Friday, May 20, 2022

25/28mm West Wind - Gollums - Animated Statues

The "ghost" one in the center was seen earlier here in the Contrast Paint entries but here are all four models reunited in one spot.

Apart from the ghost, these are just statues. Right?

I bought the resin columns from somewhere and have quite a few of different styles and patterns. Some tall, some short, some ornate, some plain. Can anyone identify them? Seems like this kind of thing is now ubiquitous so maybe it doesn't matter.

Thanks for looking - questions, comments and followers are welcome and encouraged! I'm doing more and more on Facebook so follow my page there too!

Saturday, April 30, 2022

15-28mm Floral Stem Trees Project

For those who think the visual appeal of their games is very important, we're often trying to balance realism against playability. This is where I may have erred more on the realism side. BUT playability isn't impossible here, just altered. You'll see what I mean - read on!

First, the point of this exercise was threefold: one, to see how Expanded PVC worked for basing terrain items. Two, could I make these floral stems into something that looked a bit better then the standard wargame tree options? Three, I wanted to try Flex-Seal to see if I could 'rubberize' these stems into something really durable.

Expanded PVC - the YouTube's Terrain Tutor did a review of this material a few years ago and I was smitten! Having lost bases to warping and curling, I really was looking for something other than plasticard or wood. This stuff is a miracle product - the only pain is cutting and shaping it. It's really durable and firm and I had to score and rescore, then rescore again, then saw the 9 bases I made out of one of the three sheets I bought. Then I had to hack away at the edges like a bumpkin whittler to bevel them down. Unlike foamcore, there's no core here - it's solid all the way through, but it's also very light and I saw no warping at all. 

I never know if I'm going to make a blog post out of everything so I failed to photograph every step of this. Over the top I spread out some Ready-mixed Concrete Patch. Normally I use Modeling Paste, but this stuff is way cheaper, roughly the same weight with maybe better durability. It's sand and glue basically and dries with textures all its own. I left gaps where I'll put the trees in.

These were on sale at Michael's and come in two? foot lengths - a central trunk and then several branches. The tip is good and the side branches are good. After removing those I was left with a number of lengths of logs I'll use for something else later - barricades most likely. The central puzzle to this project was how am I going to affix these soft plastic trunks to the flat bases? Pins of course. I drilled a hole in each trunk and glued a length of wire up each of them leaving just enough sticking out to penetrate the depth of the base without breaking through the bottom. Before I glue them down I want to do the messy bit first. I blue-tacked them to this box. Outside, I sprayed each one liberally with the Flex Seal spray, coating the "leaves" thoroughly before returning them to the box for drying.

While those were drying out, I started with my box of loose flock, lichen, clump foliage and other natural colored detritus from the bottoms of tree filled storage boxes. Even these stems, prior to fixing, contributed new shapes and textures to the mix. Lots of tacky glue, then randomly dumped it over the bases, firm presses then left it all to dry. I shook off the excess for use in other projects.

I only had enough trees to make eight instead of the nine bases I made. And X marks the spots where I was going to drive the tree trunks in. I needed to blend the edges with flock first.

Almost done edging - I do a part at a time so I have a clean place to grip the base, When that dries I do the other half. I also tried to leave the impression that there were overgrown trails, paths and clearings in the woods there.

Done and dried!

Number 2 takes an interest and is helping out. Will I start a gaming dynasty? Fingers crossed!

Placing what tree on what base was a puzzle - four-tree bases needed tall trees with less branches at the bottom. the three-tree bases could have a bigger spread and had slightly more room.

That hot glue though. That's a problem that needs addressing. This is one of the worst of them. Most wooded forest floor spaces are covered in leaves. Nope, didn't do that.

Number Two wanted to get in on the photography - this and the next are hers. Thanks doll!

The evidence of glue was too obvious to disguise with leaves so I went back to the scrabble box and applied more foliage to the outside corners to keep the big snotty looking bubbles out of sight.

Mr. Brown and Zeke peer in; Mom's exercise ball menaces from the valley to the west. Compared to most of my trees these are much closer in scale to the miniatures. the only ones of this size in my collection.

West Wind Zombies frolic for your entertainment. One aspect of the Flex Seal was I applied too liberally in spots, badly frosting portions, that said, not seeing much shedding.

They cover a fair amount of ground - probably unplayable space in the end so these will have to be perimeter woods or some other inaccessible parts of the battle field.

More size comparisons - this is the Pegasus Hobbies a 1/72 Russian Izba.

Proper height for trees and they look ok.

Essex 15mm ACW Zoaves for comparison.

15mm ACW Zoaves with an example of trees I usually use for this scale.

Honestly, with the trunks being so thin, they work perfectly fine for 15mm I think.

These have been in the background of several other projects recently, but I thought I'd detail how I made them. They are unusual for my collection because of their size but still useful. Expanded PVC I am now committed to. Flex-Seal, sure I like it. I'll have to be more careful in how much to apply next time, but it has increased the durability of these pretty delicate pieces. 

Thanks for looking - questions, comments and followers are welcome and encouraged! I'm doing more and more on Facebook so follow my page there too!

Friday, April 29, 2022

25/28mm Old Glory/West Wind Dracula's Graveyard Part 1: Fencing and Gates


Just before I flocked the bases

Back when the selection of scenery was far more limited than it is now, Old Glory/West Wind created a cemetery set that included fences, a gate and half a dozen large crypts/mausoleums, intended for it's Gothic Horror game Vampire Wars -- the "horror" entry in their "Quality Dice" system.

The internet wasn't particularly kind to the rules but the figures, as are all figures from West Wind and Old Glory, are rotten with charm and character and this blog celebrates them every chance I get. This entry though is about my build of the fencing/gate portions. I built mine to be 12"x18" of fenced in area. Not big enough to even enclose all the mausoleums! 

The "kit" is kinda slapdash and needed a lot of attention to get it all to work. the lengths of fence fit awkwardly in their textured base they come with and the ends don't look all that great next to each other when connected up. As a general rule, I hate tiny lengths of walling/fencing. Too many gaps and gaming bumps break up the lengths in unpleasant ways for me - it took me a while to actually figure out how long of lengths I can get away with while still having some configuration options. Did I need to build corner pieces? How many columns would I need to make sure the corners would square up in a least a few different ways? Tons of questions delayed the build and I futzed about longer than necessary.

In the end, it's not perfect and as much as I would have liked a column to cap lengths I couldn't get it to work out perfectly. That said it's a pretty minor issue so I'll ignore it if you will. On to the pics! 

Washed, de-flashed, spikes filed sharp. I felt like Gomez Addams at that last stage.

The gate piece was a conundrum from the beginning - it was going to have to match the lengths of the others or every rectangle cemetery would be trapezoidal in shape. Lots of measuring, trial and error fitting stuff together with columns here, columns there, asymmetrical or no?  The gate also has no hinges I couldn't just have the bars abut against the support columns so I had to engineer the hinges to allow for the possibility that the gates actually opened at some point. That actually helped me make up a couple millimeters as I used wooden squares as iron mounts upon which I cut strips of plasticard to make hinges, this gave it the illusion of utility as well as the strips wrapped around the end bar and connected to the column.

I had a 3' length of very light balsa I cut into lengths then scored the stones in as I've seen so many YouTubers do in recent months to shape the stones in their walls.

I was rough on the balsa and left gouges in the ends. So in the Michael's leather crafting sections I picked up what would be the toppers for the columns to give them a nice finish.

This was the worst part - cutting the gd lengths of basing from sheets of black plasticard. Measuring these and cutting them correctly was not fun and then I decided I'd have to have one piece corners or this thing would never hang together properly.

This looks like it was easy, but I'm an English major and came close to failing math all my life.

Sigh of relief, I was able to get four good corner bases cut out. I had planned it out accurately after all.

The pillars needed the wood grain beat out of them so, yes, the old ball of tin foil trick. The balsa was soft so took the rough handling mostly well. Some sides were more 'textured" than others so imperfect sides were turned inwards ...

... and the assembly can begin. Impatient, I squished the studs into the tops with a little too much abandon. That's e6000 Crafting Adhesive to glue it all together with. Getting black plasticard, black adhesive and finally black railway ballast ("coal") saved me in the long term as I was going to prime the lot black. May as well get those underparts dark to begin with. You can see there are two types of fence - one that has end pieces and the other is open. That was part of the difficulty in planning as I wanted to use every single piece I had, and they all had to never have two identical parts next to each other AND they had to have a column in between each for stability and to get the pieces to be if identical length.

Corners needed to be slightly more special. Stone caps with gargoyles form the bitz box. I thought about stone globes that Reaper also makes but decided against them as being too earthly and contemporary.

Coming together

The final puzzle I alluded to above: getting the gate piece spaced properly and making sure it appeared to be capable of opening.

Little wooden risers hold the gate, centering it in the pair of columns. I do regret using these two imperial style winged griffons for the gate columns. Should have kept them gargoyles like the corner pieces. Corners columns are thicker than the length ones which added to the measuring difficulties.

Checking set ups - satisfaction! On to priming and painting!

I looked at too many graveyards and cemetery images to come up with the painting scheme then neglected to photograph much of any of my process.

Needless to say - the look for the iron was "wrought" but also long abandoned. Rust? Verdigris? Metallic colors poking through? Yes. No and no. I got the look I wanted. Craft store "wrought iron" paints, gray dry brushing, Rust washes, more dry brushing, corrosion technical paint from Citadel little this, that here, there. Decay? I think so. Stones, same techniques, different palate: shades of gray, bright highlights, washes, light green dry brush at base, more washes, more highlights. Obviously wooden columns and not stone? I don't think so. Seems like chipped uneven stones to me.

I found a spot for my verdigris!

My sins exposed!

Another unseemly join! Time to flock and finish!

Super happy with the end results. Rando models atop resin pillars designed for just this purpose. Origins unknown.

Mr. Brown and Zeke in over their heads amongst Renedra gravestones

The "flock" is scrabble. After every battle bits of flock are gathered up into a shoe box sized plastic storage bin. Scrapings from flock boxes, miniature tree boxes added in makes for a lovely multi-colored, multi textured material perfect for this work. A few of my hand made tufts in there and a commercial tuft or two too.

Are the gates backward? Should the bats face inward instead?


Mr. Brown and Zeke taunt and rile up the inmates

Reverse view of the gates

More cemetery pieces coming next - with all the differnt gothic and cemetery fencing I want to have a huge table of City of the Dead kind of terrain for several different horror themed encounters.

Thanks for looking - questions, comments and followers are welcome and encouraged! I'm doing more and more on Facebook so follow my page there too!