Tag Archives: diorama

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.


Diorama building – Old Dock (6 inch scale)

I am always looking to make better photographs, and set my figures in dynamic poses.  One way of doing that, I had discovered a few years back, was to make a scale model diorama to get the figures into a scene.  The first diorama I did was the back alley with a million and a half bricks.  It turned out so well in my mind, and I was hooked on dioramas.   My second diorama was more recent and a lot easier.  It consisted of a fake rock wall, and a sand base.  That one was really easy, and allowed me to utilize it by any scale from Marvel Legends up to Power Rangers Zords.

Now I have embarked on my biggest and best diorama yet.  Phase 1 is the dock that I had imagined and is now a reality.  I thought ahead enough to take pictures along the way so I could take you with me on the journey to completion.

Step 1: I used thin redwood strips used for latice work. I had them left over in my shed from an arbor I built. I hacked them off at around 8 inches across. Then I split them twice to get three thinner strips that were uneven.
I built a frame with the same wood. I used an air powered nail gun that had tiny little nails in it. This probably could have been done with glue as well, but this was way faster, way cleaner, and will probably hold together better.

Step 1a: Since I used a dull chisel, the wood broke unevenly to leave the ends ravaged by the sea.  Of course if you were going for a new dock look, you would want to cut them evenly.

Step 1b:  I nailed two pieces together to make a more dynamic dock that will give me more options for photo shoots.

Step 2:  I bought a long dowel rod that was about an inch across.  I cut it into two sizes.  Three I made longer, and the rest I left short.  To get the old texture with cracking wood, I smashed them with a hammer around the edges.  The closer to the top, the bigger the split.  If parts fell off, I let them fall off.  The wood has a great weathered look at this point.

Step 3:  I nailed the posts all around the dock.  This is a good time to make sure you are keeping them all level.  I managed to get them all flat except for one on the back side that is about 1/4 inch off the floor.  Oops!

Step 4: I painted the whole dock with a wash of watered down brown acrylic.  While the paint was still wet, I added some washes of black.   Overall there wasn’t a whole lot of need for more of a wash, since the redwood already had a lot of different colors.  I used the black wash mostly around the base of the piers where water would be eating away at the wood.

A closeup of the split pier.  A hammer is all you need.  Hit it all the way around, and it will start to split.  Make sure to get down in the cracks with the wash.  You want it to be as dark or darker than the exterior wood.

Spidey is checking out the dock for the first time.  Since this is Phase 1, I don’t have a base of background for the dock yet.   For now it is sitting on the sand display.  That works, but there is a WAY bigger display coming for this one.

Up next, I am working on the base of the display. We will see how it turns out.  My first time working on making water.  So far so good.  Pictures and instructions to follow.  For now, we will get back to some toy reviews.  I have a back log starting to pile up.


Post 500! My how things have changed…

500

6 years and 499 posts ago I started this little page.   It was always meant to be a look at toys.  From reviews to just out taking pictures.   Over the years it has grown and changed a lot.  Here are some of the stats that have blown me away:

81,794 views.

Views from 125 different countries.

Top 5 Most Used Tags:

  1. Transformers (168 times)
  2. Hasbro (65 times) though I should have used it more often.
  3. Marvel (Probably most in the recent year or so with so many Legends figures)
  4. Generations (A long span of figures from that Transformers line)
  5. Transformers: Prime (There were a LOT of figures over the course of the show)

Top 5 Most Tagged Figures:

  1. Optimus Prime (Not a surprise, except I thought Bee might be higher)
  2. Bumblebee (Second only by a few posts)
  3. Iron Man (We have had lots of Tony over the years from Legends to MiniMates)
  4. Megatron (I was a bit surprised Megs was so high, but he just keeps coming back)
  5. Wonder Woman (I was surprised she was so high on the list.  Lots of Ame-Comi figures)

 

Over the course of 6 years, I went from collecting a few things, to collecting a lot.  I had an old shed in my backyard that I converted into a Fortress of Solitude.

Laying the last of the shingles on the new roof.

I was able to make this the place to keep all of my toys.  Safe, protected, and out of the way of my wife.

Since then, I have also upped the ante on camera.  From humble beginnings with a tiny digital camera, to the much better Canon Digital SLR I am running around with now.  I used to throw a camera in a backpack and go, and now I actually have a special backpack to keep the camera safer from harm.

Many of my early posts were pictureless.   It was a time of figuring out what I was doing.   I had the most posts I ever made in my first year 2010, but I also had the smallest amount of visitors.  As I found my way, I also needed to add more pictures, so I sought out Flickr.   I started my Flickr account about a month after I started this blog, and boy are the stats over there huge.  I think it really tells something about pictures being worth a thousand words.   My views over there are 1.3 million views, with 4327 pictures being posted.

The early stuff was not good.  Too dark, and very static.  It was a steep learning curve.   The biggest thing that helped me to get better at pictures was to look at other people’s work.  See what they were doing that I liked, and ask questions.   Now I can take a well lit picture.  So my focus is moving on to getting better dynamic lighting.  I have people I follow that take some of the best photos I have ever seen. They inspire me to be better and do more.

At some point daylight clicked and I took my toys outside to shoot.   Boy did that help.  But of course, then the setting was a bit weird.  Can’t keep taking pictures of Transformers on the deck. Something had to get better, but that was not going to come for a long time.  For some reason I was stuck on the figures, and didn’t focus on the background.

The reality of making better photos came in small steps.  I made a photo booth out of PVC pipes.   I added opaque fabric to allow for diffused light.  I then bought a fold-up photo booth to again boost my photos.

What really hit home was this summer.   I started to play around with backgrounds.  I started to experiment with insulation foam.  From there, I had to up my lighting game.  The results were night and day.   I wasn’t just taking pictures any more, now I was telling stories.

Did you know toys could be posed?  Boy did it take me a long time to come to that realization.   I was always a guy who loved to take the toys out of the packaging.  They are meant to be played with, not kept in the boxes on a shelf.  Well, then I would just stand them there and take pictures.  What better way to talk about their articulation than to actually show them in motion.

It was really a way of thinking that needed to change.  Even to the extent of ” I am going out somewhere?” “Bring a toy, because you never know where you might end up to take pictures.

So, 6 years and 500 posts in, and I feel like I am just getting started.  I have finally found my stride, and I am ready to bring it on!  I have a new big diorama I am working on, to help get away from the alley scene.  I have a few other ideas in mind too.  I have started to carry a blank book around with me to write down my ideas.  Going back over the past 6 years of pictures, I feel like I have done some of my figures a disservice, and I want to make it up to them.

I leave you with a funny stat that surprised me.  4327 pictures, ranging from Marvel to Transformers, from anime to cartoons.  And the photo with the most views, far, far, far beyond second place was this picture of a Monster High doll:

This was some fun I was having while my sister came to live with me.  We bonded over toys and photography.   This picture was taken a year and a half ago and has over 5,800 views as of today.  Something about a lady riding a motorcycle I guess.

Up next, a look at a figure that is no good.   I was glad I only picked up one of the wave.  Don’t need a whole shelf of that garbage.

Until next time my friends.  There are pictures to be taken and stores to be searched.


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