Building a diorama can either be a grand adventure, or a freaking pain in the ***.
You can probably tell I'm mostly in the latter camp.
So it's no wonder that Dioramas Plus has found a niche supplying hydro-cal buildings for 1/35th scale modelers (see my previous review of their small ruins here
). Hyrdo-cal is the same plaster doctors use for casts: it sets fast yet is strong.
One of their recent releases is an Iraqi street scene complete with base, "conduit," and a rat's nest of wires to replicate the rather casual look of many Iraqi buildings when it comes to their electricity.
Inside a moderately-sized cardboard box are:
4 pieces of hydro-cal plaster building pieces plus 8" x 10.5" paved street & sidewalk base
3 bare metal aluminum wires for conduit
4 green wires for making electric lines
2 pieces of white plastic card stock
1 sheet of Arabic signs
The casting of the pieces is very crisp, and they all shipped without damage, though one advantage of plaster buildings in a wartime diorama is that any breakage probably will make the end result better!
Construction is pretty easy and straightforward. DP recommends 5-minute epoxy for gluing the parts together, and I found it to be a good choice over white glue or CA glue. The diorama represents two storefronts and a rat's nest of electrical cables & conduit. The instructions pretty much give you carte blanche for how the cables are arranged, though I followed their illustrations.
Painting the buildings is pretty easy, too. I used Tamiya Wood Deck Tan and "Dunkelgelb." After they dried, I streaked on a wash of acrylic Burnt Umber and some pigments for both dust and rust. There's quite a bit of latitude for creativity, and the street is sufficiently beat-up that you can add things like spilled oil or trash of any variety (the kit even includes a filled trash can).
The last addition were the kit-supplied Arabic signs, complete with plastic card stock for mounting. The result is a base waiting for a Humvee or small tank. The street portion of the diorama is 10.5" (26.7cm) by 5" (12.7cm).
While not cheap, pre-formed plaster buildings take the hassle out of making dioramas. This particular offering looks recognizably like a Middle Eastern street scene, and will provide a believable base for a Humvee, AAVP or other vehicle.