Prepare the Grand Panjandrum!

I had another old ashtray that made a perfect diorama base, so I built a companion to the Smith Gun diorama.

The Grand Panjandrum is an even more obscure Allied weapon from WW2- only making it to prototype stage and possibly being a bluff. I found a 3D printable Panjandrum on Booth and once I sat down and started the diorama, it went together over a weekend.

Flower Fairy diorama build

Another build for my Weird Cold War series. The Flower Fairy is a shambling plant creature that slips through every so often. Wherever it goes, it draws plants up out of even the most barren soil. But when it arrives in an urban location, that does mean property damage. Usually passive, unless attacked, the biggest threat is that its pollen is highly hallucinogenic.

That’s my backstory for the creature, anyway. I’ll flesh it out some more on the Patreon.

The STL for the creature came from Japanese site Booth.

As mentioned in the video, I’m selling Javis scenic scatter and foliage in the shop.

New Product- Detailing parts for science fiction dioramas

I’ve been storing up interestingly shaped bottles and packaging to make science fiction flavoured buildings and tech. But I wanted to go further than normal greeblies and plastic strip detailing, and designed some themed parts.

The models are available as STL files from the Spinneyworld store, or as part of the rewards package for Builder level supporters on Patreon.

Dunbine diorama, part 1

Just a simple diorama using a base that some of you may remember.

I picked up the Dunbine kit from Hobbylink Japan (affiliate link) because it was cheap and looked interesting. The base is from an old Matchbox tank kit. I’ve got a few of them, bought from nostalgia, and I wanted to see what I could do with one.

Some of the detailing parts for the build come from the Gunpla section of the Spinneyworld store.

This is the first of a planned series of connected builds, set in a Cold War made very different by incursions from other worlds. Lore and more will be shared at the Spinneyhead Patreon.

If you haven’t already, please Like and Subscribe to the YouTube channel.

The Vesperadoes Ride!

There are new videos on my YouTube channel most weeks. I’ve not been cross-posting all of them here, but I thought I’d share this one. The Vesperadoes diorama is a step up in terms of quality- both of the subject model and my filming and editing. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, but one of the reasons I’m doing videos about my builds is to get better over time.

The Vesperadoes are from Green Miniatures in Poland.

The Workbench – Atomic Gas

I’ve got behind on the workbench reports. Atomic Gas was completed a while ago, but I’m only now writing it up.

Atomic Gas

This little service station is a model from Sarissa Precision that I picked up at the Britcon show in Manchester last year. It’s my first laser cut wood kit (if you don’t count the bed I got the same day), and I’m impressed.

I went overboard with the weathering and debris, but it is meant to be a post apocalyptic location, after all. The transfers came from a bunch of locations- some were old bus advertising from my Dad’s model railway stash, others were sold for nail art, and the graffiti comes from a Judge Dredd game, and my own designs.

Now I need a post apocalyptic game to play, so I can use this location.

British Type 22 pillbox for 6mm wargames

Return To Boom Town

Welcome to Boom Town

I started Boom Town last year, put it aside for the Summer, and returned to it recently. Click on the image above for the full gallery.

I also did a walk around video, which is a little shaky and blurry. When it gets it right, my phone’s macro focus is great. But when I’m working on something so close, and moving around, it keeps getting confused.



Fallout 4 came out this month. I’m not buying it yet, for the sake of my bank balance and productivity, but the release has inspired me to get back to a project I started a while ago.

Boomtown is inspired by, but not based upon, the Megaton location in Fallout 3*. The gallery above shows progress so far. The basic form of the diorama, including the tunnel and vault, was made from stacking and gluing packing polystyrene. And then it sat for an age. Until last week, when I found the ideal picture frame for a base and started on building it up with air drying modelling clay. It’s a learning process. There are a few cracks in the clay, where it’s contracted as it dried, but those have been filled in with Woodland Scenics Flex Paste. It may not look like much in the pictures in the gallery, but it’s come on a long way since this time last week.

I’m going to use the project to try out some techniques I haven’t tried before, and I’ll be posting updates as it proceeds.

*Mostly, I’ve played Fallout:New Vegas, but I did spend an afternoon on Fallout 3 on someone else’s XBox, and got as far as Megaton, which, obviously, stuck with me.

In just seven days, I can make you a man…..

Wrong Frank, I know. I’m trying to get some modelling done, after a few years of carting kits around but never starting on them. First up, I thought I’d try my hand at painting some of the wargame/RPG related figures I’ve picked up from various places. Everything was painted separately then brought together. I modeled the flagstones with putty, then glued the machine in place. Frank was on his own base, so I had to cut that off to add him to the scene.

Not a bad first effort for someone getting back into the hobby. The only problem is, most of my paints have been sitting in boxes for years and have dried up. I’ve got a growing list of colours I need to replace.

Buildings on a wall

As a modeller I’ve long considered creating some art using kits, possibly some sort of surreal diorama or somesuch. What I hadn’t considered, until now, was flipping the work through 90 degrees and turning it into a “painting”. This is what Gerry Judah does with his post apocalypse cityscapes, and they’re very effective. I’ve had a load of ideas just from watching the 9 minute video below. Not plans to rip him off, but some thoughts on new ways to present ideas I’ve had for a while.

Gerry Judah: Paintings from Sam Marcuson on Vimeo.


Creating the cover for Sounds of Soldiers

When I first published Sounds of Soldiers, as a print on demand book available through Lulu.com, I created a cover for it that I just wasn’t happy with. I’m not sure why. I did do some planning, which I then went and threw away when I did the artwork. A couple of days ago I found some of the sketches I did when casting about for ideas.


Take note of the fourth image on the top row, we’ll be returning to it.

This idea appealed enough for me to get the coloured pens and do some shading.


So when I decided I was going to do a Kindle version I vowed to create a new cover for it. The image of death after a battle appealed, and knowing I couldn’t possibly do the idea justice in a drawing or painting I fell upon the idea of building a diorama to depict the scene. Initially I was thinking of the tank graveyard or post ambush sequences in the book, but the gun as a grave marker came back as an idea after a while. After a bit of Googling, but no more sketching, I had a good idea of what I wanted to do. I ordered 1:6th scale action figure accessories from EBay (a quick shout out to cbtoycollectables and qqmodels, the two merchants I used), ordered a display case from Hobby’s and picked up most of the other stuff I needed from my local model shop.

The components

The wooden stake was weathered by hitting it with a hammer and then holding it over one of the rings on the cooker (it’s good to be on gas). The ground was roughed out using polystyrene packaging from the ever growing pile in the corner of the room. With stake and base glued down I set about building up the ground. The first layer was Woodland Scenics flex paste, which I painted with first their earth undercoat and then Tamiya’s diorama texture paint. Ground cover is real leaves. I spotted a load of these tiny leaves on the ground one day and just scooped them up. I don’t know what they’re from, but they work. Much careful fixing with wood glue later I had a good looking earth mound covered with autumn leaves. Further detail was added using more Woodland Scenics stuff.

Basic set up After adding flex paste A coat of Earth Undercoat With Tamiya diorama texture paint Dead leaves added

I painted some bare metal onto the gun, and weathered it, the boots and the helmet, but the photos I took of that are all quite blurry. The only one that came out is of the smashed lens I put into the lamp on the gun. I lost the lens which came with the gun, so I cut out bits of clear plastic and glued them into the lamp.

Smashed lamp

Put everything together and, after a bit more weathering, I had this-

The finished piece

After a little resizing, and with another shot of blue sky to put on the back cover, I dropped the image into the template I’d used for the original cover. I failed to do any images of the various steps I took in Photoshop, so straight to the finished cover image-

Sounds of Soldiers full wrap cover

I put more effort into the lettering than I have in the past, and I’m much happier with the result. The title and my name on the front cover have an aluminium pole texture under them courtesy of photoshoptextures.com.

Sounds of Soldiers will be available for the Kindle, and with its new cover from Lulu, from next week. I shall be running a competition to win the model used in the original cover artwork. Check out spinneyhead.co.uk/books for details in the next few days.

My gun as grave marker idea puts me in very good company.

This is Peace and War, the omnibus collection of Joe Haldeman’s Forever War, Forever Peace and Forever Free. I haven’t read Free and Peace, but I have read War. It’s a very good book, using relativist effects as a metaphor for soldiers in a distant war become ever more alienated from the people they are supposedly fighting for.