The Jedi Master, Yoda of Dagobah
Here's another relatively simple diorama I pulled together at just about the same time as I was working on the Gollum scene that you can view elsewhere on this site.
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I found a pretty good ¼ scale vinyl kit for Yoda on eBay (where else?) and copied (somewhat) a similar scene that I came across in Amazing Figure Modeler (Issue # 40) constructed by Dan Colonna. His version is far superior and much more complicated than mine but my intention was to make a smaller version of his scene without losing any of the charm of the original.
The Yoda assembly and paint job was fairly straight forward for what you'd find in a typical vinyl kit. One minor change I used in its construction was to use a heat gun to soften the plastic to cut off extraneous hunks of vinyl left over from the casting process. In the past, I had been using hot water to soften the material but I found that a heat gun (you can pick up a cheap two stage gun for about fifteen bucks at a discount tool store like Harbor Freight) works much faster and gives you a little more control in where you can apply the heat. Assembly took a couple hours and the paint job (all done by hand, no airbrush) was another three or so. To give Yoda a more piercing look, I used some 5mm doll eyes I found on Glass Eyes Online (http://www.glasseyesonline.com/) my go to place for eye balls.
The base was a tad more complicated. I wanted to evoke the overgrown swampy look of the film (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back) but I still wanted to “reign it in” size wise. It was wintertime in New England during the build so finding branches and stuff in the wild was a bit daunting since I'm old and might not have found my way home. As luck would have it, I happened to drive by a future home construction site and I noticed a pile of branches and roots bull dozed into a massive heap. After a little scrounging, I found a couple dozen candidates I could use on this diorama and possible future ones.
Once I figured out which roots and branches I wanted to use, I cut them roughly to size and then stuck them in the oven (yes, the OVEN) at 175 degrees for a few hours. I did this so my diorama wouldn't have any surprise critters in residence (aside from Yoda of course).
The next step was to figure out a way to display the setting in a swampy environment, IE. lots of water without the hassle of, well, lots of water. I found a small baking sheet that was roughly the dimensions of the final scene that I had envisioned. I attached my branches and roots to a piece of plywood that would fit in the baking sheet and positioned it so it almost resembled a small island. I then used my 'go to' acrylic water medium, Magic WaterTM to finish the scene. This stuff is really easy to use and not that expensive. I have a review in the “Helpful Hints & Tips” section (Tip #25) of this site if you'd like to learn more about this fine product.
Once the I poured the Magic WaterTM and it had cured over night, I added some odd looking plastic foliage I picked up at AC Moore and, as a final touch, I used a small REAL vine (Hedera ivy) to literally liven up the scene. This vine is a nice fit because it has fairly small leaves which were in scale and grows slowly. The fact that it can survive in relatively low light is great since the diorama can be displayed just about anywhere in the home. The scene measures 11 inches wide, 8 inches deep and 12 inches high.
The finishing touches of the scene was too make a small information plate on the back and adding four felt glides on the underside to protect any furniture it might rest on.
This project went fairly smoothly and took me roughly 24 hours to complete which isn't too bad considering how it came out. SOLD!