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View Full Version : Who are the diorama builders here?



Tycho
02-11-2008, 08:41 AM
What are your criteria?

I first (and only) started buying SW figures again in 1995 so I could recreate all the scenes that were possible with the new realistic figures. So I spend a lot on SW, I'm just not a "collector." I don't have to have everything, like I turned down Darth Revan and Darth Malek recently (don't own them at all, but did find them at retail on several occasions).

I eventually purchased extra figures to hold on to just in case Hasbro made figures I really wanted that they never made before - like Uncle Owen. Thus I had extra Jawas and Droids for a whole Purchase of the Droids scene and now even have the sandcrawler to go with it. I want extra ("non-agressive") Evolutions AOTC Anakins to display with each of the possible Padme figures they might come out with over the years (about 7 more of these - it's a really good figure of him, too).

Do you customize figures to go into your scenes? I started to a while back, but Hasbro is finally catching up so I don't do it any more. I made Kir Kanos and Carnor Jax way back when. I also made the HTTE Luke with his flightsuit top tied around his waist. We have these as official finished figures now. So I'm holding off on doing customs for a while. I'd rather have Hasbro sell me 1 figure, than buy 2 or more to kitbash.

Do you army build? I tend to feel "less is more," and it saves money and space, but I still need to show a larger force outnumbering a smaller one and fill out my ranks. I have a lot of droids and troops for sure.

Do you fleet build? I have the most TIE fighters of any ship, but I do have multiples of many designs.

Anyway, do you make permanent or temporary displays? Do you want permanent ones? How far do you go? Do you just set up the figures, or build them landscapes or even film sets (like the observation tower on the Invisible Hand for the ROTS duel with Count Dooku)?

Discuss.

Kidhuman
02-11-2008, 09:49 AM
I set up scenes sometimes with my figures.

I have done a Vinatge Jabbas thorne room scene(all vintage stuff).

http://forums.sirstevesguide.com/showthread.php?t=30608

I have done the Cantina scene after getting the curved pieces:

http://forums.sirstevesguide.com/showthread.php?t=36069

I recently did an Endor scene also:

http://forums.sirstevesguide.com/showthread.php?t=37226

I have only customized one figure. I bought an extra Obi-Wan/Alpha comic pack and made Jango into a Jedi:

http://forums.sirstevesguide.com/showthread.php?t=35410

I dont leave them set up, because I dont have room for them. I build them, take em down and pack them away.

JEDIpartner
02-11-2008, 11:06 AM
I'm just making scene boxes so I can add levels to my shelves. There was a lot of wasted space between the shelves, so I thought that two-tiered units might be cool. Over the weekend, I did a little Tantive IV box and the Jedi Council sits atop that one. I have a desert scene on the bottom level of one and the Droid sale/Lars homestead on the top. The last one I did yesterday was the cantina on the bottom and the Rebel base and ceremony room on top. I made up and printed some backgrounds and used some things I'd found on the 'net.

I think I'm moving on to ROTS next. Those shelves are jammed full.

jedi master sal
02-11-2008, 12:13 PM
I've already replied to your PM Tycho.

I'm concentrating mostly on OT then PT. EU is a bit down the road. I don't see much use for making permanent EU dios as they are not in the mainstream so only diehard fans might recognize the characters. But the casual fan would most certainly know the major scenes/battles from the OT and PT.

Of course you know I massive army build, but I've since "retired" from that with exception to the new Kashyyyk trooper which is my last big army builder.

My dioramas however are no small venture. So while a person may be able to get away with 5-10 of a certain troop to flesh out their scene, the shear size of the dios I've planned for (avg of 8' long X 5' high X 4' deep) really require that I have a lot of figures in them. But I'm a bit eccentric I guess when it comes to these.

I have customized some figs, but tend to buy extras of figs and wait to custom them should the actual figure be made later. Typically that means I'm stuck with the older figure, but eventually I plan on doing a clearing house of sorts for my unwanted stuff. While I'm not looking to make a fortune on these, I hope to recoup a reasonable amount for what I paid for them, so most likely those things will end up on eBay.

let's face it most collectors will look for deals when it comes to older modern era stuff. The "good" stuff that is to say the rare or exclusive stuff would garner money, but those aren't the type of things I'd be selling off. So my best chance to recoup funds is to make them available to the largest base of consumers as possible.

Anyway, back to dioramas.

Do I fleet build? To a minor degree. While I'd love to have a fleet of the large winged TIE fighters, I can't see paying $40 a pop, so I have 3 of them instead of 20 like I'd really want.

Instead of buying a lot of the full sized vehicles I bought Action Fleet, Titaniums and minis. Much less expensive that way and because they are different sizes, it helps create the illusion of depth in my dios.

That's key for my dios. I'm not the traditional diorama builder in that everything is the same scale. Mine are what I've dubbed "forced perspective" dioramas. But having the different scales my dioaramas will apeear toe be bigger than they are. At the size I mentioned above they will already be huge, but they will appear to be that much bigger when view from certain angles, which is all very deliberate.

So I've answered your last question as well in that they are permanent displays, though the elements inside (the toys and some pieces I built) are able to be moved around if desired.

-Sal

Tycho
02-11-2008, 12:24 PM
Sal, your stuff is going to be really impressive! The forced-perspective angle sounds interesting.

Kidhuman, I love that vintage Ewok Village Playset! I have it too. It was wonderful when Kenner did stuff like that, huh?

JEDIpartner
02-11-2008, 12:28 PM
Kidhuman, I love that vintage Ewok Village Playset! I have it too. It was wonderful when Kenner did stuff like that, huh?

I got that a couple years ago on eBay ($20!!!). Was just missing the net. I cleaned it up and did paint washes and things on it.

EWOK VILLAGE LINKS (http://forums.sirstevesguide.com/showpost.php?p=434653&postcount=14)

Tycho
02-11-2008, 12:33 PM
Nice job with the leaves, JP! That looks really good.

Those are fake plant leaves, I presume?

JEDIpartner
02-11-2008, 01:00 PM
Nice job with the leaves, JP! That looks really good.

Those are fake plant leaves, I presume?

Yeah. I was at a craft store, buying the paint, and I saw those sitting on a display near the cash wrap. I picked one of those up and saw they were designed to be used to craft centrepieces for tables. I knew that if I cut the ring, I could make the ring smaller to fit the inner sections of the trees without even having to glue them in. They worked perfectly, as did the paint wipes and stuff. It brought out a lot of the amazing detail the Kenner designers put into this piece.

Kidhuman
02-11-2008, 01:57 PM
I got that a couple years ago on eBay ($20!!!). Was just missing th net. I cleaned it up and did paint washes and things on it.

EWOK VILLAGE LINKS (http://forums.sirstevesguide.com/showpost.php?p=434653&postcount=14)


I got mine for 21 bucks after shipping with vintage ewoks and 3PO also.

Kidhuman
02-11-2008, 01:59 PM
My question here is in the Endor scene, I want to get trees and such for the ground. Anyone know what could be used or where to buy a jungle set up?

Neuroleptic
02-11-2008, 02:57 PM
I don't biuld Dioramas yet. Though, I am eventualy going to convert two book shelvs into docking bays for a Y-wing a friend of mine is giving me, and a B-wing I have. I also want to convert another shelf into a war zone for my clone troopers (all 16 of em, plus the AT-AP or whatever it's called once I finaly freaking find it!) and then I'm eventualy going to convert the top of the book case into a desert sceen for my shuttle tyderium, At-At, and army of sandtroopers.

The war zone is fairly easy for the clone troopers. they sell world war two scail brick walls for model kits at the local hobby lobby, and I can do wonders with paint and such (I'll probably weather my AT-AP when I get it, just like I restored the vintage At-AT). The ground can be made using asphalt sand and fake grass like you'd find for trains, and the back ground I will probably hand draw a sky with more brik walls around it to fill up most of the space to resemble a blown out biulding. THat'll be fun.

I'm not sure how to go about making the shelves look like a docking bay yet. I'll probably start working on this once I compleate my collection (only want two more stormtroopers and one officer). They aren't specific sceens to movies or anything like that, so accuracy isn't a problem. Most of the figures that will eventualy go into the B-wing and Y-wing dioramas are droids and a handfull of pilots.

Any advice in doing any of this would be helpfull!

Sinscia Fat'o
02-11-2008, 03:28 PM
I myself have purchased figures since 95, and i purchased lots of them. I began as a carded collector then i became a two of each figure guy...Though some of the figures were rarer than others so my wallet began weeping to say the least. So i stopped the thought process of scene building...

Then I left the hobby after seeing the garbage they called toys from AOTC.

ROTS came out, i got my life back on track, and started buying again because the figures just looked amazing and actually looked like they articulation. After TAC started hitting the shelves i began opening my figures...so yeah that was fun opening 200 figures at once. After looking at my collection i began scene building, and the river just flooded so to speak, and now i'm a full blown scene builder.

I customize figures from my Star Wars RPG game to add to my movie and comic scenes, which is fun to see my friends and my characters fighting Luke from Dark Empire, or one of my friends jedi's helping Obi Wan fight Ashard Hett, so that young Luke won't die at the hands of a Tusken party.

I army build but not greatly. I bought 12 501st ROTS Troopers, 12 Storm Troopers, 6 Scout Troopers, ETC. I'm picky when it comes to troopers, because they get made over so many times over and improved and when i have my complete army i want the best most SA sculpts available...so yeah only the best in my humble opnion get army built for my collection.

I used to buy multiples of ships like the X-Wing from POTF2 I bought like three of them, i originally planned on buying one for every X-wing pilot they produced, though that became expensive and more importantly took up way to much room. Now I don't buy vechiles at all, but i do plan i buying Aalaya Secura's Star fighter and the new Falcon if that rumor is true...depending on what new features they give the classic ship. I did also buy the Y-Wing this year just because that was my second favorite ship from the vintage line, and my vintage one has seen better days.

My displays have been random, I had the scene of Darth Krayts begining sat up for about a month (Ahard and Obi Wan with a Tusken hunting part around them as they dueled...With Uncle Owen and aunt Beru holding a young Luke still as an infant. Right now the only scene i have yet to take down over the last 6 months has been Jabba's palace throne room, which i have a very large diorama built for using the card board play set from the end of the POTF2 days and the cardboard cut out from the Jabba's palace band pack kind connecting to it so the band has a large stage. I have built dagobah scenes from wood and modification from the old vintage playset which i rebuilt using parts from other playsets...and sculpted from clay.

Right now until i get a permenant residence i won't build any hard long lasting displays, but whenever i get my own place with a room i can use to display my collection i plan on building lots of dioramas from wood and clay. It'll be one of those things i'll do as a hobby in my old age. I plan on doing every revilant scene from the OT and a few PT and a few more EU scenes that i enjoy.

JEDIpartner
02-11-2008, 03:44 PM
My question here is in the Endor scene, I want to get trees and such for the ground. Anyone know what could be used or where to buy a jungle set up?

Try that mossy stuff they sell for model railroaders. That could work. Some of the evergreens might work for undergrowth too. They have some regular HO scale trees that could also work for undergrowth. Use twine for the vines and ropes.

Jedi_Kal-El
02-11-2008, 03:47 PM
I have not done any diorama building since I moved away from Nevada. I have set up some scenes with figures and vehicles in the past since moving here, but I have nothing set up at the moment due to the remodeling of my hobby room. I probably will get back into dioramas at some point because I like the way they display my collection.

jedi master sal
02-11-2008, 04:01 PM
Sal, your stuff is going to be really impressive! The forced-perspective angle sounds interesting.

A few months ago, I put together a parts list for a view of the Dios I want to make. At today's costs for the materials, each dio itself (not including the toys) would cost me approx $1500 each to make. This not including my time either. That's just the materials cost.

To give as brief an outline as I can for my designs...
Each diorama will rest on a cabinet (which I will custom make) that has wheels so it's portable to a point, and at the least movable). The lower cabinet will have access panels that I can get to the underside of the diorama as needed for light bulb changes, etc.
Above the cabinet the diorama will sit, encased in a plexiglass shell (this being the most expensive part to the whole thing). Depending on the dio, I will have "doors" cut into the plexiglass that will give me access to the dios themselves, should I need to reposition things or fix figures that might fall over, etc.
On top of the plexiglass will sit the upper cabinet that will house the lighting.

The dios themselves will be made with various materials. The bulk of the Geonosis dio for example will be made of sculpted blue foam, coated and painted to look like the valley and the arena. For more difficult pieces and those requiring hard angles and such I'll primarily use styrene sheets, cut/shaped to fit. Thankfully, I do have a plastics company close that I can get that stuff cheap in relation to retail. As well I will go to a wholesale manufacturer for my blue foam, not places like Home Depot or Lowe's.

Were it not for wanting to encase the dios in plexiglass I could save about half the cost. However, I want these to be as dust free as I can make them, and away from prying hands.

Lots of work yes, but I get into building stuff like this. It's icing on the cake that it's my own hobby that I'm doing it for.

Kidhuman
02-11-2008, 08:17 PM
They have some regular HO scale trees

I am going to have to pay for them by the hour?


Thanks I will look into that JP.

figrin bran
02-12-2008, 12:42 AM
Eventually, I'd like to be a diorama builder

Here's a very crude setup I did for a Saesee Tinn armored custom. Saesee Tinn custom (http://i152.photobucket.com/albums/s161/brnder/cdc695a8.jpg)

stillakid
02-12-2008, 02:15 AM
Eventually, I'd like to be a diorama builder

Here's a very crude setup I did for a Saesee Tinn armored custom. Saesee Tinn custom (http://i152.photobucket.com/albums/s161/brnder/cdc695a8.jpg)

THAT is f'in cool! I love stuff like that. :yes:

Tycho
02-12-2008, 05:14 AM
Dude: Figrin - THAT IS ONE AWESOME CUSTOM!!! :thumbsup:

I wasn't going to go for the Hasbro version of this when it finally comes out (in the fall?) but now you made me want it! :mad:

See what you did?! You just cost me $7 more dollars, Figrin!


And JediMasterSal - yes, enclosing the dioramas (the cabinets and various shapes we might need for the battles) is going to be one heck of an expensive undertaking. If you have pets, and who doesn't have dust (?), you have to encase stuff to keep a clean house and secure your dioramas after all your effort you put into them. To me the whole display vehicle I choose is the largest upfront cost. As I can always spend a little more to add landscaping from model railroad sets or aquarium accessories at minimal cost if I feel something is lacking, later. Up front, you have to pay the display case cost. That's never pretty.

jedi master sal
02-12-2008, 01:38 PM
Dude: Figrin - THAT IS ONE AWESOME CUSTOM!!! :thumbsup:

I wasn't going to go for the Hasbro version of this when it finally comes out (in the fall?) but now you made me want it! :mad:

See what you did?! You just cost me $7 more dollars, Figrin!


And JediMasterSal - yes, enclosing the dioramas (the cabinets and various shapes we might need for the battles) is going to be one heck of an expensive undertaking. If you have pets, and who doesn't have dust (?), you have to encase stuff to keep a clean house and secure your dioramas after all your effort you put into them. To me the whole display vehicle I choose is the largest upfront cost. As I can always spend a little more to add landscaping from model railroad sets or aquarium accessories at minimal cost if I feel something is lacking, later. Up front, you have to pay the display case cost. That's never pretty.

And consider that I'm actually SAVING, since I'll be making the display cases myself. If I had them custom made for me the price would be ridiculous. I haven't seen anything close to what I want as far as cases go or I'd consider straight buying them from a furniture store.

-Sal

dindae
02-12-2008, 02:27 PM
I've bought 6 large storage closet that I store in my garage. I have everything loose stored in those cabinets by movie with the Clone Wars stuff I have with the AOTC. So far I have let my collection dictate my dioramas. I don't army build to a large degree but I will buy extra troopers to fill out ranks. I haven't committed to any form of permanent dio since Hasbro might surpris me and release things like the AT-TE which because of size dictate a larger dio making me shift things around. For the same reason I haven't done any custom figures. I do collect vehicle but I don't do fleets one is sufficient although I do tend to get every version so I have multiples. Eventually I might get another closet for EU but I've decide to cut back drastically so unless I feel like I'm invested in a EU character (ie I don't have to look them up to figure out who they are) they will stay on the shelves. Once I finish collecting I plan on concentrating on the dioramas more and custom building backgrounds, missing figures, etc.

Tycho
02-12-2008, 02:45 PM
To Sal,

There is a company in San Diego, called Farkas Fixtures, whom I bought my cases from. (I was never brilliant in grammar school when I took woodshop anyway - plus there's just so much involved in diorama building in the first place** that I don't want it to take forever while I build the cases. I'm too impatient, myself. More power to you, though.)

Anyway, they make the cases you see at Comic Book shops, whom most describe as jewelry display case fixtures. They are 6 ft. long, by 18 inches deep, with about 4 ft display room from floor to glass top on the inside (with any glass shelving from the inside removed). To hang SW flying vehicles in the fixtures, I have plexiglass cross-beams cut for me at the 17.9 inch mark or whatever it was, and use fishing wire to suspend snowspeeders or what not, in flight.

I believe in "getting the idea across" and "displaying my appreciation for the toys" but not fully embracing the whole set of the actual movie (such as I use 1 AT-AT and 1 AT-ST on Hoth, when I did come across the $10 clearance sale at TRU before, and could have gotten 8 or more AT-ATs for the price of 1, but left all of them. I believe the one AT-AT in my collection is unique and very much appreciated by me, instead.)

Now these 6ft fixture cases are $250 without lighting kits. And Farkas will deliver - and did deliver - to my previous apartment (for my OT scenes). With lighting kits in them, you might be looking at $300. I'd say for effects, you could use different colored lightbulbs in the things too. But meanwhile, I have my doubts that any of these cases would contain the size of the scenes you want to build.

However, the Republic Gunship presents a problem for me: the wingspan is about 1.5-2 inches too wide to fit in the 18" wide standard case. It's also too heavy to hang from fishing wire as the weight will warp and crack any plexiglass - and possibly GLASS crossbeam or top cover. I am currently planning on using ground-supported clear plexiglass box stands for the 2 Gunships (Yoda's and Obi-Wan's) that I plan on having in my Battle of Geonosis scenes. If they are hollow on the bottom, I can display ground troops under them, still visible, even though they are in the box (you just pretend they are not). Now with the AT-TE coming out, I may actually have a single, large box made to support both gunships, and put the AT-TE and some troops underneath it.

The cost of such a custom case that just gives me the slightest edge on the width to fit the gunships' wingspans? $500, most likely. Luckily, I don't need many of the custom sized cases - but I do need some. (No I can't "bank" the gunships either - they might fall off a ground-based support or break one, and I already addressed the hanging issues with their weight and such.)

The other size considerations are all PT stuff too: The Theed Generator Room Playset was not all that impressive, but I do want to display this toy because it exists. At least I still plan to. It is just barely too wide, too. I wanted to connect it to the hanger bay playsets I have. We'll see.

The Royal Starship is another "issue." I have 2 and want to display each opened up and crewed for the Escape from Naboo - with all the droids aboard, and the Return to Naboo with the (hopefully made soon) Purple Dress Queen figure and Anakin on board. That ship (opened anyway) will not fit in an 18" wide display case either. And I intended to do a cool collaged scene with the ship blasting out of the Naboo hanger and the river below in which I can add a Gungan Bongo Sub if Hasbro ever decides to make it. In the city, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan will appear again, dispatching the Security battle droids which I think are cool figures. So like comic book panels, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan will appear 3 times in the same fixture, but taking different actions (as bongo passengers, fighting droids, as Royal Starship passengers). Model railroad hobbyists have what's called fake-water, a resin they use to add realistic water (that's not water) to their dioramas. I bought a ton of those battle bags with Naboo fish that I'd like to put into the river for this scene, too. I wish I could do it now as it will be colorful and impressive. Not wanting to damage a bongo toy, I'd just lay it on top of the fake-water if Hasbro ever makes this. (I want it, for exactly this scene, too!)

El Chuxter
02-12-2008, 02:48 PM
I built a Gettysburg diorama in elementary school, using a shoebox. It was cool. I accidentally cut the arm off what was supposed to be Robert E Lee, so he became Stonewall Jackson, leading the charge with his one good arm. Never mind that it was totally historically inaccurate, or that it was the wrong arm.

It fell apart ages ago, or I'd post pics.

jedi master sal
02-12-2008, 07:43 PM
Thanks for the info Tycho. When it comes time to build the dios, I'll message you about this business again to see if it will fill my needs.

Tycho
02-12-2008, 08:19 PM
Thanks for the info Tycho. When it comes time to build the dios, I'll message you about this business again to see if it will fill my needs.

There are likely similar businesses in your local area, as stores there would not find it economical to have these fixtures shipped across country.

I found Farkas with the yellow pages.

I estimate that it will probably take $5-10,000 to encase my collection once I achieve the purchase of a sizeable property I can display it on. However, I can get that amount covered in the home loan, more than likely. (Most people would then spend that money on furniture, haha).