front to back) China Ebay, BEEPeople, Lionel and MTH
Gesture Art Fashion design Leisure Event


Clue Game Figures
Toy Wheel Entertainment Tire Event


The Simpsons
Toy Indoor games and sports Font Games Machine


Veranda Turbine – The Real Deal turning heads. Photo Credit Lee Willis
Window Wheel Tire Asphalt Vehicle door


Veranda Turbine Wannabe (Miss Scarlet Clue Figure)
Wheel Tire Car Vehicle Toy
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks Ron. I’ll add Atlas to the passenger figure section. Those Atlas figures are MTH figures. For example, Atlas PN 3009951 is the same as MTH PN 30-11067. I suspect Atlas either bought the MTH tooling or the rights to use it. Where do you see them for $14? I only see prices from $30 (Trainworld) to $33 (Atlas). I still see MTH figures in stock at a few places so either they are still making figures or its new old stock.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
This was right on time! I need people! Military motor pool mechs., maybe a helicopter pilot, some ranch hands, oilfield workers all for some reason seem to be elusive.
Sometimes you have to DIY. I painted a bunch of China ebay passengers with olive drab and navy blue uniforms to supplement MTH 30-11065 figures in a troop car. I also modified some RMT Little Wally figures to make car drivers by amputating legs and heating shoulders to bend the arms up to the steering wheel. The Veranda Turbine real deal figure shown in the above (post #1) photo is an MTH figure in a swimsuit that Lee Willis modified by making a dress out of tissue paper. And I think it was Lee that turned the heads in the photo using an xacto knife and CA glue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I never thought of heating the piece to bend. I'll give it a try. Thanks!
It works well for BEEPeople. They are made of soft, pliable plastic that does bend easily and permanently when you heat it. I don’t know about figures with harder plastic, but it might work. Some folks cut off limbs and reattach them in a new position using CA glue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·

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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
The ten and twelve piece MTH/Atlas passenger figure sets have plenty of detail. Perfect for use in dome cars. I too have found that the adult male standing figures are too tall for the vista domes. Child and female figures do fit thought, at least in 18” full length vista cars.

How did you keep the passengers in their seats? I used to use rubber cement. I currently use WS Scenic Accents glue. With either of those, you can get them out without too much trouble. I think MTH used CA glue. The one time I removed a factory installed figure, he got decapitated before I succeeded in getting him out of his seat. I’ll have to add something on that in the first post.
 
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