Friday, 17 April 2015

WoTR Handgonnes WIP, Perry Miniatures

This is just a teasing post to show off the initial figures (the first of many) I'm working on for my Wars of the Roses collection. This particular figure will form part of a small militia group equipped with handgonnes.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Barr Beacon Boulder

On a visit to Barr Beacon (to observe the recent solar eclipse) we stumbled across this scene. The warning sign seemed highly appropriate.

Once again I used my brother as a scale reference.
Standing near the fence I had visions of being chased down the slope by a similar boulder - Indiana Jones style. Being sandstone this boulder will soon crumble away to a pile of sand leaving only the misshapen fence to indictment the dangerous nature of the cliffs.

Afterwards I couldn't get the following tune out of my head:

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Cheap Plastic Police Cars, Poundland

I bought these plastic toy cars from one of the many value and discount/thrift stores that proliferate in most English high streets. I state Poundland in the title but it could possibly have been either Poundstretcher, 99p Stores or a BM store (I made these up months ago and have forgotten exactly where I purchased them from). For those unaware these shops differ from charity shops as they don't sell second hand goods to benefit charities but generally offer cheaper items such as toiletries and cheap toys in bulk. They are what my nan would have probably referred to as a 'cheap tat' shop. Think Toblerone from the pound shop is a bargain? Well you're actually getting one less chocolate triangle than the standard pack -  so you really do get what you pay for.
After Wilko (another large UK chain store) shops such as these have become, for me at least, a main source of modelling and wargaming material. You can occasionally spot a complete bargain if you keep a look out.

It was on a scouting mission to such a shop that I spotted a pack of three white plastic police cars (actually labelled S.W.A.T). I thought they might make a useful addition to futuristic terrain for use with games such as Deadzone.
Interior Detail
Interior Detail

I first thing I noticed after unpacking these was how soft the plastic was. I washed two of the cars in soapy water to remove the sticky decals. I won't go into detail about the various additions but I did add a small steering wheel and hand brake, made from a paper clip, just the give the interior some interest.

The glass window screens were made from scraps of clear plastic and fixed into position with a hot glue gun. This seemed to be the only thing that would work on this particular plastic.
Model on the right shows the toy in it's original state.

Bearing in mind that they were just cheap plastic toys I gave them a simple finish, painted the panels black and white to indicate they were used be a security force.

As usual I think I spent far too much time and effort into these models but considering they only cost 33p each I'm happy with the results. I'm tempted to use the last model and create a burnt out wreck but that will have wait whilst I get back to making/painting proper models and figures.

And now for a few shots to show the scale of the cars. The first showing a figures from tge Copplestone 28 future wars range (I think) and secondly a more appropriate Enforcer figure from Mantic's Deadzone.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Medieval Windmill, Scratch Built

This is my own particular take on an medieval style windmill and is loosely based on contemporary illustrations. I won't post any original images here for copyright reasons but if you use Google Images I'm sure you'll be able to find suitable pictures. I say 'loosely based' because it's a mixture of illustrations and styles I've seen and therefore will not be an entirely accurate representation of any particular image or example.
As I've stated before on similar projects this is a piece of tabletop terrain and not an item intended for display in a cabinet. I wasn't thriving to create a 100% accurate model of a windmill just my rendition of the subject to represent a mill. I made some deliberate choices that I assume to be technically incorrect but would be easier to make.

The concept of the windmill was introduced into Britain possibly at the end of 11th century (I've read this was at Dover but I can find no further reference of the claim) or more likely the mid 12th century (the idea of a windmill may come from the Middle East but this isn't known for sure). The oldest working example in the UK 'only' dates from the mid 17th century so pictorial images is all I had to work from. Watermills, on the over hand, have been around a lot longer, the Romans were operating them in England. I have a few ideas about making a model of a watermill but this is a possible future project.

The germ of the idea to make this piece was planted when I visited Avoncroft near sunny Bromsgrove, a museum that came about to preserve buildings rescued from demolition in and around the midlands. The buildings range from a substantial medieval town house up to a WWII prefab and most things in between. One of the main attractions is the windmill which I distinctly remember visiting as a young whippersnapper (many, many years ago). Although this example dates from the early 19th century one of the guides informed me that the basic design principles hadn't really changed since medieval days, they had just become bigger, more powerful and more efficient.
Avoncroft  windmill
In one of those rare moments when things just seem to go right this model was made without any pre-drawn plans (I must admit I was just plain lucky this time). With this model I used 5mm foam board (not corrugated cardboard this time. I know - last of the big spenders) that I found hidden down the side of my desk to form the main housing.
Trestle, door and steps
The base frame was made from both hardwood and balsa 6mm square section. 
The above image shows the building before I glue the base panel into place. The foam board core of the building was pegged together with cocktail sticks and glued together with PVA glue. This was clad in wooden coffee stirrers cut to represent planking.
Wooden Sail Frame
The four sails were made separately with the main spars made from barbeque sticks. The frame work of the sail was made from thin strips of hardwood. The main axle is made from 6mm (1/4") dia. wooden rod and the sails were glued into position at a slight angle like the real thing.
The roof tiles were made from cardboard, appropriately enough from a box of WotR plastic Perry Miniatures, cut into 10mm squares and glued on individually using neat PVA glue. This is not a method I'd normally use but as the area to be covered was quite small it didn't really take much time to complete.

I made the conscious decision to show the sails rolled up as the working days of a mill were relatively short, a local expert told me a miller would be lucky to operate two months out of a year (typically as I write this strong winds are blowing across England). The sails are made from small strips of tissue paper rolled tightly and super-glued into position with the sails being weaved in and out of the wooden frame (this idea came directly from seeing the mill at Avoncroft - please see photo above). Once in position I coated the tissue with PVA glue to fix it properly.

The most obvious detail missing from this model is the lack of a tail-pole, this is the long pole that would have been used to rotate the mill into the wind. After seeing an illustration in Osprey's 'The Longbow' book which also shows windmills missing this feature I decided to leave this out as well; my logic being that mills (examples built locally to me anyway) are located on the crest of hills facing towards the prevailing wind. Therefore early examples might not have needed to not been able turn into the wind. Any purists reading this can relax as I have designed (on paper at least) a far more complex and accurate model based on an early colonial American example which I will try to make whenever I get round to starting my War of 1812 project.

With hindsight I would have made this model slightly differently but I'm not going to lose any sleep over it now as this model was made pretty quickly (less than a working week allowing for various delays and overnight drying). The trestle for example would probably been buried in earth so that the windmill would appear to sit on a little mound. At least one of these mounds has been excavated in the mistaken believe that they were ancient burial grounds.

I'm not entirely sure what type of terrain I'll attempt next as I have a shed load of figures to paint but I've been looking through old photos and a picture of a well caught my eye.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Medieval Buildings, Cardboard Scratch Build

Being reasonably happy with the results of my previous attempt at converting a papercraft model into something a little more robust (details here), I then looked out for another building to construct using similar techniques. The obvious choice was to attempt the 'Seedy townhouse No1' model seen in this previous post (here). The only tricky issue appeared to be the first floor overhang. 

Using the papermodel as a template the basic pattern was cut out of an appropriate sized piece of corrugated cardboard and then glued together, minus the roof, using PVA glue. Triangular off outs were when glued into the internal corners to add more stability to the piece and then a suitable piece of cardboard was glued into position to form the roof. 
View of front - WIP 
Left overnight to ensure the main body of the building was dry I then glued the wooden coffee stirrers into position in a suitably irregular pattern. 
View of back - WIP
The next consideration was then how to finish the roof. I had initially thought to use cardboard tiles but after the results of a previous model I decided to try the thatched option again. 

There are various options to create the look of a thatched roof, which I may try in future, but I decided to use DAS modelling clay mainly because it was readily to hand.

The clay was applied as a thick layer and scored with a cocktail stick. One particular feature I wanted to add to these models was the additional thatch that covers the apex of the roof . I had assumed it is a purely decorative feature but as I was making it I thought it might simply be to give extra protection to the most vulnerable part of the roof. I had left this feature off the storage building as I wanted to give that a more utilitarian appearance. 

A small detail I have noticed on medieval buildings (such as can be seen at Avoncroft museum) is the construction of windows. Glass was a rare and expensive feature only normally seen in well to done structures (owners would often take their glazed windows with them on their travels between homes). On normal housing window gaps were simply covered with shutters (a form of window could be made be placing a sheet of stretched material across the gap). The majority of peopled worked outside on the land so decent indoor lighting wasn't actually required anyway. The vertical window frames are often triangular in section (I bet after reading this, people will notice this small feature for themselves). To replicate this look cocktail sticks were whittled down to form a triangular section and placed in the windows. 
I initially planned on sprinkling sand to give the walls some texture and provide a surface that could be highlighted by drybrushing. Indeed I had already applied a few grains of sand to one side of one of the models and left it to dry in order to see what it looked like. However it was whilst looking through various photographs for real buildings that I realised that wattle and daub walls are generally very smooth, especially when the panels are relativity small such as seen on a small house. Therefore I decided to try and scrap off as much of the sand as possible, there are a few left on but I'm not that concerned, I really didn't want to waste time and effort removing every last grain.

One thing I did notice is that the watered down PVA glue I had used had made the corrugated cardboard wrinkle slightly but thought this was actually a bonus. The generally one dimensional surfaces and features is one aspect I don't particular like about laser cut buildings, another is that smell (that distinct whiff of burnt wood is one that I've come to associate with wargame shows - I suppose it helps mask some of the strong body odour that you sometimes walk into - the fug of war).

After seeing the result of applying watered down PVA glue to the one wall I then painted all the over surfaces to achieve a similar look. 

A quick final word on the finish of the model. Medieval buildings were probably originally painted one colour all over (i.e. the timber frames and walls). There are some striking examples in the village of Lavenham in Suffolk including a number that are painted in a colour appropriately called 'Suffolk Pink'. One method believed to have been used to create this colour was to add animal blood to the whitewash although I've also read that berries could be used (I believe the stark black and white image of timber framed timbers is largely Victorian concept). Interestingly the buildings of Lavenham only survived because the village became an economical backwater; the homeowners couldn't afford to update or improve their property so the village became a timber framed time capsule. 
Lavenham, Suffolk
Lavenham, Suffolk
Guildhall, Lavenham, Suffolk
Little Hall, Lavenham, Suffolk
Lavenham, Suffolk
These models were painted using small tester pots that are available from most from DIY stores. Almost endless supplies of relatively muted colours such as creams and browns (plus some of the more unusual colours such as the pink mentioned above) are available for only for a couple of pounds. 

Discounting the time (and effort) it takes, this type of model is very cheap to make, providing you have all the materials to hand (a tile roof version would be practically free). Although not as simple or quick to make as a papercraft model the nature of its construction makes it (I believe) a better investment of your time and effort and ultimately a more rewarding exercise. 

I don't recall seeing anyone use cardboard in this manner to create a building so if I've given anyone else the encouragement to attempt a similar project, please let me know, I'd love to see the results.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Seedy townhouse No1, Papercraft building

Blimey, April already! I've had an unusually busy start to the first quarter of the year (sounds scary when you put it that way) but I have also been modelling and painting so there should be a few more regular posts shortly. We also managed to have a short break in the East Midlands (more on this in later posts).

Anyway back the blog proper, following on from previous results using a papercraft model I found this model building shown here via Google Images. Probably the best quality free download I've seen so far online, this one is called the 'Seedy townhouse No1.' created by Peter Fitzpatrick.

The download can be found on the following page:

The construction is relatively straight forward although take care when making the overhang section as you have to score the paper on the reverse in order for it the fold in the proper direction. Again I made an internal frame from corrugated cardboard to give the model some rigidity.