Today it gives me great pleasure to welcome back Master Gram Spina aka @hotrod_crazy with another masterful How-To Guide covering some of the more intricate details around creating a 1:64 scale diorama for your Hot Wheels and assorted diecast cars.
*For an all round guide on creating a Hot Wheels diorama [shelf] see my original How-To HERE
I guess one could say Gram is showing us how to put the DRAMA back in DIORAMA – because let’s be honest, a diorama without any is simply an io. And WTF’s an io?!?!? Exactly! … no more questions your honor 😉
Over to you Gram
How To Take Your Diorama From Meh To Hell Yeah
I recently moved my diorama from a small table in my room to a larger table in tthe basement. I call this new setup the “all things diecast mancave!” This table was a dining room table that most recently was home to my fabulous slot car track. But the time felt right to put the slot cars away and expand my 1/64th scale diorama. Today I am going to explain how to make your diorama a gear head’s dream come true! So let’s get cracking.
Choosing Your Buildings in the Correct Scale
S-scale and HO-scale are your best options. I suggest searching online to find some wickedly cool buildings to choose from. That said, I prefer to see my buildings in person prior to making a purchase. I do my research online, and then scour local hobby shops and train stores to get an up close look and determine that the scale is correct. Often, I bring a car with me to the hobby shop to help make my choice. The truth is, there are many more options available online than in store, both in finished and kit form. If you have the time, patience and skill, kits are a great way to go. They are often less expensive than finished buildings, and can be easily customized with paint and decals. Another great place to find buildings is local train and toy shows. You can often find a good bargain on new and used HO-scale buildings and props. I always suggest starting your building collection with a barn.
How to make your own billboards with ads
The billboards I use are readily available at hobby and train stores, as well as online. They are created for HO-scale trains. The billboard is simply a frame that you can slide an image of your choice into. Billboards are a great way to add your own creative flair to your diorama. So, if you like AMC, or Chevy, or Datsun, or Coca Cola, you can make your preference known!! I like doing a Google search for images of old ads that I then print out and cut to size. Most of the time, these billboards will come with an ad already placed, you can use this as a template for size and scale, as shown below.
*And Alex is super happy with that terrible pun! 😀
Here’s how it looks when completely finished:
MASSIVE Props to Ben Mossing!
Also before we continue I personally would like to shout out @moss_rods on IG because he saw the billboards I was making and gave me a link to his awesome 1/64 scale photos of cool stuff. He gave me permission to share that link with you as well.
Moss Rods Generous as &@#! Gift To My Custom Hotwheels Readers…. (well go on, click it and enjoy – and make sure you send a special shout out to both @Moss_Rods and @Hotrod_Crazy for… ALL OF IT!
Go ahead and click on it. I’ll wait for you… You back? Awesome stuff, right?! Okay, moving on. Let’s get those gears turning!!
How To Make a True 1/64 Scale Drag Strip
This is the fun part! To get the look of a freshly paved strip, I bought foam sheets at Michael’s. Here’s an idea of what to look for: (Click image to go directly to Michaels.com to view their full range)
I love this material because when you drive a car on it, the car leaves its wheel tracks just like it would on a real drag strip! These foam sheets in shades of black and gray are also ideal for parking lots and other types of roadways
The race light I am using in this photo is a train signal light; Johnny Lighting has a drag racing tree light in a two pack that is also a great choice. The hay bales are from my dad’s old HO-scale slot car track. You can find similar ones at train stores and online.
Two trees, one on each side of the track, and a telephone pole in the center marks the finish line. With a spotter to call the winner. Hot Wheels makes some play sets that include mechanics and other people, but these are often very hard to find. Greenlight has people packs and sets with people and cars that are the exact scale and, in my opinion, more realistic than those made by Hot Wheels. The track is based on an old airport. The hanger I am using is made by Plasticville. For the cement, I used a foam sheet in the lighter gray.
If you have the space you can really get a great looking drag strip; if you have a small space to work with, you can simply recreate the starting line and you’ll still end up with some great photo opportunities.
For my photos, I really like using cotton balls to recreate the smoke effect that occurs with a burn out! You need to play around with the amount of cotton to get the effect you are looking for. A little goes a long way here!
Now that you have one cool diorama you need a place to store your diecast cars. My suggestion are these cases, nicknamed “jammers” by some fans. Why? you may ask. I have no clue. What I do know is that they hold 42 cars each and they are durable, stackable and a lifesaver in terms of keeping your diecast collection organized. These cases are available online at Wal-Mart.
Before we say good bye for now I want to share a little something that I know Alex will flip over. Here goes: Alex, you finally have your own shop complete with a junkyard in back! The big black 1969 Camaro with a huge blower is a custom Alex made and sent me in a RAOK box with other amazing diecast wonders of joy! This is how I say thanks, mate!
Oh and you might have thought I was crazy if I didn’t put a photo of Big Red Camaro on here. So… here she is with a custom billboard for her in the background!
Alright, that’s all from me for now! Thanks Alex for letting me spread my tips and tricks to everyone! Signing off. GPS
But Wait! There’s More (Steak Knives Optional)
I kinda took the liberty of pinching a few photos from Gram’s IG timeline because it seems he doesn’t like sending me the really good stuff mwuahahahah. I stole them anyway so you could truly appreciate how amazing some of his diorama work really is.
Thanks again Gram, it is always a pleasure sharing your knowledge and experience with the MCH community. Yep – you’ll keep kid, you’ll keep 😉