Originally it had been my intention to put up a “Work In Progress” post before publishing the final diorama but after some deliberation I decided against it. If there was a “wow” factor to be had then it would be lost by a WIP post so I decided to go for a “Making of …” post instead! The original post and final photo’s can be found here.
Like most of the things I do the initial inspiration comes from finding some figures that I would like to buy and paint. The challenge then becomes how to fit them into a diorama. In some cases an idea alludes me for some time, occasionally completely but sometimes ideas come thick and fast as was the case with this one.
It all started with some internet browsing and discovering a site called “Other World Miniatures”, not a site I was aware of. Various searches led to me finding a set of 5 Giant Rats which I rather liked the look of and thought would be fun. Instantly I was reminded of the horror author James Herbert and his trilogy – The Rats, Lair and Domain. All books I have and read on more than one occasion. The seed was sown. The fact that “Backtothehammer” and “Pete S/SP” both picked up on this was great to see.
A while ago I made a conscious decision to try and limit my dioramas to small bases. There were two reasons for this. One was space, dioramas take up a lot of it and I have a lot of them now. The other was aimed at stretching my imagination. How to get as much detail as possible onto a small area? The only way is up!
In the book “The Rats” the furry little bastards appear all over the place but the “London Underground” and the more obvious “London Sewer System” were already set in my mind but what was the story line and how to represent it?
Clearly for the rats to appear as “Giants” some humans would have to feature for scale otherwise the idea would be lost. From there is was an easy leap to the rats being mutated as a result of some form of nuclear fallout. Now all I needed was a contrived situation which would bring the humans and the rats together and the search for food by both groups seemed natural enough.
How to depict the search in a diorama format required some thought and of course I needed to find suitable figures too. Hasselfree Miniatures is one of my go to sites these days and once again they came up trumps. I bought four figures all of which I thought would be suitable but in the end settled on the two I used as being the most appropriate. To my mind they both look like they are acting cautiously in their search and that was most appropriate.
With the only way being up it seemed like a good idea to have the diorama on three levels – basement/sewer, stairs, building/room. Now all I had to do was build it!
It made sense to start building bottom up so first of all I laid down some bricks. The bricks are 28mm scale and come from “Juweela” who produce scenic materials. These bricks are simply brilliant. I went with bricks to reflect the London Sewer system built by the Victorians.
I small circular section of plastic piping found in the garage was used to produce the “tunnel” effect which was then clad with bricks before being positioned on the base.
The next job was to build the stairs. This was done by casting some pieces from a “Hirst” mold and trimming as applicable. I also needed to create a floor (using coffee stirrers and match sticks) to connect to the stairs which would in due course have a brick wall and door added to it as well as one of the figures. The other figure would be positioned at the top of the stairs and in the image below you can see that the stairs have been prepared to take the slotter base of the figure.
Now it was all about building up the walls and adding more details. The door is an MDF purchase which was made to make the Gothic windows in my “Wizard Library” boxed diorama.
I had some over and they were ideal for a door entrance.
The walls alone felt a little plain so I decided to add some pipe work. For this I simply used some plastic sprue. I had a small steering wheel from an army jeep model in my bits box which made for a nice addition and the pipe joints were made using the protective plastic tubes which come with paint brushes.
The light was a spare one from my WW2 Diorama …
… which was broken down and attached using some twisted wire.
Another spare wheel was used as a drain cover at the base of the sewer and to which later a ladder would go under.
It was then time to start using some filler with PVA to fill the various gaps.
In between these various stages I conducted a few dummy runs in terms of figure fit and positioning. I also played around with the various components.
I wanted this to be a piece that had interest from various angles and was chuffed with “Wudugast” who picked up on this point and kindly commented accordingly. Having set myself a bar to reach it will be interesting to see if I can replicate the concept in future dioramas. Clearly some ideas will lend themselves more readily than others. Time will tell.
So the build complete it was then just a matter of painting things up.
An accompanying narrative is not something I normally do, in fact I think this is a first. It was fun to do and I felt the diorama needed an explanation. Something to consider again perhaps? For anyone wondering, the words are my own and not a quote from a book.
Until next time. Don’t let the bed bugs bite … or the rats!