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1/35 Dioramas Plus - "Government Ruins"

 

 
During my visit at the 2010 IPMS Nationals in Phoenix Arizona I had to wonderful opportunity to speak with Randy Pepprock owner of Dioramas Plus.

This company was formed in the fall of 2008. The owner, Randy Pepprock, has been in the hobby industry for over 15 years manufacturing architectural miniatures for model railroaders under the “Downtown Deco” banner.

While speaking with Randy he provided me with his background in the movie industry as he worked as a scenic artist in Hollywood California.

Randy designs, casts, packs and ships each and every order personally.

 
Packaging:

  • Were the parts individually bagged?
    • Yes the separate castings are all individually wrapped in bubble wrap and then shrink wrapped to prevent shifting within the box
  • Were there any additional protective measures used which might warrant bonus points?
    • Perhaps some of the best packaging I have ever seen.  Multiple bubble wraps tightly wrapped around the parts, then taped tight with clear packing tape. 
    • Additional white packing paper is used to ensure no gaps are anywhere within the box.
    • The box itself is shrunk wrapped tight.
  • Is the box art worth raving about?
    • Nice depiction of what the model represents.  Randy does a great job building his offerings out of the box showing off what can be accomplished quickly with some weathering techniques.  
  • Were any parts damaged?
    • No damage was encountered which speaks highly of how well these are packaged.  As the parts are made out of fairly brittle hydrocal plaster materials.
    • The "shattered glass" parts are placed on the bottom of the box under the instructions sheet, preventing it from getting damaged as well.

Instructions:

  • Are they clear and easy to follow? 
    • Nicely clear typed pages with color photographs.  Not only showing the actual assembly but some great technique hints at how to best finish this diorama set.
  • Do they include multiple languages? 
    • No they do not, only typed instructions with English are provided.
  • Are they accurate?
    • From my quick review and the simplicity of the kit they appear to be accurate and well thought out.
  • Do you agree with the build sequence?
    • Building sequence is rather simple and are hard to find fault at.
  • Do they include color call outs?
    • As these are buildings, simple base colors are provided.  The rest is left to the imagination of the modeler as it should be in the case of these types of kits.
  • For multiple paint types? 
    • Only a generic water based paint is being offered as a best suggestion.  As Diorama's can be built with so many different techniques it makes sense to keep this as simple as possible and leave the modeler with his best judgment of techniques and medium chosen.

Decals:

  • No decals are provided, however some street signs are printed on plain white paper which nicely depict some generic street references.

Accuracy:

  • Are there any after market sets available which are worth considering?
    • As with any diorama, a lot can always be added, such as blown up pipes, man holes, brick debris, oil drums, planks, roof tiles, street signs and lightning poles.  There are too many options to list from a variety of manufacturers.  The Diorama's plus building provides the base to start from and let the modelers creative juices flow to create a true work of art and feast for the eyes.

Detail:

  • What is the detail level like?
    • Some beautiful pockmarked walls, exposed stone brick work and damaged plaster.
    • Well done wood window frames.
  • Is the detail crisp or soft?  Can it be easily enhanced? 
    • Detail on the walls is super crisp and can easily be modified with various sanding sticks, dremel sanders and small chisel blades to depict even more damage to the over all setting.

Extras:

  • Did the kit include any photo-etch or resin parts?
    • The kit uses some unique features such as finely laser cut window frames with a stick self adhesive backing a very nice touch that facilitates ease of building.
    • On the last page of the instructions there are a couple of (German) posters and signs printed that you can add to your scene.
  • Any other goodies?
    • Some extra "rubble" is provided as in stone bricks and a nice sheet of shattered glass and some have an excellent rendition of bullet holes.

Value for Money:

  • How does the cost of the kit compare with its contemporaries? 
    • A little more cost than the generic vac form kits such as MiniArt.  However with the laser cut windows, nice plaster castings this is a very nice kit.

 

  • Packaging            10/10
    Instructions           9/10
    Accuracy              10/10
    Detail                       9/10
    Fit                          Untested
    Extras                   10/10
    Value for Money 9.5/10

    Overall          57.5/60




Excellent packaging:



Nicely done typed instructions with color photographs to referees back to:






There are seven main parts which are made of white plaster.  They are made up as follows:


  • three for the building
  • four for the sidewalk.

Beautifully cast walls with nice sharp crisp detail throughout:



Street sidewalks are included:



Some of the excellent built in detail:





Some extra Rubble




Super nice shattered panes of glass some with a unique starred bullet hole through them:




A very nice idea are the 16 window frames which are laser cut, and have an adhesive backing.  also included are one door frame with two nice detailed main entry doors. You only need to separate them with a sharp hobby blade.

This manufacturing technique provides accurate fitting and quick building of these into the overall diorama.



The wood parts have an adhesive film on the back of them for attaching the glass parts, simply peel the backing off and stick on the appropriate section of glass.



Once assembled the building measures approximately 12 inches x 7 inches.

Here is a picture of the assembly once complete (Taken from Randy's Website)




I am looking forward to building this soon during the Promodeller "Diorama" Group build which starts October 9th.