Thursday, 17 September 2020

Aces and Eights

The local club re-opened for games a couple of week ago but the recent rule of six restrictions have resulted in some changes to the set up beyond just masks, hand washing and wiping down surfaces. The club room has a divider, so we're using it to separate the room into two 'bubbles', each capable of hosting six people in various configurations, although the smaller annex can only fit a multiplayer table of four, six or three, as there isn't room for two tables of two. 

This means we can keep the club and venue afloat, at least in the interim, with sufficient income to pay for the space and enough room for twelve players, albeit with sensible precautions like social distancing, face masks, disinfection and careful handling of figures, terrain and dice. Unfortunately, as I currently work in a school of eight hundred students and sixty teachers, I won't be attending on club nights, primarily to avoid infecting others who may be more vulnerable.

It's just not worth the risk.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Do You Want Fries With That?

Here's my latest cunning plan for scratch building a railroad trestle bridge in 1/2400th scale. It's a mesh basket thingy for cooking chips, frites or fries if you are not from round these parts, that you can find in Poundland and other el cheapo outlets. They are made from some sort of oven proof plastic stuff, which may or may not be cut-able, glue-able or paint-able, but I'm going to find out. It's probably not going to work but it will be worth a try!

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Generation Kill

I don't watch a lot of television as a rule but the lockdown meant that I had the opportunity to catch up with some series that I'd previously missed. This included the entire Game of Thrones saga, which I thoroughly enjoyed, together with the HBO mini-series Generation Kill, set during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. I have one more episode to watch, which I'm hoping to have time for this evening once the kids are in bed, so I'll be looking for something similar to occupy my evenings. It's just a shame it only ran for seven episodes but I'm now going to read the book instead, so back to my usual habits. If you haven't seen it, it is well worth it and I'm hoping that the book is just as good, if not better.

Monday, 14 September 2020

Bridge Over Troubled Water

I've now glued, filled and sanded down the two cork tile river banks that will form the landscape on my modular railroad bridge terrain tile, so I can now start working out exactly how to scratch build a typical ACW era timber trestle bridge. I've had a few ideas about how to so this, from gluing together plastic rod into trestle supports (very fiddly) to cutting up some plastic mesh and using it to make the bridge structure (probably doomed to failure), but I'm sure I can come up with something that looks the part. In the meantime, I can at least get the river bed painted and do some more sanding and texturing to smooth off the contour lines.

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Modular Cork Tile Terrain Ideas

I've spent the entire weekend doing jobs around the house, so have had almost no time to spend on the ACW river terrain section that I've been working on, apart from some farting about with the railroad embankments which have been a bit of a pain to get right. However, all this cutting up of cork tiles has got me thinking about using the same approach for my stagnant Sandbox Skirmish post-colonial project, which stalled last year when the board I had built for it warped out of shape.

The cork tile and mdf panel method I've used on the river terrain seems to have worked well, so I have come up with a plan to make a selection of terrain modules for a semi-desert, arid setting, based on 15mm modern skirmish wargaming with the No End In Sight rules. The idea would be to make a laminate of an mdf baseboard, then a double layer of 4mm cork tile, allowing me to cut into the top layer to make gullies, ditches and dried up stream beds, for example. 

On top of the laminated layers, I can also add additional cork tile contours to model higher areas of ground, raised banks or roads, with everything designed to fit together at the margins, making a truly modular terrain system. This is nothing new, of course, but the cork tile is ideal for the purpose, being cheap, readily available and pre-textured for a cracked, arid ground surface. The whole lot would be painted in artists acrylics to avoid the warping that I've found happens when I used emulsion paints.

The theme would probably be North African, very much like the terrain in Mali or Niger, with a largely flat or gently rolling profile covered in scrub, acacia trees, grass tufts and the like. This way I can use the boards for a generic North African or East African setting, ideal for my 15mm French or US forces, or for the Gulf region including Aden. The terrain I've already made can be adapted to match, along with my British figures and vehicles, so nothing I've already done will go to waste. I could even use it for AK47.

Sounds like a plan to me?

Saturday, 12 September 2020

Tarting up Terrible Tufts

Tarted Up into Winter Tufts

A while ago I bought some cheap desert and scrub tufts from a seller on eBay to use for my 28mm Beja bases, as they were much less expensive than the Army Painter and Gamers Grass ones that I normally use. When they arrived, I was disappointed to find that they were a bit too big but also very synthetic looking, with a nasty plastic shine not unlike a really cheap suit. After a failed attempt to dry brush them, I shoved them in my scenery box rather than in the bin. I've now ordered some proper tufts for the Beja so the ones I originally bought are surplus to requirements.

I had an idea today. I wondered if I could use some rattle can spray paints to upgrade them to something useable, so gave a few of them a blast with a combination of Halfords Camouflage Green, Camouflage Khaki and Appliance White, to create some pretty nifty winter tufts, albeit rather large ones. I think they look pretty good and the paint doesn't rub or drop off, so I'll have a go repurposing the rest of the brown tufts that I have as well as the buff coloured desert tufts, which will get a blast of green paint for use in the jungle, once I've popped up to Halfords tomorrow.

The winter tufts are now looking for a purpose, so I may use them for my 20mm What a Tanker! scenery or for my 28mm Battle of the Bulge terrain, which is a project that I haven't put together yet despite having a full platoon of US figures and armour already painted and based. Another option would be to use them for some 28mm Lion Rampant War of the Roses scenery, but I doubt I'll be tackling that project any time soon so they'll probably go back into storage until I need them. At least they won't be in the bin!

I Am The Law

The Judge Dredd starter set is on sale for thirty quid at NorthStar this weekend, so I decided to order one as it's a twenty quid saving on the full price. I haven't done anything with my Strontium Dog starter set yet, despite it gathering dust for a couple of years, but the idea will be to use the block gang figures from the Judge Dredd set for both. It's a very good deal and, as I'm a big 2000AD fan from way back, it will eventually be an actual project, perhaps for those dark dystopian days ahead when I need cheering up. Drokk!

Friday, 11 September 2020

All Along the Watchtower

I've been rethinking my plan to reuse the river terrain I've built for French Indochina wargaming in 1/600th, with the focus on amphibious operations by the Dinassaut units. I thought this was a good concept but the figures are so small that they don't really have a visual presence, even though the various landing craft and vehicles are really neat. Instead, I've been thinking of using my 10mm Pendraken French and Viet Minh figures to do platoon and company level games, with the scale neutral river sections repurposed and some bespoke terrain boards scratch built to match.

One thing that pushed me in this direction was a fantastic article on the watchtower and bunker fortifications that were constructed by the French. This has given me the inspiration to scratch build at least one terrain tile featuring a watchtower and associated defences, together with some road sections, a village and some paddy fields, all on the super cheapo Poundland mdf boards that I've stockpiled. I think this would look great if I can pull it off, with a 3' x 3' modular board being the eventual outcome, incorporating some of my river sections for extra mileage.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

A Bridge Too Far

I've been really busy with work and other stuff over the last couple of days so haven't had time to do any more on the 1/2400th scale modular river terrain project. This evening, however, I managed to scrape back half an hour or so to start building the railroad bridge section, using the usual cork tile layers to construct the contours of the terrain, with some sections of Brigade Models railway track roughly placed as a guide for the embankments. It's a start but I have a long way to go!

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Bridge Over the River Why?

It looks a bit dodgy but it may actually work?!

I've been playing around with a Poundland mdf board and some Brigade Models railway track to plan out a visually interesting but useable layout for a trestle railroad bridge. I changed my mind and decided to use a full length board to give me more room for some curved railroad tracks and to allow for some realistic river bank curves, while keeping the railroad embankments to a sensible width and height. 

The bridge itself needs to be tall enough to allow the gunboats to go under whilst not being too high that the bridge looks out of kilter with the rest of the terrain. I'll use a lot of clump foliage to blend in the embankments to the lower levels, which I also think will look pretty effective. I'm going to order a least one more pack of bridges, so that I can have two spans of the girder section which will be painted as a wooden trestle structure rather than an iron bridge. 

I'm also going to try to scratch build some tiny trestle supports for the track bed, channelling my inner railway modelling structural engineer, so it should be a total **** up!


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