Corporate boss wows internet with his incredibly hyper-real miniatures
A small rowing boat struggles through choppy Alaskan rapids, its sole passenger alarmed and aware of the grizzly bear looming up ahead.
In another image, a Soviet IS-2 tank moves gingerly amid the shattered wartime ruins of Berlin whilst desperate German soldiers scramble to defend a barricade. Switching to the more genteel side of life, a rusty Citroen weighed under by travel trunks sits on a quiet Paris side street in a scene warmly reminiscent of a Catherine Deneuve film.
But these are not movie moments, and nor are they photographs taken from a curiosity shop album. Rather, these compelling freeze frames are just a tiny glimpse into the staggering miniature worlds created by Marcin Dobrzyniecki.
Working by day as a Chief Operations Officer for a multinational company, Warsaw-based Dobrzyniecki has become an internet sensation since first publishing examples of his miniature models on social media.
Magnificent in their hyper-realism, and delicious in their detail, it is perhaps a surprise that Dobrzyniecki first started his flirtation with modelling just five years ago. “Of course, I had model trains and little soldiers when I was a kid,” he tells TFN, “but I only became interested in this kind of modelling around 2015.
“After we finished renovations on our house my daughter got an entirely new room, but my young son remained in his old one – because of this I decided to give him a surprise so I built a retractable structure under his bed complete with miniature streets adapted for his 1:43 scale cars.”
Through this Dobrzyniecki found his passion for modelling awoken and more soon followed. “I’ve no idea how many I’ve actually made, but for sure the figure runs to several dozen,” he says. “In 2020, for instance, I completed 16 projects.”
According to Dobrzyniecki, the internet has proved a rich source of inspiration. “I look to see what other modellers are doing,” he says, “but I also get a lot of ideas from pages like Pinterest. When I see something I like I start thinking about out how it can best be presented in the form of a diorama; that means deciding on the size of the project and picking the appropriate scale.”
After that, the real work begins. “I calculate each element carefully to ensure the correct proportions are kept and spend time choosing the right materials,” he says. “After that, the last stage, i.e. assembling the project, is the most time consuming.”
Working late into the night, often accompanied by his favourite Scottish single malts, the results have proved breath taking.
With seemingly no subject off limits, projects have included replicas of a 1930s Portland barber shop (“My brother collects barber shop accessories, so I built that for him,” he says), a Ferrari garage and a stunning twelve kilo diorama of Dungarvan Port on the southern coast of Ireland.
But whilst Dobrzyniecki already enjoys a cult reputation in modelling circles, it is a recent diorama of one of Warsaw’s former commercial hubs that has seen his work win a new raft of admirers closer to home.
Widely circulated after being posted on a Facebook group dedicated to historical images of Warsaw, Dobrzyniecki’s “Stories From A Non-Existent Street” depicts ul. Nalewki 15 in mind-blowing detail.
“For quite some time I’d been thinking about doing something involving pre-war Warsaw,” he says, “so I spent a while sorting through old photos until I found something that I liked. Eventually, I settled on Nalewki; aside from being born 500-metres from there, I was fascinated that it was once Warsaw’s beating heart – it was home to a huge Jewish community and one of the city’s major arteries. It’s said that in 1939, over 1,000 businesses operated there.”
Basing his work on a photograph thought to have been taken in 1930, hours were spent identifying the blurry billboards and signs featured in the picture, with Dobrzyniecki scouring the State Archives and other sources to pinpoint them.
“The research itself was exciting and it was immensely satisfying each time I was able to identify a sign,” he says. “In all, I’d say I got about 99% of them.”
Extraordinary in its lifelike accuracy, the work has since been shared repeatedly and won adulation from a broad cross-section of the public.
“I never expected such a response,” says Dobrzyniecki, “but I think people appreciate that such dioramas allow you to imagine places, scenes or objects in a slightly different way than, for example, photos or movies. Due to the fact that they are 3D, you can view a given scene from any perspective or focus in on certain details.”
Yet as surprised as he is by the deluge of praise, even more promises to come his way once his next work premiers.
“I can’t say exactly what it will be as I want that to be a surprise,” he teases, “but I can reveal that it’ll also be a scene from pre-war Warsaw – only this time, more complex and even larger in size!”