Sometimes I get asked where the items that are used in my photos come from. Most all are from action figures. They are either packed in as a base or an accessory. I’ll try to compile a list and use photos when I can find them
Most all the sidewalk (pavement to those in the UK) slabs are from Batman action figures. Specifically from the DC Direct Batman lines of:
The Long Hallween
Secret Files: Rogue’s Gallery
They are pretty much identical with the same shape and gritty detail and paint applications, some are slightly darker or light in shade but they fit together the same, with small, square connectors on the bottom. The rounded, “curb” pieces with manhole covers that read “Gotham Power” came in select figures like the Long Halloween Mad Hatter and (I think) the Dark Victory Robin/Penguin set. The Dark Knight Returns Robin also has the green lampost that fits into the corner sidewalk piece:
There is also a good street corner sidewalk and lamp post set that comes in the Toy Biz Spider-Man: The Movie Series 2 Web Swinging Spider-Man Action Figure:
Not only does it have the dual lamp posts with dual GE M-150 roadway luminaires, a pedestrian crossing “walk/don’t walk” display and two street signs, it also has a great newspaper vending machine that actually opens up to reveal about three actual copies of the “Daily Bugle with printed copy on them! The curb has great detail with yellow paint and a sewer grate. The figure that comes with it is not that great but the accessories are the best.
There is also a newspaper box that is collapsible and crushable which is an accessory with the Spiderman Classics Scorpion figure, but it’s much larger and cartoonish than the nice one that comes with the movie Spidey figure:
The Fantastic Four movie figure of the Light Up Human Torch had a base with a melted US Postal Service mail box on a street corner with a bent parking meter and fire hydrant all on a sidewalk/grate/road section. It is also appropriate for a destroyed city block.
A more Victorian light post is available in the McFarlane “Faces of Madness” accessory pack. The pack also has pools of blood, vintage firearms, beakers, vials and severed heads if you want to include those in your diorama.
There aren’t that many large brick or stone wall pieces packed with figures due to the size they would be and space they would take up, but you can find small bits and place them together (it helps if your goal is to make the city look run down and falling apart, then the hodge podge of various pieces of walls can be explained by urban decay and vandalism or ravaging battles of super heroes and villains).
Some good ones are the walls that come with the Marvel Select Spiderman (shown below); the “McFarlane” style wall crawling Toy Biz Spiderman also shown below (there are actually long vertical slots for “climbing” him up that kind of ruins the look, but there’s a nice gargoyle on top); various bases from the Toy Biz Marvel Legends line like the base that comes with (series I) Captain America (minus the tank and flag) and the fire escape/window/sidewalk base that comes with the Punisher (series IV) figure. There are also some falling apart walls that either are break-away for crashing through (like the Yancey Boys graffited one that comes with the Marvel Legends series II Thing figure and the Spiderman Classics Ultimate Rhino figure, shown below) or the already broken down walls that come as bases for the Marvel Legends Hulk (series I), Juggernaut, Wolverine (series III), or modern IronMan (series 8).
For a balcony, the ornate stone one that came with the Spider-man movie Mary Jane figure is a great one to affix to a wall and put figures on. There is also a nice eagle’s head precipice that comes with the superposeable Spider-man movie Spidey. The Spider-man movie also had a Spidey figure that came with a break-apart water tower. This looks great on top of diorama building if you glue the pieces together so they don’t break apart any more. There was also a movie Spidey with a Daily Bugle billboard and ledge that looks great on a diorama wall.
The McFarlane Military figures have some good partially destroyed walls as well and their 24 figures have some good bases as well.
Finally, for some quick store fronts, with windows and doorways, I found these Bratz mall playsets on clearance at Big Lots and even though they are woefully out of scale with 6-inch figures, they do seem to add to the atmosphere of the city from a distance. They look good from both the front and back and you could paste a different image in the Bratz billboard on the back if you wanted.
Then there is always the method of just printing out a wall texture or brick pattern from your color printer and gluing it to cardboard, foamcore, or other rigid and flat material to make your own walls. You can find diorama textures at site like TimOkay’s.
There are also some terrific accessories that come with wrestling figures. Jakks Pacific put out a
Back Alley Playset that contained a dumpster with side by side lids that opened up and a soft rubber trash can as well as a beaten-up, ugly toilet. There is also a good trash can and lid (as well as some rubber barbed wire) in the TNA iMpact Rhino figure. You might also want to get some cage walls used to make cage match rings. They make good fences to use in front of warehouses and construction sites, or just to close off alleys, etc.
For a playset/base that has it all: dumpster, trash can, sidewalk AND brick wall with window and fire escape, get the Spider-man Alleyway Playset by Toy Biz:
Various Litter and Debris
You can add trash and litter on the ground to give the city diorama a more realistic look. Especially in the gutters of the street or in the alley near the trash cans. One action figure set that has a great amount of boxes, beer bottles and other items is the McFarlane “Great White North” set that has both Bob and Dough McKenzie from the SCTV show. If you can’t find the box set, they also put them out on separate cards with all the many accessories in each one.
McFarlane also had some good airline debris with the LOST Jack figure and even had extras on their web site that you could buy for a dollar.
Other good cans, drinks, fast food items, food, newspapers, etc. come with the Playmates World of Simpsons figures but they may be too cartoony for more realistic scenes, depending on the items.
You can also just wad up tiny pieces of real paper for trash and make your own plastic garbage bags by tying up real pieces of garbage bags (or any bit of plastic/polyethelene, etc.) with something inside and making little bundles to put out by the trash cans.
For street signs, posters, parking, warning signs, etc. You can go to several sites online to download them and print them out yourself to make scale model versions for your dio. There are also printouts you can assemble to make 3-D objects like TV sets, computers and even outside heat pump units. One good site I know of is:
That’s about all I can think of for outside. I may do another page for inside accessories.
If you want to see how I put all of my stuff together, you can go to my Diorama-O-Rama page. But, be warned, it’s picture heavy.