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Fort Duquesne Display - Part 4

Fort Duquesne Display - Part 4In this final section Ray discusses the figures he uses on his displays.

The biggest draw back I've encountered is the serious lack of civilian figures to compliment each time period. Minifigs offers a wide variety of wargame figures in 15mm (pictured above).

There are a few medieval civilian figures which when modified with a razor saw and file can pass for denizens of the 17th-18th century, but more are needed for all time periods. A lack of good photo catalogue lists from many manufacturers compounds this problem, I�m reluctant to order figures that sound as if they may work without seeing them first. With a little bit of work you can create a reasonable impression of what you are trying to depict.

Fort Duquesne Display - Part 4The first order of modification for permanent display dioramas is to remove most or in some extremes all of the figures base. My standard procedure is to take a simple nail clipper and cut away at the base to leave a thin pointed strip running from a toe or heal on a single foot (this is important for the final attachment of figure to diorama which I'll cover in a later paragraph.

Once freed from each other you can bend the legs on a figure into various positions without too much difficulty using a couple of fine pointed needle nose pliers. With some tweaking a running figure can be changed to a standing figure or even a sitting figure. Some poses are easier to manipulate than others and a little forethought will help in deciding which way to go. A head can be turned slightly up or down left or right, or cut away entirely and replaced with a different one glued on with any of the various brands of cyanoacrylate super glues. By cutting away a musket you can reposition hands into depicting various tool using actions. Canteens and cartridge boxes can similarly be cut off or filed away to change soldiers into civilians.

I first spray paint the figures with a primer, this makes a nice base coat for the final coverage. I like using acrylics for the figure painting, both for the quick drying time and the ease of clean up. Mistakes can be simply painted over as soon as the paint dries. The final treatment is with a very thin wash of practically transparent black paint, this treatment produces two effects, it nicely brings out and enhances the minute details of faces and hands, along with the material folds and other accoutrements of gear and uniform, and it creates a slightly washed out well used worn look of lived in reality. Paint the small strip of base a green or brown color.

Fort Duquesne Display - Part 4Attaching your figures into the diorama is easy with the strip of base left attached as described earlier. Using two needle nosed pliers, grip the leg with the strip of base remaining firmly, with the other pliers bent the strip downwards so that it is pointing at roughly 180� below the figure

At this point you can re paint the trimmed base and touch up the figure as needed. Now you have a point much like a tack that you can insert into the diorama base. I use an awl to punch a receptacle into the base and spread either white glue or super glue upon this point before inserting the figure the flocking and other ground surface treatments easily hide any remnant of the base that remains in view. If your figure is standing upon a platform or other surface other than natural ground my solution to this problem for a more secure mount is drill a small hole (wear safety glasses) with a hand drill in the figures foot and insert the snapped off point of a pin or needle so that the broken end is flush with top of the foot and the point sticks out of the sole about a 1/4 inch. Secure with cyanoacrylate. This point can be inserted (again using cyanoacrylate to bond) into whatever flat surface you desire. Pushed flush to the surface it will make a realistic looking, strong reinforced bond.

Fine detailing

The 1:112 scale can use model railroad super detailing parts. HO scale will provide a great number of tools, shovels, axes, saws, picks, ladders, barrels, wheel barrows, grinding wheels, lengths of chain, windows and doors that can be used easily with some or no modifications. Model ship suppliers also have some items that can be adapted such as swivel guns, cannon, rope, cannon balls, etc. I've carved cannon and swivel guns out of round toothpicks and added details with sewing thread and fine wire and made the gun carriages out of balsa wood with wheels from razor sawed toothpick rounds. When painted they look very good. Sculpy clays make realistic looking grain sacks, pumpkins and sand bags.

Fort Duquesne Display - Part 4This shows a traders birch bark canoe. It was made of birch bark, paper strips, bamboo strips, and thread. The barrel was from an HO model railroad supplier, beaver pelt bundle from deer skins, paddles carved from flat toothpicks and flour sacks from Sculpy clay.

Field gun carriages can be converted into various types of horse carts and wagons, convincing wagon rigging can be fashioned out of paper strips and model ship rope. The more detail you add the more realistic the diorama and the 1:112 scale lets you get away with a lot of impressionistic detail that taken as a whole works magic. Your only limit is your own imagination.


Fort Duquesne Display - Part 4

Finished diorama in St. Clair Historical Museum, St. Clair Michigan, USA.


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