Saturday, June 8, 2013

Victoria: Miniature World

Work took me to Victoria for two busy days this past week. I didn't get a chance to visit Fort Rodd Hill or the naval museum. But I did get an hour to walk through Miniature World. Now in its 42nd year of operation, Miniature world is a collection of dioramas and doll houses on the main floor of the Empress Hotel.

There were a lot of dioramas. This one is of Caen, 1944 in 1/35. The level of detail is pretty amazing and hard to convey with just a few pictures. Note the partisans about to make trouble for the tanker (who really should be buttoned up).

Many of the displays have an interactive component. The 1918 British airbase has buttons that cause the props of the planes that are taxiing to spin. This is 1/72 and on the other side of the diorama (which you can see as you wind your away through the exhibits are three companies of Airfix troops moving up a road.

There are a number of oddball scales. This scene in a building interior in slightly bigger than 54mm. The full street scene is a celebration of the defeat of Napoleon (I think) but all of the insides of the buildings are also populated and lit.

There is a lovely 30YW attack with folks falling off the drawbridge. There are hundreds and hundreds of figures in this display. It looks 1/72 and there are a couple of figures that look like the Airfix Robin Hood kit. But others look metal.

There is a 100-foot 1885 railway exhibit which takes you across the country as it winds along. Below is (now) east Calgary. This display also have a day and night sequences with a starry sky.

You can also see Winnipeg as the troops disembark to repress the Riel Rebellion. This is a narrow section that relies a lot on a painted backdrop (alas, perhaps the weakest of the backdrops).

This is a z-scale representation of the valley of the castles, featuring about a dozen German castles. Note the operating gondola in the background.

There is an interesting Battle of Britian display looking out of the back of a Dornier or Henkel. This uses forced perspective to create much greater depth than display would normally allow.

A better use of forced perspective is this shot of coal mining. Up close we have 1/87-scale stuff and in the space of about four feet, it drops down to 2mm building. The picture does not do this justice--up close, it is quite convincing as the valley drops away from you.

The most impressive display is the multi-phase circus display. I snapped two shots of the largest of the displays. Below you can see the circus coming to two in 1/87-scale and doing a grand parade. there are lots of visual gags, like the guys washing the window of the display case. This set has three operating training and took 7000 hours of work.

As you move down the ling, you can see the big top and mid-way and then the industrial yard. This picture mostly shows you the scope of the display (in the background you can see the city from the picture above).

All told, a very nice way to spend an hour. I only took pictures of a fraction of what was there. There are also doll houses and all manner of other large-scale dioramas.

Up next: 1/72 Celts and maybe some gaming with Bruce in Tuesday.


  1. I went there some 35 years ago, when i was about 5 or 6 - it was MAGICAL! I'm glad to see it's still around!

  2. Yes, pretty awesome still. My dad would never pay the entry fee when we were kids (reflecting an astute evaluation of our attention span) but it was well worth the $12 as an adult.