The good the bad and the ugly – 28mm “Quigley Down Under”

I couldn’t say no to IRO’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly challenge not least of all because the Old West represents an era in which I have a keen interest.  It’s the era I grew up with and it’s the era which got me into modelling figures initially and in later years the era that I started to build dioramas and construct buildings.  Put simply it’s in the blood and it’s never going to go away and I wouldn’t want it to either.  A trip some years back to Tombstone Arizona will for ever be a life highlight.  It’s a generation thing as much as anything else and each to their own.

What I did for the challenge depended mainly on what figures I could find that would fit the bill and be of interest to me.  I found two, both fall within the “Good” category and this is the first of those.

A little more preamble.  A couple of posts ago I shared with you my brother Alan’s list of top 5 films (not produced in any particular order) that he felt had characters befitting of the challenge.  Fifth on his list was the film “Quigley Down Under”, set in Australia (The clue is in the title!) and staring Tom Selleck and the late Alan Rickman.  This figure which I found, produced by Reaper Chronoscope, is clearly based on the Quigley character played by Selleck, the good guy.

I couldn’t resist the figure for a few reasons.  firstly the Australian background was a fitting tribute to IRO and his challenge, it’s a good-looking figure (even if the paint job isn’t the greatest) and I know it will go down well with my brother who I’ve decided I shall give it to next time we see each other.

The figure is painted entirely using oils.

As for the next figure?  Well let’s big it up.  If you even remotely like western movies then characters don’t come much cooler than this one.  All I have to do is not screw it up!




The Last Of The Mohicans – 28mm Diorama – Part 2

A succesful week, helped considerably by the stay in doors weather, which has seen the completion of this model and also of one of my outstanding WW1 vignettes, the subject of a separate post to follow this one.

Not a great deal to say on this one.  The fir trees were completed with a couple of applications of static grass, the water effects were applied but need to dry a little further and the figures were painted and fixed in position.

The figures are in my opinion nicely designed but they aren’t the greatest of castings and they lack the crispness of other models that I have painted.  As a consequence they aren’t the best but perhaps I’m just getting my excuses in early!

The last photo was taken with the Magua model placed behind this diorama (my brothers idea, credit where it’s due).  The idea was to see how dramatic, if at all, the backdrop would look.  I think  a combination of both bits of landscaping could make for an interesting diorama, I just need to get my head around what figures to use.  There is no rush however as right now I’ve got more than enough lined up!

Photo’s below.




The Last Of The Mohicans – 28mm Diorama – Part 1

I wasn’t intending for this to be my post for this weekend but my recent posts on How To Make Fir Trees along with my Magua Model seemed to go down well so I thought I would keep with the “Last Of The Mohicans” theme while it felt topical.

As mentioned previously, the Last of the Mohican figures I bought comprised a set of six of the films characters.  Having already used the Magua figure the aim of this little diorama is to feature the other five.

Before deciding bow best to present the five figures I thought it would be best to sit down and watch the film once again.  It was a struggle but in the interest of research I put aside a number of chores that She Who Must Be Obeyed had left on a list for me to do as I figured these could wait.  Besides, most of the list consisted of “domestic” jobs and I’m strictly “maintenance”.

I decided that the most fitting theme would be to portray the figures walking in line along the side of a river against a back drop of rocks and trees.  There is a scene along these lines in the film although it also features Major Duncan Heyward who isn’t included in the set of figures.  I suspect I could have found a suitable figure if I searched hard enough but as my diorama wasn’t intended to be a wholly accurate portrayal I thought better of it.

The base was built up using foam board to provide height which was then clad using slate chippings from my garden drive. Similar chippings along with smaller stones and grit were used to construct the river bed.  The fir trees still need to be dressed and have therefore not yet been permanently fixed in place yet.

Next up will be working on the figures, completing the trees, painting the base work and applying the water effects.  All being well part 2 of this project will see the model in its completed state and hopefully I will get to post images of it next weekend.

In the meanwhile some progress pictures below.



The Last Of The Mohicans – 28mm Magua Figure

My third and final post for this weekend and the background to the first post on “How to Make Fir Trees”.

One of my favourite films is The Last Of The Mohicans staring Daniel Day-Lewis and Wes Studi.  I love the story, the cinematography and the sound track.  A winning combination all round.  Truth is from a very young age I have always had a soft spot for the Indians.  There is a reason for this and it is a true story.  Allow me to enlighten you.

My Grandfather on my mother’s side had three older sisters and back in the time of the Great War 1914 – 1918 the family lived in Windsor.  During the war the Canadians sent over an expeditionary force who were billeted in Windsor Great Park.  Many of these men were lumber jacks and native indians who were brought over to chop down trees to supply some of the timber used in making trenches.  Two of my Grandfathers sisters met and later married two Canadian service men and went to live in Canada when the war ended.  In the case of my Great Aunt Rose she married a man by the name Pete Commanda, a native north American Indian.  They spent their lives living on the indian reservation in a log  cabin on the shores of Lake Temagami, Ontario.  A story which has fascinated me from an early age.  For interest a couple of pictures below.

So, whilst trawling the Warlord Games web site some while ago I discovered a set of six figures based on the movie.  I couldn’t resist the temptation to buy them.  I decided they would make two models.  One, this one, would feature Magua on his own.  The other five figures would feature as the basis for a separate diorama.

One of my favourite sequences in the film is at the end when all the main characters are high up on the mountains.  Somehow I wanted to create a mountain scene, albeit with a degree of poetic licence. I wanted height, I wanted rock faces, I wanted fir trees and to aid the impression of altitude I wanted snow (the poetic licence bit as none featured in the film!).  I wasn’t sure how I was going to achieve this and even if I could I wasn’t sure how good a single 28mm figure would appear dominated by a 30 cm high base.  As a consequence the idea sat on my to do list.  Then I got some inspiration on how to make fir trees.  I still wasn’t sure how the overall model would look but then decided to hell with it, let’s give it ago!

The first step was to sift through my outdoor log pile for a suitable log.  This was followed by some saw work to cut away sections which would house the trees and the rocks.  The photo’s below show some of the stages in that sequence.  I then cast some rocks using Woodland Scenics molds.  While various things were drying and doing their stuff I painted the Magua figure.  The Trees were made following the “How To Make Fir Trees” article that I recently published.

Everything painted and dried it was then all about assembly, more painting and then applying the snow.  My overall impression is that it came out looking OK.  I think I achieved the depth of scale I wanted and if nothing else then it’s a little different.

Now to deal with the other five figures!



28mm Old West Saloon – Boxed Diorama

This week has been a planning week with little being done in the way of actual modelling.  The simple reason for this is that I’m waiting on a number of things to arrive in the post.  When they do arrive my time will be dedicated to WW1 and RAF figures.

In the meanwhile I’ve started to look at how to go about constructing my Old West Town diorama.  I wont be starting it for a while but there is a lot to think about and a lot of figures to identify and purchase.  It’s also intended as a project which will last a long time.  One of the things I would like to do is install lighting to some of the buildings and with this in mind I revisited a boxed diorama that I put together a while ago.

The idea of a boxed diorama appealed to me when I saw one at a show I went to.  Keeping with my Old West theme I knew I wanted to do a western saloon scene but the first stumbling block was finding a suitable box.  Eventually I managed to find one on Ebay (see below).  An inexpensive purchase with windows at the top and front of the box.


Having acquired  a suitable box it soon occurred to me that I had a few obstacles to overcome.  Firstly, I didn’t need a window in the top of the box.  Secondly, although finding figures proved straight forward (Dixon Miniatures once again came up trumps) many of them came on bases which needed to be removed without damaging the figures feet otherwise they wouldn’t look right standing on a wooden floor.  Thirdly, I needed to get my head around how to make the lighting work and finally an issue I had originally completely overlooked, composition.  It’s not that I don’t normally give composition a lot of consideration because I do, it’s just that I soon realised with a box diorama you only have one view.  The figures therefore needed to be placed in such a way that they can all been seen.  Essentially it’s like looking at a stage theatre.

A very fine saw enabled me to remove the figures quite easily in the end and the lid of the box proved more than sufficient to conceal the lighting and associated battery and wires.  Composition was a matter or trial and error and the window on the box lid was filled with a stiff piece of card of an appropriate thickness to which was added a poem.  Yes, a poem.  In a moment of inspiration I came up with a few choice words which essentially tell the story of the people in the saloon.  If you cannot read it from the images below then it reads as follows:

When The Sun Goes Down

When the sun goes down and the day is over

Enter the town folk, sheriff and drover

A pianist playing and a barman pouring

A lady singing and saloon girls whoring

Whiskey and poker late into the night

A winner, a loser, a probable fight

Another day in another town

More of the same when the sun goes down

No prizes for finding all the characters in the box!

What follows are a few pictures of the making of the box diorama with the lights on and off.  Apologies for the quality of some of the photo’s but try as I might I seem unable to eliminate some of the reflective light .  Overall it presented quite a challenge but it should stand me in good stead as I look ahead to my Old West Town diorama.




Messing About With Realistic Water … Again! (Part 3 -Completed Model)

Well, after what seemed to take for ever the Realistic Water started to set which then enabled me to manipulate it before it was left to completely go off. Together with Woodland Scenics Water Effects I managed to eventually build up the “running water” into something like a fast flowing white water river.  When completely dry certain areas were dry brushed with Winsor and Newton Titanium White oil colour.

Where appropriate, the front of the canoe and by the paddles, I tried to create the image of cutting through the water.  All in all I’m reasonably pleased with this one but I’ll leave that for others to judge rather than me.  To give it some perspective the model stands 6 inches (15cm) tall and is about 3 1/2 inches (9cm) wide.

There is definitely an art to creating water that looks realistic and this is an area I may look to explore more in the future as I have more to learn for sure. For me though the jury is out with Woodland Scenics. Ideally it would be good to find something less liquid that can be molded but still dries clear (bathroom sealent?). It may well be that Woodland Scenics offer the best products for this sort of thing but I can’t help but think there must be others available and possibly cheaper too.  Something to investigate ahead of any future diorama I do with water.

If anyone knows of other products I would love to hear from you!  In the meanwhile some images of the end result.



Messing About with Realistic Water … Again! (Part 2)

Progress on my canoe diorama continues albeit slower than I’d like.  As a modeller I have a reasonably high degree of patience but the time it takes for this stuff to dry is testing.  As a consequence I am able to share some more progress images but the final model is still a little way off.  Hopefully by this time next week I’ll be there.

Not much to report on the ground work side of things.  The tree and river bed foundations follow tried and tested methods and have been covered in previous posts so I wont bore people by repeating myself.

Although the pictures below don’t show it the tree is now complete and the canoe and figures have been painted.  The problem is that the diorama is on a slope and taking photos are a little tricky while I’m still waiting for the water to set.

While I’ve been waiting for the Realistic Water to dry so I can work with it more I decided to paint a 28mm Greek hoplite.  Not really my historical period of interest but thought I’d have a go at something different for a change.  The figure is from 1st Corps and a very impressive casting it was too.  They have a good range but deal more with Ancients.  I have yet to decide whether or not to paint a few more of these chaps or not and even if I do not entirely sure how to present them.  No doubt I’ll think of something.  Not entirely happy with the completed figure.



Watching Realistic Water dry is boring to say the least.  Next time I will have to see what other products are out there.  In the meanwhile a Greek hoplite which has no baring on this diorama whatsoever!!




Messing About With Realistic Water … Again!

In my last post I mentioned that I had plans to do a model using a canoe as the basis of the small diorama I had in mind.  Well the figures arrived earlier in the week and work is underway.  A few companies do 28mm scale canoes with figures but I settled on buying one from “Black Powder” care of  They do a few different figure options but I decided to go with the Frontiersmen as per the image below.


The figures are white metal, the canoe plastic.  I had planned to do some selective amputation to the arms to change the poses slightly but the figures appear to be a bit smaller than 28mm (nearer to 25mm).  As even basic sculpting is not an area of strength I have decided to leave them alone and simply position them in the canoe as best I can.

Base work is under construction using some tried and tested methods and a few pictures of current progress appear below.  Key to my design is the sloping base which I bought cheaply online (I really must start looking at making more of my own bases).  The idea I have in mind is for the canoe and its occupants to be riding the rapids.  Getting my head around how to add realistic water to a slope is the next challenge but I have a few ideas to trial so we will see how that works out.


Certainly doesn’t look great but am feeling confident that it will all come together!!!

In the meanwhile a few additional photo’s relating to my previous post as requested by IRO!












Messing About With Realistic Water

Fully recharged after an excellent holiday and with a potential modelling ideas list as long as my arm I’ve decided that my next project will be a small diorama with flowing water being a main feature. The basic idea came from seeing some people out canoeing while away on holiday. Not entirely sure why I’ve settled on this idea from countless others but identifying the models to buy quickly certainly had a bearing. It will give me the time to source the things I need for other ideas while keeping my hand in.

The models needed are on order and should arrive shortly but in the meanwhile I thought I would share some details on the first water themed diorama that I put together a little while ago and before I started this blog. As with most first attempts a lot was learnt but overall I was reasonably pleased with the end result.

The basic story behind this 28mm diorama is mountain man sees stag across the water and is trying to make his mind whether or not to shoot such a magnificent beast. The stag on the other hand is deciding whether or not to leg it!

Rock moulds from Woodland Scenics were used to elevate the background and produce the height for the waterfall. The waterfall was created using a combination of Woodland Scenics Realistic Water and Water Effects. Woodland Scenics have an excellent tutorial on YouTube on how to do this so I’m won’t provide a poor version of my own here.

The rocks were painted with highly thinned oil paints using a spotting technique whereby you dab on  each colour (in this case Burnt Umber and Yellow Ochre) randomly and allow the colours to run into one another before applying a top coat wash of black (Ivory Black). Thinned the paint finds its way into all the nooks and crannies of the well-defined rock face but it’s not until the black is applied that the rock face truly comes to life.

Various bits of foliage were added to the scene along with rocks and tree debris to the plunge area of the waterfall.

For a change all the figures didn’t come from Dixon’s but from War Game’s Foundry, their Abrasoka Mountain Men set. The chap holding the rifle at the front of the diorama a is a great casting and one of my favourite figures.

So less chat and a few images.


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28mm Building Project No: 6 – Wells Fargo Way Station

Few images of the Old West more classical than a Wells Fargo Overland Stagecoach and Dixon Miniatures produce a fantastic kit.  Having constructed one of these kits for my brother’s birthday some while ago I always had it in mind to build another for myself, it was always just a matter of time.

I decided the stagecoach would feature in a diorama and chose to depict a Way Station where passengers leave and join the stage and where drivers and horses rest up a while. Space as ever was a constraint but I wanted this to be a diorama of firsts, reflecting if you will my growing confidence at scratch building.

I had never built a wire tree before, made a wire fence, constructed my own internal furniture or completely constructed my own building with a removable roof but that was about to change!

Following a video guide I found on YouTube the first thing I built was the wire tree.  I wont go into further detail on this because I covered the process in two recent blog posts. YouTube was also the provider for how to make a wire fence.  The fence posts themselves were match sticks each drilled with three holes.  The wire was real wire 0.5mm thick.  A length of about 12 inches/30cm was folded back on itself  and then the two separate ends were clamped together tightly (a vice is good for this).  I used a nail placed at the looped end to pull the wire tight  and then twisted and twisted and twisted … you get the idea … and twisted until the wire became taught. Simple but very effective.  The wire was then threaded through the holes on the fence posts.

Anyone who has followed my earlier posts may recognise that the building looks pretty similar to those produced by Sarissa Precision which I have used in the past. There is a reason for this.  When you by one of their kits they come in a couple of MDF sheets (more for bigger buildings) of about A4 size.  Each sheet has the various parts which make up the building which once pressed out leaves the complete outline of that part which can then be used as a perfect template for creating your own scratch building.  In my opinion Sarrisa Precision make quality products at reasonable prices, their range has grown and grown too.  If you think you might use one of their designs more than once, or there is a design that you could easily modify, then buying one and keeping the empty sheets for future builds is a cheap option.

So back to the building.  Using the template of a previously purchased building I set about constructing the various parts using my now tried and tested method of foam board, coffee stirrers, cardboard, match sticks (extra long matches for the veranda posts) and PVA glue.  The lean-to on the side of the building was my own design addition.

For this building I planned for the roof to be removed in order to look inside.  With this in mind it was necessary to clad the inside of the building with coffee stirrers too and to make frames to cover the “glazed” windows and add wooden shutters as well. The window shutters and the door were given “Z” frames for appearance and practical build reasons.  The door handle was made by drilling a whole in the door and inserting a small piece of a cocktail stick.

All of the furniture was scratch built.  The bed was made using a combination of match sticks and coffee stirrers (as was the wooden log box) and a dried out wet wipe dipped in diluted PVA was used to make and mould into shape the bed pillow and blanket.  The table, chair and dresser were all made of various combinations of match sticks, coffee stirrers, cocktail sticks and other bits I found lying around.

The wood stove was my favourite build.  It was made using a piece of round wooden dowel with a round metal washer as the base.  Two metal washers, one larger than the other, were stuck together to make the top of the stove along with a small piece of rounded card to close the washer whole.  Another small piece of card was used to create some relief on the dowel to make a door and a pin head was used to make the door handle.  A wooden BBQ skewer was used to create the stove-pipe and a piece of tubular plastic taken from one of the protective covers which comes with good brushes was used to create the joint.  It was then all undercoated before being painted black and weathered.

The coat hooks were made using the ends of cocktail sticks, the hat was taken from an unwanted figure and the rope was made from some thin string.  The broom was made from a thinned match stick and the hair of an old brush.

Outside, the barrels were some spares I had in my “bit box” and the log pile was simply made from various left overs made smaller with a modelling knife.  If like my brother you are wondering why there aren’t any tools lying about then I will give you the answer I gave him, “they’re all neatly inside the lean-to!”.  The water trough was made of coffee stirrers, filled with Woodland Scenics Realistic Water and the pump was made from wooden skewers with a paper clip handle.

The figures are all once again from Dixon Miniatures with no alterations made.  The stagecoach does not come with chains and harnessing so this was all made from scratch.  The chain was purchased from Hobby Craft and cut to length.  At each end a pin shortened in length was attached and a hole drilled in each horse to accommodate it when stuck together.

Assembly required a lot of thought.  With so many pieces it would have been easy to box myself in and have very little room, if any, to access and paint as required. fortunately I got there in the end!

Images of the completed diorama appear below.