The following is some trivia relating to the project...
Start Date - April 2008
Completion Date - Friday 9 September 2011 at 9:58pm!
Total Components - 2960 (give or take a few)
Holmes-specific items placed within the diorama - Approximately seventy
Audio Files (on iPod) - 330 files, 6.77GB (music, audiobooks, soundtracks, sound effects, old radio plays, etc.)
Major items within the sitting-room that were not scratch-built:
4 x legs on the dining table
1 x circular table (situated on the far right of the display with the gramophone upon it)
2 x dining chairs
1 x desk chair
2 x windows (with the exception of the pelmets/curtains, which were scratch-built)
All of the above items (with the exception of the windows) were produced by a company called 'Woodenface'. Their pieces are exceptionally well-made and suited my purposes perfectly. The 4 x table legs were sourced from a Woodenface table that was too small for my requirements - however, the legs were beautifully turned and the correct size. Ultimately, I scratch-built my own dining table, but retained the original table legs. The only modification to the two dining chairs was a coat of paint. The circular table and the desk chair are untouched. You can find a link to the Woodenface website here. Their items can sometimes be found on eBay (just search using the term 'woodenface').
Major items within the sitting-room that were scratch-built (or heavily modified):
The room itself (including the hardwood floor, doors, walls, etc.) and the aluminium/sheet metal display frame
The bookcase and contents (situated on the right-hand-side of the fireplace)
The fireplace (including the illuminated 'fire' and mantlepiece)
The laboratory hutch (situated on the left-hand-side of the fireplace)
The dining table (with the exception of the four legs)
The writing desk
The oriental-style cabinet (situated between the two doors on the left-hand-side)
2 x leather chairs*
Smaller items within the diorama were either scratch-built or purchased from third party retailers such as eBay.
What's with the dog?
You may be wondering why a dog is sitting next to Dr Watson?
When Holmes and Watson first meet in 'A Study In Scarlet', they discuss their respective shortcomings. At one point, Watson makes the statement;
"I keep a bull pup."
This reference to a 'bull pup' is never repeated within the Canon. Enthusiasts have attempted to explain this curious one-off statement (the dog was given away or died, Watson was referring to a short-barrelled revolver, he was using a slang term meaning 'a full cup', etc.). Just to throw a spanner into the works, I'd like to think that a pup did in fact exist and reside at 221B Baker Street - growing into the fine specimen of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier you see sitting faithfully at Watson's side.**
(Okay - I don't really believe that Watson owned a dog! But it makes for a bit of fun and an interesting conversation piece!)
What year is the sitting-room set in?
I have an explanation regarding this! If the official plaque outside 221B Baker Street is to be believed (as well as references within the Canon), Holmes & Watson resided there between 1881 and 1904. Assuming Watson's bull terrier is approximately 14 years of age (and was born in 1881), the 'current' year would be around 1895. That's my story - and I'm sticking to it!
In all seriousness, I've been somewhat liberal with regard to time. The room isn't meant to represent a specific year between 1881 and 1904. Rather, it's a broad representation of the period Holmes and Watson lived there (including as many items/curios from the Canon as I could create/find).
Why does Watson have a beard?
There's probably no reason why he can't - but I can think of two. Firstly, I wanted the two figures to be quite distinctive from each other (there can be no mistake which one is Holmes). Secondly, I think the beard gives Watson the air of a former army officer.
What's with the silver buddha statue and incense?
I was keen to add a few exotic items to the diorama - Holmes after all, was well-travelled. In 'The Adventure of the Empty House', Holmes informs Watson that during 'the great hiatus' he travelled for two years in Tibet and spent some days with the head lama. Perhaps the lama was a fan of Sherlock Holmes and offered him the buddha statue as a souvenir!
With the benefit of hindsight, I would have made the sitting-room slightly larger and included a two-seater/sofa (as is mentioned in the Canon). I could have squashed a two-seater into the room as it is - but it would have looked somewhat cramped. At any rate, the hypothetical sofa would have been positioned facing towards the fireplace - so you would only see the back of it. Personally, I think the room looks more balanced without one. In addition, if I had made the diorama any larger - it may have been permanently confined to the actual room I constructed it in!
Leslie Klinger for his impressive three-volume work, 'The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes'. The annotations provided by Mr Klinger came in very useful when deciding what I would include within the room. See the 'bull pup' reference above for a prime example!
Thanks also to...
Members of both the Unofficial Action Man Headquarters (UAMHQ) forum and the One Sixth Warriors (OSW) forum for their support whilst the diorama was being constructed. Their comments were very much appreciated and went a long way to providing motivation to finish the damn thing! Also thanks to VintageActionMum from the UAMHQ forum for proof-reading this site!
*The two leather chairs started life as girls' jewellery boxes. They were covered in a pink velour-type material and were hinged to allow jewellery to be placed inside them. I stripped the chairs of the velour material and 'reupholstered' them with genuine leather. I also got rid of the hinged box feature.
**The Staffordshire Bull Terrier wasn't recognised as an 'official' breed until 1935. However, the breed has been in existence since the 17th Century.