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"I Miss The Miniature Terrain Props In Old Movies" Topic

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Cacique Caribe10 Jan 2018 12:43 a.m. PST

Just watched Dreamscape (1984), probably for the tenth time. Despite all the silly/cheesy scenes in the film, I still enjoy watching it.

One thing I like is the ruined buildings in their post-Apocalyptic dream scenes.

Well, below is a picture of what one of those props looks like in real life. I'm always amazed when I see photos of the real props, at how they are made. I like both their level of detail as well as their simplicity. They've inspired many a terrain project at our house.

How about you? Are there any terrain props from old movies that you found personably doable as a scratchbuilt project of your own?



Yellow Admiral10 Jan 2018 6:52 a.m. PST


Here's a whole page on the models of Tora! Tora! Tora!

Knowing that I'm watching models usually deepens my appreciation, rather than disrupting my suspension of disbelief.

- Ix

bsrlee10 Jan 2018 7:14 a.m. PST

I was on a set years ago for a local Oz tele series. On one side the set WAS Changi Prison in Singapore, just like the photos. Walk around the corner and it was all plywood and 2x4's.

I've also seen some stage props a friend made – one was a building about 24" x 36" made from 14 gauge steel which was fitted out with a series of pipes and jets (controlled by an analog computer) which was visible through a window of another prop wall. When the appropriate moment arrived the fires were lit and the flames waxed and waned to the script.

zoneofcontrol10 Jan 2018 7:26 a.m. PST

Always liked this picture of Pearl Harbor planning:


robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP10 Jan 2018 7:36 a.m. PST

Dunno. I used to take the attitude that if I was paying attention to the miniatures, the movie hadn't grabbed me. I definitely take that attitude toward special effects.

But what does get me are the old back lots--the buildings which look right because you've seen them in a hundred movies and TV shows.

If someone would make a set of Old West buildings based on Old Tucson, I'd buy the lot of them. Add the Arab Village from the 40 Acre Lot, and do Prohibition Wars buildings from old Warner Brothers sets, and you'd have terrain that really looked right.

Ragbones Supporting Member of TMP10 Jan 2018 8:34 a.m. PST

Yellow Admiral, that's a great site. Thanks for posting. Terrific idea for a thread, CC!

Cacique Caribe10 Jan 2018 8:53 a.m. PST

Admiral, that's a mighty fine looking page!

Bsrlee, do you recall what series that was, with the Singapore prison?

Zoneofcontrol, the stories behind those training mock ups are chilling. Pieced together from many sources, many of them spies already living in Hawaii. Other bits came from people who had no clue what the information would be used for.

Ragbones, I'm glad you like the thread!

Robert: "If someone would make a set of Old West buildings based on Old Tucson"

Going how far back? I'm not seeing many pictures of it on Google.


attilathepun4710 Jan 2018 11:05 a.m. PST

It was really amazing what movie studios used to do before CGI started taking over. Decades ago I saw a photo of an old merchant schooner in the course of being converted to play the part of a ship of the line. On one side, you saw a very convincing looking warship, much of it just tacked on by scaffolding, and on the other you saw the actual hull of the schooner.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP10 Jan 2018 11:08 a.m. PST

Dan, "Old Tucson" was a set outside of town made for a pre-WWII movie titled "Arizona" (1940) with William Holden and Jean Arthur. Instead of false fronts, they made a real adobe village. So after the war, film-makers started coming back. John Wayne made Rio Bravo, El Dorado and Rio Lobo there--and McClintock. Audie Murphy did Arizona Rangers. Robert Taylor die Return of the Gunfighters. Paul Newman did Hombre. Lee Marvin and Jack Palance did Monte Walsh. Clint Eastwood did Joe Kidd. Ricardo Montalban did The Mark of Zorro. Kirk Douglas filmed six movies there. That's a sample. I think it was at least 50 movies--probably more.
TV? The High Chapparal, some of Bonanza and the Little House series, all of Bearcats!. One of Clayton Moore's Lone Ranger movies.
The last movie was Tombstone (1995.) It was never the same after a subsequent fire.
If you watch enough old westerns, the Sheriff's office, the saloon, the hotel, the livery stable and the old Spanish mission at the edge of town start to seem very familiar.
At least two books on it: Old Tucson Studios by Paul Lawton and Images of Old Tucson by Michael Bifulco.

I was there for a day, just a bit ahead of the fire. Wondrrful place.

Palewarrior10 Jan 2018 11:12 a.m. PST

I wonder if only big budget movies can afford to use miniatures these days, CGI (poor CGI that is…) always crops up in bad sci-fi these days.

D A THB10 Jan 2018 1:45 p.m. PST

Funny coincidence, I was playing "spot the model part" on this photo yesterday.

The Stug body is quite obvious but there is a lower hull I have been trying to figure out which is level with the ladies nose.


Striker10 Jan 2018 3:47 p.m. PST

Finescalemodeler had an article about a guy who refurbished a battleship from the movies. It was sitting in the back of a lot for a while. Pretty impressive model, even before he finished it.

Valmy9210 Jan 2018 4:37 p.m. PST

Her nose is pointing at a T-34 hull, isn't it?

SAMURAIFREDDY11 Jan 2018 7:09 a.m. PST

isn't she Caroline Munro on the set of "starcrash" movies starring among others also Christopher Plummer in the role of the Universe's Emperor?! Looks like a tank bottom with side wheel axles, however they had glued some other fancy stuff on the bottom plate and the hull is for me absolutely unidentifiable…

Patrick R11 Jan 2018 9:33 a.m. PST

The most depressing image. It tells the whole story.


Cacique Caribe11 Jan 2018 1:48 p.m. PST

OMG. That does speak volumes!

Well, I'm really glad that the guys at the Stan Winston school are still keeping the craft alive:

YouTube link


D A THB11 Jan 2018 3:24 p.m. PST

That hull is still bothering me. The bevels on the side and fixed axles made me think of a Chaffee which was then ruled out. I then looked at a Patton tanks. There is room for a sixth road wheel which would be modelled differently to the other axles and probably a separate part.

I see lots of sprues glued directly to the model with all the parts attached.

SAMURAIFREDDY, yes that is Caroline Munro. I was looking for images of Starcrash when I found that photo.

Coelacanth11 Jan 2018 7:21 p.m. PST

Weta works.

The craft is not dead -- consider Blade Runner 2049.


P.S. In answer to your query, laugh I have not considered building this at home…

Cacique Caribe12 Jan 2018 9:48 a.m. PST


Come on! You know you can do it. Just think of how awesome that apartment building would be on your gaming table. In fact, your whole game could be confined to the action in that building.

And you know you want to. :)


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