Epic 40k Terrain part 2

Next bit is to take advantage of some cheap led lighting sets from Poundland. Other stores such and Poundstretcher and The Works also have sets, and I suspect that if you bother to look into led lighting more then there are a host of other sources which allow you to have exactly the number of lights and colours that you want, as well as avoiding the AA battery backs that are a bit bulky and mean that you have to make the pieces a bit bigger than you might want.

One thing to bear in mind. Many of the cheap sets come with decorative mould in plastic or metal around each bulb. On the Poundland sets these are easily detached to expose the bulb. On some of the others they can be glued on, which can mean that they are useless unless you actually want a set with those mouldings on. I recommend you check this out before you buy if it matters to you.

I selected 2 sets from Poundland which had moulding that I thought I could use. Here is a pic where I have substituted or meddled with the moulding.

The LED bulbs are red, and in the pack they come with the spherical red moulds. In the other pack, which has violet LEDs, the moulds supplied are the elongated ‘drops’ as per the second from the left. In those,  the bulbous area at the end have a lot of bubbles and these are underlit by the bulb. For my purpose these were too long, so I used a razor saw to shorten it, then drilled a new hole into which the led bulb can be pushed. I wanted 3 of these for the terrain item. I also wanted 3 of the spherical ones that came with the set. As supplied these are spheres of expanded polystyrene which have been coated with a red plastic layer, to which a lot of tiny clear spheres have been glued. The filling cuts down much of the light showing through, so I have used a dentists tool to carefully extract much of the filling. As you can see by comparing the 2 in the picture, the one on the right shows more light coming through as a result.

The idea behind the piece is to have a raised crater filled with either molten metal or lava, through which large bubbles of material are slowing pushing through the surface. For the molten metal I am torn between silver or lava. There is an outflow from the crater where the liquid disappears down a smaller hole.

On the raised area to the other side of the crater I am planning to have either domes or some exotic vegetation. The idea is that I can swap a couple of bases over depending on which one the scenario requires. Both are intended to be underlit for effect. The sides of the crater will have some tubular outcrops – although who can say if these are innocent extruded rocks, or a cunningly designed missile/laser defense system!? I’ll break up the bare rock with some crystalline growths of some kind.

The following 2 pics show the emerging bubbles glued into the crater surface, with some cork pieces outlining the crater edge. The slot in the second picture is where the outflow hole will be.

The following picture shows the underside hollowed out to hold the wires and the battery pack. The arrows show where I have made the holes through which the Led bulbs will get into the bubbles on the surface.

The next pics show where I have cut a paper template to give me the size and shape of the swappable bases. I didn’t allow quite enough room for the third smaller dome, so you can in the second pic where I have reduced the base size to avoid wasting that space. The bigger white sphere is from a cheap set of small Christmas baubles. The second pic shows a piece of foam sheet on which the bases will sit and which creates more space underneath the bases in case I need room to adjust the positioning of the bulbs when I swap them over. It also shows where the bases have had holes cut in them to let the bulbs shine through where they need to. On the right are the spheres, and on the left, some seed cases from the garden which will be my exotic foliage. They have holes at the bottom as well as the top, and have been attached to pieces of clear plastic sheet with a hot glue gun, which dries clear. Black paint has been applied to the bases when the cases have been glued in place so that the light only comes up through the centre of the seed case.

The following pic has a few more cork pieces for texture, and the sharper-eyed will note a few clusters of tubes sticking out at angles. At this stage I realised that it would be easier to paint it before putting lots of small bits of cork on there to avoid having bits of white polystyrene showing.

Next instalment soon, I hope.

Epic 40K terrain

As part of a clearout I dug out a pile of epic 40k stuff and put it up for sale on the Oldhammer site. Not sold yet, unfortunately, but I made the cardinal mistake of looking at some of the posts on the subject. Not so dumb in itself, but given that I don’t have a great deal of time left to live, so will never play a game with it, deciding to have a go at some ideas for some alien scenery seems a bit daft. I quite enjoy trying to come up with ideas, so thought what the hell.

Still need to get rid of the epic stuff though, so if anyone is interested let me know. I’ll probably throw in my scenery attempts as well.

Anyway – on to the ideas. A load of grit picked up from an IKEA sale, tubes of acrylic paint and packs of beads and crystals sourced from the Works, some chopped cork pieces, and perhaps some led light sets from Poundland gave me some vague theme around a hot planet with crystalline/inorganic planty things, maybe coral-like, and pools of lava or molten metals.

Started with some dried flower heads which I used to create trees for my 10mm WW1 East Africa project.  They are on a separate post on this site. To go for a more alien look I decided that the ‘tree’ trunks and branches would be purple, and that the ‘foliage’ would be some small orange grit from IKEA. The grit is angular with flat faces so it looks a bit crystalline.

  1. trim off the flower heads with a small sharp pair of scissors.
  2. Using a pin vise and a very fine drill bit say – .7mm – gently drill out the stem. Not as hard as it seems because the centre is pithy rather than wood.
  3. Insert a short length of fine wire, coated in a pva type glue, which leaves a short length of wire sticking out of the bottom of the tree. I recommend that you try and get the wire up the length of the trunk as it will make the tree trunk more robust. The bit sticking out of the bottom will be pushed into some cork to fix it to the base.
  4. Paint the trunk and branches white. Let it dry.
  5. Paint the trunk and branches purple, or any other alien tree colour of your choice. You could phone the Royal Horticultural Society for advice on suitable colours but I suspect they will put the phone down on you. Let it dry.
  6. Dip the tips in pva or another suitable glue, and then dunk it in the grit, and set aside to dry.
  7. Create the base in the material of your choice. I use thin mdf. It cuts very easily if cut at an angle using a craft knife. Remember that you cut even easier, so be careful.
  8. I decided that my trees would grow from outcrops round lava pools. The outcrops are small pieces of cork which have cut edges which I stick to the surface of the mdf in an arrangement of my choice. The mosaic tiles and the painted bases relate to the terrain idea below.
  9. Next paint in the lava. I applied cheap acrylic to create some undulation in the surface. Hottest is white in the centre, then yellow, orange then red, darkened towards the edges where it will be coolest. Blend to your heart’s content. I have gone for a pattern I can only describe as swirly – the pics describe it better than I can.
  10. Mix some fine dark grit with cheap acrylic black paint. The paint will cover it so the grit colour doesn’t matter too much. Apply it around the lava and on the rest of the mdf, and use it to texture any flat areas of cork that are exposed.
  11. Paint the cork pieces black.
  12. Highlighting to finish off. I have used light/mid blue to highlight areas away from the lava, because I decided my sun issues blue light. Around the lava, I have used red and orange to represent the light given off by the molten rock.
  13. Stick the ‘trees’ into the outcrops.

Second idea.

Not as happy with this, but I completed it in the hope that someone else might be happy with it, or that some of the ideas could be used to better effect by someone.

Again, mdf is used for the base as above, and the base grit is used and highlighted as above. These use glass mosaic tiles which have a part-transparent metallic gold surface. These can be got from tile shops if you don’t have some left over from a bathroom project as I have. The thinking behind this is that metal/crystalline material is being forced through the crust, and that it grows through tubes, ejecting material from the top which when there is a number of these grouped together, forms sheets of glass-like material between them. The chemistry and physics behind this is probably nonsense, but if I’d worried about that sort of thing I probably would have stayed awake at school.

Important note – These tiles can be broken with wirecutters, but they are glass, so if you do this wrap them in something that will prevent glass splinters being thrown about, handle cut edges carefully, and dispose of any bits properly. If youngsters are reading this, get your parents to help with this bit, and if there is no-one available to help – Don’t do it. Your models will look rubbish if you bleed all over them. The tiles can be left out, and I suspect that leaving them out might make the pieces look better anyway.

  1. Cut some mdf bases as before, and paint smaller patches of lava where the tiles are to be positioned, so that they give some impression of the molten rock beneath the surface. You can see where I have done this in the pictures in paragraphs 8 and 9 above.
  2. Using a hot glue gun, attach some pieces of fairly fine wire – these are the crystal tubes that will rise above the surface. They are various lengths, but I reckon the longest is only around an inch. It is supposed to be Epic scale, after all. Note that I have bent them so they don’t all come up at the edge of the tile. I didn’t want to end up with squares that look too regular. That’s also the reason for the broken pieces of tile. 
  3. These tiles are thicker than I’d like – translucent paint on bits of clear sheet plastic would probably be better. A further downside is that it takes more grit and black paint to bring up the level round it. Realising this I used a lot of small mdf scraps to pack it and save paint and grit.
  4. When they have dried in place use the grit/black mix to cover the base and shape the pools. When that is dry, I painted the wire white. With hindsight, I should have used gold. Highlight the surface as for the tree bases – blue for most with orange around the pool edge. 
  5. Next, the crystal tubes. These are small tubular beads, bought from The Works. It comes in a partitioned plastic container which has 6 or 7 different types of small beads. Slot them onto the wires, leaving 2-3 mm of wire protruding from the topmost bead. They vary between 1 and 5 or 6 beads per stem. I carefully bend each one at the joint between each so that each stem has a series of angular kinks rather than being straight.
  6. I then mix some fine sand and gold paint and put a blob on the exposed wire at the top. Allow that to dry. I then give each blob another coat of gold, and while that is still wet dip it in a small pot of very fine gold glitter, again sourced from The Works. The final result is here;

Personally I prefer the first of these 2 items. I’m not overly happy with the tops of these stems. and there is too much bare base around the edge. I may pick up some red glitter tomorrow, and mix it with some varnish to create a kind of crystalline moss. If it works I’ll add it to these and post an updated picture on here.

Meanwhile, I have a couple of other ideas involving plastic tubular tile spacers and some plant seed cases I have used for a number of purposes, along with some led light sets from Poundland. If you have any ideas for improving these, let’s hear about them.


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; https://www.thespruce.com/build-grass-applicator-model-train-scenery-2381741

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.