Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Workbench #5 - Alien Plant Terrain

These were the results of a couple of experiments in terrain making. The goal was to some "scatter terrain" useful for sci-fi miniature games. The terrain had to be small, inexpensive, and within my current skill level. It also had to work with both 15mm and 28mm scale miniatures.
A little research introduced me to the idea of using drinking straws as the basis for alien looking plant pieces. TerraGenesis has an article covering the basics and Miniwargaming has a video demonstrating the techniques involved.

The above links do a fine job of describing the idea and the process. I see no real need to repeat the details here, so my descriptions will mainly focus on where I varied from the sources above.


I used a candle as a stationary heat source to deform the straws. A word of warning about this step - it uses an open flame to melt plastic. Do it in a well ventilated area with a bucket of water nearby. The plastic can get plenty hot even if it doesn't liquefy enough to drip down on your hands.


I reshaped a pair of flat wood pieces with a craft knife for the bases. Next, I mixed some Milliput to use as mounting point for the straws. The Milliput was pushed down on the wood bases to form small mounds. I pushed the straws far enough into the Milliput to provide firm support.


The undercoat was some black spray paint left over from another project. The coverage was not perfect, so I watered down some black craft paint to cover up the bare spots. I paid particular attention to the areas where the interiors of the straws were exposed.

The base coat was a couple of layers of thinned down dark green craft paint. I drybrushed on some lighter green craft paint to serve as highlights.


I applied some watered down PVA glue to the base and over the Milliput and covered the glue with sand. Next was a watered down mix of brown craft paint and PVA glue to color and further fix the sand into place. Finally, I drybrushed some linen craft paint over the sand.


These pieces look like they should work well as sci-fi scatter terrain. They were simple to make and the costs were very reasonable, especially since I had some of the materials on hand already. As the picture indicates, they look convincing with different miniature scales.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Workbench #4 - Alternate Energy Scenery from Scene-A-Rama

These were a lucky find in the local Hobby Lobby's clearance section. I had previously passed them up at full price, but a few bucks off made them worthwhile. I wasn't the only one to think so. Every other Hobby Lobby in the Austin area has been sold out for awhile now.

These models are made by Scene-A-Rama under their Scene Setters line. Each package comes with two windmills and two solar panel arrays. The windmills are are roughly six inches tall and the solar panel arrays are about an inch in height.

These models are largely scale independent, although I did have 15mm in mind when I purchased them. They can be an objective for a sci-fi game on a distant colony world. Destroying or capturing the power generation for a small colony or outpost is a realistic mission for an attacking force. Alternately, they could just be terrain to add some flavor to a board.

Ambush Alley Games uses these models for their Tomorrow’s War demos, as seen on their Facebook page. They can also be seen in the Tomorrow’s War rulebook on page 103.

Assembly was straightforward. I used plastic cement to attach the pieces and gave it a day to cure. The windmill blades could either be glued down or left to move freely on the shaft. I left them free to spin.

The bases that came with the windmill models were too small to be stable enough for a gaming table. I fixed the issue by gluing the original bases on larger plastic bases. Then came the sand and a watered down mix of glue and brown paint to hold the sand in place and give it a base color. After it dried, a quick drybrush with a linen acrylic craft paint finished things up.

Reaper Bones Kickstarter Update

The Reaper Bones Kickstarter funded with 11,430% of its goal, so I'm reasonably sure they have enough money to go forward with expanding the Bones line. I ended up pledging just shy of $250. That's the $100 "Vampire" level pledge plus some of the extras made available by stretch goals.

Yes, I did end up raising my original pledge amount. By about a hundred dollars.

Reaper's shipping target is March, but I wouldn't be surprised if the date slips a little. Some of the stretch goal miniatures were still in the concept art stage when Reaper presented them. There is the whole process of getting the infrastructure in place to start production. And 17,744 backers is alot of folks to ship miniatures to.

The over 200 miniatures showing up early next year has put a deadline on clearing my worktable. It will be much easier to prioritize the Reaper Bone Kickstarter miniatures if I have my backlog of miniatures related projects under control first. To that end, I've been knocking out some quick and easy projects first. Expect to see some progress reports soon.