How to guide: feature your diecast models in a diorama

08 November 2010
imports_CCGB_photo-10-1-_12673.jpg How to guide: feature your diecast models in a diorama
David Boxall presents a guide to showing your diecast models in a diorama. ...

We all have our favourite models and while most collections enjoy the protection of professionally built display cabinets, I have seen collectors use all sorts of improvised furniture to display any number of chosen items.

As well as the traditional way of showing our models, and indeed the most efficient, in rows, side by side, a number of collectors also try to use background scenery whenever possible.


Roads, pavements, walls and fences

The items that I use the most are the roadways, pavements, walls and fences. The roadways can also be used as parking areas, and the pavements are particularly useful as borders and space fillers.
The easiest way to make a section of road is to cut a piece of card or hardboard to the required size, and glue very coarse grained sandpaper or equivalent to it. The board will often warp when drying and will need to be straightened. The next step is to spray or paint the coarse paper and edge of the board matt black, and let it dry thoroughly. Then, lightly over-paint the paper with grey paint, which should be fairly tacky so that only the surface of the grained paper collects any paint. I often dry out the paint on the brush slightly, by ‘working’ the brush over a piece of spare paper or card. This is then easier to use on the grained paper for the desired effect.


It is easier to use commercial buildings if the scale is appropriate. A number of railway buildings can certainly enhance a scene, and these can be used as two dimensional background boards without too much difficulty or re-modelling. One building can produce four background boards, although the roof sections can be a bit tricky.

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In order to maintain the maximum amount of space for vehicle display, and create a reasonably credible scene, a little planning is necessary. I find that open-ended buildings, with the suggestion of a doorway or opening seem to work quite well.

Terrain boards

The landscape sections can be very useful for those outdoor scenes but are much harder to use with a number of vehicles. I have used them for picnic areas and camping scenes but enjoy them most when utilised for farming and agriculture. Modelled to the size of a display shelf, these sections only need the most basic accessories to bring them to life – a few trees, a fence or two and a single building can work wonders.


A further issue when displaying our models is that of scale. I think that the system developed by Corgi was particularly innovative, as the method used for scaling the models seems to work perfectly. The figures themselves were required to be of an appropriate size and scale to fit in with the model or gift set that it was created for. The different scales used for individual vehicles, however, is probably why some of the people and equipment can look a little out of place with one another. A good example would be the tractor driver in overalls, and the couple in the Chrysler Imperial. While the individual figure and model are always compatible, a range of different figures and accessories can sometimes look odd when placed together.


* This is an excerpt of the article 'Creating a scene' first published in the December issue of Diecast Collector. To order your copy please click here.