A new company called Nova popped up last year offering a modular diorama system that showed promise. It’s comprised of pieces that you put together almost like a brick set which allows you to build out the frame, clip it all into place, and then skin on top of that with pre-made plates. Additional columns and accent pieces can then layer on top of those. Depending on how you build it, it can work with 3.75, 6 inch, and even 1/6th scale figures. Once you have the core set, you can add on with additional sets or add-on packs to make it bigger, or just have more parts to customize a standard build with.
The first set is a tech environment, Ubiquitous UB-01. It offers a look that could be the inside of a ship or even a futuristic building. It comes in two flavors, UB-01 (standard) and UB-01LS (lights). The LS version comes with LED lighting equipment and wiring that you can layer in behind the plates, allowing for you to shine light through specific pieces. The standard version has those same light pieces, but none of the wiring, batteries or electronics are present. We are taking a look at the standard version today. Read on to see some additional thoughts on the whole process and some pics of what it looks like in a couple different configurations. We’ve done up standard pics under normal lighting and some fancy shots to show what it can do for toy photography!
Nova Ubiquitous UB-01 Modular Diorama
Pretty cool! I wasn’t sure what to expect with this before it came in. I knew it was configurable, worked with 6 inch figures, and looked cool in promo shots. But I really had no idea how complex and detailed the whole thing was. Instead of big panels that you swap around, it’s tons of individual squares. The set comes with a build book similar to larger construction sets. Pieces are mapped out, allowing you to build the first configuration seen below step by step. The book only walks you through that, the LED version of it, and the add-on set base configuration. All others seen here, and on the box, you need to wing it. However, once you’ve walked through building the first one, you should be able to do it on sight alone. I had some backtracking here and there, but nothing major.
The set is a sturdy grey plastic. It’s not as firm as spacewalls, but it is solid. Sharp contours, can handle being tugged and pulled. I would suggest getting a mini screwdriver for the break down, you can wedge it into open holes in order to pry the top pieces out of their position. Once you pop these things in place they don’t move easily, which is good as I wouldn’t want the top plates falling out from bumps.
I ran through UB-01, the standard set. There is another identical set piece wise that has LEDs and the necessary electronics. You can run the LED wires between the base and top layers, plugging them into plates that house batteries along the way. The whole thing can be controlled via remote after the fact to change colors and turn on/off. That seems like it would be super cool, we hope to review that down the road. I also think that for the average collector, and toy photographer, that the LED aspect would be a selling point. There is no way to get light from behind without them if you have a closed setup like the first build. With spacewalls, you can blow light through the pill light panels with a lamp or flash. Here, since this system uses 2 layers, the skeleton and the top plates to complete the setup, that’s not possible. So the LEDS are needed to properly illuminate behind the fig. Now, if you are just going to use this for display on your shelves, then the LEDs aren’t super necessary, just cool. If you are doing photography with them, I would opt for the LED version for sure.
Each build requires an almost complete breakdown into individual pieces. The top layer of plates overlap each other at times, and in order to remove the connector pieces holding the sides or angled parts together you have to remove anything blocking them. If you remove the entire top layer, the skin per say, at that point might as well break it down and start fresh. It took me an hour or so to build the first one, while watching tv and stopping randomly. I did 4 different set ups, and each one went quicker once I knew what did what, what goes where, how it all generally works. That being said, it’s an event. You should plan out some build time each time you want to change it. And have some space so you can put parts in groups and keep it organized. This is the construction set feel I was speaking on earlier, same logic.
All in all, it’s a great idea. As I move forward in my collecting I’m constantly looking for ways to enhance their display, both in photography and on my shelves. This gives you almost endless possibilities to do that as you can add on and configure however you want. You can merge 2 sets together seamlessly. You can buy add on sets with a specific look, you can use the lights or not. You can make it fit a deltof, or a wide shelf, or just keep it on a desk. You can use it for your Joes or One:12 or Hot Toys. You just need a little forethought in how you are going to set it up, and set aside some time if you plan on changing it.
Check out what we did with it below. They are available for pre-order now at BBTS and Toy Dojo in the United States. Hobby Link Japan has them as well. More retailers should be carrying them soon. You can find international carriers at NOVA’s facebook page here!