Bananas and Date Palms

Recently bought some palms from one of the Chinese Suppliers via ebay. I was fairly happy with them, and the price is very good, but wanted to give them a bit extra and make them a little bit more realistic. At the same time, found some bunches of bananas that I had made a while back and decided to give them a paint job, and add them to some banana trees I constructed years ago – suspect the instructions for the trees are on the old warfactory pages.

Starting with the bananas, I came across some twigs when on holiday in Cyprus where the dried leaves on the stem have something of the shape of bananas. I also used a section of them, added to a dowel, to give the impression of carved stone leaves at the top of a 15mm column used in my biblical temple.

As a brief aside, I think that a more accurate impression of bananas would be got by using Caraway seeds available in food stores. They make great 28mm scale bananas, but building a bunch of them would be fiddly. My method is quicker if you can get similar twigs to those in the picture, but they are over-scale. I think the impression is acceptable though- it’s for you to judge for yourself. For a bowl of individual bananas, use the seeds and paint them.

The construction method is to use wood glue to fix a section of cocktail stick into one or both ends of a section of the twig. When the bunch of bananas grows on the tree, the flower juts out at the bottom of the bunch. Do a search of banana tree images to see what the bunches look like. I made the mistake of attaching the bunches to the tree the wrong way up until a friend burst my bubble!

When the cocktail sections have dried they can be used to handle each bunch. I you think the top of the bunch is too open, take some dried leaves from a spare piece of twig and glue them to the top layer around the stem.

I then apply further layers of wood glue, pushing it between the dried leaves so that there are no spaces in there. I suggest you mix some dark green paint in with the glue to colour it – the glue I used didn’t take the paint very well at the painting stage.

Then use yellow to hint at the bananas. An unripe bunch would be green and I suspect that these might make better green plantains, but I opted to have them yellow. The flower looks quite exotic if you wanted to model it, but I wanted a few for attaching them to trees, and some for porters and baggage. The one below has the stem attached to the tree and stem jutting out of the bottom where the flower, or riper fruit which has been harvested, would have been.

If you are interested in the construction of the tree and can’t find the description elsewhere on Warfactory or a link, let me know and I’ll try and figure out where it is. Basically they are paper leaves on florists wire, and the stem is a spiral of masking tape cut with pinking shears to represent the bases of older leaves.

On to the date palms. These are from a pack of mixed sizes but all of the same design. Wasn’t keen on the jagged stem, so cut the spikes back with a cheap craft knife. This is easier if you pull the leaves off of the lug that holds them in place. I think that palms look better if you try and replicate the remnants of older fronds hanging down from the crown, and in this case I wanted to have bunches of dates added in. The models bulge out near the top of the crown, I guess to represent this mass of vegetation. I trimmed it back with the craft knife.

Next think was to rub the stem with some coarse sandpaper. It frays the cut spikes, to represent the less manicured appearance you would get in the wild as opposed to botanical gardens, where neat trimming creates a smoother appearance. I then painted the cut section at the top with a layer of wood glue and allowed it to dry.

Looking at images of date palms, they show the fruits growing as bunches of long slender clusters, arching out from the trunk and hanging below the fronds. The fruit stems and fruit start as green, then the stem ripens to yellow, and the fruit will then ripen through yellow to brown/black.

I started by dipping around 1 cm of the end of a strand of coir in wood glue, then rolling it in some yellow poppy seeds and letting it dry. The seeds are available in bags as cookery ingredients. Comes in handy being keen on cooking and gardening as well – always on the lookout for useful modelling materials. For me, these suit 28mm- for 15mm I think I would use fine sand but I’m not entirely sure I would bother with this below 28mm.

I then bundle 6 or 7 coir bunches together, together with a short length of flexible wire, a small amount of wood glue and wrap them together using a few strands of hemp – anything very fine will do. Once dry, I painted the whole thing yellow, mixing a little glue in with the paint to reinforce it. More glue and poppy seeds if you want to bulk up the bunches – these are quite substantial things. finally, bend the wire to get the arching effect. The bunch at the top in this pick shows the unpainted and unbent stage.

Using Plumbers hemp or some other suitable fibres, glue a clump around the top of the stem and allow to dry. Next, using a mix of green and brown paint with some glue, paint the fibres to glue them back against the trunk. Add more fibres to thicken if you wish – with hindsight a slightly more ragged appearance would probably be better. When that is dry, highlight with a light brown/yellow/white mix to get the effect you desire, When it has dried, use a pin vise to drill one or more holes down into the top of the trunk – then dipping the wire on the date clusters in glue, insert these into the holes.

Put the leaves back on to the lugs to get the final effect. For basing, I cut off the lug at the bottom of the stem (NOTE – not the top one!) and use a power drill to drill a hole a centimetre or so deep through the bottom of the tree up through the step. I base them on mdf, and drill a hole through the mdf, then cut a recess around that hole on the underside of the base, then fix the tree to the mdf using a small screw dipped in woodglue. The recess is to make sure the mdf sits flat when the screw-head is in place.

I think they are worth the extra trouble, although if I wanted a 100 of them I’d probably be less enthusiastic.

Hope you like them and if you have similar ideas to share we would be glad to hear from you.

Tony Yates’s Alien Dignitary

Last night I dug into the tray of half-painted models and tried to push a few over the line. One that made it was this characterful sculpt from Tony Yates. He was a giveaway from BOYL 2016, and would make a great NPC for any sci-fi skirmish.

Alien Potentate

Inquisitor Cynole Battle Report (Part 1) – BOYL 2016

This is going to be a big report, so I’ve decided to split it up to make it more manageable (and get something posted).

First, I’d like to thank all the players that made this game a success. Right up until it started, I didn’t really know how it was going to go; the complicated scenario could have degenerated into a total mess, or maybe just a basic firefight. It worked because everyone really got into the spirit of the thing, and played their faction with character and gusto. In addition James supplied a great selection of beasties (particularly important as I had forgotten mine), Niibl brought the Trading Guild – creative conversions done specifically for the scenario, and Fimm produced a beautifully converted set of AdMech in white, copper and green.

Disclaimer: This was a fast moving and anarchic game – although I GMed it, I may well have got some of this wrong, so if you played and have any details or corrections, please do post them in the comments section. I have a number of the paper notes passed during the game – these appear in italics.

The game opened with the Inquisitor flanked by his two marine bodyguards advancing into the temple to inspect the mysterious artefact. Also inside the temple were the Trading Guild, who had been using one end of it as a store room. Their political rivals, the Mechanists were just outside – the advance party being led by the eccentric Dr Moenkhaus. Their primary objective was to secure this potentially powerful technology for themselves – another group of then was unloading a grav-trolley from their ornithopter to carry it away. Over by the gate the first conflict of the game was developing. A large group of natives had turned up – according to their folk lore, a powerful demon was imprisoned inside the cursed temple, and they feared that the ignorant city dwellers would release him. To save their people the natives had to stop them at all costs.

Start of game – temple end

The inquisitor and bodyguards, and a few Trading Guild started in the temple.Everyone else was outside.

Start of game – compound end

At the far end of the compound was the Mechanist’s ornithopter and the Trading Guild shuttle. The shuttle is particularly Oldhammer because the original chassis was made out of a shampoo bottle in 1987, inspired by the famous deodorant grav-tank.

The large compound encloses a lot of ruins and jungle, so there’s plenty of places to hide. Here you can see mercenaries (employed by the Trading Guild) moving to block the natives coming into the compound (bottom left corner). On the right, the Nobles’ hunting party heads for the nearest temple entrance, while in the middle of the compound some of the inquisitor’s experts examine a mysterious carved stone.

Starting positions

Another shot of the start (around 3.30pm). Mercenaries are moving away from the temple to help the other squad with the natives.  Trading Guild are milling around the generator.

At the start of the game, a squad of mercenaries, hired by the Trading Guild to secure the site, lined up against the natives entering the compound and tore into them with their auto-guns. Natives ran in all directions – some retreating back into the jungle, others scattering and trying to hide in the meagre cover inside in the compound. Five or six went down and their mission seemed headed for failure when it had barely begun. Luckily they had a few tricks up their sleeve, and the city dwellers were not as united as they might have appeared.

Meanwhile, the mechanists were coming up with their grav-trolley in the hope of carrying away the artefact.


The sun had come out – we were playing on an outside table next to the marquee, and I remember it being atmospherically hot as the sun beat down. The Mechanist advance party, led by Dr Moenkhaus and attended by a lab-bot with typical scientific instruments such as a chainsaw and massive pincers had entered the temple to be met by the enraged Trading Guild.

Dr Moenkhaus enters the gloom of the temple


The Mechanists and the Trading Guild are political adversaries and to make matters worse, the Trading Guild had things to hide. They were running a secret, unlicensed spiridium mine in the tunnels of the temple, and with unfortunate timing, a Slann merchant was visiting them to negotiate the purchase of a smuggled consignment. The Trading Guild suggested that the Mechanists might like to go somewhere else..

The natives continued to find themselves on the wrong end of civilisation’s firepower and the survivor’s were reduced to hiding in the bushes. The chief’s guard blew his horn to summon more tribesmen.

A quick prompt about game objectives was needed.

GM to Trading Guild: “Remember you don’t want conflict with the natives if possible”

The Trading Guild, preoccupied with the Mechanists, realised what their mercenaries were up to, and after a quick word  the natives were allowed to escape.

Next part coming soon. I’d be interested to get any feedback on what people remember – does anyone have any good photos?


Briefings for BOYL 2016 Inquisitor Cynole game

That isn’t a typo in the title – with BOYL 2017 almost upon us, I’d thought I’d better get on and publish the long overdue details of last year’s game. For those who weren’t there or haven’t been following the blog, it was a 6 player, heavily GMed game in which 6 human factions explored a ruined jungle temple. The scenario was based on a tiny background snippet in the Book of the Astronomican, which amongst other things mentioned an ornithopter.

Here is a PDF of the background, the house rules and the six individual (secret) briefings for each player.

Inquisitor Cynole briefings

Shortly (in days, not years), I’ll put up the GM info and the battle report of what actually happened last year.

Helsreach Trading Goods

I’ve got a good selection of Ramshackle Games trading goods painted up for next month’s BOYL game. We are planning a ‘sandbox’ style game where players can bring a gang, and compete to make money at the rough fringes of the Imperium in Helsreach, Logan’s World.

Here’s an Imperial Guard patrol looking for contraband in a merchant’s stash at the edge of the town.

“Get those crates open, boys”

There are lots of types – water barrels (valuable on a hot, dry world), crates of ore, boxes of space spice, oil barrels and various boxes of trading goods/weapons.

“I think I can see something buried under the spice”

I’ve been experimenting with a rough, stained, rusted look (historically my style has been fairly neat and clean), and I’m really pleased with how some of these boxes turned out. Main change is that I’m using a folded up blister pack sponge a lot, to apply both patchy staining and highlighting. It is a bit random – some are better than others, but you have to just ‘let go’ a bit.


Site working again

Last week I noticed that the site had gone down again (Database Connection error). Before I got round to doing anything about it, it has come back up again (Hooray). As I hadn’t made any manual changes, and another WordPress site on the same server had also failed in the same way, I’m suspecting either:

  1. An automated WordPress update broke both (unlikely, it normally emails when there’s an update)
  2. The hosting has gone wrong

Anyone else had any experience of this?

Helsreach buildings

The first instalment of Helsreach buildings is well on its way for BOYL.

  1. Surface – this is an old sheet which has been painted with a mixture of PVA and paint and then sprinkled with coarse sand. Newspaper is put underneath the sheet, which sticks to the sheet and stiffens it, helping to prevent cracking when it’s rolled up. Still needs more painting/drybrushing.
  2. Adobe buildings – one of these has been cut from foamboard, the other two from cork tile. I’m going to use cork for the others as it has a better surface texture. The two rectangular ones fit exactly inside each other so they can be packed into a smaller space. I think I could nest about 3 before the inside one gets ridiculously small compared to the outside one. I’ve kept them deliberately plain because it’s quick and it also makes them more generic. I’ll do some more that are more specifically sci-fi/Helsreach.
  3. Shack – this is cardboard, scraps of mounting board and cardboard. They are fun to make but very time consuming compared to the simpler adobe buildings. I’ve got some more half built, and this one needs more weathering and painting.
  4. Industrial buildings – The left hand one is a hot chocolate cylinder with a mounting board platform. In the past I’ve made some very complex industrial buildings. For this one I restricted myself (for speed) to just sticking a few bits of card on it to form panels and then gave it plenty of weathering. The right hand one is mainly CDs – it has a bit more decoration, but again, fairly simple.
  5. Courtyard – This was originally built to be the inside of the Mos Eisley cantina for 25mm West End Games Star Wars – the arches are the little booths like the one where Greedo got shot. It languished unpainted in a cupboard for a few years until I decided to press it into use for this. It’s a little low, so I made roof pieces with a larger upstand to disguise this is a bit.

Static Grass Applicator for £2.50

Hi, sorry I haven’t posted for a while. Health and 6mm Napoleonic distractions.

Was looking to apply static grass to bases, wanted it to stand upright, but didn’t fancy spending £40 on something I wouldn’t use an awful lot. Found this article;

I went to Poundland and got a bug zapper for a whole £1, to wilkos to get a metal tea strainer for 80p, and to a hardware store for an alligator clip – 65p.

Don’t have a soldering iron, so used a small connector to lengthen the cable for the Alligator clip. The tea strainer had plastic handle within the wire handle. I removed that and used a pair of pliers to shorten the wire handle, then cut the plastic insert a bit shorter and re-inserted it between the remaining prongs of the handle, securing it in place with some electrical tape. I bared the end of the red wire in the bug zapper, wrapped it round one of the prongs and used more tape to secure it. The other terminal in the zapper had 2 white wires. I cut one away completely, bared the end of the other and used an electrical connector to extend it with another piece of wire and put the alligator clip on that. Didn’t need to pack the handle with wood – made a hole in the plastic handle of the tea strainer and screw the zapper handle back together through  it, which seems to hold it well.

Popped in some batteries, and it worked! Popped some blobs of pva on a plastic bag, attached the alligator clip to the bag, put some static grass in the tea strainer bowl, turned the zapper on and shook the tea strainer over the blobs to deposit the grass. The stuff I have used is very short, but I am very happy with the first go.

Helsreach buildings

Before I get started on making some buildings specifically for Helsreach, (that’s the Logan’s World city featured in Rogue Trader – nothing to do with the later book), I thought I’d collect up all the pictures for reference. Here they are in one handy image. 

Architectural elements are:

  • Adobe mud buildings
  • Small square or rectangular windows
  • Lines of wooden beams projecting from walls
  • Rough planking
  • Small projecting balconies
  • Signs – many vertical and mostly in an oriental character set
  • A generally ‘piled-up’ haphazard look

I’m thinking foam card (which isn’t perfect for adobe but looks ok once textured), combined with rough balsa wood and printed out signage. Does anyone know what the oriental characters that he has used are – I could do with finding some images that look similar to do a cut and paste with?

Antares game at Warlord

To celebrate the site working again, here’s a quick post. Rowan and I went to Warlord HQ last night and had another game of Antares. 1000 points this time – Concord vs Rebel Ghar.

I  fielded Concord with:

  • 1 Command Squad
  • 4 Standard Squads
  • 2 Squads of 2 Light Support Drones with Batter Drones

Rebel Ghar fielded

  • Fartok with 2 battlesuits
  • Battlesuit Assault Squad
  • Tectorists
  • 1 Squad of Outcasts
  • 1 Disruptor Cannon
  • 3 Black Guard Squads

I didn’t deploy particularly well – I put the Command Squad on one flank where I wasted the group activations. The Ghar got their dice early in the first couple of turns and concentrated on knocking out the support drones. Their

Ghar advance on pinned Concord

With the support drones out of action, the remaining Concord could do little to stop the battlesuits advancing – I concentrated on trying to knock out the basic Ghar squads in the hope of destroying enough command dice to break them. My most successful squad on the left flank took the Disruptor Cannon out, and then another Black Guard squad towards the end of the game, but other than that it was a disaster. Fartok lost one of his squad, but using his double activation dice stormed through the middle and wiped out a full Concord squad in one go. All that was left in my centre was the battered remnants of two squads. Desperately they shot at Fartok and his accompanying battlesuit in the hope of a lucky hit, and they got one. The battlesuit died and Fartok failed his break test. Their reprieve didn’t last long – bearing down on my right flank was a wall of Ghar, co-ordinated by a Command Squad, that advanced steadily and shot them to pieces, ending the game with a strong Ghar victory (again).