Seeing a tatty, three-dimensional model of a farm scene at a toy fair – and a price tag of £220 – was all the inspiration inventor John Ward needed to start making his own dioramas.
And his are so good they ended up on TV – and a “how to make them” book and DVD are now being explored.
John, from Moulton Seas End, readily admits: “I haven’t got a clue about farming.”
But he does have a clue about making things.
Earlier this year John launched his own re-worked Reliant Robin as probably the world’s smallest fire engine and his eccentric creations so far have included a bra warmer and a mobile church font.
John says his eyes bulged in their sockets when he saw the tatty diorama at a toy fair at Springfields.
“I just thought it was atrocious,” he said. “It was absolute rubbish.”
The 2ft square model had a chunk of corrugated cardboard painted brown to represent a field, which was curling up at the edges where not properly stuck down, and had assorted tractors, trailers and farm animals stuck on.
“I would have had a bit of a conscience taking it to the tip,” said John.
His dioramas are carefully crafted in wood, with carving to represent ruts in ploughed fields, he has devised his own system for making realistic looking grass and he has invented a special formula for making life-like water for streams and ponds.
Farm buildings are also carved by hand and carefully painted.
John said: “The one thing that rattles me is when I see model tractors, how clean and straight out of the box they look. That’s nice but a real working tractor is in far from showroom, clean conditions – so out came the trusty airbrush again and I applied ‘mud’ and assorted farm debris as required to give them a weathered look.”
He rang the organiser of the toy fair where he first saw the “abomination” to see if he could display his dioramas – and not sell them – and realised there were potential buyers.
Each model is unique and John has made nearly 30 so far.
He said: “I now accept commissions from both individuals and companies as assorted farming related firms and businesses now have one of my efforts in their boardrooms or reception areas and have now branded myself the three Rs as in Rustic Rural Replicas as in ‘Oh, Arr!, Oh Arr!, Oh Arr.”