Out of Control

I’m stuck.

My current diorama project has gone Out of Control I’d appreciate your thoughts.

It all started with my plan to build an Sd.Kfz 234/4 – a vehicle with a visible interior, and something other than a Panther (recall, I’m an addict)

Having enjoyed making a railroad tunnel ‘portal’ for a previous diorama, I decided to place the armored car in front of an abandoned and overgrown section of railroad.

I always spend a lot of time, contemplating the ‘staging’ of my dioramas, but this time I fear I failed.

Here’s what it looks like at the moment. And I don’t think it works.

Pic 1

Pic 3

Pic 4

First of all, it’s too big. It overpowers the vehicle; the armored car seems small in comparison to the background.

Secondly, it’s unclear which of the two open sides should be the proper viewpoint. I intended the tunnel entrance, the portal, to be off to the side, with the primary view looking at the armored car in profile against the retaining wall.

But that left too much open space in the foreground, and relegated the good-looking (IMHO) portal almost invisible off to the side.

If I reorient the ‘front’ so the portal becomes the primary background, again there’s just too much empty space in the foreground. The base is just too big!

Note: I have a lot more vegetation to add to the walls and space above them…

Pic 2

Perhaps I should shelve the 234, and build something huge, like a King Tiger for this base…

Or, I could add another vehicle to keep the armored car company. (a supply truck, or a Puma?)

I could also cut down the base, make it narrower, but then I’d have to hack back the structures I’ve built – and I like them too much for that.

Thanks, Ralph


I think it looks great! Maybe finish the tracks and are they to scale? Perhaps some armored reconnaissance figures will bring it more to life. My eyes go directly to your armored car.

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OK got my stoopid hat on, I don’t quite get why/how the 234’s out of control? If the gate’s shut it can only have reversed there…but…why…what for…? Must be missing something :thinking:

FWIW no dio base is too big & yours looks superb, maybe just mo’ weeds/moss? I like it overpowers the vehicle, besides as Arnold said eyes will always be drawn to it – even more so if any nearby figures are planned. :+1:

(Just an aside - this brings back cloudy memories of an excellent dio that appeared on old Armorama way back – 6 or 7 years ago. I think it was representing a very similar scene of a Nazi-constructed tunnel entrance in the Channel Islands (Jersey or Guernsey) – anyone else remember more?)


Could you position the wheels to show the armoured car turning in the space i.e. bring it away from the tunnel entrance a bit and angle it more diagonally across the base?

You could then use the rear corner to store “stuff”, like empty cable reels, spare track etc

Throw in some figures and happy days, no need for a bigger AFV.

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A figure or two trying to open the gates so that the 8-wheeler can reverse into the tunnel to seek cover (preparing ambush or hiding from JaBo’s). Front end towards the entrance/enemy/way out of the tunnel.
Be careful about the curve of the tracks. If it is supposed to be a main line then the curve is too tight, if it is supposed to be some industrial track in or on the edge of a town then it is ok.

The German regulations for free space around a trackway, in force from 1892 to 1991,
for reference:

Table over curve radius’es, Überhöhung means the amount that the outer rail in a curve is raised above the inner rail, leaning the train inwards in the curve. Bogenhalbmesser means radius. Tight curves implie low speeds, high speed lines have really wide curves …

The vehicles angle over the track is part of the maneuvering to turn it around → wheel tracks all over the place, crushed vegetation et.c. Vehicle comes in front first along the open side, turns left over the track, reverses with wheels turned “passenger side”, left turn forwards, rinse and repeat until the current position where they are going forwards for the last left turn before they can turn the wheels “passenger side” and start the final reverse into the tunnel. The whole 4-man crew will be busy, one driver, one keeping an eye on the sky, one assisting the driver and one trying to open the gate. Don’t want to crash the gate since a crushed gate could reveal the hiding place. Possibly add some civilian worker who might have the keys to the padlock on the gate, maybe comes running from the open corner.


I like it Ralph , sometimes we have to remember that a dio or vig is a snapshot in time . Who , what , when , where or why the scene is depicted is a fraction of a second in time in a photo as to who , what , when , where or why it’s portrayed . Over thinking the above is a major modeling block . We sometimes over think the who , what , when , where or why , it’s not a animated short film which tells more of a story , it’s a static build of a moment in time .
I’m not saying we shouldn’t try and add the w, w , w , w , and whys through adding figs and other explainers , I’m just saying it really isn’t a must .

First of all, it’s too big. It overpowers the vehicle; the armored car seems small in comparison to the background.
That’s because in real time the RR tunnel IS larger than the vehicle .
Your other concerns , vehicle placement etc. are up to you . I know you want the max exposure of the vehicle in regards to the background , yet both the vehicle [ when completed , I’ve seen your work ] and background are very well done .
Another poster commented about his eyes being drawn to the vehicle first . That’s because the vehicle is clearly the main focus in this scenario and the beautiful tunnel and beautiful retaining walls set dressing .

All in all I think you should carry on , with added vegetation etc. I think you’re creating a wonderful build , hell I love it .
When I looked at the photos my first impressions was of a vehicle at the entrance to a RR tunnel . I didn’t ask myself the five w’s .


To piggy back on Glenn’s comments which were similar. My only other thought was the vehicle angle and quick egress. If thrown in reverse quickly they would hit the wall. Similar angle but on the other side of the track that seems less likely to me. Otherwise I like where it’s going, too big wasn’t a thought when looking at the scene.

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Thanks, everyone, for the responses and suggestions. I do have a lot of work, still to do on both the base and the 234. Figures and greenery are on the bench…

My original concept was to have the vehicle hiding from air attack, camouflaged and in the overgrown railroad cut, I will be adding a number of figures, mostly from the Dragon set ‘Achtung-Jabo’ – I like those poses.

Chepster: I did consider positioning the wheels – it’s a cool the way they all turn on that armored car, but the kit doesn’t support it, and I wasn;t in the mood to do that much cutting and hacking.

Dioramartin: Your work is always superb. In this case, I felt like the vehicle was being overshadowed by the setting- like I lost control of my staging…

Uncle-Heavy: You must be a RR expert. I searched the internet for portal measurements and didn’t find the details you provided – Thanks. My entrance measures about 16 x 16 scale feet (around 4,9 x 4,9 meters) – I think close enough…

I did think about having the vehicle backed partway into the tunnel, but decided against hiding the work from view.

And, I’m still working on how best to position the armored car in the space. I did intend to have it sitting close to the retaining wall – sheltering, but I still feel that positioning would leave too much empty space in the foreground.

I can probably fill some of that space, perhaps all of it with figures, the railroad tracks, assorted industrial debris, and weeds, as suggested.

I’m thinking of dropping in a Schwimmwagen, as well.

I’ll do my usual post when I finish this thing. It will be a while, though. Vacation time!!! :grinning:



Hi Ralph,
Your portal is really nice and I like the base size as well. And I like the 234 “in hiding” aspect of your scene — the crew ready to jump in when spotting the Jabo. Some discarded railway junk and groundwork should be enough to add visual interest to the foreground. IMHO

Are you including the rails? One of the first things that came to mind was how to position the 234’s eight-wheel suspension on that much of an uneven surface without it looking as though it was floating. Also, wheels straight ahead seems very static. Turned steering would offer a more aggressive stance for getting the hell outa’ Dodge… just in case. Might be worth the effort of hacking into that suspension after all. :hocho::hammer_and_wrench: … Easy for me to say. :crazy_face:


Off the wall suggestion here - you’re using the wrong armoured car. If you fit the rails to the trackbed, you could have a captured Panhard 178 armoured car running on the rails. The Germans captured a load of them after the French campaign and converted some to run on railway lines. I think there’s even a kit of one by MiniArt or ICM. This is an even smaller vehicle, so will be even more “overwhelmed” by the scenery. But you could then put the “achtsrad” alongside with the two crews planning a recce mission?

Thanks Ralph & duh that’s what comes of (me) assuming that was the working title of the dio, rather than expressing your concerns.

My er one track mind (boom tish) wondered if it could still serve as the former though - imagining muddy sliding skid marks off the topmost section & an upside-down (or on its side) open truck across the track, with contents strewn across the open area to suggest impact. Not much serious damage required, shattered windscreen maybe. And the 234 attempting to tow/drag it away, with guys trying to right the truck or just scratching their heads?

Just rambling, with a scene that good already you’ve got a beautiful problem :+1: :+1:

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Hi Ralph,

you’re getting a lot of good feedback here and I’ll add my two cents. As I never get far enough in a build to get stuck, maybe it’s only one cents worth. :grin: :thinking:

I think the dio looks good and the only thing I’d change is the “framing”. When you add the vehicle wheels and cannon the car will have more visual weight and your leading lines are good. Here’s a picture of what I mean.

The green line would “unsquare” the base and removing the yellow area gives nice framing. The red arrows are your leading lines and draw in the viewers eye. The red circle would be a good clutter spot, rusted barrels, pile of ties, etc. again generally pointing towards the car. The only other thing you might want to consider is busying up the tunnel wall - drains, signs, telegraph lines/insulators or whatever strikes your fancy.

Hope I’ve added something useful, it would be a shame if you set this build aside.



Thanks Colder. I tend to think in terms of square bases - it’s the mathematician in me. I like the idea of trimming the base down. And it was that area in the red circle that got me worried about this staging / framing.

I also thought that the rest of the base is too flat. Obviously it’s a train track area so it would be flat, but how about a rubble pile giving that red circle area some non-flat variability? Perhaps it could look like part of the upper structure of the tunnel face collapsed.

Me again with another thought and apologies if I’ve overlooked something that’s already been said…

If the tunnel is abandoned, with it being fenced off, you could just have the sleepers bedded in the ballast, with the rails themselves having been removed. It would then make it easier to settle the vehicle onto the base without having to contend with the extra height of the tracks.

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An awesome looking tunnel entrance !!! Since you are a self confessed “Pantherholic” how does a Panther look parked there?
My turn for the 2 cents opinions or just agreeing with a couple of other posters.
IMHO, Colder has a good idea about cutting a corner down. Me, I’d cut the corner down also cutting a sleeper and a rail giving the impression of going off to infinity.
Chepster also makes a good point about the rails being torn up. I’m guessing now, but an abandon line those rails would of been torn up and recycled for the steel for the German war effort.

On a closing note… Your stone work on the tunnel is awesome ! If you ever have the urge to post a step by step tutorial on how to do it I would follow along faithfully !
Thanks for sharing with us and what ever route you go I’m sure this will be a winner of a diorama !!!

BTW, have a nice vacation!


Build up roadbed for tracks. Add ground cover for detail. Stay with 8-rad because is gives you a bit of open top detail to view. Turn steering of 8 rad to increase visual interest and position suspension to be accommodating going over those rails. Then perhaps a second vehicle such as a Swim Wagon (again more open top detail to enjoy.) More random ground details.

Need something vertical. Any chance for troops repelling down that retailing wall to meet up with the armored car?

Figures, figures, figures!

p.s. I like to idea of the green line cut but save all that beautiful ground work above the tunnel.
Again perhaps troops repelling down.

Or how about a rail car on the tracks - partly in the tunnel and abandon the armored car ? A lot more visual mass . As others have said , it would be sad to abandon this . Beautiful work.

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Overall great looking Dio you’ve begun. I love the scene, you’ve def piqued my interest.
I agree, stay the course and fill the walls w layers of foliage and the surfaces w loads of figures. Weathering and ageing of the walls/gates should visually subdue their size.

Maintenance, refit, resupply, reload; I’m sure these are under consideration.

Balancing the 234 w an armored radio car that is loaded w gear; maybe add some Partisans (Miniart) in custody awaiting transfer.

Add a Anti Aircraft vehicle w telltale shell piles and a steep downward slope in the foreground helps to explain the how and the why of the 234 and where it is. Holding the high ground as an artillery spotter?

The 234 could be in support of Medical troops tending to the wounded, tucked in here for the security of the location. Perhaps a small path w wounded troops trudging upwards to an aide station.

Balance the flanks w contrasting shapes: rubble pile(s) as mentioned, a smaller vehicle(s), a tree or two, shrubs, long forgotten RR paraphernalia.

Personally, I’d just add a Kubelwagen w some of those industrious Wehrmacht types which have liberated Miniart crates of Cognac, wine or beer; that would help explain the 234’s secret location! :tumbler_glass: :laughing:

Just my 2c worth, all in support of your mission. Most have already been mentioned.
Usually I won’t offer suggestions or opinions, I mean when have I ever posted a Diorama on here. Just a longtime lurker who loves dioramas! :beer:

Dave :slightly_smiling_face:


Forgive my interjection, but I have the distinct impression that the abandonment of railways throughout Europe is a post-war phenomenon, and a derelict railway, while not impossible would be unusual. Perhaps an active railway would give more options (with or without the 234, which might be better off in a different scene). The thing which strikes me most is the availability of railway vehicles in 1:35th scale but the difficulty of displaying them, to which your most impressive work is actually an answer. Displaying two or three wagons without them looking out of context is difficult, but having them halted while appearing from, or disappearing into, a tunnel is a fine solution. I does strike me your diorama scene is worthy of a more impressive focus than the 234 while the vehicle itself might be better appreciated in a different context.



P.S., Maybe a bit of smoke-blackening on the stonework above the tunnel entrance?