Creation of a custom 4×8' Z scale diorama
Above: concept for landscape - a river delta that would allow us to go wild on bridge design.
My kids and I are in the process of building a diorama of all dioramas – a 4'×8' Z Scale World (1:220) filled with the coolest structures we come across while traveling the US and abroad. 3D designs are then created using Tinkercad, and 3D printed mostly on Autodesk's Ember 3D printer (if someone is trying to sell theirs, please get in touch with me).
Problems with current layouts:
- There isn't much elevation change. Tracks most of the time are laid on flat surface throughout.
- Flat, unrealistic roads full of unrealistic curves, with glued-on, non-animated vehicles.
- Structures that are most of the time out of scale, with very little detail.
- Unrealistic, uninspiring collections of figurines that also lack in the detail department.
By some miracle I've stumbled upon C-160 Transall by Revell. It was a pleasant surprise, since any type of aircraft is a huge rarity in the Z scale world. After doing a bunch of research on the aircraft, some of the model's shortcomings started to appear (no rib @ bottom fuselage, no wheel/landing gear detail, propellers could be made more life-like, etc).
This obviously called for a fun challenge of making the plane as real as possible, so the first task was to fix fuselage and upgrade the landing gear.
Adaptation of MakerBot's UPS Truck to Z scale. The UPS Truck was initially created by Michael Curry for Bre Pettis (founder of MakerBot) UPS ad in the October 2012 issue of WIRED magazine.
After several failed attempts to simply scale it down from 1:26 to 1:220 and 3D print it, I've decided to completely rebuild it using Tinkercad, so this particular version is best suited for smaller scales. As you will notice, I've gone ahead and added even more detail to the interior, as well as fully working sliding rear and side doors. WIP
This is a remake of the KIBRI heavy duty flatbed trailer. Felt it needed more detail.
Z scale wheels, and, as you will see, vehicles in general fall short in the detail department. Below are some of our revisions.
3D printed Z scale wheels; comparison between Kibri, and the future Precise Modeling's product. Precise Modeling has been our family business for a number of years and primarily focuses on, you guessed it - precise modeling of [mostly] one-of aviation scale models.
Besides the obvious detail improvement, wheels are now able to spin as well (before they were glued in).
Here's a test batch of Hummers accompanied by other Z scale (1/220) scale vehicles. Model by rozoom on Thingiverse.
First of several bus stop designs. This one is powered by solar energy and is easy to produce!
View in 3D:
The intent with this project is for things to be as close to life-like as possible. There are several options available online for accessories such as dumpsters and mailboxes, however those products pay very little attention to detail.
We decided to build the smallest, fully functioning set of dumpsters in the world! Covers on these work just like on the real one, and you use a piece of hair as a "rod" in the hinge mechanism! They really do work! :)
This is our remake of everyone's favorite.
It features several custom things, obviously. Paint aside, the modern garbage can, the bench, the LED street light, and the most realistic dumpster/recycling containers ever created in Z scale (back of the building).
At the time of creation, the thinnest rod/axle I could find to make lids work was a piece of hair…
…I was really blown away by the art of San Francisco's Mona Caron and wanted to incorporate something similar into our little world as well. Here is the result – as you can see, the color scheme was also heavily influenced by San Francisco (where we live).
Suggested paint scheme:
For some reason most structures for scale model railroads – regardless of the scale – feature no interior detail. Most of the time buildings use thin, transparent sheets of plastic to simulate the glass, however this is where realism ends. Kits usually come with paper inserts which feature printed curtains, etc to simulate interior "detail". To me, this is no detail at all!
That's why I thought we'd step it up a notch by 3D designing and 3D printing detailed interiors for each floor of every one of our buildings! This especially shines once the building is light up from the inside – it truly comes alive and adds a lot more interest to any diorama.
Using the free online 3D design app Tinkercad, I've quickly modeled several iterations of these floor plates. These are available for free download and can be easily modified to suit your deepest desires. Since this is supposed to be a music school, I've decided to keep on with the theme by incorporating some pianos, two performance stages, separate rooms for private lessons, and of course the living quarters for extended stay visitors.
View in 3D:
No diorama is complete without a body of water and some fair size ships! Revell comes through once again… This time we lucked out on a really cool find which happened to be very close to Z Scale (~7mm smaller than it would be in 220, which will not be noticable on a diorama)! Erin from Oakland was kind enough to donate the fantastic 1/225 HMS Victory Plastic Model kit to our diorama building efforts, a kit which I had never come across before! A rare find, considering that this is the only ship Revell produces in this scale.
Up until 2015, there's been much mystery surrounding the exact colors of the vessel. Thanks to recent findings it was determined that the colors must be a lot more pale and desaturated. Here are the true HMS Victory colors:
Suggested build by Revell: