Tag Archives: diorama

2017 Ranger Rescue 5-Pack (Matchbox)

This 5-Pack called Ranger Rescue is a new set for Matchbox. This is a team sent in on rescue missions on behalf of the National Parks services.

The first model is the 4 Wheeler. This is only the 7th time it has been released since it’s introduction in 1999. The first 5 version all had a rider. The rider was removed for the 2013 version and has remained off. This is a solid casting with a metal body and plastic top. Much like the 1:1 version would be.

Next up is the Water Hauler. This one has also seen limited release, but it is a much newer casting, coming out for the first time in 2012.

The 4×4 Chevy Blazer has been a fan favorite since the initial release back in 1984. The mold still holds up so well. The lines are so nice and crisp. You can’t beat the big wheels tucked under this guy. This is the non-aerial antenna version. I do love the giant antenna that we have seen in many versions of this truck.

When the time comes for a water rescue, call on the Rapids Rescue. This is only the fourth time we have seen this truck in it’s short few years of existence. I don’t know why they decided to go with a different color on this truck. It does not fit in with the rest of the team, though it does have all of the correct markings.

The Pony Trailer is an updated version of the original that saw life back in 1968. It only showed up a few times over the years. Matchbox has had a long history of great trailers, but we don’t get to see them all that often. This new version does not have an opening back, but the details are fantastic.

The big excitement for this wave is getting a trailer for the Blazer. Well, as you can see, the Blazer’s trailer hitch sits WAY too high for the trailer. So some modifications have to be made for this all to work together.

I decided I wanted to make a trailer hitch that would be able to be added to the model without having to make it a permanent part of the truck. I want to be able to move the hitch to another Blazer if need be. I used about 20 different pieces of styrene plastic cut to shape and glued.

I test fit the pieces many times as I worked through the process. I needed the hitch to sit straight, look fairly realistic, and be able to actually work, as in allow the trailer to be towed by the truck when driving it around.

When all of the work was done, I painted the hitch a matte black and added some trailer chains. Now the Rangers are ready to grab the horses and head out on their mission.

This was a fun build to do. It only took a few hours, but really upped the function of both vehicles. Now this set really makes me happy.

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New Diorama in a new scale

A few nights ago it was window frame building night. Lots of windows in those old brownstones. My MiniMate diorama has begun.

I have been working this time to create a more multi-dimensional diorama for my figures. Since I am making this one for MiniMates, a lot of the pieces are smaller than I have been building in the 6 inch scale. Since I started the window frames, I have moved onto the stairs. I wanted this particular house to have a set of curved stairs to a landing and then a second set of stairs up to the front door. I think it is a cool architectural touch, and a potential for some fun photography in the future…if I ever get this thing built. I have since added the side railing, which is drying in the garage.


1/64 scale diorama complete

A long time in the making. I have 2 dioramas for 6 inch figures, and one more for Transformers. What I was missing was something in the 1/64 scale range to take proper pictures of diecast cars. The work is over. Time for photo fun.

The diorama is set on two walls. The left wall is a receiving dock for a warehouse. The idea behind this was to have a place that looked industrial with lots of concrete. I made to dock wide enough for a standard 1/64 scale vehicle for when a chase scene happens. I added a fence in the front for some texture to the pictures.

The back wall is a large block wall. It is intentionally a different material than the warehouse wall so the two buildings look like they are together but not the same building. I wanted to be able to add different textures to this wall, and a different color scheme.

Down in front of the block wall is a new car dealership. There are skylights on the removable roof, as well as big front windows to display the cars. There is a concrete display in the front to show off the newest delivery. I am planning to add a sign for the dealership. I am working on a way to make the sign changeable, so I can create different looks depending on what cars are on display in the showroom.

Enjoy some behind the scenes looks of the building process, and how it all came to be, from the initial drawing all the way to the final product. There were a few changes from the initial drawing, but much of it has stayed the same.

design drawing with scale for roads.

Trying to figure out the size for the loading dock. I used pink insulation foam for the big walls.

The road was made with plaster of paris to give a used look. There is a new car dealership, but it is in an old industrial part of town.

The road is painted and the sidewalks are being made. I used pressboard for the sidewalks. It was hard to find a material that was tall enough to be a curb.

The warehouse is getting some art deco style design work to make that massive wall more interesting. I used sheets of soft art foam for the details. Once in place, it all got a coat of Modge Podge to make sure it was nice and strong.

Next up were the warehouse doors. I also added windows and a door to the far right side. The back wall has the blocks scribed into the foam.

The back wall is painted. The floor of the car dealership is cut and glued from illustration board, which is what 95% of the finished car dealership was made from. In the foreground, I carved some foam into a small rise to add some height to the scene. It does not interfere with the angles for taking pictures. Road signs have been made and added too.

The walls of the car dealership are drawn and cut to size on illustration board. From there it was adding the million details and paint to get this store ready to open.


Tree Diorama for 1/6 scale

The 1/6 scale is my favorite to build in. I love the 1/12 scale figures, like Marvel Legends and Star Wars The Black Series, but there is something about working in this larger scale that allows for some finer details, and the ability to play really big.

One of the biggest problems with this scale is of course the size of whatever it is you are building. In this case I had it in my mind to build a chair swing. And the only way I wanted to see that swing was hanging from a tree. Now that posed a few problems since trees are big. That is of course the first problem revisited. Second is that a tree has to be rather robust to hold a swing with someone swinging in it.

The answer came to me as an old piece of PVC sewer pipe I have had laying around for the last 12 years, after I finished remodeling my house and ended up with a bit of extra pipe.

So, now I had the width of the tree. To remedy the height, I figured I would have it broken like it had been struck by lightning. Then I have a display that has an interesting story, it is not too gigantic, and it will still be big enough for the larger 1/6 scale figures.

The material I used is Rigid Wrap. I ordered a 5 pound roll from Amazon made by Activia. The directions were printed on the box. Cut, wet, and stick. That was about it. From there I began to experiment and see what I could do for things like texture, roots and old branches that have been broken off.

I did have one setback when I was building the long branch. I had originally cut a hole in the trunk and stuck the smaller piece of PVC in the hole. I glued it with hot glue. It held well until I started to add the Rigid Wrap. The Rigid Wrap added a lot of extra weight, and started to pull the branch down. I added wire that went around the bottom of the branch and then attached back into the truck. I also added a wood brace under the branch. This was all covered with many layers of Rigid Wrap that covered up the stuff that didn’t belong as well as created a strong cast.

For the broken top, I cut the PVC with a cutting wheel. The triangular pieces that were cut off were added to the top and glued into place to add different heights to the top and gave it a more natural look.

For the leaves, I knew it was going to be tricky to find something that was going to be in scale. It turned out to be really easy. I was in Michael’s and they have a plastic plant display area in the store. A giant bunch of branches with the proper size leaves were $14.99. I happened in at the 50% off sale, so the price was much more reasonable at half. I was not sure I was going to need the whole bunch, but I ended up using it all. The smaller twigs came off with a pull, and I attached them to the tree with bamboo skewers I held in place with more Rigid Wrap cut much smaller. The twigs with leaves were glued in place with hot glue.

Once I got all of that done, it was on to the painting. I started dark and worked my way lighter, creating layers, more in some areas and less in others. I painted from the trunk out, making sure to cover all of the twigs most of the way out to the leaves.

This was a great project for me to tackle. It was something new. I had never worked with Rigid Wrap before, and I love it. I have a few more ideas in mind for other scenery pieces I want to make for some other scales. If I remove the swing, it can be a larger tree for smaller scale figures as well.

Up next, I am working on a car. Barbie’s cars are mostly bright pink, and not anything like what most people would chose to buy. I am working on a much darker but still quite flashy color that should make any of the drivers happy to take the little sports car for a spin.


New 1/12 scale diorama – Police Interrogation Room

I don’t know what Iceman did, but he landed himself in the interrogation room.

This is my new diorama that was built with removable walls all around. That allows for 360 degrees of shooting. I knew I was going to try to make more realistic photos with this dio, so I wanted to get the ceiling in there too. It is simulating standard overhead fluorescent lighting you would find in the police station.

The wall with the glass window is removable to allow the rooms to simulate a hallway as well.

All of the furniture was scratch built. In the observation room, I made a desk from wood. I don’t have a chair yet for that room. The computer on the desk is scratch built as well, using tag board.

In the interrogation room, the table is made of wood, with metal loops for locking down a criminal. The chairs are plastic frames with wood seat and back.

On the walls, there are simulated cork boards with information I thought one would find in a police station. Maps, CPR instructions, fire exits, and wanted bulletins.

This was a lot of fun to make. It was different from my last build, of the giant pier scene. In some ways it was harder with more walls to make. The doors and window were a bit tougher too, since I had to make sure it was all as straight as I could make it.


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.


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