Bookshelf Dioramas

02-11-2016, 12:14 PM
I display my built models in an Ikea bookshelf with glass doors. (You probably know the one, it is available the world over.) Fortunately for me the space is completely devoted to models, and I can pretty well do as I want with them. It's nearly all 1/24 cars, but admittedly they are arranged in a rather haphazard way- that is to say, devoid of rhyme or reason.

Now there is nothing at all wrong with model cars on a wooden shelf. But it occurs that it would be possible and maybe fun to make a shelf-wide in scale display environment for them- sort of like a diorama. Honestly, Ikea shelves are cheap enough that one could very easily and practically build a diorama directly on one. Keep the front edge veneer intact to match the rest of the bookcase, but build pavement or gravel or grass turf or whatever on the full shelf surface. And multiple shelves offers the opportunity for multiple environments!

But that of course leads to the question- what to build? So I'm looking for and considering ideas. Anyone done something like this? If you have a thought to share, please do! Likewise, if you see an idea here that you like, steal it! Build it, make it yours, take pics, and share how it comes out. :thumbsup:

Here are some thoughts that I have:

It should be a realistic, appealing, and hopefully fun setting in which to see cars. Ideally, a mix of all kinds of cars. And idealy the idea should be obvious and strong enough for it to be easily apparent- "yes, these cars are clearly at a (insert idea here)". For instance, a beachfront parking area would be a great place for a bunch of convertibles. Exotics or classics would not be out of place, and would look very natural with more common cars. Add in a couple of girls in swimsuits, someone carrying a surfboard (and maybe a guy with an empty tequila bottle and a sombrero passed out under a palm tree), and you start to have a fun setting to display cars in. But how to convey "this is a beach scene" when you don't have room to build a beach?

An enclosed outdoor area could work very well- but I'm drawing a bit of a blank for good ideas here. Likewise, and indoor space would also work great on a bookshelf. But cars are inherently outdoor creatures, and inside a building is not necessarily a natural environment for them. A repair shop floor with lifts and the like is definitely a car environment, but it may not necessarily a fun appealing place to see cars. A car museum (perhaps the Museo di Automobili Arbitrarie) could also work, but it seems perhaps a bit contrived?

The car deck of a passenger ferry to somewhere exotic (maybe Nice to Corsica?) could have a very interesting mix of cars. It would also be a fantastic excuse to crowd as many cars as possible onto a limited space. But perhaps not a particularly fun place to see cars.

An idea I really like would be the parking area at the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Practically everything I build could be at home there. How to convey Nordschleife parking, instead of grocery store parking?

A group of cars parked in a field at a drive in movie would be a lot of fun, especially for American classics. How to convey "drive in movie", especially without the space for a movie screen?

Touristy areas seem appealing. A parking area in some ancient European walled medieval town? A sceneic overlook? A streetside cafe?

The local VW kids around here hang out in a bank parking lot on sunday afternoons. So it occurs that a car club hangout might actually a fun idea. But I don't build that many VWs. :rolleyes:

A valet parking area out front of some obnoxious restaurant? Perhaps a bit contrived, but a good excuse for a fun mix of cars. Wouldn't need a lot of figures- just the punk kid in a uniform, getting out of the Enzo to look at the flower planter box he's just nosed into.


02-11-2016, 05:37 PM
Great Idea!!!
Your only limited by your imagination!
What about a Cars & Coffee carpark style setup, you could have a coffee van at one end, great way to get quite a few cars side by side no matter what style they are & could have figures holding coffee...

Aoshima did a similar display with Drift cars at the recent Nurmberg show but only had 4 cars drifting a curved section of road per display case (which looked to be 1m (3ft) wide.

Gas Station - Similar to Scale Productions massive one they did with a whole bunch of German guys.

You could easily do backdrops too, ie if the bookcase is only visable from the front then you could get a piece of 5mm Foamboard (Artboard) from a local arts shop & do a print for the backdrop. this could help with the theme.

Cant wait to see what you come up with!!

02-13-2016, 01:08 AM
I think a backdrop with realistic road etc surface would be neat, considering the limited space. A person could get creative making 3d shop fronts etc, without building the entire buildings or surroundings. Enough to bring some life to the display. None would have to be permanent either. I'm working on a simple parking lot with a background photo just for taking pics of finished models, but can be stored away when not in use. Same concept could be used...

02-13-2016, 11:45 AM
I think for conveying the more challenging scenes, like a beach scene, you could easily print a backdrop of a beach. If you dressed it up like it was a parking area overlooking the beach... ie, with a little wooden guardrail before a "hill" that lead down to the beach you could easily get away with just an image of an ocean and maybe some distant beach/cliffs on one end or another. Keep what's on the backdrop limited to nature, maube? I think the trick is to avoid anything man-made being depicted in 2-d on the backdrop, or else it be at odds with the miniatures. Model railway folks have been doing this for years.... Add some bright light and you're in.

If you built the sorts of cars I did, you could easily make a parking garage level. Hooligans with Hondas meet up like this ALL. THE. TIME. but the Ferrari crowd probably wouldn't. I feel like someone on AF did this at some point a while back.

This is a great idea, I've been thinking about something similar too, but decided to build some cars first, haha.

02-16-2016, 06:14 AM
Thinking of the same problem, friends of mine came to the solution to built basement parking boxes. They can be used for shows together with a gas station, they´ve also built.....

02-18-2016, 11:15 AM
You guys are completely right- a good backdrop would totally make it. A big panoramic printed pic of a vista could be done, but I'm just not feeling it- I'm not convinced it would be very convincing. But building shop fronts or something similar on the other hand is a fantastic idea- one I'm strongly considering.

Actually now that you have me thinking about it, this project is really all about a good backdrop. Pavement is easy, accessories are easy, figures aren't hard. But really a decent background would completely make a great environment to park some cars at.

Shop fronts are what come most readily to mind. A string of snobby little boutiques in some trendy shopping district, a couple of cafés, a line of walk up food stalls, etc. But there's got to be some other options of places to park cars in front of....

For my own constraints, my shelves are about 10" x 30", which in 1/24 is about 20' by 60'. (About 26cm x 76cm, or 6.25m x 18.24m). If pulled to the forward edge of the shelf, a row of parked cars takes up about 8" (16') of that, leaving a scant 2" (4') behind them. That is probably just enough to build some shop front façades and a narrow sidewalk.

But while it's a narrow space, 60' is actually fairly long. Figuring a walk up shop front is what, maybe 12-15' wide?- that would leave me space for four or five store fronts. I like the cars and coffee idea, a walk up coffee bar could work. Adding more starts to require considering "where is this place?". A touristy destination/resort is a good start, I do kinda like the beach town idea. (In an American beach town, that would be an ice cream stand, a french fry stand, maybe a juice bar, and a horrible t shirt shop.) I love the ramen shops here. ( But in a street scene, what are the next two shops next to them?

Or maybe a single cool location- a bar or something? Arbitrarily, say Sloppy Joe's ( in Key West- or maybe the Green Parrot ( OK granted you may never manage to park a half dozen sports cars in front of it, and Key West is really more of a bike town than a car town. But setting that aside, it's fairly flat, easy to build, and conveys a sense of location. I would love to come up with an idea distinctly, identifiably German. Or Italian, I have multiple shelves. :grinyes: Thinking....

02-20-2016, 11:05 AM
This would make for a very neat and tidy shelf, if a bit dull. It also really seems to lend itself only to one style of car.

If only I had a vista to park them at....

This is pretty good.

02-21-2016, 09:30 AM
If you plan to stick to the storefront theme, be sure to check out this gallery for inspiration:
(cool cars in front of interesting stores)

There should be something for every taste and type of car.

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