Big thanks to Diorama Workshop for featuring my Echo Base-Bacta Tank diorama! Diorama Workshop is an indispensable resource for Star Wars diorama builders. I’ve been using Frank’s FREE templates and print outs for years and it’s a thrill to be featured!
Way back in August 2019 I had decided it was time to add an Echo Base diorama to my Star Wars room. I tried adding a separate section to my larger rebel base display but it bugged me that it was obviously set in a different climate. Those white, snowy walls just didn’t look right with the Yavin-like atmosphere of the rest of the display. I decided months later to move it to it’s own location in my Star Wars room and then I just procrastinated for over a year. This was going to be something different for me since I wanted to have ice walls separating different rooms from each other. I wanted a hallway for a Wampa attack; a bacta tank room, a control room, a spot for a couple of tauntauns and of course the main hanger for my fleet (um…two) of snowspeeders.
It was basically out of my skill set as a diorama builder.
In February 2021 I took advantage of some down time at work and finally took the plunge. Armed with a pile of styrofoam packing I set to it. I built a three wall display with a floor out of chipboard and painted it all white. Since the chipboard (very cheap plywood) has a very rough texture it ended up having the appearance of packed snow that had been walked on.
First thing I had to do was determine how much space I could afford to give the Kenner and Power of the Force snowspeeders. Right off the bat I knew this wasn’t going to be easy because those two vehicles take up alot of real estate. I had been hoarding white styrofoam packaging for about a year and discovered that one piece already had the look of the “garages” that can be seen when Han’s tauntaun comes riding into the base. I would have loved to have made actual garages for each of the snowspeeders but like I said, there just wasn’t enough room.
I then added a styrofoam wall to the back of the diorama. Using a foam cutter/hot knife I cut off about an inch of the front of the styrofoam. I had to come at it from a few different angles to get it to separate from the larger piece so the result was an “ice wall” with lots of nooks and crannies. In some areas it even looks like the walls in Echo Base that have been excavated with laser tools. A happy accident!
I installed battery operated LED string lights along the outline of the “garage” entrances. The light “fixtures” are metal screw anchors and the runway lights are accurate to what is seen in Echo Base. A friend 3D printed them for me. The photo is the original way I set them up, in the final product they weren’t as uniform.
The next step was to start on the bacta room and the command centre of the base. I used a kitchen cabinet shelf organizer as a way of framing the rooms. It’s stainless steel in colour and has a mesh top to it. The grey metal colour meant I wouldn’t have to cover it up much and the mesh top would be helpful in letting light go through to the bottom (turns out I couldn’t use this feature, but the riser stayed). I cut a piece of insulated foamboard for a wall between the hanger and the base rooms. I roughed in a hallway for a Wampa attack, the Bacta room and a command centre. I also had a handful of grey pallets that I had 3D printed.
Using the excellent resources found at DioramaWorkshop.com I printed out doors and flooring for the Bacta Room using an online photo printing service. Because space was limited I couldn’t take advantage of the entire set of printables that can be found at DioramaWorkshop.com but if you want a very accurate Medical Center then head over to their site and print away!
I needed my room to be just big enough that I could include a window for Luke’s friends to stand in front of and also have a narrow hallway for the Wampa attack. I would be using the Bacta Tank play set from the Power of the Jedi line and the medical droids, FX-7 and 2-1B. Apart from that I would add my own greeblies. I figured the bacta tank on it’s own tells the viewer what the room is supposed to be so I wasn’t concerned with 100% accuracy. An added feature was to have the entire room removable from the “base.” I did this in case I ever wanted to redo it or modify it.
I kept things simple in the hallway that the Wampa attack takes place in. I added a few lights and a print out of a door. There are a couple of painted wood dowls attached to the right side wall as conduits. The big guy is the focus here so I wasn’t going to spend a lot of time complicating it.
I should mention that any lighting you see in this diorama are dollar store, battery-operated LED strings. They’re inexpensive, shine brightly and are easy to use.
The command centre sits underneath the bacta room and again, with space an issue I had to be content with one glass display screen in the front/middle. The walls were covered with various computer terminals (thanks again to DioramaWorkshop), a 3D printed door and assorted greeblies. I also ran lights along the ceiling to give it some atmosphere.
The only part of my Echo Base diorama that has a ceiling is the Command Center. I have a remote controlled, powered strip of LED lights that shine down from a shelf above the base that adds great lighting to the whole thing. I’m able to adjust the colours as well so leaving the “roof off” lets me change the lighting by remote control.
That’s pretty much where I’m at with this project. I’m very happy with how it turned out but there are still a few things I want to do down the road:
• Add a printed background behind the snowspeeders, maybe of the Millenium Falcon docked inside Echo Base.
•Fix the back wall so that it’s more uniform (not a deal breaker as it’s barely noticable from a distance – kind of like being offstage).
•Extend the front of the diorama out maybe 6-8 inches so that I can make an ice cave sort of entrance, possibly even adding shield doors and a gun turret or two.
Here’s a look at the final results, click a photo to begin a widescreen slideshow.