Not so long ago, in a living room not so far away, Barry Riddle of Birmingham Alabama found the perfect excuse to avoid hoovering his living room, by converting it into an amazing Hoth Battleground diorama.
FT: Welcome Barry, thank you for joining us here on Fantha Tracks, how are you?
BR: I’m doing well. Very happy with my wife of over 30 wonderful years.
FT: Have you been enjoying the recent Star Wars fare?
BR: The only film I’ve seen since Lucas had the rights is Rogue One. Loved it. Unfortunately, I can’t get into the new films. Feels too different without George’s touch.
FT: Are you looking forward to Solo?
BR: Yes. I hope they also do an Obi-Wan movie.
FT: Me too. Who’s your favourite Star Wars character?
BR: Probably C-3PO. I just always found him to be hilarious.
BR: Easily A New Hope, as it was the first Star Wars film I got to see in the theater.
FT: Great choice, and wrong footed me. What makes A New Hope your favourite Star Wars movie?
BR: I was captivated from the opening scene where the Star Destroyer chases the Tantive IV.
FT: When and how did inspiration strike when deciding to build the ultimate Star Wars diorama?
BR: I’ve always enjoyed making large (100 sq. ft. +) size dioramas. I had a Tatooine diorama that was larger than my Hoth diorama. When both of my sons moved out, we found a very empty house, so I asked my wife what her favorite scene from SW was, and she said the Battle of Hoth.
BR: It was no problem getting permission, haha. Especially since I was doing this for my wife.
FT: Had you been interested in modelling, customising prior to your Battle of Hoth project?
BR: I am terrible at building models, but I did make a lot of customs before the project. Mostly custom figures and vehicles, as well as lots of buildings for other SW dioramas.
FT: When did you begin building and how long have you worked on the Battle of Hoth diorama?
BR: I started building it after my sons moved out, and I spent about 100 hours doing research and then constructing.
FT: Although your Battle of Hoth diorama was static, you’ve developed modelling which simulates the battles explosive nature. Could you tell us about some of these effects?
BR: I was fortunate to have a good friend, Roberto Williams, who gave me the recipe for the explosion effect based on what he had made years ago. It’s a wire frame with painted polyester filling, shaped like an explosion, and then lit from underneath with a light bulb. Although a deadly fire hazard, it looks cool in photos. I tried LED bulbs, but in my experience, they got too hot and weren’t bright enough.
FT: Your Hoth battleground diorama featured some cameos, could you tell us about them?
BR: Although most of the photos I shot were film accurate, I had a little fun by having some Jawas scavenging Luke’s crashed Snowspeeder. I believe I also had a photo of a trooper with a jet-pack with smoke pouring out as he was elevated above the snow. This was more of an homage to the Battlefront games, which was one of my research resources.
BR: Sadly, everything has been boxed as we reclaimed the living room when our granddaughter came along. If it were still up, I would definitely be tweaking it.
FT: Was there any plans for adding animation or automation features?
BR: That’s a little beyond my means, but if I ever put the diorama back up, then I may look into it.
FT: How did you maintain or make adjustments to the diorama without causing any damage?
BR: When it was up, I would usually knock over a few things to get to another thing that needed fixing.
FT: Were fans allowed to visit your display?
BR: When it was displayed, I let anyone who knew me in person visit. I also had several strange requests, but I didn’t let them near it.
BR: Yes. Starwars.com interviewed me.
FT: Would you ever undertake such a project again?
BR: Yes, it’s very fun.
FT: Do you have any other projects currently or planned for the future?
BR: I would like to redo my Tatooine diorama. My idea is to have lit twin suns and a lot of the features I had in my previous dio, which included 25 buildings, a desert area, and hundreds of figures.
FT: That’s something I’d love to see. Do you dabble in any action figure or vehicle customisations?
BR: I’ve done many figures and a few vehicles, although I’m not good at either. It’s fun to do.
FT: Did you manage to hold onto any of your childhood Star Wars action figures?
BR: No, I didn’t really have a lot growing up, but I kind of made up for that as an adult, lol.
FT: That’s a pity, but yep, you sure have. Do you collect Star Wars action figures?
FT: Modern, Vintage or both?
BR: Both, but mostly modern as they’re more affordable.
FT: What is the most cherished Star Wars figure in your collection?
BR: Tough one. Probably a tie between an R2 and a C-3PO that I have. The R2 was from a green card with a holo Leia, and the 3PO is from the OTC collection. I just really like the sculpts on these two.
FT: Are there any elusive figures you wish were in your collection?
BR: I always wanted a knock off of Vlix, but just never went on Ebay to get it. The real thing is very expensive.
BR: Have fun with it and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
FT: Many thanks Barry for sharing your wonderful Hoth Battleground diorama and personal Star Wars story. I have a new hope, that one day we’ll see your Tatooine diorama and incorporating some of your new ideas.
BR: Thank you for your interest. It’s been a pleasure.