"ALAMO" & "PICKETT'S CHARGE"
TO VIEW THE
CUSTER'S LAST STAND DIORAMA
"WELL WILBUR, I'M LOOKING OUT THIS WINDOW TOWARDS THE NORTH WALL, AND I DON'T THINK WE WILL BE DOING THAT 'CROSSING THE LINE IN THE SAND THING' AGAIN"!!
"DOES THIS MEAN WHAT I THINK IT DO"?
1996 ALAMO DIORAMA
WELL, AFTER ABOUT 10 YEARS, WE DECIDED TO FINALLY CLEAN UP, RE-GLUE, REPAIR, ADD TO, AND ENLARGE OUR FIRST ALAMO DIORAMA.
AND TAKE ALL NEW PHOTOS.
HARD TO BELIEVE IT HAS BEEN 10 YEARS!?
PLEASE FORGIVE THE LAYERS OF DUST, THE CHIPPED PAINT, AND THE "DOTS FOR EYES" PAINTING. IT WAS OUR FIRST ATTEMPT!
WE HAVE "TEMPORARILY" EXTENDED THE ALAMO DIORAMA AREA TO INCLUDE LARGE NUMBERS OF ADVANCING MEXICAN RESERVES PLUS SOME ARTILLERY, AND SANTA ANA HIMSELF - ( BY BRITAINS ).
WE HAVE ADDED A FEW FIGURES TO THE ACTUAL DIORAMA SUCH AS BARZSO TEXAS RANGERS, BARZSO U.S. INFANTRY AS NEW ORLEANS GRAYS, A FEW CONTE ALAMO DEFENDERS, SOME BARZSO MEXICAN MILITIA, AND SOME ADDITIONAL CAVALRY PIECES.
THE NEWER FIGURES HAVE ALL BEEN PAINTED BY OUR PAINTING SERVICE.
WE HAVE ADDED A COUPLE OF TREES, SOME MORE LANDSCAPE, ADDITIONAL ARTILLERY "BURSTS", AND MORE "FIRING" MUSKETS.
DIORAMAS ARE NEVER REALLY FINISHED. AS NEW FIGURES COME OUT, AND NEW IDEAS COME UP, IT IS ALWAYS FUN TO GO BACK AND REFURBISH AN OLD FRIEND!
"MY GOSH SUE - THEY ARE INSIDE THE WALLS!!"
CUSTOM MADE ALAMO DIORAMA
( ORIGINALLY CONSTRUCTED IN 1995, SAN DIEGO, CA )
MOUNTED ON 3/4" PLYWOOD, THIS DIORAMA IS 5 FEET LONG x TWO AND A HALF FEET DEEP, PLUS THE NEW ADDITION IS ANOTHER 4 FOOT LONG x 2 FOOT DEEP.
APPROXIMATELY 700 - 800 HAND PAINTED FIGURES ARE FEATURED USING C.T.S., AIRFIX, TIMPO, BARZSO, IDEAL, MARX, BMC, HING FAT, CONTE, BRITAINS - AND OTHER MANUFACTURERS. THE FIGURES REPRESENT MEXICAN MILITIA AND REGULARS, MEXICAN PRESIDIO AND HELMET CAVALRY / LANCERS, AND MEXICAN ARTILLERY. TEXAS FREEDOM FIGHTERS, MILITIA, FRONTIERSMEN AND NEW ORLEANS GRAYS ARE REPRESENTED.
ONLY ABOUT 1/3rd OF THE ACTUAL ALAMO COMPOUND IS REPRESENTED DUE TO SPACE REQUIREMENTS. THE CHAPEL, GATEWAY, PALISADE WALL, PARTS OF THE LONG BARRACK, AND WEST WALLS. THE WALLS ARE MADE FROM STYROFOAM COVERED WITH A THIN LAYER OF PLASTER-OF-PARIS, AND THEN PAINTED WITH WATER COLORS. THE CHAPEL FRONT IS BY BMC.
AT ONE TIME WE ACTUALLY HAD SMALL LIGHTS MOUNTED INSIDE SOME OF THE BUILDINGS, BUT I THINK THE WIRES GOT CUT DURING ONE OF THE MOVES.
MANY ACCESSORY PIECES ARE ALSO INCLUDED SUCH AS LADDERS, CRATES, BARRELS, WEAPONS, CANNONS, FLAGS, SANDBAGS, BATTLEFIELD DEBRIS, WATER WELL, SHED, AND SEVERAL CONVERTED CASUALTIES. MATERIALS RANGE FROM WOOD, CLAY, PLASTIC, METAL, ROCK, AND OTHER RESOURCES. THE DIORAMA IS LANDSCAPED USING SOME REAL MATERIALS PLUS ITEMS FROM WOODLAND SCENICS.
ALMOST ALL OF THE ITEMS IN THE ORIGINAL DIORAMA WERE GLUED INTO PLACE USING A HOT GLUE GUN. THEY CAN HOWEVER, BE REMOVED.
THE DIORAMA HAS BEEN ON DISPLAY AT THE SAN DIEGO COUNTY FAIR, WHERE IT WON A SECOND PLACE RIBBON FOR HOBBIES, AND IT WAS FEATURED ON LOCAL TV NEWS. OTHER STOPS ALONG THE WAY HAVE INCLUDED THE WEST COASTER TOY SOLDIER SHOW, AND SEVERAL AREA HIGH SCHOOLS WHERE IT RECEIVED SUCH REVIEWS AS "COOL DUDE! LITTLE GI JOE'S"!!?? HMMMM --- ? ( Don't they teach History anymore!? )
OUR FUTURE ALAMO PLANS INCLUDE THE CONSTRUCTION OF A FULL SCALE 54mm ALAMO WITH SEVERAL THOUSAND FIGURES, AS WELL AS A 1/72nd ALAMO DISPLAY.
THE REST - AS THEY SAY - IS HISTORY - AND LEGEND!!
2007 - "OTSN" - CHICAGO SHOW
CIVIL WAR DIORAMA
6' x 6' SQUARE FEET OF CIVIL WAR DIORAMA AT OTSN
"PICKETT'S CHARGE" DIORAMA
1998 CIVIL WAR DIORAMA
5 1/2 FEET BY 2 1/2 FEET AND LOADED WITH NEARLY 600 HAND PAINTED PLASTIC FIGURES ( a few metal guys ) FROM AROUND THE WORLD, INCLUDING MANY CONVERSIONS!! HUNDREDS OF PAINTED ACCESSORIES AND BATTLEFIELD DEBRIS, DEAD HORSES, CANNONS, CAISSONS, AMBULANCE WAGON, TREES, STONE WALLS, SPLIT RAIL FENCES, AND MORE!!!!
( our diorama is gone but not forgotten! )
THE MAKING OF PICKETT'S CHARGE
(or Diorama 101)
PHASE ONE - THE FOUNDATION
If you are going to make a larger sized diorama, I would recommend using a thicker plywood as your base, or foundation. This will help avoid any warping or tweaking of the diorama and figures.
Our Pickett's Charge and Alamo Dioramas are mounted on 5/8" plywood with a smooth surface. For smaller dioramas, or vignettes, you could probably use 1/2" or 3/4" plywood.
The picture above shows our 5 1/2' x 2' 4" plywood base for the diorama. 5/8" smooth sided plywood has been used, and we have added some quarter round trim at the edges around the perimeter, to give it a finished look. There are also 2 - 6' long, 2" x 2" handles underneath the plywood; these are attached from above with screws, and will allow you to easily move the diorama from room to room!! We made the width a little less this time so that it would fit through an interior door without having to turn the diorama on it's side to go through a door! The poor Alamo Diorama does not have that luxury!!
The white stuff in the picture above is Styrofoam. We use that material to make buildings, or in this case, to start the "slope" for the Battlefield. It definitely had a slope - I rode "Katie" the very large horse ( mule? ) up the slope last summer!!
The Styrofoam was one piece 2" thick x 4' long and available at all Crafts Stores. I cut it with a hand saw, diagonally, all the way through, to make 2 sloped pieces. Styrofoam is great stuff - easy to work with and it glues really fast with a hot glue gun!! The pieces above were glued into place using a small hot glue gun and about 15 glue sticks.
In the picture above ( I kinda got ahead of myself ) the Styrofoam has been covered with strips of plaster cloth to smooth the surface and form the terrain. Then, sculpting plaster has been used to fill in any low spots, cracks, and to form the lowest point of the slope - in the foreground.
After the plaster has been applied, and while it is still wet, the first layer of "soil" and "grass" has been sprinkled over the entire board. The greener areas will serve as the Confederate Advance - less trampled. The browner areas will be the Union center, where they had camped for the past 3 days, and trampled the once green grass into sun burned grass and dirt.
PHASE TWO - LANDSCAPE, TREES & WALLS
DeAnna has taken some small twigs from the yard to use as "trees" to form "The Copse" of trees, which was the focal point of the Confederate Attack. Then she takes 00 steel wool and pulls it apart into a very light piece that is spread over the branches. Glue is then sprayed onto the twig and steel wool, and then parsley is liberally applied to the wet branches. Ta Da!! A pretty realistic looking "tree"!! After applying the parsley, we recommend that you spray a clear, matte finish over the entire tree.
Additional landscape material has been added using a clear, sprayer applied glue, followed by various shades of earth, grass, soils, and very small rock. A small section of road is being constructed in the right foreground. This will represent a section of the road that ran behind the Union lines; we want to show some caissons and vehicles ( wagons ) so we need some road area. Remember that when doing a large scale Battle ( or portion of a battle ) you sometimes need to "shrink" distances in order to portray many facets of the battle.
In the photos above we have started to construct our stone walls to form the Union Line. The base landscaping is still not complete, but we want to put the walls and trees into place now, so that we can better determine what type of ground to put on the base.
A small piece of Styrofoam has been glued to the board ( scrape away any ground cover for better adhesion! ). Then small rocks are glued over the foam, one at a time, to create a very realistic looking "rock wall". Smaller pieces of "rock" are glued around the base of the wall, which act as smaller debris, and it makes a nice transition to the grass areas.
In the photo above we have installed some of the trees by making a small hole in the plaster base, filling it with hot glue, and then planting the tree; I also stuck some small rocks around the base of the tree to give it more stability. We have also built some more rock walls across the Union Line.
The picture above shows the "Copse" of trees which was the focal point of the Confederate Attack.
Here we have installed the wood, split rail fences to form "The Angle". The fences were provided by P & P Products; you can also make your fences with twigs from the yard. Below the split rail fences we have placed more rocks to form the right defensive line for the Union Troops within "The Angle".
The next phase, and the most fun, is the placing of figures onto the diorama board. We try to place them to create "stories within the story", or small Vignettes!! Take your time with this, look over all of your options, and place the figures as you desire. Once in position, we start the lengthy task of hot-gluing all of the figures in place. This does not need to be done, however - we do it so that we can move the entire piece at will.
As we add the shooting poses, we take very small pieces of cotton, and form them into "mini" rifle/pistol discharges to add realism to the piece. The cotton is glued to the end of the weapon with a small amount of hot glue.
Soon, as more figures are added, the whole picture starts to take shape - telling the story of courage, stupidity, bravery, terrible carnage, and the folly of "modern" warfare.
Today, more & more scenes are created
After all the figures are placed, then we start to "accessorize"!!
Battlefield debris, dead horses, heavy landscape pieces such as rocks, tree stumps and other available accessories are placed within the diorama. More cotton "explosions" are added, as well as "Halloween spider web" cotton is added in a very thin form to resemble a haze of battlefield smoke.
Now we have loaded somewhere between 500 and 600 hand painted figures onto the diorama base, all of them hot glued in place!! Remember that with the hot glue, you can always remove the figure later and reposition him somewhere else if need be ( reinforce to the left!! - reinforce to the right!! ) Below is an overhead view of the entire piece.
The three photos below show the Diorama dissected into thirds, from left to right, from behind the advancing Confederates.
A Diorama is never really finished because as you study it in detail, you always see something else to do with it!! Plus, as toy soldier manufacturers continue to produce new figures, you will want to add them to your diorama!!
We are referring to this display as a "Collaborative" Diorama because so many people from all over the Country have helped us with figures, conversions, painted figures, accessories, ideas and so much more!! We would like to thank some of them here:
Tony Wright from Long Beach, CA
( he was one of our very first customers at the West Coaster in 1998 when we didn't even have a "real" TSSD yet!! He made the Gen. Armistead figure for us almost 2 years ago!! )
Larry Patterson from P & P Products
Sanath Fernando from Fernando Enterprises
Steve Thompson from Virginia
( he created many of the conversions on the diorama! )
John Ford from Kentucky
Gavin and Marina Murdoch from New York
Craig Covner from San Diego, CA
Jerome Apodaca from Bonsall, CA
Lorraine Pennington from Poway, CA
( for putting up with all this, sharing her home with 1,000,000 guys, and for being the right & left arms for TSSD!! )
-- and others -- if I have forgotten, please remind me!!
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