Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Scratch-Built Thatched Storage Building

As briefly alluded to in a previous post the model detailed here was the direct result of attempting to make a paper building seen (here). After making a basic mistake with the papercraft model I was left with the basic shape of the building made from plain corrugated cardboard, I wondered if I could make it into something useful. So to start with I turned to the ubiquitous wooden coffee stirrers and clad the outside with them, following the same pattern detailed on the paper version.

Am I the only person sad enough to notice the quality of stirrers isn't as good as it used to be? The last time I mentioned this out loud (school boy error) I received an unusual look that was a mixture of scorn, pity and concern from my female companion in the coffee shop. 

Interior View of cheapo terrain
The original model had a basic printed representation of a thatched roof, so now I had the chance to try and replicate this in a more realistic fashion. I'd seen previously on the web suggestions to use DAS modelling clay. I had a 1kg block of this bought years ago from 'The Works' (a useful chain of shops in the UK that stocks cheap books and all sorts of random craft material). Having never actually used this stuff before I was curious how it would turn out.

After scoring the cardboard lightly with a craft knife (so that the clay would have something to adhere to) the clay was applied to the cardboard. Using the thick corrugated cardboard helped give the impression of the depth of real thatch. Some of the new laser cut buildings which seem very popular at the moment are supplied with teddy bear fur for the roof. This looks ok but always appears too thin to me. Real thatched roofs are at least 10" to 12" thick (in order to be waterproof), often a lot deeper, and it was this look that I wanted to reproduce.

It's useful to have a cup of water near to hand to help blend in the clay and keep it moist as you'll probably (like me) be applying relatively small portions of clay at a time. Unless you really wish to end up looking like a Chinese terracotta warrior I would highly recommend wearing rubber disposable gloves as the wet clay (or slip I suppose) can make a hell of mess of you, your clothes and your worktop. Once happy with the coverage of the roof, allowing enough time so that the clay wasn't too wet, using a cocktail stick I scored vertical lines to give the impression of the thatch itself.

Small details such as the hinge and plates where made from plastic rod and whittled down cocktail sticks were added before painting the model.

As the clay is air drying you simply have to leave it somewhere safe and allow it to set (you should notice the clay change to a slightly lighter colour). Once completely dry you can then paint the building as required. I used small tester pots of paint available from most large DIY stores.
As mentioned previously I had downloaded numerous free (you've got to love a bargain) paper buildings. These models are great but they don't withstand much handling even with reinforcing. As with the Tamiya storage hut I initially made a paper building and then wanted to make a more robust version using cheap materials that are easily available.
Completed model building
Although time consuming and obviously not quite as sturdy as laser cut or the plastic moulded buildings this type of terrain will be practically free especially if you decide to use cardboard tiles for the roof instead of modelling clay thatched version. Plus you'll have the real satisfaction of making something from scratch that you can show off on your table top.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Rustic Storage Building (Papercraft), Tamiya

During these financially tough times I try and keep an eye out for projects I can attempt that are cheap or, even better, are free. With this in mind it was whilst browsing online looking for inspiration for various types of terrain I recently happened to stumble across numerous sites devoted to papercraft buildings. Obviously these are not a new concept, indeed I have seen and played with similar pieces made by Ade during games of Bolt Action over in his Shropshire man cave. I have also in the past made various buildings from foamboard, the results of which can be seen (herehere & here) the plans and elevations of a couple which can be found (here).

There are a number of free downloads of paper terrain available off the internet but the quality can vary greatly. There are also numerous excellent models and buildings available for a small fee but I'm going to concentrate on the free stuff in this post (plus another one to follow shortly).

It was whilst browsing these various blogs and sites that I noticed an online image by Tamiya which can be found following the below link:

It caught my eye because this famous Japanese company is probably far better know as a manufacturer of high quality scale models and remote control vehicles so I was curious to know what this was. Turns out that this free-to-download paper model was actually a product to promote one of Tamiya's adhesives. 

To quote from their website: 
"This small storage building can be used as a component in 1/48 scale dioramas. Download the PDF file, print it onto thick paper, and assemble it according to the instructions below. (The model depicts a storage building similar to those which were seen on the Polish/Russian fronts in WWII.)"

Aha, ideal for both WWII Eastern Front Bolt Action games and medieval skirmish games, I thought. Now, dear reader in case you think you're reading the ramblings of an all knowing model and terrain making guru who is never makes an error please read on. 

In one of those moments when you actually learn more from making a mistake than when everything goes correctly, I had initially planned to back the paper cut out onto a piece of identically shaped corrugated cardboard (from an old shoe box) because it's cheap and readily available. However during a 'dry fit' trial run I noticed I hadn't allowed for the thickness of the cardboard so the pieces just wouldn't fit together (despite the copious amounts of swearing aimed at it). 

Rather than offset trimming the cardboard, which seemed like too much hard work, I reasoned that I could possibly make another building using the cardboard as the core of the model so put this to one side.
Crude interior
Returning to the original paper model the building is easy to cut out and construct. I used normal PVC wood glue to stick down the flaps but use extra care if you do the same. This is because the glue has a high water content and can easily affect the printed inks. A better option is probably to use something like Pritt Stick. I applied small amounts of glue using a cocktail stick taking extra care not to smudge the inks. 

Once finished I also, as suggested in the instructions, added reinforcement using offcuts from the same corrugated cardboard as used before. Ideal for the tabletop, these models are quick and easy to make although obviously not really suitable for heavy, long term use but then again if you damage the current model or need more to populate your table you can simply print out another sheet and start again.

Next up will be my attempt at creating a more substantial model based on this paper template. 

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Skirmish Movement Trays for Lion Rampant

These movement trays have been made specifically for my medieval figures, all mounted on various types of 20mm square bases, for use when playing Lion Rampant.
Although not really necessary for skirmish games I find them a lot more practical and quicker than faffing about, moving dozens of individual figures around the tabletop. especially when playing a game in a more relaxed atmosphere between friends as opposed to a competitive game where every fraction of an inch matters to some people.

Using the Lion Rampant rule set your units consist of either six or twelve models depending on their type; therefore all these movement trays are allocated the appropriate number of spaces.
With these I have made specific bases to suit particular units. Some figures, such as these (unfinished) plastic Fireforge spearmen for instance, require a bit of thought to achieve a natural look and to avoid the figures sticking spears into each others earholes. It also helps when positioning the figures not to have similar models placed next to each other, although sometimes this is unavoidable. 

The actual overall sizes of the bases are actually not that important but as long as the figures are within 6" of each other everything should be fine, hence all my bases are less than 5" wide (better safe than sorry). 

Size-wise the largest is 5" x 3 1/2" (127 x 89mm) which is also the largest piece of MDF will fit into a plastic take-away container which I use when applying grass/flock the bases (I'm not as daft as I look). I use MDF off cuts from work (the red stuff I use is a fire proof variety). As I don't have access to a large bandsaw at home I've found that by repeatedly scoring with a sharp craft knife on both sides of the board (a metal rule or guide is essential if you don't wish to remove your fingers) you can quite easily cut thin MDF to the size you require.
Initial blank
Here's one I prepared earlier
As there is no 'unit facing',* I wanted to give the impression that the units are in a loose formation. You may notice that some of the figures seen here are even facing backwards in the examples shown. So rather than having the figures all positioned uniformly edge to edge I decided to space out the figures and create separate frames for each model on the MDF. Once happy with the final layout of the figures I marked the location with a pencil, The frames were then built up individually with wooden coffee stirrers allowing some wiggle room so that the figures would sit snuggly but not too tightly that I'd have problems removing them. Once dry the outer edges of the base are then chamfered and sanded down. The base can now be liberally smothered covered with PVA woodglue and covered in small stones and sand, taking care to ensure the square location gaps remain clear. 
When the base is completely dry (probably best left overnight) the whole base was painted with brown poster paint (the dirt cheap stuff available from craft shops or discount stores) then highlighted with my 'proper' acrylic paints to match the colours of the bases of my figures. The base was then varnished to offer some protection from wear and tear. The final stage is to apply the various grass and flock materials to give the bases a more realistic, natural look and to blend in with the bases of the figures.

In Lion Rampant mounted units consist of six models per unit. In order to give me some flexibility I decided to split the figures into two groups. 
One half of mounted unit movement tray
If you can't be bothered to go to all the effort of making similar bases (and to be honest it did involve a fair amount of time and effort to make these movement trays) Warbases make a product using the same principles. Examples can be found on the excellent blogger Saxondog's site:

* there are optional rules for this available from the author if you wish to introduce them. 
Lion Rampant variants

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Dad's Army - Home Guard Platoon - Bolt Action Unboxing

Arguably one of the most 'British' of all television series (and soon to be a film) Dad's Army is brought to miniature life in this Warlord Games box set. Ade provides a quick review: