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Once a model building is completed, it is well worth spending some extra time adding a scenic base and other items. In the last few years a huge number of extremely accurate models of vehicles have become available. These, along with figures and roadside accessories can be used to enhance the scene. 

DGS Dutch Gabled shops 1/76 scale card model kit
DGS Dutch Gabled shops 1/76 scale card model kit

Many of the models in the range can become a 'diorama' almost immediately. The DGS Dutch Gable Shops kit includes a length of paving. This will match the paving found in the PAV kits which can easily enable the modeller to lay out a network of streets.

When does a model become a diorama?

What about a road surface?

The next picture shows three DGS kits placed side by side with the lengths of paving joined. The kit includes nine different shopfronts, A sheet of black card has been used as a road surface. It looks a little stark - a little white chalk could be rubbed in to give a more worn grey colour. Strips of self adhesive white paper can very easily become white lines.

Have I got space?

Dioramas need not be very large.

There are several sets of terraced houses in the range. These provide an opportunity for building a realistic scene which is ideal for providing a background for model road vehicles and figures.

A variety of garden and front wall detail can add individual touches. Roadside accesories such as lamp posts help to set the scene. The whole thing can be less than a foot wide , and sit comfortably on a bookshelf.

This TERC kit was based on the Edwardian terraced house where I lived in Essex for over twenty years.

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With so many buildings in the Kingsway Models range, there are lots of possibilities for dioramas to fit all kinds of spaces. The descriptions include measurements to help you decide what can fit in the space that you have. The scene above is shown wth vehicles from the postwar era. It would also be suitable for quite a few decades later.


The MWB Motorway Bridge kit can form the centrepiece of a diorama where a number of road vehicles can be displayed. The motorway is approximately 16" wide.

GBF Gainsborough Fire Station card model kit 1/76 scale OO gauge

Many of the larger models simply require a suitable road surface to be marked out, and then a few extra items added. Compare the GBF Gainsborough fire station model that has just been placed on a sheet of black card with the effect some extra details can give.
Mounting card can be used for a base or you may wish to use hardboard or MDF. If the building is to be used on a model railway then you will probably have a baseboard already.

GBF Gainsborough Fire Station card model kit 1/76 scale OO gauge

This time the card has been sprayed with grey car aerosol paint - available quite cheaply from high street stores.
Self adhesive white paper strips have been added to create the box markings, and has been coloured by simply using a yellow felt tip pen. The letters were marked using a stencil and then similarly cut out from adhesive paper.
Once again Kingsway PAV paving has been added. The grass mat is available from model shops, as is the coloured 'flock' powder which is glued to the base to represent the fire station's award winning front garden!

Staines ST bus garage card model kit 1/76 scale

The bus garage models generally need surprisingly few extra items. The road surface is essential of course and often some paving.
Here the built kit of ST Staines bus garage has simply been placed on a sheet of card.

Staines ST bus garage card model kit 1/76 scale diorama

Have a look to see what has been added to Staines garage. This time the road surface has been sprayed with grey paint and then powdered charcoal has been rubbed in with tissue paper, This is rubbed in 'along the traffic flow', where the traffic wears it. See how there are markings made "by the bus tyres" as they leave the garage. Do you see the small yard to the right of the building? Easily done - a space to display some more buses.
If you have space, it is always a good idea to have a length of road on which other vehicles can be displayed.
A final touch is a vertical backboard which has had some suitable backscene pictures attached.

WD Wandsworth bus garage card model kit 1/76 scale

Some small pieces of paving have been used - it's very adaptable, the PAV kit instructions describe it's use. Each pack contains over 100" of paving.
Look inside the garage. The interior wall detail is available as a free download from the link at the top of this page.
Behind the buses, in the gloom inside the garage, an interior backscene has been used to give the illusion of a larger space - again available from the download link.

The WD Wandsworth as a city garage is even easier.
Left: The built kit on a plain base.

WD Wandsworth bus garage card model kit 1/76 scale diorama
OSS One stop shop card model kit 1/76 scale OO gauge

Some kits provide a surface to help get you started! The OSS One Stop Shop model, comes with tarmac (with markings) and includes the paving. All that has been added here are the cars and figures.

The LCS Local Convenience Store also includes a base. Once again the marked parking area is included in the kit. Look out for the MFS and BSG kits (petrol stations which also have a base), and also HC - the Holby Casualty entrance.

OSS One stop shop card model kit 1/76 scale OO gauge diorama
NTC Newark Tyre centre card kit SSS Small suburban shops 1/76 scale OO gauge model diorama
RPU Retail Park Unit 1/76 scale model card kit shoppping centre diorama

Go large!

With so many kits in the range there are loads of possibilities.  Three kits have been used - the NTC Newark Tyre Centre, CPW Car Park Wasteground, and SSS Small Suburban Shops.  The base is a rectangle of board prepared as previously described. Some PAV paving has been used.
Actually there is another kit - hidden behind the bus is a concrete bus shelter from the LTS kit (one of six shelters in that kit). A version of it may also be downloaded from the FREEBIES page!
Look carefully and see that the SSS shops kit has been very carefully curved - the method is described in the instructions - a bit tricky, but a prototypical practice.
You can see from the example above how it is possible to create a diorama that can be full of detail and used as a display for model vehicles or as an adjunct to a model railway.

For the shopping centre, two RPU kits have been used as well as some PAV paving. One is constructed as a full relief building; the other as two half relief buildings. Each kit includes a car park base. This is an excellent way to display a collection of 1/76 scale model cars.

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The MBS Modern Bus Station kit  provides a complete diorama requiring just vehicles and figures to be added. It's an excellent showcase for a collection of 1/76 scale buses or coaches.

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The HC Holby Casualty kit comes complete with a large area with road markings. An ideal way to dsiplay emergency vehicles.

The entrance to the emergency department may be shown with doors open.

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NTC Newark tyre centre card model kit 1/76 scale diorama OO gauge

A close up view of the tyre centre and parking area from the diorama shown. This alone would make an interesting smaller diorama for displaying a variety of road vehicles. Here a photo backscene has been placed behind the building

WWMD woolworths card model shop kit OO   gauge Fine Fare SSM Sixties supermarket HIgh Street diorama

Many of the kits build half relief buildings, so it's quite simple to place a number of these together to make a street scene. Such a scene could fit on a bookshelf on the wall taking up very little space.
Here a number of buildings have been placed in two facing lines to make a street scene. In the distance the RSP Romford Station Parade of shops is used to close the background. These buildings were set up temporarily on a grey base mat in order that a series of photographs could be taken. If you collect model vehicles you can now photograph them in realistic settings.

Going Underground - the ultimate challenge!

London Underground 1/76 scale model diorama OO gauge station

Building an Underground station model can be a real 3D challenge!
Here is a small non-working diorama that I built some years ago. The station building is a modified CHS Charles Holden Style station kit. Items from the USI kit have been used for walls and floor. The roof of the building was removable to show the interior. A bank of escalators led down to the concourse. The base of the model allowed a view of the platform - a TSN kit.

Underground station model 1/76 scale OO gauge interior

This is a view of the station with the roof removed showing the escalators leading to the lower level. A low voltage lighting system lit the interior.

Underground station model 1/76 scale OO gauge interior

The TSN tunnel platform is used with extra floor and walls from the USI kit to make the subterranean passages. The bottom of an ESCW escalator can just be seen.

A different example using the HAM Hammersmith station building with a TSN tunnel, an  escalator and extra parts from the USI station interiors kit. 

The ESCW kit builds a triple escalator or can be cut down, as here, to make a double or single. The tiled floor is from the USI kit.

Of course most of the model would be 'below ground' and organising how to view it can be extremely challenging!

The examples here are quite compact, being sectional models showing how the station is arranged. Installing something like this with a working Underground railway, would be another thing altogether!

Further photos of the Underground diorama shown above may be found in a Flickr album which will open in a new window.

OLU 1/43 scale lockup garages card kit
1/43 scale model card kit OSD semi detached modern house

There is a growing range of 1/43 kits which can be made into dioramas that will show off the fine detailed cars and other vehicles that can now be found. Above is the OLU lock-garages model with a few extra scenic items - tarmac base, brick wall and some greenery. A photographic backscene is placed behind.

OMFS 1/43 scale card kit model petrol station

These modern style semi-detached houses from the OSD SEmi-detached house kit are half relief. They can be displayed with one of the garages open. A choice of doors and driveways is included in the kit. Some simple scenic work with grass mat and some tarmac base will provide a realistic setting to show off model vehicles. A photographic backscene can be placed behind, and the display put into a cabinet.

Land Rover OMDG.main dealer garage card kit 1/43 scale Kingsway Models

Any vehicle will look quite natural in a garage setting, and there are several to choose from in the 1/43 scale range of kits.

Also in the range is a modern multi-storey car park interior.

OMSP 1/43 scale multi storey car park interior model card kit cortina austin 1300 small.jpg
1/76 scale tram layout card model buildings from Kingsway Models

Most of the buildings in the range are suitable for layouts based from the 20th century onwards. The majority are reproductions of real structures. Many have a selection of signs and posters to choose from. These views are of a 1/76 scale tram layout set in 1950.
The CWLO Odeon, CTD Camberwelll tram depot and SHC car showroom appear - the latter has had a petrol pump from the PP kit added.

1/76 scale card model building kits BCT Black Cat Tavern LCCF fire station

The BCT Black Cat Tavern pub and LCCF London County Council Fire Station have been used to set the scene.

Passengers wait at the stop although no tram is in sight, but at least the rails are there!
Period vehicles are from the Oxford Diecast and Classix ranges.

1/76 scale card model building kit CHS London Underground station CDS Classic Department Store  Cropleys RF10 bus

A final view of the 1950s tram layout with still no trams in sight!

The distinctive CHS Holden Underground station sets the scene. 

The CDS department store stands behind and the curved front of the CMM Majestic cinema can just be glimpsed.

The trams have arrived at last!

This 1/76 scale layout is set somewhere in South London in the early 1950s when the last London tramcars were still running.

Most of the buildings are from the Kingsway Models range of kits in standard or modified form.


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