Many people have asked me how I started building auto dioramas. Well, it all started some 20 years ago when out of the blue a buddy of mine asked me to make a display scene for a favourite toy train that he owned. I took up the challenge to create my first auto diorama – models and figures seen against a three-dimensional background – and in the process, I became hooked on the concept. However, being a car fanatic, I decided I would rather concentrate my new-found talent on creating dioramas for my collection of 1:18 scale models. Since then I have built over 100 dioramas, most of which have been passed on, but many still occupy wall space in my home study and office. One of my favourite works is a scene depicting the famous car chase from the movie Bullitt…
I remember watching the movie and looking at a “freeze frame” of Steve McQueen’s (aka Frank Bullitt) Highland Green Ford Mustang GT airborne as it leaps off the crest of a downhill San Francisco street with the horn-rim bespectacled Bill Hickman’s (the “baddy” driver) black Dodge Charger 440 Magnum trying to shake off his pursuer. This scene drew my attention immediately, so I set to work. I remember at the time it took me almost an hour to make up a pair of glasses for Bill Hickmen’s figurine. I was delighted when I found out that this diorama is permanently posted on the official Bullitt website. (Click here)
Not all of my scenes are “takes” from movies. I simply get ideas, think them through, then set to work. Sometimes I start with a model, like a damaged BMW that I was given and, rather than rebuild it, I decide to wreck further and create a crash scene. Other times I will think of a scene and then look around for models to suit it. I don’t really do layout sketches, I just make it up as I go along, adapting certain details where necessary but without deviating too much from the original idea I had in my mind. Depending on size and complexity of the auto diorama, they take as long as they take, and if I’m not in the mood then I don’t touch them: it’s a recipe for disaster!
Some of the scenes I create portray both the good and the bad sides of life. Apart from the medics attending to the driver of the crashed BMW diorama, there is one of an illicit gun deal taking place from the boot of a Pontiac Satellite on a low-light street corner.