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Built Review
River Crossing
River Crossing
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]

Originally published on:


Simon from Great North Roads (GNR) has revealed 3 new Diorama bases in his customary dense white plaster, all very useful and all having a slightly new twist from previous releases.

The Codes and titles are:- ( prices as of 2015 at end of article)
GNR 113 The Outcrop Vignette
GNR 115 Cobble Road Large Vignette
GNR 116 River Crossing

A quick overview of each will follow with a detailed look at GNR 116 but the first thing that is noted is the new style of base edging. A deep mitered edge has been included in the cast meaning that you no longer have to mount the GNR base on a finished piece of timber. This does speed things up and is a neat simple solution to presenting a well finished base. The cast has obviously been taken from wood, and a very fine grain is just visible but this ties perfectly with the fine grained texture of the raised side of those bases that are tall such as the river crossing (GNR 116) and Cobbled Vignette (GNR 115). A base coat of a suitable wood colour with a dragged varnish top coat would look effective although I chose to finish the edging in gloss black, which also looked good. Only one air hole was found on the sides of GNR 115, none at all on GNR 116. A dab of filler or plaster easily sorts this and fine sandpaper blends the area back into the wood texture. No problems there.

This new style does throw up a few other points though. The extra depth adds weight, a consideration for those purchasing by post. Also being deeper it is a good idea to let the casts sit unwrapped for a while. All of GNR’s plaster kits recommend this but the thicker bases will need up to a week resting on a towel or sponge so any moisture can be wicked away. Leaving the cast on a flat table surface will prevent moisture leaving the underside and evaporating so a flat absorbent surface is recommended.


GNR 113 The Out crop Vignette is perhaps the most useful diorama base in all of Simon’s range. It is circular so no restrictions on which side to use, it has approx a third of the area free for a vehicle or other items, and the out crop is generic enough to use as a desert scene or Granite in a more temperate climate by adding mud or grass to the base. The scale is not determinable either making the base suited to 1/76 up to 1/20. I tried it with a Trumpeter 1/72 M1A1, a Tamiya 1/35 Panzer II and a 1/20 SF3D Fighting suit from Nitto and all looked fine. You will have to think about how to tackle track marks and foot prints though as well as ensuring vehicles snuggle down. I tackled this on previous plaster cast bases by marking parallel lines where the tracks made contact with the ground and then remove raised areas with a burr in a hobby drill. This is messy work, and should be done before anything else or you risk applying paint over dust that then falls away leaving a white spot.

The resulting grooves were then filled with a mud mix of white glue and powder wall filler once the tank was ready for fixing and the model embedded into the channels. Not only a secure fix but the ‘mud’ squeezed out simulating the weight of a vehicle well. Tinting the mixture when making it helps at the final painting stage as it is difficult to get under the vehicle. You may prefer to let the channels dry slightly and embed the tank to leave indentations so painting can be done before re-instating the finished model.

GNR 115 Cobble Road Large Vignette is similar to a previous base showing a cobbled road that has received bomb damage resulting in the bottom corner being blown open to reveal a crater with water in the bottom. This time GNR 115 is larger and can fit a small vehicle on the cobbled roadway. A jeep, small lorry or Panzer II will fit though some though of placement and ‘story telling’ will be needed to get the best from the base and model elements used. I intend to use the ICM German Fire Engine and crew on this, perhaps fishing an unfortunate out of the crater. There is a small section of pavement at the top corner opposite the crater. The water has been simulated with smooth plaster leaving you to either paint it or add a thin coat of resin.

GNR 116 River Crossing is the largest of the three new bases and in some ways the simplest as it consists of a muddy track that gently slopes down to a water crossing simulated with smooth plaster. The water has a couple of old logs projecting out of the water and the track has 3 rocks on one side and a small one on the other close to the water.

This base is rectangular with the water entry at one end which means this base goes against the popular diorama convention that nothing should run parallel to the edges of the base. However as the track is a muddy expanse this isn’t obvious and by placing your vehicle at a slant this eliminates the problem.

I followed my usual method of painting GNR products, a good spray coat of Army Painter Black primer then I sprayed some gloss Enamel Nut Brown onto the rocks and central part of the track leading into the river. This was just to get some colour down and to help visualize the detail of the cast. The detail is very fine and the rocks are easy to mistake for separately added real rock pieces. I knew a vehicle would be required to put this base into context, and as my first choice, a BMD was missing some parts I dug out a Leopard 2 from my loft stash and decided to finish it prepared for deep fording. This meant two things, firstly it shows how big the base is as the Leopard 2 is a big tank. It fits with room for a figure or two, something smaller like the BMD, or even a Land-wasser Schlepper would have more room for figures on the ground. Secondly it meant I would be modeling a modern NATO exercise so a little extra work before continuing painting of the base was needed.

Exercises conducted on Salisbury plain often have Royal Engineers simulating mine field clearance or RV points for river crossings. The semi standard way of marking these in the past (C1990’s to 2000) is with mine tape strung between 6 foot metal pickets. Before any further painting I drilled the holes required to mount the pickets and blew away the dust traces.

Further painting was done using Tamiya ‘dark earth’ texture paint TAM 87109 and Life color acrylics. I also used Life color’s pigment set ‘Algae’ LC-SPG07 for the rotten log and wet stones. Before applying the pigment I rubbed away some of the acrylic to subtly reveal the underlying enamel gloss I sprayed at the beginning, this experiment worked giving the stones a wet look. The wet areas were then treated to pigment and washes to mimic growth of moss.

A small amount of clear resin was mixed and poured onto the smooth area of the cast which had already been painted black and then over sprayed with speckles of paint to look like gravel. While drying a few leaves were floated onto the top and a clear plastic bottle immersed. There is a very low raised edge around the cast water area which was extremely useful in containing the thin layer of resin.

Finally the Leopard 2 was placed on the scene with more Tamiya textured paint helping eliminate any track to ground gaps. Milliput was used to modify an Academy figure to finish the scene.

GNR 113 The Outcrop Vignette £21.00
GNR 115 Cobble Road Large Vignette £18.00
GNR 116 River Crossing £22.00

All these new casts will be available at SMW Telford and then through normal sales.
Great North Roads will be at SMW with all his current range.
Highs: Once again great value bases from GNR, well cast with great detail and the edging is a new twist.
Lows: Some removal of plaster required to get tracked vehicles to sit fully into the base. An easy but messy job.
Verdict: Well worth your consideration when looking for a display base.
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: GNR 116
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Nov 03, 2015

About Darren Baker (CMOT)

I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2020 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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