Luis tells us about the diorama and the history it depicts:
This diorama is based on the Portuguese Colonial War in Africa (1961 -
Although the Portuguese fought three wars simultaneously (Angola,
Portuguese Guinea, Mozambique), this one is located in Angola where my
father and a few uncles serviced for three years (while in the USA a combat
tour is one year, in Portugal it is three years. This is all based on the
lack of manpower for Portugal has a population of 10 million inhabitants
back in the 1960s/70s).
This diorama take place in north - western Angola where there are large
forests not jungles as most people think. In the late 1960s northern Angola
was a rebel haven for the rebel were able to hide in and easily cross the
border into and out of Angola into the Congo. Thus the Portuguese sent in
many search and destroy patrols into this area to wipe out the guerrillas,
which they were very successful. Although the Portuguese won the battles and
had practically destroy the enemy, they "lost the war" in that in Portugal
in 1975 the dictatorial government was overthrown in a coup and with the
coming of a democratic government all Portuguese troops were withdrawn and
the three Portuguese colonials were given their independence.
That was the history lesson, now about the diorama itself.
The Soldiers -There are 11 Portuguese figures with G3 automatic rifles and
gear; the 12th one is from Italeri's Vietnam Special Forces. They are from a
war-gaming set of 20mm figures from Irregular Miniatures out of the UK. They
feature all metal miniatures from 2mm to 54mm from a variety of periods and
era. Also there is Eureka Miniatures which has the same but up to 40mm of
all periods and era, this includes futuristic figures. As for the Italeri
figure, he was converted from an American to a Portuguese Soldier carrying
In reality the Portuguese used the AR-10. The AR-10 was the
forefather of the M16 rifle. Originally it was a 7.62×51mm NATO battle rifle
developed by Eugene Stoner in the late 1950s and licensed to be produced by
the Dutch to be used by NATO forces. For more information see Wikipedia on
the AR-10 rifle.
All Soldiers' uniforms are colored in the Portuguese lizard
pattern of pale green background with dark-green and red-brown vertical
splotches. Their combat gear is painted in NATO green by Tamiya or you can
get away with even Olive Drab.
The Forest - this was the most time consuming part of the while diorama for
I made the trees myself. Although its time consuming, I saved money, for
after having made a few I got frustrated in making them that I went to buy
some. But after seeing what they cost, I decided it would be SO MUCH CHEAPER to
MAKE THEM. So I used Will's technique of using house hold goods such as wire
and Italian Spice Blend such as dried Basil and Oregano which make great
looking leaves either on the tree itself or on the ground as fallen leaves.
I also bought foliage from Woodland Scenic to give the trees a thick look.
With that said, I also used real tree branches to make better looking trees,
as well as real weeds and flowers using the technique from Entomologist
Diorama (Insect Maker) by Alberto J. Almarza I read on Stormthecastle.com.
As for the ground I used a decorative weed looking mat that can be glued
onto a surface. These mats are pretty cheap and can be bought at A.C. Moore
or Hobby Lobby. Overall they look really good to make forests or jungles.
For a final touch, dedicated to our natural living world, I added a forest
gorilla from a set called Wild Fun Pack Mini Good Luck figures from Safari
Ltd., which cost like $2
RESOURCES - Want to Hand Make a Diorama like this one?
Woodland Scenics has a whole lot of wonderful terrain materials available on Amazon right here.
Woodland Scenics RG5173 Forest Grass Roll -
- Removable turf - make roads, sidewalks and parking lots Moldable - create mountains, valleys and water areas Non-shedding Reusable - roll up, store and use again Tear resistant for extended use Colorfast for retention of original, vibrant color Non-staining - will not bleed on other surfaces
Safari Limited Wild Fun Pack
Don't be fooled by their size (no bigger than a paperclip), these adorable figurines are buoyant and full of personality. Now you can travel from the deepest jungles of Asia to the hot grasslands with this Fun Pack, which includes eight figurines: Siberian Tiger, Elephant, Giraffe, Lion, Rhino, Okapi, Hippo, and Gorilla. They're great for craft projects, gifts at parties, classroom rewards, and more. Even though they're small, our Good Luck Minis are made with the same standards as all Safari figurines. Each one has been individually hand painted, is detailed and realistic, and features quality construction from phthalate and lead-free materials. Bag size: 8”W x 10”H (20.25 x 25.5cm). Figurine size: from 0.75” to 1” (2 to 2.5cm). Contains 8 figurines. For ages 5 and up.