I’m going to sidestep the StuG IIIs I’m working on (yet again!) to discuss an aspect of the hobby that I really enjoy – terrain.

In a collection of eBay purchases from over a year ago, a number of plastic tree armatures were included. I have avoided them whilst I have been building up the numbers of my AFVs and also trying to work out how best to use Hob-e-tac, which is needed to affix foliage to tree armatures. The last experiment was in October – you can catch up on it here. During Easter I found Iwas ready to continue my efforts with both of these aspects, Hob-e-tac and making trees.

The first problem to be dealt with was that the armatures have no bases. They end in thin plastic spikes, as they are meant to be simply stuck into polystyrene and left there…they are for model railroad dioramas, not for wargaming. Here’s what they look like:  . Instead,I need them stuck onto some sort of a small flat base so they stand by themselves and be boxed up for easy transportation.

I mentioned last year that I saw a great way to do this – Tim over at Tim’s Wargaming Stuff had a great demo about how he solved an almost identical problem, using GW ‘slotta’ bases. He took leftover ‘slotta’ bases, drilled holes in them, stuck the tree trunks through the holes  and then fixed everything in place with some glue. Simple and effective! The difference for me is that I’m working with 20mm or 25mm scale trees – Tim was working with 10mm scale trees. I needed some sort of bigger substitute for ‘slotta’ bases.

The answer was closer at hand than I thought. I collect unwanted film canisters from film development centres as they have a number of modelling applications:  . I decided to experiment using the two main types, which are Kodak and Fuji Film. I commenced by cutting holes through the grey lids of the black Kodak canisters:   . I then stuck the tree armature trunks into them to see how well they would stand.

I then did the same with the Fuji Film canister lids:  .

When compared side by side   the Fuji Film lids seemed to be the better choice. They had a smaller raised section which, when glued onto a sheet styrene base, would look less obtrusive or could be disguised more effectively. The Kodak lids would suffice but look a little more odd.

I had plenty of both and so gathered all the Fuji Film lids and prepared to cut and shape them all to the task.

Best link of 2010

December 20, 2010

There have been some great discoveries and resources that I’ve linked to over the year. With Christmas almost upon us and my hobby-work time almost entirely on hold until Boxing Day and the few days off that I have between Christmas and New Year, I thought that I’d write a brief review of some of the best things I’ve linked to over the year.

There were eight links that I felt were good finds or great resources this year. They are as follows:

Italeri’s poll for feedback about what model kits they should make;

The Ultimate Model Paint Conversion Chart;

Tim’s Wargaming Stuff blog post on how to base trees that come with no bases;

On the Volkhov – a blog with German & Russian soldier reminiscences of action on the Volkhov front;

HistoryNet’s Operation Barbarossa: Albano Castelletto Recalls His Time with the Voloire Regiment on the Russian Front webpage;

Gary Kennedy’s Battalion Organisation during the Second World War website where I was able to learn about German reconaissance forces;

British Pathe’s website where you can see newsreels and film footage from the time; and lastly

Paul’s “Plastic Warriors” blog posts where he instructs how to model figures in trenches & foxholes.

While I’m strongly tempted to give the award for best overall link to British Pathe (who nicely commented on this blog and thanked me for using their content in a novel way), I’m actually going to give it to Skoblin’s On the Volkhov blog. As well as translations of reminiscences he also provides suitable photos when he can get them. It was very useful for understanding the terrain of the area and led to strengthening the detail I applied to a game this year. He wrote to me and said there will be more content someday, too.

Still, please have a look through all the others – there may be something there that you find particularly brilliant too.

If I don’t write another post between now and Christmas, I’d like to wish you all the wargamer’s Christmas blessing: “Peace on Earth, war on the table”.

While waiting for good weather to seal my river sections with Dullcote prior to painting on the water, I was browsing my colleagues’ blogs (which you’ll find listed down at the bottom of this blog).

Tim of “Tim’s wargaming stuff” had a stunningly brilliant post about basing model trees that have no bases. Model trees with no bases have been a terrain bugbear of mine ever since I formally commenced wargaming. Well, Tim has shot, boxed and buried this bugbear for me in one neat blog entry, forever laying it to rest. Best of all, the brilliance of it is in its simplicity and cheapness.

Why a bugbear? This is becuase it’s usually cheaper to purchase model trees from model railway shops and the cheapest ones there don’t have any bases, just a trunk that is a spike – because you are meant to insert/thrust the ‘trunk-spike’ into the foam base of your model railroad diorama and leave it there forever. They have no means of support to enable them to stand on their own.

It’s possible to make your own model trees at home using a manual drill, florist’s wire and bristles/twine – but again, you end up with a baseless ‘trunk-spike’ and so, to get the tree to stand up on its own, you have to come up with way of fixing it to a horizontal flat surface. When I’ve done this, I’ve constructed pre-made bases of modelling clay which took more time, cost and effort than I felt was necessary. I was also thinking that there had to be a better way – but all I could think of was either:

  • buying cast-pewter model tree bases from a model railway shop, or
  • buying other model trees second-hand, cutting off the trunk and crown of each tree and then grafting on the trunk and crown of my own desired tree.

Well, Tim has sorted out all my troubles with his simple, cheap, nearly-effortless and brilliant method! Tim, my hat’s off to you, sir! My E-bay tree armatures can now be easily based (once I go to our next club sale night and buy some slotta bases).

Enough from me – go read his blog entry!