I just received an email from my chum Arthur Smith in the UK. In addition to being one of the world’s foremost authorities on cosmic rays, Arthur is an apiarist — one might even say apiculturist — of some renown.

In his message, Arthur started by saying how he remembered reading reports on my Caveman Diorama project. If you are new to the Cool Beans Blog party, let me briefly bring you up to date. The project in question started several years ago when I picked up an old television set that originated circa the 1950s or 1960s. The vacuum tube electronics were dead in the water, but the cabinet was temptingly tasty, so I decided to use it to house a Caveman Diorama.

Current state of play with the Caveman Diorama (Click image to see a larger version — Image source: Max Maxfield)

I worked on this for a long time with my chum Mike Mittlebeeler. Mike and I spent many a happy Saturday experimenting with different effects and ways of building and coloring things. Although the scene is set in 10,000 BC, you will observe flood lights, a chain saw, and a time portal.

What you can’t see is that the water in the pool is rippling with white light, the fire is flickering in a very realistic manner, the footlights really do light the wall, and the red light in the tunnel in the left-hand wall is fluctuating in a threatening manner. In the fullness of time, there will be a waterfall emanating from this tunnel and dropping into the pond.

Also, a caveman will be standing on the ladder leaning on the right-hand wall creating a cave painting (hence the floodlights). Actually, I just now thought that this character could be copying the design from a photo held in his left hand, the idea being that he is basing his creation on a photo that I had brought back from the future.

Meanwhile, the place-holder time portal will be replaced with a small display with a pseudo stone surround that randomly flickers (to indicate problems) and swaps between a series of weird and wonderful images of distant times and places.

A bunch of cavemen will be sitting around the campfire. One of the characters will be in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt to represent your humble narrator. I was also thinking of adding a couple of opened wooden crates — one containing cans of SPAM and the other bottles of red wine (a gustatory grouping with which to entice my ancestral gourmands).

But we digress… In his message, Arthur pointed me at this video in which Adam Savage taps into his love for Studio Ghibli films to construct a stunning display inspired by one of his favorite Miyazaki films.


The idea is that Adam builds a moving diorama to accompany his Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind model kit. Adam is an entertaining presenter and it’s interesting to watch the entire build but — if you are short of time — you can jump to 1 hour, 1 minute, and 28 seconds to feast your orbs on the final result.

As we see, the combination of the figure and the moving sky accompanied by the music is really rather tasty. I must admit that this has given me some ideas for a similar project in the future. I’m thinking that something like this would look awesome if presented in an old television cabinet (watching it would keep me — and our cats — entertained for hours). How about you? Do you have any thoughts you’d care to share?