Category Archives: Products

Sea surface diorama base from Yamashita

Yamashita Hobby is a manufacturer of warship kits focusing on 1:700 Japanese WWII subjects. The company has just announced a new product for September 2020 release which will be of interest to naval modellers. 

The ‘3D Sea Surface Diorama Board’ is a ready-made one piece base designed to work with a 1:700 warship. The appeal of this product lies in the amount of time it can save the diorama artist in creating a realistic ocean surface for a naval diorama. 

The most popular technique for creating an ocean surface is with a solid, sculptable material which is built up on a flat support and then painted the appropriate shade of blue. The problem with this approach is that it fails to capture the translucent quality of water. 

The more ambitious modeller will use two-part casting resins to achieve a more realistic effect. Dye can be added to the resin to create a very nice translucent look. This approach is time consuming as it involves building up the surface gradually with multiple layers, as resin can crack if poured on too thick. I used several layers of resin to create the river surface for Drug Runners.

Yamashita’s new base will provide a realistic translucent ocean surface right out of the box, saving the modeller a ton of time in creating an attractive naval diorama. Details at HobbyLink Japan.

-Ivar

Gladiatorial combat diorama from Italeri

Italeri are set to release a 1:72 diorama of a Roman era gladiatoral arena, complete with figures. The product is scheduled for a September 2020 release and is the latest in a long line of 1:72 battle sets from various historical periods offered by Italeri. 

For anyone who enjoys Roman epics like Ben-Hur, Quo Vadis, Spartacus and Gladiator, this diorama is sure to please. Components include a circular stadium made with laser cut MDF, an arena fence, spectator seats, animal cages, two chariots, and dozens of injection plastic figures. The arena is approximately 43cm in diameter when assembled.  

More ambitious modellers could use the arena as a starting point for a broader scene with additional elements. The possibilities are endless. 

-Ivar

Review of Forced Perspective Dioramas

My new book, Forced Perspective Dioramas, has just been reviewed by Indies Today, a leading editorial reviewer of fiction and non-fiction books. The book received a four star rating. The review is reproduced here:

Whether in a museum or any other setting, detailed dioramas grab the attention of all who see them. It is fascinating to examine a well-conceived scene in miniature! In this book, Ivar Kangur details a practice commonly used in artwork but far less frequently in dioramas: forced perspective. By means of using forced perspective techniques, a diorama creator can give depth and perspective to their handiwork.

Despite being a relatively short work, all necessary considerations are provided for creating realistic depth in the models, from determining the proper scale when composing the subjects to the proper use of lighting. In the first half of the book, a number of examples are given of how forced perspective is used to enhance and add realism to artwork, architecture, photography and film. Much of the second half of the book consists of forced perspective diorama examples, including photographs that show the components and final product. These examples provide a detailed and visual explanation of the process that makes even a novice like myself feel like they could craft a competition-worthy diorama.

Ivar Kangur provides insightful suggestions and shares a great deal of passion and expertise in diorama design. Forced Perspective Dioramas is perfect for anyone looking to add a wow-factor to their next diorama.

A subject as out of the ordinary as forced perspective dioramas can be challenging for readers who aren’t familiar with this niche art form to appreciate. This makes it especially gratifying to receive such positive feedback. My thanks to R.C. Gibson and Indies Today.

-Ivar

Forced Perspective Dioramas is now available

My new book, Forced Perspective Dioramas, is now available in paperback on Amazon in several markets wordwide. It’s the culmination of about a year of writing and editing, and features case studies of dioramas which I’ve built over the last three years. It’s a guide to understanding the principles behind forced perspective and how to apply them to three-dimensional art.

As far as I know, this is the first book about forced perspective that specifically caters to modellers. It starts out with a brief history of forced perspective in various art forms, and then breaks down the nuts and bolts of how the technique works. There’s a discussion of the advantages of the forced perspective diorama over the conventional tabletop diorama, and what it can bring to your projects.

The book then gets into how the forced perspective diorama is created and covers key concepts such as the vanishing point. There’s also a chapter on lighting. Seven case studies of dioramas, ranging from basic to advanced, are included to illustrate the application of the technique. 

If you want to learn how to give your miniature scenes a greater sense of depth and scale, check out Forced Perspective Dioramas.

-Ivar

Bond in Motion Dioramas

Eaglemoss has released a series of 1:43 diecast vehicle dioramas based on the long-running James Bond film franchise. These ready-made dioramas recreate scenes from the movies using a partial box diorama format, consisting of a base and two background walls. 

Usually a diorama of this type would have three walls, but with just two, it encourages diagonal placement, giving the scene a fresh look. The rectangular base simplifies shipping, but the trade-off is that there’s a crease in the background where the two walls meet. Most of these dioramas are done in forced perspective, with the backgrounds showing distant scenery which lends a sense of depth. 

The Bond movies have showcased many fine automobiles, including Aston Martins, Lotuses,  BMWs, and more. Until now, any car manufacturer getting a call from the Bond producers considered themselves blessed. But with the impending departure of actor Daniel Craig and his replacement by a female 007—an oxymoron—those days are over. 

No Time To Die is the most ironic title ever given to a Bond film, since this upcoming installment will indeed mark the death of the franchise. Bond fans will boycott the movies and box office receipts will plummet. Cars associated with future installments of the franchise will become symbols of political correctness, more likely to be shunned than coveted. 

But the Bond legacy remains, and the definitive series of films that started with Dr. No and ended with Spectre will always have a place in the hearts of true 007 fans.    

For tips on how to optimize the visual impact of your work, see my book Diorama Design. It’s available on Amazon and Apple Books.

-Ivar

Announcing my new book

Last spring, I started work on my second book about dioramas. I finished the first draft in December and have spent the last few months editing the manuscript and designing the cover. 

Since completing Diorama Design in 2017, I had begun to recognize the limitations of the conventional tabletop diorama. There never seemed to be enough space to translate what I could imagine into a miniature scene that was small enough to fit on a bookshelf. 

It was then that I decided to start building forced perspective dioramas. With this technique, it’s possible to portray depth and distance without having to make the diorama impractically large. After making the switch to forced perspective, I haven’t looked back.

My first experience with forced perspective dates back to my film school days, when I made a 16mm short. Set in the future, the film’s opening scene was a forced perspective shot of an airfield with three landing pads, showing a spacecraft touching down on the nearest pad. I had seen forced perspective used in many sci-fi films and TV shows, and it was a rewarding experience to be able to apply the technique in my own film. 

Making forced perspective work in a diorama context is even more challenging than in film, because the size limitations are more stringent. Most of the progress I’ve made with this technique has been through trial and error. 

Very little has been written on the topic of forced perspective dioramas. It’s an unfulfilled niche in the diorama how-to market. So I summarized what I’ve learned from my own experiences working in forced perspective over the past three years, did some research into the origins of the technique, and wrote Forced Perspective Dioramas. It will be released this spring. 

In the meantime, for tips on how to optimize the visual impact of your work, see my first book, Diorama Design. It’s available on Amazon and Apple Books.

-Ivar

Leia & R2 Paper Theatre

New from Ensky is a paper diorama kit which recreates a pivotal scene from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. As Imperial troops board Princess Leia’s ship, she hurries to upload the plans of the Empire’s recently completed Death Star into R2-D2’s memory banks. These plans will ultimately provide the Rebels with the information they need to gain victory over the Empire’s new weapon of terror.  

Like a three-dimensional haiku, Ensky’s offering is remarkably succinct, distilling lots of visual content into a compact piece. Six plates of die-cut cardboard are spaced apart to create a sense of depth, capturing the look of the long, narrow set in the movie through forced perspective. 

This is one of many paper dioramas offered by Ensky. For modellers who want to expand their repertoire beyond plastic kits, these products are worth a look. 

For tips on how to optimize the visual impact of your work, see my book Diorama Design. It’s available on Amazon and Apple Books.

-Ivar

Paper Dioramas from Terada Mokei

The vast majority of diorama artists, myself included, come from the world of kit modelling, so it’s natural for us to populate our dioramas with plastic and resin kits. But there are many other materials to choose from. 

A case in point is Terada Mokei, the brainchild of architect and designer Naoki Terada. Using innovative die-cutting techniques, Terada has created a series of paper diorama kits in 1:100 and 1:50 scales. They depict scenes ranging from a tranquil day at the park to a Gemini astronaut spacewalk. 

Although paper kits have been around for a while, they’re usually designed as scale miniatures. A paper kit of a building, for example, typically comprises pre-cut sheets printed with photorealistic images of its exterior walls. These kits are suited to replicating subjects which have large planar surfaces and fairly simple geometry, but their limitations become apparent when more complex shapes are involved. These types of paper kits are the poor cousins of injection molded kits, offering slightly less realism at a lower cost. 

What’s refreshing about Terada Mokei’s dioramas is that they’re not designed to be scale replicas of their full-size counterparts, but interpretations of them. Mokei’s approach might be labelled reductivist, after the art movement of the 1950s which was dedicated to simplifying form and colour in painting and sculpture. What’s more important, however, is that the kits don’t try to hide the fact that they’re made of paper. Instead, they leverage the unique qualities of this material: its texture, the precision with which it can be cut, and its fragility.   

Mokei dioramas are very much akin to origami sculptures. Both are based on a minimalist aesthetic and celebrate the delicate beauty and sculptural possibilities of paper. Although we tend to think of paper as something simply to write on, Mokei demonstrates that it can be much more. 

If you like to build dioramas and want to learn more about how to optimize the visual impact of your work, you might like Diorama Design. It’s available in both ebook and print formats at Amazon.

-Ivar

Diorama accessories for 1:12 figures from TW Toys

Large scale figures are popular with fans of sci-fi and fantasy cinema, games, and world history. Many are sold as finished pieces already assembled and painted, while others can be found in kit form. More often than not, these figures are displayed as discrete items on a bookshelf. But for those who want to go a step further, Twelve World Toys has just announced several new products of interest. 

The company is releasing two items in September: a Stone Lanterns Diorama (stone lanterns are uniquely Japanese and would suit a samurai diorama); and an Abandoned Diorama, which consists of a damaged concrete pillar and rusted steel fence section. 

Scheduled for release in December is an Abandoned Steel Scaffolding display. It comprises an A and a B section which can be arranged in various ways to suit your preference. A display like this would be perfect for a Batman or Spiderman figure. Also coming in December is a Watertight Door with bold yellow stripes, which would provide a good background for a nautical or sci-fi subject. 

So if you want to take your 1:12 figures to the next level, check out these upcoming releases from TW Toys. Available at Hobby Search

If you like to build dioramas and want to learn more about how to optimize the visual impact of your work, you might like my book, Diorama Design. It’s available in both ebook and print formats at Amazon.

-Ivar

Aircraft Carrier Flight Deck Diorama from Sweet

Japanese manufacturer Sweet Aviation Model Division has released a Navy Flight Deck Set in 1:144 scale. At first glance, the product is a simple diorama base replicating a WWII Japanese aircraft carrier deck section. What makes it interesting, however, is the included aircraft elevator which can be set flush with the deck or in a lower position. This offers some interesting diorama possibilities, and fans of Tora! Tora! Tora! and Midway will have a field day. Ambitious diorama builders could even add a lower deck. 

The level of detail on the diorama base appears to be very good, and a full set of decals is included. A6M Zero kits and diecast replicas in 1:144 scale are readily available from a variety of manufacturers (including Sweet), so populating the flight deck won’t be an issue. N scale figures from model railroad suppliers (which range from 1:150 to 1:160 depending on the manufacturer) could be incorporated as well. 

The choice of 1:144 scale results in a diorama of modest dimensions which can easily fit on a small bookshelf. No need to buy a bigger house once the project is finished! 

In addition to a catchy name, Sweet has an interesting approach to packaging. Their products often feature manga style renderings of young female officers, mechanics, and assorted mascots attending to flight prep duties. The insouciant box art capitalizes on the popularity of manga in Japan and shouldn’t be construed as targeting a younger market. Sweet’s products are intended for intermediate to advanced modellers, and the company is in fact known for producing some of the finest quality 1:144 aircraft kits available. 

More information and photos are available on Sweet’s US distributor website at http://sweetaviationmodels.com

If you like to build dioramas and want to learn more about how to optimize the visual impact of your work, you might like my book, Diorama Design. It’s available in both ebook and print formats at Amazon.

-Ivar