May 18, 2016

Joseph Svec's Plastic Fun With Dioramas - The Marx Alamo

While medieval knights are my favorite subject for dioramas, I feel I must start with a 54mm Alamo playset based diorama. I do specify 54mm for a reason. Those are the size Alamo figures that I played with as a child, and when my son was a child. Yes, the 54+mm Conte Alamo is excellent, with great detail and outstanding poses, but it is a larger, more husky 54mm figure. The true Marx style 54mm figures evoke the feelings and memories of the MARX Sears Heritage Alamo that my son and I played with together, and the Marx Alamo that I had as a child. Those are the figures that evoke a nostalgic feeling of the past, so that is where I will begin.

The Marx tin litho Alamo fort was a simple rectangle with a main gate in the front, and a chapel building in the back. It was only 24" x 18", with about sixty figures. Even the two Sears Heritage Alamos combined into one fort only produced a slightly larger fort and right around one hundred figures. It was great fun, but it was calling loudly for more figures and a larger Alamo fort.

My son and I attempted to remedy that by adding Airfix 54mm WWII Desert Outpost and Strong Point buildings to our double Sears Heritage set, and adding some stiff plastic reissue Marx Alamo Mexicans in grey and cream from Heritage Toy Figures. It worked well, but we still wanted to add more.

When CTS started releasing new 54mm Alamo figures in the same sculpting style and size as the original Marx figures, they did a great job. At last one could start increasing the size of their Alamo diorama. CTS, along with Airfix, and Call to Arms 54mm Napolionics did wonders to increase pose selection. Of course the very reasonably priced BMC Alamo playset and figures also helped immensely.

But there was still the issue of the Alamo fort itself. Once again, CTS addressed that with their Legend of the Alamo playset that offered a greatly enlarged and more accurate Alamo fort, that was still in tin litho, just like the ones we had as kids. Amazing! Now with a much bigger fort and a whole lot more figures we can really have some fun. 


For 54mm enthusiasts, a ping pong table, a large bucket of sand, and a bag of lichen are the foundation of quick and simple dioramas. The standard 5'x9' ping pong table is the perfect size, in that it is large enough to create a really big diorama, but one can still reach any point on the table. And it is forest green which is the perfect color for most ground types. For roads, beaches, and desert terrain, this is where the bucket of sand comes in. It is perfect to add a realistic base to most any diorama. The lichen is used to create bushes, shrubs, trees and adds a higher level of realism.

While the CTS tin litho Alamo fort was bigger, combining it with a reissue Marx Alamo chapel building and wall makes it bigger still, so that is what I have done.


In addition to reissue Marx Mexicans and  Boonesborough Pioneers; as well as CTS and BMC Mexicans and Texans, there are a number of other 54mm figures that will work well in an Alamo diorama. I have added Napoleonic figures from Barzso, Call to Arms, Dulcop, and Heritage Toy Figures, for Mexican troops, as well as Timpo ACW figures in red brown, and Reissue Marx miners, trappers and cowboys, for Texans. The result is a grand Alamo diorama that features over 1,000 figures. My younger self is totally pleased, and satisfied.

Here is a picture before adding the sand. Click to enlarge
Here are pictures with sand and lichen added. You can see the difference some sand and lichen make to add realism without a great deal of effort. One can also see a Pegasus river, Barzso tents, Awesome kids ACW fences, BMC cannons & mortars and other add-ons. That is what makes large dioramas such fun. You get great detail and enjoyment, all in just a day. I hope you enjoyed it as well.

Here is the left side you can see the reissue Marx chapel
building and wall with wooden doors.
 Click to enlarge

CTS Mexican cavalry in red, and reissue Marx round hat cavalry in blue,
crossing Pegasus river. 
Click to enlarge
Along the bottom, from left to right, reissue Marx Mexicans in cream, metallic blue,
silver, and medium blue, with a group of CTS Mexicans in cream. 
Click to enlarge
Here is the left side you can see the reissue Marx chapel
building and wall with wooden doors. Click to enlarge
Overview of Alamo court yard. BMC Mexicans line the upper edge of the photo. Click to enlarge.

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