One of the largest 1/6th scale dioramas ever built was on display at last weekend’s Joelanta in Atlanta, GA. Inspired by a real-life steam-powered locomotive known as “The General,” this stunning display was the talk of the show. Passersby were dumbstruck by its size, craftsmanship and attention to detail.
The General is a famous locomotive fondly remembered for its participation in a real-life locomotive chase during the Civil War, and for being the inspiration and namesake for a 1920s comedy starring Buster Keaton (see movie HERE). This amazing 1:6 scale replica was built by Atlanta GIjOE Club members Mike Gardner and Steve Bugg and includes its massive engine, a wood tender, box car, supporting track, landscape, telegraph poles and assorted action figures to help set the scene.
Of course, the space, tools and materials required to create such giant dioramas are not commonly available to most fans. Fortunately for Mike and Steve, the two work together during the day and their business allows them to utilize such equipment whenever required. According to Steve, this was the 18th diorama they’ve created together and the 12th show in which they’ve had an entry.
Previous Gardner/Bugg dioramas have included a massive WW2 German Castle and a towering “Martian Walker.” When asked about what happens to their massive dioramas after a show, the two men’s eyes dropped to the floor as they sadly admitted…
“Well, most of them simply ended up in the dumpster. But we’ve managed to save a few over the years that are now stored in a warehouse. We hope that the proceeds from Joelanta will someday enable a 1:6 scale diorama museum to be built where they’ll be properly displayed.
Sometimes, unexpected things will happen. For example, after Joelanta one year, we were driving the Martian Walker home. It was loaded onto the back of a semi trailer along with the big 1:6 building that was also part of the display. Well… once the truck got going down the road, the wind just lifted that big ol’ building right up and blew it onto the highway. That was the end of that. But the Martian Walker survived!”
The General was as big and beautiful a diorama as you’ve ever seen. The crowd was fascinated by it. Steve dressed in appropriate period attire with a rebel cap on his head and happily answered questions from awe-struck admirers throughout the day. There aren’t sufficient words to properly describe something this well done. It truly is a museum quality piece. We hope that someday, the Cody Lane Diorama Museum becomes a reality and that The General becomes its main attraction! (All photos: Mark Otnes)