Old Route 66 and the Parking Lot for The Last Dinosaur Tourist Trap
Our diorama The Last Dinosaur is finally complete. It’s a piece of nostalgia (on a 2′ x 1′ plywood board) for desert trips my family took in the 50s. In a sense, it is tribute to the old tourist traps along the original Route 66. Here, a highway sign reads that Los Angeles is 300 miles away. The tourist trap has seen better days and there is only one car in the beat up parking lot – a dusty 1952 Chevy Bel Air. A father holds his son on his shoulders to see Malcolm, the “last dinosaur.” On one side of the parking lot is a small souvenir shop that sells t-shirts, dinosaur replicas, candy and ice cold drinks. All around the shop are posters of Malcolm The Last Dinosaur.
Here, an alternative history/world is presented. A sign on the gate in front of the father and son reads “Malcolm is the last Dinosaur. The world is finally free of these demons we’ve battled for years.” A sign in the hills advises “Repent! The dinosaurs are returning!”Out of sight from the “inhabitants” of the diorama – in the nearby hills – are two baby dinosaurs just hatching from their eggs.
Hidden in the Surrounding Hills Two New Dinosaurs are Hatching
The viewer is privy to knowledge that contradicts the knowledge of the inhabits of the diorama. Will the baby dinosaurs be at the heart of a new breed of “demon” dinosaurs who will forge a battle against the world?
Drone’s Eye View of The Last Dinosaur
From a symbolic perspective, the birth event on one side of the highway confronts the announcement of death on the other side of the highway … the “last” and the “first.” The scene is staged in the lower and more barren lower desert rather than the plant-rich upper desert. The sand is white and barren of green plants like the Borego Springs area around the Salton Sea rather than the upper desert of Joshua Tree National Park. The scene is set in one of the most isolated parts of the old Route 66.
A Father Holds His Son on His Shoulders to See Malcom
The young boy on the shoulders of the man could have been me if the car in the parking lot was a black 55 Lincoln (rather than a mid-fifties Chevy in the parking lot). Perhaps the rest of the family gone into the Souvenir shop next to the parking lot? It was me by my father’s side at a lot of tourist traps in the 50s through the vast deserts and vast landscapes of the California deserts. Here, an alternative history of the world given by the sign on the fence of Malcolm the Dinosaur. Perhaps a science fiction scene (for those who discover it within this scene as it doesn’t shout its presence out to the diorama viewer). It waits for him/her to discover on their own.
The site was originally divided from a symbolic perspecitve. It features a form of modeling called a “wedgie” where a section of an overall scene is presented for view. Here a 45 degree angle highway divides two worlds: the old, dying world and the new world being born. The new has always been associated with the feminine archetype while the old associated with the masculine archetype. The tourist-trap sells access and souvenirs of the last of something on earth. As such, it has branded the dinosaur by giving it a name and emphasizing it is the “last” of this type of creature on earth. (So many tourist traps of the the 50s has “last” or “first” in their signs). It is part of the old American branding episode of branding everything. Here, a declining, branded tourist trap.
Overview of the Diorama Looking West Towards Los Angeles (Shot Against the Omen 32″ Monitor)
The beginning scene of a story? The viewer perspective is just above a car on Route 66 heading west towards Los Angeles. It is as if we are positined on a hill overlooking the scene. For an extended commentary on the creation of this diorama see our earlier blog Malcolm The Last Dinosaur.
Materials Used In Creating The Last Dinosaur
The diorama was mostly scratch-built and no model kits were used in its construction. The souvenir shop is from a small box from Michael’s crafts store that was papered with a stucco paper downloaded from the Internet and then weathered using Monroe Chalky White powder and Monroe Light Rust powder. The door on the shop was from Tichy Train Group and was also weathered. A vent system on the roof was one of the pieces in our “pieces box” and was weathered with Monroe Light Rust powder. A sole palm tree is from Woodland Scenics. The pavement for the parking lot was created using Woodland Scenics Asphalt and Woodland Scenics Sidewalk concrete. The white strips in the parking lot are created using 1/16” white strips of Line-O-Tape. The asphalt and sidewalk were distressed with a fine 400-grit sandpaper. The black iron fence is from Model Power modified with three-bar piece placed on top of it and painted Krylon Aluminum paint. The father and son figure are from Woodland Scenics. Their car is an Oldsmobile Rocket 88 Coupe 1950 Chariot by Oxford. It is weathered with Monroe Chalky White and spray painted with Krylon Matte Finish. The dinosaur is from Schleich. The baby dinosaurs are Dragon Hatchlings from SafariLand. The hills were shaped with Woodland Scenics Scene Shaper and the major desert color is Stone Fine Texture Limestone from Krylon. Creative PaperClay was used to create the area between the highway and the parking lot and parts of the desert. All signs in the diorama were scratch-built. The Route 66 sign was downloaded from an old Route 66 sign found via Google Images and reduced to HO scale. The mileage sign and the “repent” sign in the hills were both scratch-built. The desert bushes are Golden Grassland from JTT. The highway was created thanks to a great article in a Special issue of Model Railroading 2018 by Gary Leone using 100-grit sandpaper glued to a .60” sheet of styrene using Weldwood Contact Cement and then spray painting with Rustoleum Ultra Cover Flat Gray Primer and weathered by airbrushing randomly Vallejo Light Grey and then dry brushing Vallejo Sky Grey for highlighting stones in the road. The cracks in the highway were created using a black, Ultra-Fine Sharpie. The yellow centerline is created from a 1/16” white strip of Line-O-Tape painted with a flat yellow. The base is a 12” x 24” piece of ¼ inch plywood.