My dad, William "Billy" Simpson is a really creative guy. He was a big influence on me in terms of getting into the arts and redily encouraged my comic book habit. As a kid I always remember him drawing/doodling and generally adding creative flourishes to pretty much anything he could get his hands on - clothes, cars, bikes, you name it!!! In the last 10 years or so, he's delved into making dioramas. I think it started off with having some scrap styrofaom lying around and him thinking "This would make a really neat castle!"
His initial dioramas while somewhat crude (at least compared to his later work) were still inspired and employed other household items like toothpicks for portcullises, Starbucks stir-sticks for wooden planks and cardboard ceiling tiles for cliff faces. He got even more inventive as he progressed and started incorporating multi-tiered moats and working drawbridges into his creations.
Eventually through practice and trial and error he came up with several other techniques and put that knowledge into creating a truly impressive recreation of the Alamo! Which, thanks to Pee-Wee Herman, we all know there's no basement in there.
I thought I'd share a few photos from that diorama but I should point out it's not fully assembled in these photos, it's just too large! We did put it together once and it took up the entire driveway!
What I love about this particular diorama is that taken as a whole it's almost overwhelming, it kind of looks like total chaos but if you look closer it's actually a series of mini-scenes, depicting various historical events. There's a cause and effect going on throughout the entire tableau and there's plenty of good story telling as a result. It's really quite impressive and the result of hundreds of hours of thought and meticulous execution. What you don't see in these photos is that many of the buildings cleverly come apart where additional events are depicted.
The majority of the figures are purchased online through http://www.classictoysoldiers.com and each one is HAND PAINTED by my dad. Moreover, the figures are shipped with only a few variations so my dad has developed techniques to further customize them for more variety and dramatic impact. Swapping, limbs, torsos, heads and the like. Personally, I like the grey tainted cotton balls that serve as gun smoke, a nice touch.
Check out some video of the diorama below plus a few bonus creations he's made, they do a better job at demonstrating the shear scale of it all...
Well there you have it, my dad is slowly running out of room and my poor mom needs to be able to access the washer/dryer so if you think you'd be interested in purchasing one of my father's creations you can send me an email and I can pass along the info...or if there were something custom you'd like built, he just might be up for that too!
- That's it for this blog post, until next time...
Happy father's day, dad!