Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Midday at the Oasis, a diorama

My latest diorama is a scene from a little-known part of the Second World War. The Chevrolet 30cwt truck carrying four members of the Long Range Desert Group, a reconaissance unit staffed initially by New Zealanders then later on by Rhodesians and UK soldiers. The chaps are stopped at an oasis for a mix of activities: sending radio signals, running repairs to the truck, rest and lunch. 

The basis for the diorama is the little model truck, which is based on a 1/72 scale plastic kit by Dragon kits. Later on in this posting I have a few more photos of the truck on its own.

The whole diorama is a 19cm square, so it's quite small.
The cost of realistic palm model trees is very high, so I bought
some extremely cheap plastic palm trees from China, and
modified and weathered them to look the part. The cost of
all of these palms is less than one Woodland Scenics palm!

I couldn't find model characters for the Long Range Desert
Group in 1/72 scale (they are available in 1/35), so I
adapted some Airfix action figures from the WWII Desert units
of the British army. I cut off their rifles, helmets and anything
else I didn't need, then created Arab-style headgear from
modeller's clay, and painted them up.

Realistic water is something of a motif for my dioramas now,
so when I read about the Long Range Desert Group's expert
knowledge of every oasis in the Egyptian and Libyan deserts,
I had the idea for this diorama in my head.

Both "mechanics" were originally mortar team members.

The "bulrushes" by the water's edge come from tufts of long
summer grass used by railway modellers. I just shaved it off
with a scalpel. And I noticed that most oases are quite messy
with fallen palm leaves, so I cut some leaves off a few spare
palms and coloured them to look a bit on the dead side,
then scattered them here and there.

Now, as for the little model truck, it was quite a nice 1/72 kit to build. I've weathered it with lots of dust and grime, and I've also scratch-built some extra swags and bags of gear using modeller's clay.

To give you an idea of how small it is, this is a 10ml pot of paint.

I'm really enjoying this very new hobby of 3D diorama making. I always thought it would be far too difficult for me to do, but I am surprising myself at times. I'm not very naturally talented with my hands, I'm a bit clumsy and sloppy at times, but all mistakes can be fixed, if you think about it!

All I can say is that if I can do it, so can you. If you build models and have never tried putting one into a diorama, have a go at something simple for starters, and you might, like me, surprise yourself as to how good it looks and how much fun it is to do.

Finally ... if the title of the diorama is bothering you, making you think "wasn't there a song about Midday at the Oasis?" yes there was. Except that it was called "Midnight at the Oasis" and it was a hit song for Maria Muldaur back in the 1970s. If you just have to hear it now, here it is, from YouTube