by: Brian Culbertson [ ]
Dioramas Plus is currently based out of Florence, MT and is owned by Randy Pepprock. Mr. Pepprock is a former Hollywood Scenic Artist and has been building Model Railroad structures under the "Downtown Deco" name for the last 15 years. Most of the kits are based on actual buildings seen in vintage photographs.
This review will focus on one of these kits, Apartment Ruin #DP7, and carries a list price of $34.95 plus shipping.
Good packaging for kits such as these are essential, and getting the product to arrive intact is no small feat. Itís been stated that the packaging of these kits are "Bullet Proof" which, to me, is a pretty bold statement. This kit traveled approximately 3500 miles from Montana to Florida, and into my hands here in Colorado via the U.S. Postal system. Upon opening the kit I found to my amazement that not one single piece of this kit was damaged during its journey. So, I can say that Dioramas Plus has every reason to make that statement.
All of Dioramas Plus kits are placed in 1/8 inch thick cardboard boxes, with packing paper inside followed by a layer system of bubble wrap which protects the kit, shrink wrapped onto a flat piece of 1/8 inch cardboard followed by more paper at the bottom. The whole package is shrink wrapped sealed on the outside.
This kit contains six pieces made of Hydrocal plaster of varying size, to comprise the ruin, the largest piece which stands an impressive 9 1/2" tall at the base and is 7 1/2" in length. The kit also contains a bag of rubble/brick and a clear piece of laser cut plastic, which adds to the realism after completing the building. The exterior of the kit is patterned in a stucco/brick construction. The detail for the pieces is finely textured and realism is spot on. The damage and bullet holes in the casting are not over done.
There is some flash from the casting for the Hydrocal plaster around the door and window openings, which can be removed by the follow methods; X-acto blade, sandpaper (120 to 200 followed by fine grit), or small emery board. Dioramas Plus recommends the use of 5 minute epoxy in the construction of the kit, Super Glue can also be used. The instructions consist of 5 pages, and detail the construction and painting of the kit with step by step photo illustrations. A list of other products and price listing, along with contact information, is also enclosed with the kit.
I'm looking forward to doing a build blog of this kit in the future. Early research of the stucco/brick exterior from internet sites like Getty and Time Life, have revealed that this kit could represent several different eraís and locations. Here are some possible places that this type of building may fit in: World War II Germany and Italy, Beirut, Gaza, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan. With some added work and modifications, Dioramas Plus Apartment Ruins could match any one of these areas and timeframes.
A special thanks to Dioramas Plus and Andy Renshaw, for providing this kit for review.