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Dioramas & Vignettes
Discuss groundwork, vignettes, bases, and the creation of situation or scene.
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Bases/Groundwork: to buy or make?
Victoria, Australia
Joined: July 28, 2004
KitMaker: 10,889 posts
Historicus Forma: 4,745 posts
Posted: Tuesday, January 02, 2007 - 03:14 PM UTC
Bases/Groundwork: to buy or make? That is the question...

Scott recently asked the following question/made the following statement in a review, and I think it really begs discussion...

Quoted Text

Cool base, another nice one to add to the inspiration list for me.
As an all around modeler I see some of these kits more as inspiration than as a product to purchase. I think sometimes it's easier to build one myself and more satisfying. Not that there is anything wrong with it, I do have a need sometimes due to time or desire or supplies, to buy these.

So folks, what do you thunk?
Victoria, Australia
Joined: July 28, 2004
KitMaker: 10,889 posts
Historicus Forma: 4,745 posts
Posted: Tuesday, January 02, 2007 - 04:38 PM UTC
Okay, well since you guys are feeling bashful or maybe I'm just feeling re-energised after my le cheese burger and coke, :-) here's my take on it...

I like these bases (like the ones supplied by Pegaso and Fontegris), I really do. Personally I haven't bought any yet, but I plan to in the foreseeable (sp?) future.

Why? Well, it's mostly a time thing. Lately I don't have much spare time due to various commitments (like this little - fairly annoying thing - called a job ), and kits like those mentioned above will save me quite a few hours. Also, in the more complex cases I feel that the professionals have done a stellar job, so why not support them and reward myself with an attractive base?

However, that said, what I don't plan to buy are the simpler bases. I feel that I'd be cheating myself by not making simpler things like walls, steps, and simple balustrades.

I suppose over time, perhaps inevitably, I'll reach that point in my life when I do have the time to tinker and try new techniques and do the more challenging things - gosh, I hope so But for now I guess I'm resolved to buying awesome bases

My 0.02 ZAR


Rhone, France
Joined: November 04, 2005
KitMaker: 1,845 posts
Historicus Forma: 406 posts
Posted: Tuesday, January 02, 2007 - 05:47 PM UTC
It all depends on the way you consider your hobby I suppose -people that model figs on small bases often want the focus to be put on the fig -therefore they won't see anything bad or contrary to their ethics to buy a ready made base like those that Pegaso & others sell and that are reviewed here. They consider the base as being just that, a base.
Now for dios, companies like Verlinden really pushes the thing really far -i can remember a full Tarawa base complete with dead Japaneses and Sherman in the water. I think up to some extent, ready made bases can destroy all traces of creativity in your work

that was one of the ugliest things Verlinden ever produced which does say something about the infinite.
The question is "where to stop when buying ready made bases or stuff for your bases" maybe?
Now as far as i am concerned, i prefer doing no more than 4 figs a year and 2 dioramas and everything being made by my hands -you won't see me dead buying a ready made base -nor an element for my bases.
Now if I would really need Pegaso bases as an inspiration to create mine, maybe changing eyes would be an investment I should consider
0.0000002€ answer..
Staff MemberSenior Editor
Croatia Hrvatska
Joined: February 13, 2002
KitMaker: 5,305 posts
Historicus Forma: 1,984 posts
Posted: Tuesday, January 02, 2007 - 06:31 PM UTC
I think bases and groundwork are showing modelers imagination and creativity. There is loads of space for experimenting when it comes to displaying "situation", not only by using different materials and techniques, but also to think about the setting itself...

I do envy the modelers who know how to present their models in a scenic groundwork... it is bringing their models to a new level of realism. I like the idea of making my own setting for my figures and, although I'm not very experienced in it, I know I would never buy a commercial base.

Louisiana, United States
Joined: April 13, 2005
KitMaker: 5,420 posts
Historicus Forma: 104 posts
Posted: Tuesday, January 02, 2007 - 07:32 PM UTC
I enjoy woodworking as much as I do modeling, so making a base for my model is part of the fun. Going to the lumber store and finding the right piece of wood can almost take longer than researching the model. :-)


North Carolina, United States
Joined: February 22, 2002
KitMaker: 11,718 posts
Historicus Forma: 783 posts
Posted: Tuesday, January 02, 2007 - 08:00 PM UTC
Well since I started the whole thing I need to expand a bit and toss my 2 euros in.

A base to me can be an extention of the project or simply 'place to put one'.

If I just need a place to put one and put the figure or subject 'in context' then I'll hands down look to buy a base or just add a quick display place. Like here.

If the project is a creative compete project then I will take the time to customize the base to fit the project. I plan on the base as part of the time and energy, it's just part of it.
Like here

I have reviewed a number of 'quick bases' and they definitely have a niche and are great products. In no way am I downgrading them or anyone who uses them. I think its an approach to the hobby.

JB, I find that the huge bases like the VP one you mention are too much. At that point you're not really 'building' a diorama, you're assembling one and painting it. Not really my cup of tea or mug of beer. I'll take 4 or 5 separate kits of buildings and roads and such and cobble them together 'my way' and I consider this more a personal project than simply assembly.
Joined: July 12, 2006
KitMaker: 770 posts
Historicus Forma: 700 posts
Posted: Tuesday, January 02, 2007 - 09:12 PM UTC
I like some of the ready made pieces - I would use them. I mean if I were planning to have a figure standing on cobble stone near a gate or wall, why wouldn't I buy it as a kit? On the other hand, there is the cost and if you're on a limited hobby budget using materials at hand makes more sense. Personally, I don't have the knack for creating realistic looking groundwork but I do my best and I'll try different things. I see these bases as another tool.

Louisiana, United States
Joined: April 13, 2005
KitMaker: 5,420 posts
Historicus Forma: 104 posts
Posted: Wednesday, January 03, 2007 - 02:01 AM UTC
Ah so. I generally make my own. With modeling a ship at sea, some comanies have thoughtfully included a sculpted plactic water base for this purpose. I usually chuck that and make my own. this way I can decide how to pose it. It's the same with figures too. I want them to be in their natural setting. If I can render a better base, which is not always the case, then I make my own. I think of it as part of the model.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Joined: March 05, 2004
KitMaker: 1,735 posts
Historicus Forma: 604 posts
Posted: Thursday, January 04, 2007 - 09:56 AM UTC
My 2 cts take which in my currency converted in Euros would go to several decimal places probably boils down to interests, time and money.

For me no thanks to the poor exchange rate coupled to my cheapo tendencies I normally go with building the base from scratch. There's also something to be said by owning something uniquely one's own. However, buildings are a toughie for me so I would go with buying some just to add to a scratchbuilt base.

Dios remain my main modeling interest so recreating a base from scratch is always a challenge I relish. Besides most of my supplies come off commando raids carried out in the little woman's kitchen and my neighbours gardens and that's half the fun. Unfortunately its been one raid too many and I now have to do a little vignette base for the little woman, non-combat and not even military related too. Darn, I should have wore more camo.
Michigan, United States
Joined: June 20, 2006
KitMaker: 260 posts
Historicus Forma: 219 posts
Posted: Thursday, January 04, 2007 - 10:22 PM UTC
I'm far too cheap to actually buy extra scenery. Just the cost of the figure makes me wince. Besides, I enjoy the challenge of making the scenery anyway.

My 2 pre-1982 pennies or 3.46 cents,
Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium
Joined: December 25, 2002
KitMaker: 1,030 posts
Historicus Forma: 675 posts
Posted: Thursday, January 04, 2007 - 10:39 PM UTC
I like to make my own scenery, but as I come up faster with ideas then I can build I have no problem to use commercial scenery when I simply want to display a figure.

When it comes to wooden bases I NEVER make them myself. I'm an absolute clumps when it comes to this sort of thing and there are so many beautifull bases to buy in the most exotic wood that I can't resist them. To be honest, I'm kind of addicted to buying wooden bases. When I see one I always think "Hmm, that and that base might come in handy one day". So I have a stack of bases in my hobbyroom. I also don't mind paying 25 euro or more for a well made, original base in a fancy wood. I think it's a bit like the framing of a picture. We spend so many hours painting the figures to the best we can, that I think it's a crime to simply glue them on a block of wood. I also think not very base is suited for every kind of figure ( a Napoleonic figure might look great on one base, but not on another which might then again be great for a knight, celt, etc...) But that's maybe food for another discussion?


Virginia, United States
Joined: November 19, 2005
KitMaker: 1,389 posts
Historicus Forma: 91 posts
Posted: Friday, January 05, 2007 - 10:33 PM UTC
For what it's worth here's my 2 cents- I feel that a scenic base (or dio) should complement the focus of the piece- I build a lot of Mechs the BIG thing about them is that they are BIG-

I also like to show them doing something that demonstrates thier function - this guy has a sniper rifle-

sometimes I like to show a specific moment in time -

Whatever the case I prefer to build my own -not use store bought bases - I depends on what you are trying to convey and how big is your spares box and dio supplies.
Victoria, Australia
Joined: May 07, 2003
KitMaker: 4,002 posts
Historicus Forma: 418 posts
Posted: Saturday, January 06, 2007 - 04:41 AM UTC
Drawing on what most have already stated, I think the factors would be:
Build your own but factor in time constraints, or buy a base and factor in price... I'm sure most everyone would like to build their own to set off their figure/scene exactly as they see fit, but sometimes this just can't happen!
Me personally, I build everything, as all my sheckels go towards the kit itself...
Kikladhes, Greece / Ελλάδα
Joined: September 30, 2003
KitMaker: 6,871 posts
Historicus Forma: 3,573 posts
Posted: Monday, January 08, 2007 - 11:12 AM UTC
Well for me , the scenery making in a figure construction is a lot of fun. so i usually doit totally scratched my self. But when i need some specific structure, that comes from repeated actions that will take much time , and probably the result wouldnt be 100% the expected i d go to get a Pegaso, or a Romeo, or some other base.

For example a mediaeval fortress wall with a door, or an arch, would take me enouh time to make, that i would rather spend on painting the figure better. Since my time is really limited and ihave comissions to deliver now and then, i have to keep managing of the time as good as possiblw. So some really good ready sceneries, will help me to do this. On the other hand if i have plenty of time, i would definately sit and doit my self experimenting with techniques and materials, causethats the essence of modelling.

Its never black or white, you have to put some tones of gray to get the picture .....

for wooden bases i have tried, some times, i dont make them that good, and they take me lots of time, so i prefer to spend on other guys work.
Barcelona, Spain / España
Joined: August 31, 2005
KitMaker: 1,377 posts
Historicus Forma: 418 posts
Posted: Monday, January 08, 2007 - 07:44 PM UTC

To rebound on JBA post, I think not every modellers has the skill you have to make diorama, JBA. If you like painting figures but are a real crap on armor or diorama, why not simplify and buy a nice groundwork like the Verlinden one you show ?

I know for building, for example, I could never build myself the building Verliden or custom dioramics or Miniart does !

It's up to everyone to choose his method.

my 0.05 Francs thoughts,

Limburg, Netherlands
Joined: September 13, 2005
KitMaker: 36 posts
Historicus Forma: 7 posts
Posted: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 - 08:19 AM UTC
Hi All,

From a manufacturers point of view, we at Reality in Scale always try to design figure and vignette bases that have actual added value in that it is very well detailed and contains elements, decorations etc. that are not easily scratchbuild. This opens possibilities for modellers to create an atmospheric and well detailed scene that they might have not been able to do without the availability of scenic bases. This kind of justifies the money spend on an item.
Furthermore, I think it's up to the capabilities of the modeller. Some people don't even buy commercial figures as they are talented figure sculptors themselves. My 2 Eurocents!

Olav Smeets
Reality in Scale
Indiana, United States
Joined: May 09, 2008
KitMaker: 1,019 posts
Historicus Forma: 8 posts
Posted: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 - 09:07 AM UTC
i haven't made a lot of bases in my modeling exploits, but i have done a few. those i have always made myself. i don't think i would ever buy one unless it was something that fit the image i had of what i was trying to create perfectly, or it was more complex than my abilities allow. i think if i showed my models in competition i would be concerned that another identical base would be there shown by another modeler and it would affect the impact of both our displays. ultimately, i tend to view pre-built scenic bases sorta like using somebody else's vision for your art. i didn't (and still don't) like MTV and their music videos because the meaning and interpretation of the music was now prepackaged and presented, often with the visual overpowering the audio. in ways it made the listener a spectator rather than a participant. i think that some pre-made scenes force you to limit what you do because they are dimensionally fixed in size so your vision is then held within those parameters. personally, i prefer to exercise my own imagination and pursue my own visions than adapt it to those of others, regardless of scale and subject. at the least, doing your own improves your skills!

now, display bases that are finished wood or some other material that the model is displayed on like an award, trophy, or a sculpture i don't have any issues with buying and using them at all.