Monkey business

We tested the miniature figures set 'monkeys & apes' by Preiser ( 20388)

Diorama and railway modellers are really lucky: The steadily growing selection of modelling accessories made by the renowned German manufacturers doesn’t leave much to be desired. Especially the variety of miniature figures has become so overwhelming that studying the product catalogues can keep you busy all night.

zehn kleine Modellaffenkinder auf einer echten Banane

Well, you do not only get members of almost every occupational group in H0 gauge, but you can even ‘populate’ your diorama with all different kinds of miniature animals. German company Preiser contribute to this interesting market with their set ‘monkeys & apes’ ( 20388).

2 kletternde AffenAccording to the Preiser product catalogue, these really cute animals are obviously intended to enhance the company’s model circus kits, but they will certainly put a smile on your face, too,  when being placed  in any model railway or diorama environment...

For the price of 7.55 Euros (RRP 2006) you get 10 monkeys in a sturdy acrylic glass box, all of them in different realistic poses. Although the multilingual description on the packaging (‘Affen - Monkeys - Singes’) doesn’t provide any clues to the specific species, the tiny primates seem to be chimpanzees. Taking into consideration that members of this group of monkeys can reach a size of 1.70 m (5 ft 6 in), Preiser have obviously reproduced some coltish young animals...

To keep production costs down, the blank figures are being hand-painted in the island of Mauritius. The two-colour finishing (skin colour and dark brown) is quite detailed but could be a bit more realistic:

The little monkeys look as if they were wearing flesh-coloured socks or shoes, whereas in reality only the bottom of their feet is hairless. Nevertheless, their tiny ears (which are only a fracture of a millimetre ‘big’) look fantastic thanks to some carefully applied droplets of skin-coloured paint!

Affen außer Rand und BandUnfortunately, as you can see in our photo on the left, the hiding power of the paint could be better in some parts. Of course, you could argue that real chimpanzees do sometimes have spotty faces, but in this case the state of the Preiser model primates is obviously the result of their brushing creators’ negligence. Considering our generally high expectations, this flaw prevents the product from getting a better overall verdict. Apart from that, here and there, the fur of the miniature banana-lovers looks very glossy, but perhaps this might still be considered a realistic appearance.

Like most model figures, the mini-monkeys need a few drops of glue to ‘stand’ in the desired location on your model railway layout or diorama, but at least they don't come with those ugly plastic foot plates which could be seen some decades ago under the feet of every miniature figure...


The Preiser set ‘monkeys & apes’ enhances Africa, zoo and circus dioramas, but can be a nice detail anywhere in your miniature world. Ambitious modellers will correct the above mentioned minor mistakes with a steady hand and some paint. The price for the tested set can be called reasonable.

test synopsis*
Packaging (15) 12
'First impression' (15) 12
Originality (15) 10
Closeness to reality (15) 11
Wealth of detail (15) 12
Fineness of detail (15) 13
Closeness to scale (15) 12
Condition of all parts (15) 12
Quality of colours, prints or painting (15) 10
Gesamtwertung: gut 104
(max. 135)

*Find out more about the test criteria for modelling accessories here.

Tested October 2006     German flag   © Volker Labitzke - - please visit our  main page