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Tips For Using Schleich Miniature Figurines in a Rainforest Diorama
Using Safari or Schleich miniature figurines can give your rainforest diorama extra realism. Both Safari and Schleich offer a wide range of wildlife toys. Here are some tips on how to take any jungle diorama to the next level.
To build a realistic weather diorama, you’ll need a basic understanding of the structure of a rainforest. The jungle has four paths, or levels, that start at ground level and go up to the sky.
The first is called “ground layer”. He has some plants. Small trees and half-grown trees are the next stage, called “understory”. Finally, the highest level of leaf density, branches with leaves, called “canopy”. Stretching above the canopy are very tall trees that are “on the lap”. Some historic trees (known as emergents) can be up to 150 feet tall!
The canopy is the layer where you will find most life, from insects to animals, and fungus. This layer is from 75 to 130 feet from the ground. The underlying story also supports the growth of a large network of branches and leaves ranging from 20 to 100 feet in height. Many animals still live in the story under the story. The ground level growth is thin, with a lot of open space, because there is not much light (99% of sunlight is blocked). Animals such as deer, peccaries, and jaguars inhabit the land. Each of these animals along with many others can be added as Safari or Schleich toy figures.
You will probably find that to display all four forest levels in scale with small figurines such as Schleich toy figures would mean building a diorama over five feet tall. Your best option is to compensate by focusing on one stratum of the forest at a time.
Let’s focus on the helmet. Start with a sturdy base, such as a piece of cardboard about 18 x 20 inches. For tree tops, use real branches that are 10-15 inches tall. Choose the ones that are strong with a lot of complex looking that you are excited about. Stick the bottom ends into large lumps of air-permeable clay (not baked clay, such as Sculpey).
There are many ways to create realistic leaf effects. Glue large pieces of green sponge between the branches to resemble areas of leaves. You can also use shredded paper or Spanish moss spray painted bright green. Add detail with a few hand-cut leaves that hang on the nearest branches of your diorama. Branches to the back can be a little more detailed.
Do not forget that interesting epiphytes such as bromeliads and orchids live on the branches of canopy trees. Create three-dimensional models of these from paper or clay or cut out pictures from magazines and glue them. Long, vines can be created using green or brown color or string. Use small pieces of crumpled colored tissue paper for the flowers. Add a layer of green leaf effects across the “ground” of your diorama (this is the top of the story layer below). Now you are ready to add the small figurines for the animals.
Common animals found in the canopy of the forest are sloths, monkeys, toucans, wood-carrying anteaters, snakes, lizards and sometimes cats. Many of these figures are available as Schleich toy figures, which have a high degree of realism, or from other manufacturers such as Safari.
These small figurines are usually heavy for their size, so they will need to be wired with additional bracing behind them. Try platforms made from Popsicle sticks. Cover the edges with leaf material. Hot glue will keep them loose. A few animals can sit on the “top branches” of the story below – that is, on the floor of your diorama.
Your diorama is most interesting if it tells a story. Show the animals in action, if you can. Place a snake and try to kill a bird. Show the anteater’s nose about among the bromeliads.
Now create a pass. You should give your title, date, and name. If it’s a school project, you may want to create small labels identifying the animals and plants in your field. Be sure to take lots of pictures!
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