“Little Boxes On The Hill Side”

“And they’re all made out of ticky-tacky”, well actually they’re all made out of MDF, but you get the idea. Anyway, it’s been a while since my last post as work and life returns to normal and so sucks up more of my time, but I did mention a while back that we needed some more scenery for our “Dead Zone” games but the cost of the “official” Mantic plastic pieces was more than I felt they were worth (though this is only my opinion of course), so the search was on to find an alternative (a cheaper one would be nice!), so much trawling of the “net” was commenced, and in the end I settled on “Tabletop Scenics”, “Industrial Hive” in MDF, now though these looked about right size wise, and even with the dimensions given on the web-site, it was still a bit of a guess as to whether these would fit the 80x80mm squares on the play-mat. But even so I thought they were worth a “punt”, so I ordered the “Slum Blocks” set of five MDF “boxes” really, with a view to buying a larger set if they fitted the mat OK. My son also threw a few other items of scatter scenery into the cart as well which I’ll have to paint up too at some point (kids eh?).

Well they arrived pretty quickly, and after downloading the instructions from the web-page (you don’t really need these as they are pretty self-explanatory, but better safe than sorry), they were put together and measured…and they could have been made for the game to be honest, the building bases are about 75x75mm, and the ridges around the tops are just a “gnats willy” under 80x80mm, so more will be ordered at some point.

I used PVA (wood glue), to fix them together, but left the rooves un-fixed so you can lift them off and add figures to their interiors. Now, they do look OK as is, but my main problem with MDF buildings has always been the fact you can see the “dovetails” at the corners, so I had to cover these with some lengths of the obligatory coffee stirrers, and while I was at it I also ran a length along the bottoms too to hide the slot to located one block to the next when you stack them up. I always worry with MDF scenery that I’ll obliterate all the detail etched into the sides with paint so thought, next I’d add some more pieces of detail (well crap, to be honest), to try and break up the “boxy’ness” of them a bit, so my box of model bits (again, crap), was raided and stuff was stuck here and there, including pieces of card, parts from a MK1 GW Rhino, various bits and pieces, and even an old plastic “Draught’s playing piece! Then the madness set in as I thought the “doors” weren’t obvious enough so the remains of the sheets of MDF were vandalized to make frames to go round the door’s, and Matty suggested that a bridge would be good between some of the upper blocks (again kids!), so I set about making one of these too. Now there was no obvious way to hook this on, so in the end I decided the best way to secure this was to start with a thin piece of card and “tuck” this between the top of the lower building and the bottom of the upper, making it long enough to reach snugly between the two buildings once they are positioned on their play-mat squares (obviously this wouldn’t be glued in place to allow for different configurations). Once I was happy with this I stuck some coffee stirrers along the bottom for strength, and four of scrap MDF pieces along the top as slats (these are actually the window pieces pushed out of some MDF tower blocks I bought years ago and have yet to assemble and paint (the shame!). Anyway to finish off the bridge I added a couple more lengths of coffee stirrer, and a couple of railings that were actually part of the scenery that came with the box game itself.

Next it was out for a spraying with some matt black and I could get on with painting them. Now being the “tight arse” that I am I didn’t want to go wasting my good paint on these, but I obviously couldn’t really nip down to B&Q (DIY store) to get some sample pots either, luckily I still had some left over from when I painted up the helmet and shield for the brother-in-law’s cosplay costume, so I took some “Warm Pewter” (sorry for the silly names but this is wall paint, and they tend not to use sensible names like “Snot Green” etc…), anyway as I said I took some “Warm Pewter” and added a little black to darken it a bit and slapped this all over the pieces, this was followed by dry-brushes of “Chic Shadow” and “Frosted Steel”, a few places I also painted in light blue or pink burgundy, and the doors, window bars, tread-plate rooves, and awnings I just dry-brushed chainmail over the black. I also added some “chevrons” here and there in orange mixed with citrus orange, with just citrus orange highlights.

I then found some old GW transfers so stuck a few of these on as well (I really just threw everything at these!), before I attacked the edges with some chestnut brown (the closest thing I still have to rust!), and gave everything a coat of thinned matt black in the form of a wash. Once dry I picked out the odd light here and there along with a couple of dots on the door frames as controls, in light green (day-glow), before going back over the rusty areas this time with orange to signify fresh rust, I might have got a little carried away with this as they now look more decrepit than I’d planned (just like me!). Lastly I lightly flicked a little khaki and coffee up the bottom and top edges for a bit of weathering, and they were done. I could have carried on adding the odd patch of static grass or moss here and there, but I think they look good enough for what we want then for, which at the end of the day is just some “little boxes” for our fellow’s to use as cover.

As said I do think I’ll be investing the lager set at some point (and that one has stairs!!). Anyway Keith is running another round of “Monster May(hem)” in May so if you can, please do join in, I’ll add a link at the bottom of the post. So next time it’ll be “What’s that coming over the hill?”.

Oh and thanks for everyone who was concerned by my absence the last few weeks, I’m pleased to report that I haven’t expired (not just yet anyway), though please don’t be surprised if my appearances are a little sporadic over the next few weeks.

So for now, stay safe, and cheers Roger.



Posted in 28mm sci-fi, Dead Zone, Scenery | Tagged , , , | 30 Comments

“Out of the Blue (Stuff)”

For a while now I have had a hankering to get my hands on some “Blue Stuff”, and no this is not the little blocks they drop into urinals to keep them “fresh!” It is in fact a material that can be heated in boiling water to make it soft and it can then be pressed around an object and a mould made, best of all once you no longer need this mould, you can pop it back into some more boiling water and re-use it!

However the slight problem I have had is getting hold of any, as it is sold by “Greenstuff World” in the US but postage is horrendous from there at the moment, and though there was one person who was selling packs on Ebay, but he wanted you to “bid” on them starting at £14.95 plus £3.50 postage! My wife as usual came to the rescue finding some on “Amazon” but not called “Blue Stuff” but rather called “Hinodewashi Oyumaru monochromatic clear and blue“, and imported from Japan by (and I kid you not) “The Fun, Fun Hobby Company” and it was only £11.99 post free. Worth a “punt” I thought so an order was placed and the next day a rather large envelope arrived containing these two small packets (one blue, one clear). The instructions were of course all written in Japanese, now my Japanese is rusty to say the least (well I know “Gojira” and that’s about it to be honest), and the three tiny pictures didn’t really tell me a vast amount, but luckily there is a veritable plethora of videos about using “Blue Stuff” on “YouTube”, so I just did what they said.

Now you may remember that last week I posted up my finished “10mm Wild West Wagons”, and that I did mention that there had been a problem with a couple of the wheels, well they were in fact missing from my order, I did Email Lancashire a couple of times but got no response (not happy), so I decided that these would be the first items I would reproduce with my new toy. So off to the kitchen I went, where I boiled the kettle (and made a cup of tea), then re-boiled it once I remembered what I’d come in there to actually do! And poured some of this into a soup dish (don’t tell the wife!), a strip of the “blue stuff” was then immersed in this for three minutes, until it was soft, and then after pushing two blobs down onto my painting table, I pushed one small and one larger wagon wheel into said blobs and left then to go cold.

After a few minutes I was able to “pop” out the wheels (the material stays slightly flexible) and taking some “greenstuff” pushed it into the new moulds (I ran a thin sausage of putty around the rims first before pushing in the main piece over the spokes) and left this to dry overnight. Next morning I popped out the new greenstuff wheels and I have to say I was pretty happy with the result, aright they were flat on the back and the gaps between the spokes didn’t go right through, but once in place and painted you can’t see the difference really (and it looks like I’m never going to get a response from Lancashire, so it was this or a wonky wagon).

But what else could I make, now most of the demonstrations on Youtube seem to involve “ripping off” Games Workshop figures, but I was thinking bigger than that, I want to rip off Games Workshop scenery!! Well no not exactly, but I do have a vague plan for “Dave Stones Season of Scenery” challenge this year that is loosely based on GW’s “Temple of Skulls”, I won’t go into too much detail about his here (as it isn’t July yet!), but suffice to say I’m going to need some skulls (well duh), and to this end I have this old eraser I have had since I was a child, this is about the size of an “Action Man” or 12” GI Joe head, (for some reason I painted it white with emulsion paint and melted a birthday cake candle on top of it, hence the knobbly black bits on the top). Now I need a few of these and I really want them in plaster, so I thought I’d see if plaster of Paris worked in these moulds. So plaster was ordered from Amazon and while I was waiting to took three of the strips of the clear “stuff” and made a mould of my little skull. Here is the result, sort of reminds me of that crystal skull that used to feature in “Arthur C Clarke’s Mysterious World”.

So next up I mixed up some of the plaster of Paris and poured it into my “skull Mould” left it over night to be sure it totally set then tried to ease it out, well long story short I had to rip the mould a bit to get the plaster casting out, this was my fault as I’d gone too far around the underside to allow it to come out the hole, but this didn’t really matter as I can always take another mould of the eraser! The casting isn’t perfect (again probably more my fault than the materials), but quite good enough for what I have in mind. I can now go into production as I need a few of these ready for July.

But for now, happy Easter, stay safe, and cheers Roger.


Posted in 10mm wild west, Cowboys, Scenery, Summer Scenery Challenge | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

“Wagon’s Ho, No!”

Well it was Dead Zone last time so I guess that means it must be more “10mm Wild West” this, Well actually it’s the last of my 10mm figures, the “wagons”. Now I was rather dreading these, not from a painting point of view (though twenty four liveried horses, aren’t my idea of a fun painting session!), but more working out the best sequence in which to do them. You see I could of assembled the whole lot of them which would have made adding the filler on the bases relatively simple, but painting the horses and the basing material a blooming nightmare! Whereas painting the horses and wagons first would be easier but then not catching them with the filler and paint afterwards would be a problem! You see now why I’ve left these till last.

Now I’d ordered some 20x80mm MDF bases for the wagons to go on, I knew these were a little too long (and I could have ordered a custom size) but I wasn’t really sure exactly how long I did want them as they need to be pretty tight to the ends of the base so when they are placed in the ubiquitous “circle” there isn’t too big a gap between the wagons. So after messing about trying the wagons and horses on the bases I marked where I needed to cut off the ends (10mm, making them 70mm long) then taped all six bases together and using my precision mitre, cut off as close to the line as I dared, I then tightened my sanding board in the “workmate” at ninety degrees to the worktop and sanded the ends of the bases (still taped together) down to the line.

I began the wagons themselves by gluing the front wheels to the front axles, and the back wheels in place on the back of the wagons (there was a slight “hiccup” with the wheels, but I’ll hopefully cover this in a future post), I also glued the figures in place too as I decided that it would be easier to paint then “in-situ”, the wagons covers I left off, again to ease the painting of the figures. So after everything went outside for a spraying with some matt black, and was then touched up with more matt black and a brush, all the wagon pieces were painted in chocolate brown, and highlighted with butternut. Then the wheel rims a few other areas were picked out in more black with highlights of chainmail, and the occupants were painted in the same manner and colours as the settlers were the other week (so if you want to know how these were painted, follow the link at the bottom of the page*).

The horses I decided to paint separately so they were glued to coffee stirrers in strips, and undercoated in either chocolate brown (for the majority) or black, they were then highlighted in either chestnut or dark grey, then their tails and manes were added in black highlighted again with dark grey (chestnut horses only of course). Harnesses came next so these were all lined in with more chocolate brown and highlighted with leather brown, and the beams down the sides with a little butternut. Looking at them, they were just a sea of brown, so I thought I’d add a little (a very little!) interest to them by doing their saddles in dark grey, and then adding some socks and nose blazes in coffee and cream.

So now it was time to start putting all the separate pieces together (or the fun part (not)), after careful consideration I decided the best was to glue the right hand front horse to the shaft then add the right hand back horse, I discovered that the front axle wasn’t high enough to keep the shaft straight, so I added a small crosspiece of coffee stirrer under the wheels to lift it up (this was OK as it also meant the bases would be as thick as the figures ones were now), all of these were then glued onto the MDF bases, checking their positions by placing the wagons onto the axle’s. I then “filled” around the horse bases and front wheels, leaving space to add the other horses and wagons rear wheels (are you keeping up?). Once dry I painted over the filler with musket brown, as this would be the base colour for the painting of my bases. Then it was time to add the wagons themselves, so first I glued more small lengths of coffee stirrer between the back wheels and added a bit of filler over these, and painted this in more musket brown before gluing them down onto the bases and front axles, I then added more filler under the wagons and out to the rear of the baes and again painted this in musket brown.

Next I took the wagons canvas covers, I had already painted the front and rear inners in coffee and cream as these would be impossible to paint once fitted. I trial fitted these only to discover that they wouldn’t fit flush to the wagons and were not tall enough to go over the drivers without there being a gap between the canvas and wagon! So taking my trusty greenstuff I ran a “bead” along the bottom edges of the canvas covers before fitting then in place and shaping and smoothing the bead to shape. Next morning after this was dry I painted this new “green line” in black, then the canvas was painted coffee and heavily highlighted in cream. It was at this stage of the proceedings that I gave everything a coat of “Strongtone” Quickshade (including the still separate horses).

When everything was dry it was time to add the other two horses, this meant trial fitting the rear left hand horses, carving away a little of the base filler till there was a gap that the horse would fit perfectly in aligned to the right hand side one, this was then glued into place, before some more filler was spread around it, left to dry and then painted in musket brown. This process was then repeated with the front right hand horses. This just left the bases to be dry-brushed with some sand and coffee paint and a “blow-over” with some matt varnish to finish them off, looking at them now, it looks like a lot of work for what appears to still be just a sea of brown on them! Oh well. I have also been working on my “10mm wagon train attack” rules and once I’ve had chance to try them out, I’ll try and post a quick battle report, and put the rules up in the “Rules wot’ I wrote” section of the blog.

Lastly (if you are still with me after all that!) I present to you my last entry in IRO’s “T” shirt challenge, my new (and specially commissioned) wargames show shirt! As I mentioned to Steve (Maenoferren) a few weeks back I am constantly apportioned the “blame”, for this and that around here, so much so that I had thought of getting a “T” shirt printed! Well IRO’s challenge seemed the perfect excuse for doing just that, along with a little self-advertisement into the bargain. So next time I’m accused to making someone spend money or some such, I can say “Oh yeah, been there, done that, got the T shirt!”

Till next time, stay safe, and cheers Roger.

Posted in 10mm wild west, Cowboys | Tagged , | 26 Comments

“Enforced Labour!”

I’m back “In the zone!” this week and it was time to set to work on the opponents to my “Forge Fathers”. In other words “The Enforcers” (sounds like a 70’s TV show!). truth be known I was somewhat less enamoured with these figures than my “Dee’worf’s”, and had hoped to palm these off to my youngest son to paint, but as he is STILL crawling his way through his Blood Bowl Orc (sorry Ork) team, I decided I would have to bite the bullet and paint them myself.

Anyway I had already assembled and undercoated these chaps at the same time I did my “Space Dwarves”, so it was just a case of deciding on what colour I was actually going to do them in! Now the “Official” figures in the rules (yes we’ve downloaded them!) and box art has them in either black or grey with while bits of armour, and the odd blue, red or yellow “go faster” stipe here and there. But I didn’t like this, I wanted a more “soldier” look to mine, but what to do….

I knew I wanted then to look completely different to the “Forge Fathers”, so I decided to leave some of the bodysuits black and highlighted these in dark grey, and then did the weapons with a dry-brush of chainmail. I then picked out some of the larger areas of their armour (and some of the smaller bits too) along with parts on their weapons and a couple of panels on the “DOG” (Deployable Offensive Gun) with some dark green. This looked OK but then it struck me “Camo!” I then searched about for two more contrasting colours for my “splotches”, stone green seemed like a good choice for the first lot, so a combination of zigzag lines and tiny stylized tree branches were added over the base of dark green. Now for the next contrasting colour and…

I stared blankly into my paint draw totally at a loss as to what would work with the two colours I had already used. I painted up a small piece of card in the colours above and working my way across the page tried different colours to use for the top splodges including chocolate brown, leather brown, dark red, sand and khaki, none of them looked right. I think I should have gone much darker for the base coat and worked up to a lighter shade, but now I was at stone green and needed to go lighter again really, so I turned to old faithful, coffee, I’d give that a go, not holding out much hope and about to settle on just the two colour camo, I dug out an old splayed brush (rather than having to wash out a good one I’d just throw it away after this experiment) and tried it… The colour worked pretty well but even better the “knackered” brush gave a nice delicate spidery effect that would look right on the figures. So straight over to the them I went, and this was how the top layer of the camo was added (I did have to go round and touch up the edges where it met the black afterwards), it gave (to my mind anyway) a rather “desert camouflage” look to them, and a totally different “vibe” to the “Fathers of the Forge”.

So now rather more invigorated about these figures it was time to add the finishing touches, first off I painted the small triangular area on their chest plates in pink burgundy highlighted with some bright red, then to distinguish the command figure I added a couple of white chevrons over the red on his triangle. A couple of the figures had satchels or holsters so these I added in dark grey highlighted with some (mixed by me, still need to buy some) light grey, and added the eye’s and the odd dot/light here and there with some orange, with highlights of more orange mixed with a little white. Then I did a couple of areas with a dry-brush of chainmail to vary up the armour a little.

As usual they were then given a brush coat of “Quickshade” (strong tone) and once dry had their bases painted to match the last lot of Dead Zone figures. I also added the blades to their funny energy knives, I started this by painting a line of chainmail down the centre of the blades (top and bottom), stippled orange around this trying to get a broken line to the chainmail (as if it was energy flowing), then with some more orange and white mix did the same again along the outer edges of the blades, how successful this was I’m not sure, but it’ll do. A final spray coat of matt varnish and I was calling them done. I’m reasonably happy with the result, they do indeed have a different look to the Forge Fathers, and in no way look like the walked out of the same amour factory.

We have now played our first game of Dead Zone, conclusions? Well it plays pretty well, is simple enough to learn and can be brutal if you’re caught in the open! There is however not enough scenery in the box if you want to go multi-layer (and you do!), so that will be the next job, and who won? I don’t think we really need to get into all that now do we? It’s not about the winning it’s about the taking part, after all. 🙄

Finally this week it’s T-shirt time again (well T-shirt and more, to be honest), I am a big “Star Wars” fan, in fact looking through my T-shirts I discovered that I have more Star Wars related “T’s” than almost any other subject (Alice Cooper is No.1), but this one is my favourite, Stormtroopers are sooo’ cool! (and yes I am breathing in Dave!!😛) I’ve also included a picture of my SW waistcoat that the brother in-law made for me in return for the “Game of Thrones” badge I made for his cosplay armour, I chose this material as I used to own all of the “Marvel Star Wars” comics it features.

So till next time, stay safe and cheers Roger.

Posted in 28mm sci-fi, Dead Zone, sci-fi | Tagged , , | 18 Comments