by Phil Novak
This diorama – Cheap Shot – depicts a giddy Marder III crew during a lull in the fighting in the winter of 1943, on the eastern front.
The figures toward the front of the base are building a snowman. the one off to the side, who apparently does not like the officer too much, just launched a snowball at the his head.
The idea for this diorama came from a friend of mine when discussing what I should do with my Marder III. I wanted to do something different, not just the same “German tankers loading ammo”. I wanted to do something that showed that the troops could have a sense of humor during a lull in the fighting.
The Marder was constructed out of the box, except of a few small Aber tool clamps and Friulmodel tracks (ATL-13). When I started out, my primary concern was to add the right figures, the right number of figures, and to achieve balance while still telling the story.
After a little hunting, I found the Jaguar figure from “Battle Plan” to be perfect for the officer that was just wacked in the head with the snowball. When playing with the pieces to the officer I noticed that the kneeling guy would be great to be smoothing out the base of the snowman. After digging around in the spare parts box, I found the outstretched arm. That gave me two of the figures.
The soldier with the stick came from the German Tiger I winter crew from Warriors. His right arm was changed to the one holding the stick out of the battle plan set. The crew member on the Marder putting on his jacket is straight from the Tiger I winter crew.
The one standing on the fuel cans with the snowballs at his feet all came from the spares box. The snowman was made using epoxy putty. I decided that I wanted to depict the common practice of Germans wearing different types of camouflage, even among member in the same crew. For the most part the figures went together very nicely. As with any figure conversion, gaps are left where the parts join, but that is quickly solved with squadron putty thinned with Testors cement.
I used a number of different patterns using color plates from various books. For the groundwork, I used Dap plaster on a wooden base. I taped off the edges of the base, putting the tape on perpendicularly, so that about 1/4 of an inch of tape was higher than the surface of the base.
This made a nice little form for the wet plaster to dry in, creating a nice sharp line on the edges. I poured the plaster in three sections, the fist being the section whre the Marder is sitting. After the plaster had set up for a little while I pushed the vehicle into the groundwork to give it a sunk in look.
Behind the vehicle was textured to represent the area that the tracks had torn up. Next, the section with the snowman was poured, and when that was partially dry the snowman was pushed in a little ways, and footprints were added using a plastic figure.
Finally the section with the officer and snowball hurler were poured using the same techniques as used on the other parts of the base.
The dead tree was provided to me by a Crepe Myrtle tree. After the plaster as completely dry, I sanded the edges to get them really smooth, and I sanded over some areas didn’t completely match. After the plaster itself was finished I brushed on a coat of Woodland Scenics Scenic Cement, to seal the plaster and keep dust from getting all over the place.
While this was still wet, I sprinkled on some Hudson and Allen slush to give it some extra texture. In the areas that the treads had torn up, I mixed some Hudson and Allen muck with water and some Acrylic gloss medium to achieve that wet muck look. At this point the groundwork was finished and it was time to mount to subjects to the base for good.
A pin was inserted to the figures feet and mounted by a hole drilled into the base. The Marder was screwed on by a screw going through the bottom of the hull. Snow made from plaster and husdson and allen snow were applied to the tracks and running gear of the Marder, to get it tied in to the base and make it look like part of the scene.
Photos by Phil Novak