Category Archives: construction

Front Porch Bear

Last Friday night, my wife and I went out to dinner. We don’t go out much on any weekdays since we are so tired from work all of the time. But it was Friday night. When we got home, our polar bear that has been on our porch for nearly a decade was destroyed. Well, destroyed is a strong word, but someone had smashed it on the porch, breaking off a leg, fingers and toes.

I had just been talking to my wife this summer about repainting the bear, since it had been sun bleached, and the colors were mostly gone from him as it was. And when we would touch him, white paint would be left on our fingers.

So this was the perfect opportunity. Saturday morning I glued him back together. One problem. He was missing the tail. He had a big hole in his butt. What is going on here? I went out and looked all over the ground in front of our porch to see if it had flown off into the yard somewhere. No luck. I haven’t been building dioramas for nothing. I knew I had some skills in my back pocket I could use. I went down to Lowe’s, got me some bondo, and filled all of the cracks, missing fingers, and the tail.

By Sunday, he was dry and ready to paint. I had some outdoor paint leftover from a previous project, and it was the perfect color for this guy. All coated, he really started to look more like a grizzly bear.

The tail looked like it has always been there, which was the part I was the most worried about the whole time.

On Monday evening, after I got home from work, I added more colors to add depth to the fur. I repainted the scarf with colors of my college, Humboldt State University.

Yesterday he was ready to be clear-coated with a nice flat coat. I added some Super Gloss Mod Podge for the nose, eyes, and mouth, to give a bit of shine. And now he is back on the porch, looking better than ever, less than a week after he was smashed.

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Diorama Building – Road Construction

Today we are going to take a momentary break from the actual toys, to look at the new background stuff I have been making.  I wanted to throw this out there in case there was someone looking to make some scale equipment and wanted to add some more detail to their backgrounds.  You may have seen this in the background of the last two posts about Marvel Legends.  I was using those guys to test the scale.

I wanted something new for a diorama, and while watching an episode of Power Rangers Wild Force, I was loving the background setting of the construction site. I figured I would start with a simple sign.

The sign is made of the picture printed on printer paper. It was sized in Word for the correct sizing, about 2 scale feet top to bottom. It was glued to a flat piece of styrene to keep it nice and flat. I have found tag board starts to warp after a bunch of layers of paint and glue and Mod Podge.  I made the back from smaller pieces of styrene I had laying around. It got a nice coat of paint to dirty it up and I was good to go.

I moved onto the road closed barriers. They are made with popsicle sticks for the cross pieces and the stand at the bottom. The poles are wood dowel. For the light on top, I cut a piece of wood to a rectangle and attached a section of wood dowel for the light. They are held together with a wire that ran through the block of wood, and into the circle piece. The wire was glued with super glue to hold the pieces tight.

Then I had the idea of making the sandbags. I was lucky enough to have some fabric laying around from when my wife and I added some fabric to our bed spread a few years back. I used a piece of PVC pipe (1/2in) to make a tube of fabric. I used fabric glue to glue the seam. That was the hardest part.

I cut the tube every 2 inches to make the length of the sand bag. I glued one end and then let them dry. It was apparent that it was going to become more of a thing if I tried to glue the and stuff them all on the same day.

With 60 little bags, I started the filling process. I made a paper funnel, since I couldn’t find my plastic funnel. I filled the bags up most of the way, leaving about 1/4 inch at the top. Of course I used sand. I glued the seam and then let them dry.

I needed a test area, so I set them on my back walk that is concrete. It doesn’t look much like a road construction site, since it is pretty clean. When I make my actual diorama, I have a few ideas in mind for what to do to give it a worn road look. Next I will try my hand at some other stuff that might be laying around. Concrete pipes, canvas tarps, and maybe even some equipment. The sky is the limit on this one.


Pier/Factory Diorama

The love of action figures goes beyond the collecting for me.   I am a hands-on kind of guy, and for me, that goes to the building of scenery to go along with my photo shoots.   Way back when I first started to blog and review toys, I spent a lot of time outside in the yard taking pictures, or using a very simple background.  Nothing special, and it showed in my photographs.  Move ahead 6 years, and I have a few dioramas under my belt.   The first was an alley that could be reversed to be some sort of concrete barracks.  It was very functional, and I still love to use it. It is timeless, and will probably be my go-to dio for a long time.   But, it was time for a change.  Not so much out of necessity for the photos, but for the necessity to get it out of my head.   I had an idea floating around in the ether of my mind for a LONG time.  It was going to be a pier for figures.  Finally it came to be.  It is 1:12 scale, though it can be used other close scales too.

My newly minted pier/factory diorama. It has been over 6 months in the making. A few do-overs with the water. Lots more detail than any other dio I have built. This one measures in at a 2 foot cube. I had to rebuild my lighting poles to be able to account for taller walls than ever before. I am already ready for my next build. I am sure I am not the only one that happens to.

The pier is made of 100% wood, nailed together and then weathered. The crane on top moves side to side as well as back and forth. There is a winch that works too. There are two doors that also slide. They are thick art board that were scored for wood texture and then weathered.

There is a secondary winch that comes out of the back door. The i-beam can move in and out as well as the pulley moving forward and back.

A close-up of the winch under the moving platform. This one was a labor of love. It was rebuilt a few times to get the right look as well as being sturdy enough to work and not break.

The water was a problem for me. I used a piece of pressboard. In my initial investigation on how to make the water, I saw someone use clear silicone. I painted the base and spread out the silicone. It looked nice, but it never dried well. It stayed sticky after a few weeks of drying. If I ever got anything on it, it stuck. So with lots of art supplies stuck in the caulk, I had to cut it off.

I ended up laying down a layer of plaster of paris and tapping it with a gloved hand. It ended up with a great texture. I added color including blues, green and black. After the paint dried, I coated it with a layer of gloss Mod Podge. That gave it a great shine and left a bit of clear residue in the waves to give even more of a definitive texture.


New Year, New Display

I built this display out of necessity. The need for shelf space taken up by Hot Wheels. I figured if I could make something on the wall, I could save a ton of flat space.

This is made with 3 pieces of the foam core board. Black on black (meaning black foam in the middle. I used two inch strips to make the shelves, spaced 2 inches apart. That leaves one space double-tall at one part. I had enough left over for a second display on top that is made 7 inches tall with a 2 inch shelf half way.

The shelving his held together with sewing pins in the back and on the sides. That makes it really strong, and at some point I could foreseeable take it apart again, and make it into something else, but I probably won’t.

So, I ended up with room for 80 Hot Wheels, 31 Legion Class Transformers, and my Big Hero 6 collection on top. Of course, you can always set the sizes differently for whatever you want to display.

It was really easy to make, little to no mess. Definitely no glue mess. And it helped clear up a lot of room around the shelving in other places.


Weekend Project

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It is about time my Hot Wheels get a place of their own, so this weekend I am building a skinny bookcase that should hold a good number of cars. It will be about 6 feet tall and 16 inches wide. And with a depth I about 4 inches. Tall, narrow, and skinny. I have to make it special to fit into a spare area in the hobby room. No time like the present to get started.


At Long Last: The Hobby Room!

Ta-Da!   The interior of the hobby room is built and put together enough to show pictures.   I am really excited about how it turned out.  It is packed from the ceiling to the floor with all of my toys…  okay, not ALL.  Many are going to need to be stored.  Luckily, I have a plan.  I am going to rotate the toys so I can have a museum style system where I change them out every so often and then I get to see all of my stuff.

My homemade book shelf.

Cabinet from IKEA

Three glass display cases lit with LED strips at the top.

One of my favorite pieces of art, drawn for me by comic artist Terry Dodson.

Legos, Legos, everywhere... too many to display.

Minimates. This took forever to set-up. The display was built from scraps around the house.

Finally, I get to display my models that I build in college. Happy to have room to get back to the hobby now.

Of course there are more pictures.  There are a lot of detail shots, and descriptions of what you are looking at on my Flikr account.  Click to be taken to the set.


My Life with a Bookcase

Today marked a milestone for me.  I have been plugging along on the hobby room all week, but today was the fun day.   I finally got to the place where I could build myself my Manga bookshelf.   It is specially designed to be narrow in depth so it can hold my mangas.

Those are my hands on the left, getting putty in the nail holes.

The book case is five feet long, the width of the window.  With three full shelves, that makes 15 feet of manga storage.  I have my collection scattered around the house in different rooms, so I am not sure how much space my current collection will take up, but I am pretty sure I will have room for growth.]

The bottom shelf is a little shorty shelf, so I don’t really know what to do with it, but I am sure I will think of something.  🙂


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