Posts Tagged ‘Diorama



I’ve been messing with model trains again, lately. Finally got the damn things running smooth. That’s taking a disturbing amount of maintenance.

Anyway, the scenery is far from finished, and I want to finally start building the “tree tunnel” that I’ve always planned to mask where the trains enter and exit one end of the layout. In the past, I’ve made my trees from clump foliage on Woodland Scenics armatures. Still using the WS trees (I’ve got them, why not?) but decided to try a different product. I stretched some MRC cluster foliage over one of the WS tree armatures…. and didn’t like it. The dark green color I have seems awfully vivid on its own, and there’s a lot visible “hairs” among the foam in the stuff. I do, however, like all the negative space it creates, it has a similar “seeing through the leaves” effect as looking through a real tree. I tried sprinkling some ground foam over it, but I don’t really have that’s a similar shade. Most of what I have is lighter colored and far more drab. There is one thing I have on hand that’s a similar color; Woodland Scenics fine leaf foliage. It has a similar see through effect, and a lot of fine branches throughout. So, I tried gluing that over the stretched out fiber cluster.


I have to upgrade the rest of the trees on the layout, now….

Yeah, I’m really happy with the effect. The only problem is I don’t want all the trees to be the exact same shade, so I’ll have to get some more fine leaf foliage, in a different shade. I was already planning to order a couple of things from Fifer Hobby Supplies, so that goes on the list.


More Tales From the Garage


I’ve been slowly modifying that die-cast Mustang. It’s a cheap one, from Sam’s Club. Given the price a lot of die-cast cars go for, I’d be hesitant to cut into one. These go for so little, it’s pretty much game on. Most of the changes to this one will be relatively minor, with a super charger and air ducting  under the hood being the most drastic changes.

It’ll be getting new low mounted rally lights pulled from a 1/24 scale model to replace the ones in the grill that I’m turning into air intakes. New rocker panels are halfway finished, and I’ll be making a matching piece to replace the ugly black trim part that wraps around the bottom back of the car. The model is missing an accent line that should start on the doors and extend back in an arch to the quarter panels. I’ll be making the hard line from that out of styrene sheet, and feathering it into the bodywork with sanding and Fixit Sculpt. The final paint job will be two-tone red, with a thin gold stripe between. New wheels are planned, and I’ve already replaced the plastic steering column with a new one made of brass. It’s taken most of the slop out of the steering, and the wheels hold their positions better.

Yes, I am probably the only person in the world that cares about slop in the steering of a toy car.

I’ve slightly lowered the front ride height. The rear ride height was a little too low, from the factory. Together, it makes it look like an evenly lowered car. I’m not much into the whole “stancing” thing, but I’m seeing this as a “street fighter” type car, modified for better handling.  A diffuser on the front, and  tonneau cover where the rear seat used to be, along with a roll bar will round out the look. I’m also hoping to replace the seats with better sized and shaped ones. The current ones are too small. Current plan is to scratch build one and cast it.

This car something of a practice piece. I’ll be working on a similar one from the same manufacturer to make a very different looking car. That one will be turned into a fast back styled hard top, and made to look like a 2013/2014 car, instead of the 2010+ style it comes modeled after. That one will get a similar lowering in the front, but have the rear end raised. I figure that will help give it a completely different attitude from the convertible. More of a brawler, to the this car’s dancer.

I just hope my reach doesn’t exceed my grasp….


Intruders in the Warehouse

Seems security is getting a little lax, around the GTHI warehouse. But, the Greyryder is on the case!



I might have had a little help, from Fenra.



Pronouns get interesting, when you create a character based on your online handle. 😉


The little guys are M.O.U.S.E.R.S. (That is the last time I’m typing that as an acronym) from the current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line. I don’t collect the line, mostly because I’m a 1/18 scale snob. Most of the figures in that line seem a little more stylized than I usually like, too. I saw these guys over on Matt Booker’s blog, and thought they looked like a lot of fun.  Now, I’m a bit of an articulation junky, and these guys don’t have a lot. Their hips are simple, just swinging back and forth, their heads are on ball joints and the jaws open. Technically, the jaws are on ball joints, and the tops of the heads open, but semantics, whatever. I’ve forgiven figures for lacking articulation in the past, if they have personality, and these Mousers have personality. Unlike a lot of GI Joe figures, the ball joints at the tops of the necks aren’t restricted to simple swivel joints. They’re stable with the bodies leaned all the way forward. This lets them have a variety of postures. You can create personalities for them, just by posing them with different body language. Did I mention, you get seven of them, in each package? Yeah, troop building pack done right. I didn’t look at other packages to see if the color assortments are consistent, but mine came with three of the silvery guys, two of the darker gray ones (who are still kind of metallic) and two of the black ones.


Now, I mentioned the articulation, and how I like a lot of it. I don’t want anyone to think I’m being overly critical. These little guys have very thin legs. Realistically, you’re not going to get much more articulation in them. You could maybe ball joint the hips, and I think the ankles have enough bulk I might be able to use Lego levers to put ball joints in those. But articulating the knees, I don’t think would be possible, without bulking up the legs. And, I think that would spoil their look. I only want to add jointing to the ankles so I they can be posed standing without their feet being right side by side.


Everyone’s a Critic

After a couple of posts with genuine artwork, we’re back to stupid toy pictures. 🙂

Lots of action figure collectors take pictures of their figures, in cool looking action poses. Well, I can pose too.


But, some people just can’t let that be….



The Intervention

Don’t you hate it when you’re working on something, minding your own business, and someone has to come along and disturb you. “You haven’t eaten in five days. Step away from the dozens of unfinished projects, and eat a sammich.” It’s always something….




The Garage

So, I’ve been working on a garage/workshop backdrop for the Infinitely Variable Diorama. Normally, I make these things out of foam core. On this one, I was worried about warping causing problems. Foam core pretty much always warps, though the few pieces I recently picked up at the craft store seem to be a lot flatter than what I usually find at the local wal-mart, despite being the same brand.

Anyway…. This one’s made from Masonite. (or “hard board” as the local home improvement place calls it) There’s a little sheet styrene, some necklace chain, and the brick is printed out from a program called Brick Yard. Other backdrops I’ve made, have used the Model Builder program, elsewhere on that site. The roll up door doesn’t actually work, it slides out, and a partial door can be slid in, in its place. The box that would hide the roll up mechanism, were it real, is attached to the backdrop by two small neodymium magnets. That way, the backdrop can still be stored relatively flat.




Apologies to anyone who has updates set to send them emails. I botched a few things, getting this one posted.


Return of the MX 500 …sort of

This is a tale of two (computer) mice.


Now, I can be a bit rough on hardware. I once snapped off two joysticks, within just a few days. I would have weighed at most a grand 130 lbs, at the time. I’ve never exactly been a big dude. I’ve calmed down in recent years, but not before I irreparably broke my Logitech MX 500 mouse. This was the mouse that got me to give up my trackball. (If Logitech would make a trackball with as many buttons as this mouse, I’d switch back. They have one that’s close, but I know I’d come to miss those two buttons)


Anyway…. I fought with another mouse for a year or two, before I discovered the MX 518. The 518 is basically the 500, with updated electronics. It does have one little problem. In recent years, Logitech has switched to using cheaper buttons in their products, that don’t last as long. They’ve come under fire for this, and I understand they’ve basically relaunched half of their product line, with better switches, because of it. Before it’s untimely demise, I used my MX 500 for years, with no problems with any of the buttons. The trackball I used before it has a button that’s visibly damaged, its housing is actually cracked, but it still works like new.


The other day, one of the side buttons on my MX 518 stopped working. Well, stopped, might not be the right phrase. But, it certainly started getting flaky. I use this button for middle clicking, since it’s easier to press than the scroll wheel. I also use it for aiming, in Warframe. For all my history of hardware abuse, this is not my fault. This was a cheap button going south, prematurely. Now, I tend not to throw things away, if I think I can get some use out of part of them. This includes my old mouse. The MX 500 and 518 clearly share most, of their tooling, and I know that the old buttons are dimensionally identical to the current cheaper ones. Obviously, there was only one thing to do.




The original plan was to desolder the malfunctioning button from the 518, and the corresponding button from the 500, and solder the working button into the 518. But, the more I looked, the more I saw how physically similar the two mice were. Since the plugs that connect the boards the buttons in question are mounted to are identical, as are the boards, and the plastic piece they’re clipped in to. I decided to just swap the whole assembly. While I was at it, I replaced the big silver colored piece that makes up the main buttons and part of the outside of the mouse. It would have been easier to just replace the entire upper housing of the mouse, but something has attacked the rubberized coating on the black section, the whole thing is sticky, and pretty gross. Beyond that, it’s physically worn and the 518’s isn’t. I also replaced the side buttons piece. These are the exterior “buttons” that your fingers actually press on, not the electronic buttons that were the original problem. These match the other piece I replaced, and the print isn’t worn off them. I didn’t bother replacing the three buttons that run down the middle of the mouse, since the print’s worn off both sets, leaving them looking identical.


So, I now have an MX 518 that looks like my old MX 500, because it has so many parts off of it. It’s a bit of a Franken-mouse. I probably should have taken a picture of it, before I plugged it back into the computer….



December 2019
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