We were treated to the Photo Feature....now we get the full story!
Ever since I was a child I have always been fond of museums!
My parents often had to drag me away from the military history sections or anything showing a diorama, and as I have become older this interest has not waned...far from it!
Last year I was really lucky to actually be employed in a WWII museum...a private collection that had opened to the public in 1996.
One day whilst at work inspiration struck me. I had an idea for a small single figure vignette representing a militaria collector. Back home I made a 1/35th scale display case for a medal collection, and the idea began to grow.
I found a suitable picture frame to use for the base, and placed the stash-boxes in front of me. I wanted the miniature to look as much as possible like the real museum. Some objects I wanted to display were not to be found in my spares boxes, so some scratch building was called for.
From plasticard I built a large wooden ammo box and a smaller one, and painted them up using different tones from Lifecolor. A Luftwaffe honorary cup in silver was made from plastic and brass tubes and detailed with a photo-etched Luftwaffe cap eagle. Also several objects and figures were donated to me by some of the nice members on ModelArmour.com. Thanks to you guys!
I copied the way the wall display cabinets had been constructed, just using balsa strips and PVA glue. I wanted to put lights in the cabinet so I had to make room for some LED lights in the roof. Thin plastic from a blister pack was cut to fit as security glass. Luckily I remembered to use epoxy to glue it, as CA would fog the see-through plastic!
Having started to paint all the objects I soon found it would be difficult to get everything 100% true to scale to represent the full scale museum. I decided to use some artistic license, making sure to have enough authentic scale objects to make it convincing and familiar. From Construction Battalion I bought a print of marble floor that was an exact match to what I needed. I started searching the net for maps and small photos that could be placed on the cabinet walls. Some magazines and newspapers from Plus Model were also used. Texts for the exhibition was scaled down and printed on thin paper.
In the cabinet I wanted several figures but eventually decided on a Soviet Dragon figure and a German Masterbox offering, flanking a table filled with militaria. Here I put several badges and insignias produced by Cove Models, some edelweiss patches, a Narvik shield and some Luftwaffe collar boards. A radio and an officer's peaked cap were painted with great care and secured to the table with epoxy glue. I sharpened some details on the figures and painted them up as museum mannequins. This made flesh painting a joy for once. I wanted the German to have a "Kharkov-cane", which was nicely carved branches made by soldiers when they had a moment off duty. A cocktail stick was cut to length, thinned and detailed with sewing thread and a PE iron cross, then painted to look like wood and bark. A civilian resin figure from Custom Dioramics was used as a museum guest. His head was swapped for a Hornet one, and I painted him in a blue suit using Vallejo's Periscope Blue as a base for the mix.
I needed to have something in each front corner of the little diorama to balance the scene. On the left side I put the medal collection I had made first, a Bren gun and the large ammo crate. On top of the crate I glued a couple of helmets. After the war a lot of German and allied helmets were used by civil defence forces in Norway and were often painted in bright yellow. The other German helmet has a white H with a 7 on the front, which was the symbol the Norwegian resistance used. For the right corner I built a smaller floor cabinet. I used plasticard and blister pack for this, which I filled with tiny memorabilia. I struggled a bit getting the security glass for this one to look good, but after a few attempts I managed to cut the blister-pack in one piece and then fold it to shape and secure it with a few dabs of epoxy glue and then place it over the objects. Here I put a Zyklon B canister, a whip, some German headwear and a blue and white striped KZ-hat. Around this cabinet I placed a pair of boots and some different large calibre grenades, just as found in the real museum.
At last I could fix the LED lights in place, put on the roof and glue a few military signs to the top front of the cabinet. I found a fitting box and transported the diorama to the museum. William Hakvaag, the founder and manager of the Lofoten War Museum was surprised to see a model of his collection, and was happy to display it there.
Upon completing my project I was very happy with the result and I discovered nothing is better than a project like this to thin out the spares boxes!