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talking trash - literally

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  • Member since
    August 2021
talking trash - literally
Posted by Mac Fixx on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 9:30 PM

I have a very large build underway and can't get my mind trashy enough.  Sleazy is never a problem but that's another story.

Think NYC in the 1970s.  For younger pups unfamiliar, do an image search or watch the opening credits to Hill Street Blues or Welcome Back Kotter.  The build is in 1/87 scale (due to abundance of buildings, scenic details, lighting, and automobiles). Check out Downtown Deco's website.  Many of their builds are being used to give you an idea.

One item yet to be seen by diorama builders IN ABUNDANCE  AND IN SMALL SCALE is litter and garbage. Not rubble or debris.  Think of beer cans, bottles, newspapers, trash bags, typical litter people toss out on the side of the road or set out on the curb.    The colors and textures are countless. 

A year's worth of trying this and that so far has produced less than impressive results.  At least a quart or liter of it will be needed as this is a big build.

Spending hundreds of hours and dollars to create garbage isn't high on the priority list.  It's garbage after all. Suggestions would be welcome.



  • Member since
    May 2011
  • From: Honolulu, Hawaii
Posted by Real G on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 10:06 PM

Take a thin cheapy garbage bag, cut a small swatch, put a small wad of modeling clay in the middle, wrap the clay up and tie with a string.  Once secure, trim the "top" of the bag to suit.  The clay will provide some weight, and it will allow the bag to be shaped as needed.  If you use a translucent bag, add little bits of colored paper to the clay to create visual interest.

Make soda cans by heat stretching plastic tubing, cut to length, then crush for effect.

Don't forget crumpled up newspapers all over the place.  Scribble in some small swatches of tissue paper and stain brown.

Raid the spice rack for stuff like parsley flakes to make dead leaves.

A friend built a really cool Batmobile diorama in 1/35 scale using the above techniques.  HTH

“Ya ya ya, unicorn papoi!”

  • Member since
    August 2020
  • From: Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Australia.
Posted by Dodgy on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 4:43 AM

I agree with G. Great advice, you've just got to be prepared to make a lot of it. Remember also that rubbish builds up in places where it's blown by the wind. So you could make a pile somewhere, doesn't matter what with, and just dress the sides and top with detail. In effect it lloks like a pile of whatever you want it to look like.

I long to live in a world where chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned

  • Member since
    March 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 7:07 AM

Echoing what the others said, purely because of scale size, most of this will have to be home-made. Three recommendations, based on my own experience:

1) Use a variety of materials and textures, even for similar things like loose paper items, boxes and paper cups. The eye picks this up quite readily, and that variety really helps 'sell' the illusion.

2) 'pie plate' aluminum -- the sort grocery-store baked goods are always sold in -- is one of the more useful diorama materials on earth. It can be used for signs, rolled for cans (which will 'crush' like real metal), and in assorted chunks and strips can resemble anything from car parts to construction materials and the random strapping that always seems to accumulate wherever ordinary trash does. It also comes in a variety of thicknesses and textures, so supports rule #1 above, and can be painted or decaled for numerous effects.

3) If you haven't encountered them before, be aware that there are huge numbers of things like home-printable newspapers/magazines, paper cups and fast food packaging on numerous dollhouse and miniatures sites. (1/12 is a common scale, but they can be re-sized to suit individual projects.) These are another category where the eye naturally goes to a familiar fast food logo or other recognizable colors or design, and helps 'sell' your miniature world with a minimum of effort. Even something as simple as adding a newspaper to a model car seat really grabs the eye:



George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."
  • Member since
    August 2021
Posted by Mac Fixx on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 12:38 PM

Thank you. 

I'm just lazy and looking for a silver bullet.  Throwing junk of every possible description (including spices) into the blender gets close (and smells nice). It would probably suffice in smaller scales but 1/87 is just big enough there has to be some clarity yet is so small that making one or two pieces at a time will take "forever" to make a quart/liter.

Somebody is going to figure out an easy way and dare I say, cash in.  AK, Ammo, or Woodland Scenics will probably come out with "trash" about the time I get done.Crying


  • Member since
    May 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 3:34 PM


They probably will, but you still have the chance to top it off with something custom and really good looking. I have also thought about printing your newspapers with a printer on thin paper (note to oldtimers - newspapers are almost not sold anymore today).

Othet tip I have is to use the modelling thrash from your workbench - all those stryene sheet and paper clippings, pieces of thread, dust and fuzz, small unused parts and cutoffs thereof - painted for interest those work well for scrap metal, but could also work for urban thrash with different paint up. Like our friensd here said, pile "something" and then put on three or four of well recognizable objects like bottles, cans or boxes on top of that and nobody is going to ask any questions about the rest.

In the picture below I supplemented what was already on the bases with my workbench dirt - maybe this will help you any:

Good luck with your builds and have a nice day


All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

  • Member since
    November 2005
  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 6:06 PM

"Easy" is often the hardest bit. 
Sure, AK offeres up some "one pot" solutions, but they can be spendy if a person leans to thrifty (or "cheap").

Now, one way to get "rubble" trash is to take a Surform rasp to cork sheeting, which will give some random chunks.  Cork just loves paint, and cares not a whit if it's the cheap poster paint fro mthe art store (or high-dollar modeling paint).  It will take paint washes quite nicely, too.

Now, for inspriation in 1/87, a person could take to watching Kathy Mallet or Luke Cowen videos on YT.

Now, in fairness, Luke's often seem like advertizing video for his sponsors--but, if you are being paid to promote stuff, you promote it.

Another interesting diorama builder, who does include trash and the like, is Thomas at Laser Creation World (which, also, can seem like ad copy--but he has some real art-school paint techniques to show, too).

Your Mileage May Vary

  • Member since
    August 2021
Posted by Mac Fixx on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 8:06 PM

Capn Mac,

Yes, Laser Creation World, Plasmo, and Scale a ton are among favorites but I'm stupid and stubborn preferring to bang my head against the wall, reinvent the wheel, and throw away money like it grows on trees. Singing, "I did it my way" sounds better than confessing arrogance and willfull ignorance.

Model RR forums were explored years ago when doing a build but my selfish ambitions and their objectives are dissimilar. Agree with you on Towan. 'Nuff said on both. 

Perhaps its background and life experiences but old armor guys, hermits, and those generally burned out and disgusted with humanity seem more pleasant and safer company.

Walt from Gran Torino and/or Mr. Gustafson from Grumpy Old Men tend to go down smooth and can be understood by this fool. Bambi and Bob Ross, on the other hand, scare the crap out of me and are not to be trusted.




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