Tabletop-terrain.com is back!

And we’re now running on an Amazon instance. Hopefully this is cheaper in the long term, but we’ll see. Also thanks to some inattention on my backing up the original blog, things are a little ragged around the edges here for the time being. However folks should still be able to access all the old content at least. Feel free to let me know if there’s any particular oddities you notice along the way that need to be addressed!

Tabletop-terrain to be taken down Sept 4

Given the current US exchange rate, and the fact that very few folks view this hobby blog (around 2k a month), the cost of running this blog has become prohibitive. It’s costing me around $130NZD a year in hosting at the moment, which while not a lot, is $130NZD I could be spending on this hobby instead, or something more useful like food or power bills.

Unless anybody can suggest a cheaper hosting option than ASmallOrange.com, who I currently use, this site is likely to disappear on Sept the 4th. It’s been a good run considering I’ve had this site since 2002! And met lots of local war-gamers through it.

In place of this website I’ve embraced the dark side of the internet and established a Facebook page, where I’ll continue posting my hobby work, for free (well, plus Facebook gets all my IP): https://www.facebook.com/tabletopterrain/

Publishing Thingiverse Models

Now that I’ve designed a few bits and pieces in Fusion 360, I’ve decided to publish them all under my Thingiverse account. I’ve benefited hugely from the free war game terrain folks have published on Thingiverse, so felt like I should try and give something back to the community there.

Under that account you’ll find my original designs for:

28mm Arcade Cabinets for scatter terrain.
28mm Kitset Shipping Containers.
28mm Industrial Walkways and Ramps.
– A collection of generic War Game tokens I’ve made to use in a bunch of games like Gaslands, This is Not a Test and Rogue Stars.

Several of these projects are still ongoing and may have additional content added to them occasionally. Additionally any new designs I create for 28mm war gaming are likely to end up here too. Hopefully somebody finds them useful! Comment with a link if you do, because I’d love to see the designs in use.

Anet A8 3D Printer and Creating Terrain

Kim from Kreative Scenery recently picked up an Anet A8 3D printer from GearBest.com and was getting very good results from it while printing 15mm terrain. At around $200 NZD the Anet A8 is a steal, so I ordered one as well. That’s my Anet A8 in the photo, assembled a couple of weeks ago, and with various printed parts added to the stock kit.

As a change from browsing Thingiverse for parts to print, I’ve also been learning to use Autodesk Fusion 360 to create original designs. Amongst the CAD and 3D modelling programs I’ve tried in the past I think Fusion 360 is by far the most powerful, and intuitive. Something about the way the project timeline and the browser feature work make it an ideal tool. I think it may be because the UI feels like an IDE such as Visual Studio. I also find the way you sketch things in different planes and then render them into 3D objects using a variety of simple extrusion operations really clicks with me.

My first completed, original design is a pair of simple frames that can be combined with cheap corrugated plastic-card into an almost instant 28mm scale shipping container. One frame holds a set of closed doors, and the other is a simple holder for an additional piece of plastic-card. I designed this because I want to build a post apocalyptic factory table for This is Not a Test. These frames were also easy to create in Fusion 360 and print reasonably quickly – so I won’t bother casting or molding them. Plus 3D printing allows you to use undercuts and back cuts that one sided molding won’t allow. For example the frames have a 1mm trench on the back that the plastic-card slots into for gluing.

Here’s the container quickly dry fitted, and next to an earlier container I laboriously built by hand around a kid’s wooden block. Mr Zippo is for scale. The painted container is one of a set of three I spent something like a week of hobby time building and painting. Thanks to the 3D printed parts I cranked out three more assembled containers in an evening this week, and they’re already more detailed and better looking than my hand made effort. I glue them together and then add a little more 3mm plastic trim around the edges for reinforcing. If you ignore the printing time, they take about 10 minutes to assemble and finish. The other advantage of just using the frames is I can vary the container length simply by using different lengths of plastic card. They’re pretty stable out to a 10-12″ long container. Being little more than hollow plastic boxes they’re ridiculously light weight so stack very nicely. The frames are designed with 2mm holes in the top and bottom, so could be joined together with plastic rod or pill magnets.

I plan to vary my original design to create an empty frame and a pair of free standing doors that will slot into holes, like a Lego door. That’ll give me the ability to model some open containers as well. I also plan to create an alternate end to represent a ‘reefer’ or refrigerated container. I’m then going to print and assemble around another ten containers and call that done. They’ll probably get bulk painted with a couple of cheap spray cans.

Even with this simple project I can see an almost endless possibly of custom war gaming terrain opening up. The only thing holding me back is finding time to design and print everything I want!

Test of Honour: North Star Painted Ronin

I’ve been playing a bit of Warlord’s Test of Honour recently at TCOW. It’s a fun little Japanese skirmish game that comes with a bunch of plastic figures in the box.

The box set is a great deal, but to be honest the plastic figures are all pretty similar. They’re fine for rank and file Ashigaru who are dressed largely in a uniform, but for the heroic character figures the Samurai plastics didn’t really grab me. Fortunately there’s a bunch of figure manufacturers that do historical Japanese. Perry Miniatures Samurai caught my eye initially, but they tend to sell large packs of similar figures, clearly for bigger systems than Test of Honour.

Instead I went for North Star’s metal figures for Ospreys’ “Ronin” game. I wanted a more characterful bunch of Ronin so grabbed the ‘Ronin Buntai’ box.

They’re well cast metal figures that only required the usual amount of filing and removal of flash to tidy up. They come with a set of separate scabbards for their weapons which are slightly to small to hold the weapons themselves, but you don’t really notice that on the finished figure. As they’re metal I also had some fun filing down the swords a little to give them a little edge.

They were painted up pretty quickly, and I had fun experimenting with different colours and light patterning to represent Japanese textiles. They also mix nicely with the plastic Warlord figures and the single Warlord metal I have from their Ronin box, which is pictured here.

I do still plan to paint up some rank and file Ashigaru to fill out their ranks with Spearmen, Archers and Teppo matchlocks, just to give me some extra options when building warbands. The Ronin look great on the table, and are a colourful bunch of figures both visually and according to the Test of Honour rules.

Test of Honour: Painted Scratch Build Village

I’ve painted the start of my scratch built Japanese village for Warlord’s Test of Honour. After some experimenting, the paint scheme I went with was a mix of cheap ‘dark umber’ student paint lightened with gesso, watered down and applied with hog bristle brushes. The stiffer brushes cover quickly and help work the paint into the balsa detailing. Once dry it was all dry-brushed a couple of lighter shades to pick up the balsa grain. After another round of drying everything was washed down with a 50/50 mix of water and liquid black shoe polish – again to help pick out the natural balsa grain. The paint scheme was to try and make the wood look sun faded and generally weathered.

The tree/rock pieces are an attempt at making some simple LOS blocking terrain. They’re MDF bases with chucks of garden bag limestone epoxied to them and detailed with some ancient model railroad plastic trees I’ve had in my garage for years. Originally I planned to try and make trees with foliage, but the material that came with the kit was so awful I’ve left them barren and autumnal looking. That also inspired me to throw around some of the leaves I’ve been cutting with my Greenstuff World leaf punch. That’s the little splashes of colour you can see on the building roofs. They’re glued down with PVA and add some nice detail to the roofs, while also hiding a few of the dress-makers pins used to hold the plastic tiling down.

I’m happy with the end result, and have the start of a good set of Japanese terrain to run Test of Honour games over. I need a few more larger pieces and some kind of 3′ x 3′ gaming mat to put it all on. The plan is to go with a quick and dirty drop-cloth and caulk style mat in a similar shade to the ground pieces I’ve already made. This is meant to be a fishing village so I’m going for a sort of gray volcanic sand look for the ground. I also need some more detail pieces like old fishing boats and maybe nets of some kind. Simple fishing boats should be pretty easy to scratch build out of balsa.

Now I have to get cracking on some Samurai and Ashigaru soldiers. Unfortunately the Warlord plastics aren’t really to my tastes – they’re quite low detail and a little unpleasant to paint. I’ll probably end up using the rank and file Ashigaru archers and spearmen, but have recently ordered some metal North Star ‘Ronin’ figures for my Samurai/Ronin heroes.

Test of Honour: Scratch Built Village

I recently played in a demo game of Warlord’s new Test of Honour Samurai game at TCOW (my local wargaming club). I enjoyed it enough to pick up the reasonably priced starter box from Mighty Ape. Warlord have a YouTube video un-boxing the starter set, which shows you everything you get in the full box.

The set includes several cardboard template buildings which you can get you playing the game right after assembling a few figures. However after years of watching Akira Kurosawa classics like ‘Seven Samurai’, ‘Rashomon’ and ‘Yojimbo’ something possessed me to dig out my scrap foam board and balsa wood from the garage and start scratch building. The photos show what I’ve built so far, in a week of evenings.

The first goal was to simply replace the cardboard template buildings with something equivalent in footprint. This means I’ve built a richer man’s two story house with a tiled roof, a small shrine building, and a simpler single level dwelling with a traditional wooden roof held down by stones. The buildings are meant to be clad in exposed wood, based on some turn of the century photos of Japanese houses. I don’t have any materials handy to make anything that looks like a sliding door, so opted for simpler doors and windows.

The larger plan is to build enough terrain for a 3′ x 3′ poor, coastal fishing village that has been infested with no good Ronin that a local Samurai needs to clear out. The next challenge is going to be coming up with a suitable paint scheme to represent weather faded wood.

Westfalia Halfmen Kickstarter Painted

Westfalia Miniatures had a Kickstarter for a lovely looking set of 28mm ‘Halfmen’ that closed back in March 2016. I backed it for a bunch of figures which arrived late 2016 after a few production hiccups along the way with the casting process that was used.

The final figures are lovely little resin casts that are great fun to paint. They’re fairly light on detail, but not on character and really look like a bunch of pugnacious little Halfings ready to take on the world. They were also pretty clean casts, with only two slight miscasts in around 12 figures.

I picked up a fairly mixed bag from the Kickstarter: a Wizard and Apprentice, and several swordsmen, pikemen, crossbowmen as well as a command squad. I also got a bonus Goblin and couldn’t resist a female human swords-woman (she’s going to be Snow White in the warband). The figures are all available on the Westfalia website now if you follow those links.

I bought enough figures to run a large Frostgrave warband, although I haven’t played that system in a while! If they don’t get used for Frostgrave, they might be used for Song of Blades and Heroes. Regardless they’re lovely little figures and great fun to paint as a break from WWII or sci-fi stuff.

TCOW: Bludgefest IV!

The TCOW wargaming club held another Bludgefest this weekend at club meet. This is a semi-regular bring and buy, where club members and various hangers on bring their unloved toy soldiers and try and convert them into cash, or more likely trade them for different toy soldiers. Everybody seems to walk away happy and there are some fantastic deals to be had across a wide range of war gaming stuff because the TCOW gamers are a pretty eclectic lot.

I’ve scored some bargains at past Bludgefests, and this Bludgefest was one of the better ones in terms of the stuff for sale. I was restrained however and only took $40 in cash along to spend. That got me what you see in the photo:

  1. The Orc sprues from the new Blood Bowl release for $23. Lovely figures, but annoyingly large bases. These guys will be combined with some Dreadball Orcs a TCOW friend kindly gifted me, and spare WHFB Fantasy Orc heads to make a Blood Bowl Orc team.
  2. A box of the good old plastic Skaven Clan Rats for $20 (despite what the price tag says – I haggled). I couldn’t resist grabbing these guys as they’re great for Mordheim warbands. I’m also not a fan of the modern GW Skaven one piece plastics.

If you’re a war gamer that lives in the greater Auckland area, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on the TCOW Facebook group to see when they’re holding their Bludgefests. Pretty sure anybody with cold hard cash is welcome to attend!

This is Not a Test: 28mm Kelvinators

28mm Scale Fridges After I created a set of ruined 28mm furniture for This is Not a Test, I had grand plans to sculpt a bunch more common, 1950’s household items. First up was a Kelvinator style fridge which I’ve finally got around to completing and casting in resin.

Here’s two of the painted pieces in a scene for scale. They turned out quite nicely, and are constructed of three layers sandwiched together. A back layer for the coils, the main body and a separate door. As I’m garage casting I use one sided molds for everything, just because it is the quick and dirtiest way to mold anything reliably at small scales.

28mm Scale Fridges The fridges all have a back too which turned out reasonably well considering it was a little fiddly to sculpt. The radiator tubing at the back was mastered from a bit of 1mm garden wire that I spent far too long carefully trying to bend into fairly regular pattern. Next up I plan to try mastering a 50’s style big-box TV set.