War of the Worlds Classic Illustrated Edition
"Across the gulf of space...intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely they drew their plans against us"...
From H.G.Wells "War of the Worlds" novel
I read those words some 50 years ago and I must admit Wells style of writing stayed with me all these years. So much so that I promised myself that one day I'd construct a diorama based on a chapter from the book.
While the "war machine" from the Classic Illustrated artist might appear dated in this modern 21st century, to a 10 year growing up in the 1950's, it was cutting edge. Long before the Star War AT-AT's captured the imagination of movie goers, Mr. Wells book is the "prototype" of our current crop of scifi epics. The Classic Illustrated "war machine" or tripod may not impress today's youngsters but I had a fascination with it's overall look and the drubbing it gave to a panicked British army. And the battle between the Royal navy's torpedo ram the "Thunderchild" and the tripods is a classic.
The diorama depicts the "black smoke" (poison gas) attack on a British artillery position. I didn't want the diorama to be strewn with mangled bodies so I choose a scene to be a bit "tasteful" depicting death. If you look at the soldier in the pig pen his red kerchief filtered out the poison and now he studies the unstoppable Martian device.
The tripod itself was built from scratch, using brass tube for the legs and plastic fishing bobbers for the articulated upperworks. The "heat ray turret" was a modified plastic cover from a small car model. I turned the heat ray tube from aluminum and the "tentacles" are fashioned from armored elecrical cable. The martians were built of celluclay and painted. The pig pen and shed were scratch built and the stone wall was built from model railroad scenic material (as was the grass and sand). The machine guns were built out of the parts box, and the seige gun was a modified resin kit. The figures are Tamiya and the tree is a piece of sage brush from the banks of the Rio Grande river (courtesy of a fellow builder).
I can't say I'm a scifi builder of any worth but Mr. Well's book just seems to stick with a person, at least for me. One of these days I plan on another diorama depicting the "Thunderchild" battle with the martians, a little different from other similar dioramas.