The above scene could have come straight out of a western movie, with the gunfight taking place at a dilapidated old farmhouse on the prairie.
However this photo isn’t a movie still, but a shot of my latest project: building the Renedra kitset of a ramshackle house. This 1/56 scale plastic kit replicates a typical North American cabin or farmhouse. The style and construction means that can be used from 1750-1900 … and beyond.
The designers (the Perry twins, I wonder? They certainly did some of the other Renedra kits) have done a great job of representing a house that has been left to wrack and ruin, with the roof caving in, the porch falling to bits, and the weatherboards rotting away.
My aim in painting this model was to make it look un-painted and un-loved! The method I used to ‘un-paint’ this house was similar to how I did Renedra’s earlier ramshackle barn kit, seen on the left in this picture. There’s a detailed description of my un-painting method on this posting from 2013.
Here’s the rear view of the house. The kit comes with a number of accessories to dress it up (or dress it down, if you like!), such as the rickety ladder and broken cartwheel you can see in this picture.
Other than the planked floor, there is no interior detail on this kit. So I didn’t attempt to do any painting inside. However, I did make the roofs so that they can be removed if required.
Completing this house spurred me to photograph it with my collection of western figures, even though I only have five of them – my smallest gaming period! But I suspect my main use for this model will be for games set in the colonial New Zealand Wars.
On 17 August New Zealand’s long streak without local transmission of COVID-19 came to an end. This was the first coronavirus case detected in New Zealand for nearly six months.
Almost immediately the whole country went straight into what we called an Alert Level 4 lockdown, which had worked successfully for us during the initial outbreak last year.
Based on what had happened in Australia, where some states had delayed locking down when their first cases of Delta appeared, our government opted for the ‘go hard and go early’ approach. To us wargamers this strategy sounds somewhat like rolling a double-6 to seize the initiative before the enemy can!
This approach has so far appeared to be the right way to go (touch wood!). Though we aren’t out of the woods yet, especially as New Zealand’s vaccination rates are so low.
My wife and I were on holiday in the South Island when we went into lockdown. Travellers were initially given 48 hours to get home, but this was too tight for us to get a ferry booking. We actually weren’t too dismayed, as where we were staying in the town of Cromwell looked like a pretty nice place to lock down!
But despite the undeniable beauty of Cromwell, home is always best. So when the government gave travellers another 24 hours to get home, we managed to catch the last ferry to Wellington.
Of course a benefit of having made it home is that I now have access to all my hobby stuff, and time to work on it! So I have started to paint another big battalion for my ‘imagi-nation’, the Barryat of Lyndonia.
An additional British battalion means I’ll have an equal number of real-life opposing forces if I want to play a game based on actual history (British/Prussian vs French). I’m using 1/56 scale Crann Tara Miniatures, half of which arrived just before lockdown, whilst the other half are currently on their way from the UK.
I especially wanted a unit that had the blue breeches worn by royal regiments, so as to differentiate them from my other British battalion in red breeches. So I’ve chosen to depict the 8th (King’s) Regiment of Foot, which was commanded from 1745 to 1759 by Edward Wolfe, father of General James Wolfe of Quebec fame.
The King’s Regiment (centre figure above) used the White Horse of Hanover (the symbol of the Royal Household) as its badge.
Why this regiment has managed to make it into the Barryat’s army, no-one knows! But I’m sure I can come up with a suitable back-story.
This will likely be my most challenging paint job ever. These guys have lots of little bits of lace everywhere. They don’t call this period the Lace Wars for nothing! Look at those cuffs and sleeves, the lacing on the fronts of their coats, and the intricate lace wings on their shoulders. And let’s not even mention the grenadiers’ mitre caps!
Note that the above picture of the 8th Foot uniform in 1756 was created by Frédéric Aubert for the Kronoskaf website.
With my current basing system for my 60+ figure battalions, as shown with Gale’s Regiment of Foot above, I have nine bases of 6 infantry figures each, and all my officers, drummers and NCOs are on small freestanding bases. But this makes for really fiddly setting up and moving.
So for this latest unit I am going to experiment with a new basing system of just six bases of 10-12 figures each, on which character figures will also be standing alongside or behind the ranks. The only figures left freestanding will be standard-bearers and the mounted officers.
Keeping flags freestanding will allow flexibility in which units I wish to represent. And it will also allow the big 60+ figure unit to be broken into two or three smaller ones if required for a specific rule-set.
If this new system is successful, I see a major rebasing project for all my existing Barryat of Lyndonia units!
As a side project, and completely unrelated to the Lace Wars period, I have also finally assembled the Renedra ramshackle house kit I bought from our local pharmacy (true!) a few weeks ago.
It still needs painting, but looks good. I plan to use the same colour-scheme as I did with Renedra’s similar ramshackle barn kit a few years ago. This could be said to be more like un-painting than painting!
To play the colonial New Zealand Wars, you need lots of trees to form the bush-covered landscape that was a feature of so many of the actions.
Whilst any old wargaming tree will do the job, if you really want to replicate the look of New Zealand, you want ferns. Not just any old ferns, but big tree-sized ones!
At a recent model railway show I purchased a couple of plastic boxes of fern and undergrowth detail produced by Brian Roulston, a rail modeller from Paekakariki for his Scenic Textures range.
The boxes were filled with all sorts of miscellaneous shrubbery. I am guessing it uses as a base the plastic stuff you sometimes find at budget stores, but it has been painted and texture-coated to take away the bright shiny green look.
Amongst the plastic plants were some ferns with pre-textured stalks (none of these are visible in the above photo), which I thought could make excellent tree ferns, or ‘ponga’ as they are called here in New Zealand.
I bought some large heavy metal washers to make the bases. I used a hot-glue gun to attach the ‘tree-ferns’ to the bases. I then glued miscellaneous bits of the other shrubbery from the Scenic Textures box around the base of each tree.
I coated the bases with my usual recipe of PVA glue, followed by mixed-grain sand, and then two types of flock. The final touch was to add some dead ponga leaves on the floor or hanging from the trunks.
To celebrate the completion of my grove of ponga ferns, it’s time for my 28mm Empress Miniatures Māori warriors to perform a haka (traditional war dance).
Renowned Northland Māori chiefs Hone Heke and Kawiti seem quite pleased with their new shrubbery.
Oh oh, trespassers! A British officer and his two men make their way cautiously through the typical New Zealand bush.
Perhaps a little more at home in the bush than their British comrades, these local militia are ready for anything.
So there we have it – a little more greenery for my colonial New Zealand Wars games.
This posting is a combination of two articles that first appeared on the now-defunct Kapiti Fusiliers website in around 2005 and 2007. I am republishing these articles because they describe how I made the Spanish buildings that sit in the background of several of my more recent postings.
Making buildings for wargames
Can’t afford miniature buildings? Fusilier Roly Hermans shows you how he made his own complete 25mm Spanish village for less than $NZ40.
Since I started back into wargaming a few years ago, almost all my hobby finances have gone into miniature figures. So the terrain for them to fight over has been sadly lacking. But no longer – I’ve now made a whole village for myself.
I’d often thought about scratch-building some houses, but never really known where to start. The breakthrough came when I discovered a product called “foamboard”. This is a 5mm-thick sheet of foam, backed on both sides by paper. It can be easily cut with a craft knife, yet is sturdy enough to make a strong model. It also has another neat advantage, which I’ll come to later. Foamboard can be bought in large sheets from stationary shops – I got mine coloured black, which saved a lot of undercoating later on.
The first step in planning to build miniature houses is exactly the same as that for painting miniature soldiers – research. I wanted my terrain to go with my Peninsular War miniatures, so visited the library and got out some landscape books about Spain. I also looked for design ideas in catalogues of commercially made wargames buildings.
From the library books, besides learning about the design of Spanish houses, I was also able to extract some doors and windows from the photos, and scan them in to use on my miniature buildings. The resulting sheet is shown below, for anyone who wishes to use these doors and windows (click on the image to see the fullsize version).
Once I worked out the design of my houses, I drew the shapes of the walls onto the foamboard and cut these out carefully with a craft knife. I also cut out the openings for the doors and windows, all sized to match the windows on the above mentioned sheet.
Now comes the bit where foamboard has a really neat feature: the corner joints can all be easily rabbeted (I think that is the technical term!). I got this idea from Major Tremording’s Colonial Wargaming site [sadly this site is now gone too, but the article concerned can be found on Wayback Machine]. Rather than explain it in detail here, I suggest you look at the illustrated instructions on how to rabbet corners on this page of his site. The technique is surprisingly easy, makes tidy corner joints, and also saves the complicated mathematics of allowing for the thickness of the construction material at the design stage.
If you want to add features such as corner-stones, do so now. I used cardboard from a cereal packet, cut into small strips and folded around the corners of a couple of the houses. Rather painstaking, but worth it for the effect (see the house on the right, above). I also glued on some random patches of brick-paper which would represent where the plaster had fallen off the building.
Once the house is constructed using the rabbeting technique, then comes the exciting part – texturing and painting. I coat the walls with thinned-down PVA glue, then sprinkle them with a mixture of fine and coarse sand. Once dry, another coat of thinned-down PVA is applied to seal the sand onto the walls. They look pretty terrible at this stage, but, never fear, the next step of the process will fix that!
Painting is done with several colours. Firstly I outline the patches of bricks in black. Then I apply a dry-brush of yellow oxide artist’s acrylic to the walls – the sand is very thirsty, so you have to use tons of paint to do this! Next, a dry brush of arylamade yellow, and finally a dry brush of titanium white.
Now the house is ready for its windows and doors. Simply glue these in place behind the respective openings. I then glue some scrap foamboard behind the paper windows to make them stronger (I don’t want anyone poking a finger through them!). I make shutters out of corrugated card, and some windows have foamboard window boxes with scenic flock plants.
The final stage is the roof. I was planning initially to use a technique described by well-known terrain modeller Gary Chalk, in which he uses cordouroy cloth, set with PVA glue, and dry-brushed. However, I found a perfect product in my local hobby shop – a sheet of plasticard that has been pre-moulded into pantiles. This was the costliest part of my project (all of about $NZ20!), but the resulting roofs do look the part.
And there you have it, one complete Spanish village. By using the buildings in different configurations, and using a few freestanding wall pieces to connect them, the layout possibilities are endless. Now I am inspired to set up a scenario game at the next club night, involving the British and French fighting over my village terrain.
And here is the second Kapiti Fusiliers article, which appeared in May 2007.
A peaceful little village somewhere on the Peninsula
Recently Fusilier Roly Hermans added a few new Spanish houses to his terrain, and painted some Perry civilians to inhabit them.
A year or two ago, I made some Spanish houses out of foam-core board for my 25mm Peninsular War games, and wrote an article for this website on how the construction was done [i.e. the article above].
Being a regular visitor to Paul Darnell’s beautiful Touching History website [now no longer existing] I snapped up his book on terrain-making, and used it as a guide to make some more buildings to add to my collection.
I was also impressed with a fantastic 40mm game put on by the Durham Chosen Men [yet another defunct website] and liked their half-timbered ‘bodega’ so much that I copied it to give a bit of variety to my otherwise plastered buildings.
Looking at all the resulting buildings, I realised that they looked a bit spartan without any landscape detail, such as streets, courtyards, gardens and so on. So my latest project has been to tie all my buildings together as a fully landscaped village.
I laid out the village as a crossroads with a small plaza in the centre. Each quadrant of the village is a separate small baseboard, so I can break it up into several smaller hamlets if necessary. I’ve made the buildings themselves detachable from their baseboards, so that I can still use them individually.
The village now needed some inhabitants. Just in time Perry Miniatures released a very nice range of Carlist Wars civilians. Although this period is a few years after the Napoleonic Wars, the costumes would not have changed that much, and so they were perfect for my purposes.
Now, I don’t know that much about Dutch architecture, living half a world away from the Netherlands. But from my occasional trips to see my extended family over there, these models in my opinion certainly appear to have captured the general look and feel of rural Holland.
The roof and top floor can come off, but there is no interior detail apart from some rudimentary rafters (which my friend had trouble printing anyway, so I ended up snapping off the remnants).
Although my wargaming (what little I get to play, anyway!) is done with 28mm figures, I asked my friend to print out these buildings at a size that was designed for 20mm miniatures. This is because I prefer my wargaming buildings to have a smaller footprint. I think 28mm figures still look fine against them on the tabletop.
I painted the brick areas with a dull red undercoat, then rubbed in DIY plaster filler paste with my finger. I immediately rubbed this off again with a sponge, leaving the filler sitting in the cracks between the bricks. It was a simple (albeit somewhat messy) process.
Choosing colours for the shutters and woodwork was fun. I settled on a green and red colour scheme, which to me looks suitably Dutch.
I was really pleased with how the brickwork came out, as you can see in this pic of the barn with a Dutch Landsverk armoured car idling outside.
Here we see a couple of German paratroopers patrolling past the farmhouse. The model includes shutters and the ornate ironwork on the gable.
I must say that since my first encounter with 3D printing back in 2015, the opportunities now presented to wargamers by this process have become endless. Gone are the days when we see the same few resin buildings decorating everyone’s tables!
I’ve just finished painting a couple of houses from Printable Scenery, who are based just around the corner from me in Paraparaumu, New Zealand.
These models are normally supplied as STL files, but not having a 3D-printer myself, I got them pre-printed. They’re sized to fit with my 28mm figures.
The buildings both come apart so that you can gain access to each story. They fit securely back together again, with a lug on each corner to line up.
Although these particular models were designed with Normandy in mind (I think), I decided to give them a Dutch look to go with my WW2 Dutch army and my 17th century Dutch pirates.
My efforts wouldn’t fool any student of Dutch architecture. But to my mind they convey the general look, especially when combined with some of my other (Hovels) buildings that are definitely Dutch.
So here we have Landsverk armoured car (made by May ’40 Miniatures) trundling down a city street somewhere in the Netherlands during WW2.
And here we have a couple of Dutch privateers from a few centuries earlier having a discussion outside one of the houses.
The two things I did to give a Dutch look to this building were to paint the walls as rough brickwork, and to add a typical Dutch design to the window shutters and door. The brickwork wasn’t entirely successful, as the house is actually modelled with stone walls. But from tabletop distance, they look enough like bricks.
The interiors are filled with lots of detail, including stairs, rugs, paintings and furniture.
I painted the interior walls with several different shades of dry-brushing, which added to the modelled-in shabby look of the peeling plaster. Easy-peasy to do!
The second building shows its brickwork where the plaster is peeling away. Again, my painting of the bricks is not too realistic close-up, but the effect comes together from a distance.
This atmospheric shot shows a bit more of the wonderful interior detail of these models.
As you can see, I have used a fairly slap-dash approach to my paining, which I think gives a nice shabby-chic impression.
And this time the fireplace was actually modelled as bricks, so it looks right even from close-up!
Over the holidays I’ve been painting this couple of Dutch/Flemish building. They are resin models I’ve had lying round unpainted for probably a decade or more. They are made by Hovels Ltd.
I think I was given these models by a friend (Paul Crouch was it you?) back in the early 2000s. But for years I could never really see the need for these particular models, as where would two obviously inner-city building sit when I had no other urban terrain to speak of? So they remained unpainted.
However, having come (for now) to the bottom of my lead pile, I decided it could be fun to paint these models for – well – just for fun.
This was spurred by reading a posting by my wargaming mate Scott Bowman of a simple technique for painting brickwork, which I was keen to try out.
I started by spraypainting them black, then blocking in the main brick colour with various shades of red. Once this was thoroughly dry, I painted the whole model with Army Painter shade in order to seal the red colour.
Then came the magic ingredient: pre-mixed interior decorating filler. I smeared this over the brickwork with my fingers, then carefully wiped it off with a damp cloth. The filler remained stuck in the gaps between the bricks, nicely recreating the look of mortar.
Despite the coat of Army Painter shade, some of the red paint did leach through into areas of the filler. However, this has given a nice patchy look that I think adds a patina of age to the brickwork.
The final touch was to paint all the details (doors, windows, roofs, etc) in the usual manner.
One of the buildings had a broken gable. I had thought to try to repair it, but lazily decided this breakage could remain as though it had been knocked off by an errant cannonball or shell-burst.
And there we have it – two buildings that were fun to paint, albeit will probably never be seen on my tabletop unless I get my hands on many other such buildings to make up a townscape!
My Dutch village is now complete. I’ll pack it away soon, to wait till I’ve painted up an enemy force from May ’40 Miniature’s forthcoming Fallschirmjäger (German paratroops) Kickstarter for my 1940 Dutch to fight.
The final addition was to make the canal. I simply sprayed some textured sandpaper dark green, then edged the banks with sand and flock. Simple and effective, especially with the addition of some random bits of fencing and a couple of boats.
The back gardens on the left are a Sarissa Precision product, which just happened to match the dimensions of two of my cardboard row houses. The only thing I had to adapt was to draw a little more crazy-paving to align the garden paths with the the back-doors of each house.
By the way, some people have asked why I use 1/72 scale buildings with 28mm figures. The answer is that I prefer my houses to have a small footprint, as they then don’t dominate the table as much. In any case, wargamers usually play with underscaled trees, rivers and hills, so also having smaller buildings makes sense.
If you’re going to recreate a Dutch village in miniature, what do you just have to have to make it feel really Dutch? A windmill, of course!
This weekend I added a windmill to the village I showed in my last posting. This time, instead of the cardboard buildings that I’ve use so far, I built a MDF kit by 4Ground.
What a joy this kit was to put together. The design is very cleverly designed to form the rather complex shape of the windmill. But, as withother 4Ground kits I’ve built, it all fitted perfectly.
I personalised the model slightly, adding brick paper to the ground floor, and painting some parts of the sails and the turning beams. I also painted a small heraldic device where the vanes meet in the centre, as I’ve seen on real windmills in the Netherlands.
I was worried the model might end up too big for my buildings, but I was happy with the end effect. After all, windmills are big in real life!
Interestingly, having a windmill in my model village is a poignant reminder of my family tree. My great-grandfather was killed when he was hit by a windmill sail in November 1916.
‘A sad accident occurred here on Saturday afternoon. Mr Hermans, a tile-maker from here [Swalmen], had a message for the windmill and started making his way up the mound. He probably didn’t notice that the mill was functioning. He was hit by one of the vanes, and thrown down. The physician diagnosed a skull fracture. He was admitted to the clinic in Roermond. His condition is worrying.’
He died a couple of weeks later.
Seeing how the sails sweep so low to the deck on my model, I can see how easily accidents like this could happen.
At first glance, this could be a wartime newspaper photo of Dutch soldiers defending a village during the German invasion in May 1940 … until you spot the figure bases, that is, and realise this is a wargames table with 28mm figures.
I’ve recently been adding accessories to my Dutch village, such as latex brick roads from Early War Miniatures, and plastic lamp-posts, power poles and brick walls from Rubicon.
They really bring to life the Gungnir cardboard buildings I’ve previously reported on, as you can see from this picture of Dutch soldiers and a Landsverk armoured car on patrol outside a grocer’s shop.
Let’s take a tour of the village (don’t forget to click on the images to examine them in more detail).
Soldiers follow the armoured car past a corner cafe, with period advertisements for Phoenix Dortmunder beer on the walls, and ‘3 Hoef Eisen’ beer on each window. The miniatures and the armoured car, by the way, are all by May ’40 Miniatures.
Advertisements for van Nelle coffee and Persil washing powder adorn the side of the grocer’s shop in the Hoogstraat (High Street). The street sign comes in the Rubicon lamp-post kit.
At this intersection you can see how the latex roads give a good impression of brick roads. I painted them a dark brown-red, then dry-brushed them with beige and white paint to bring out the detail.
The Landsverk proceeds down the Hoogstraat. This photo gives you another view of the beer advertisement on the side wall of the cafe.
The crew of the Landsverk spot an enemy aircraft. The beauty of cardboard buildings is that once you have bought the file, you can print out as many as you like. Thus here we see three of the same buildings combined to make a row of houses. I varied the windows slightly before printing, but otherwise they are identical.
Around the corner from the row-houses, these typical hip-roofed buildings on the left certainly shout ‘Dutch’ all over them! On the right is a resin kit of a ruined house, made by Airfix.
A Böhler 47mm anti-tank gun is emplaced behind the ruined house. I’ve made the Airfix building taller by adding a layer to the bottom of the walls. The rubble is made up of small bits of real brick.
A team of medics rushes past an ornate farm-house. The brick wall kit by Rubicon is very cleverly designed so that you can take the pieces apart and adjust the corners and gates to suit any location.
An officer gives orders to the crew of a Carden-Loyd tankette parked outside a large farm-house. This photo gives you a good look at the very nice Rubicon lampposts.
An NCO urges caution on his troops as they ready themselves to enter the barn attached to the back of the large farmhouse.
Dutch marines in their dark-blue tunics defend the edge of the village, whilst the Landsverk prowls in the background.
Here’s the whole village. If you look carefully, you’ll spot an interloper amongst the cardboard buildings – a resin model of La Haye Sainte in the top left corner! I’ll need to make up a couple more card buildings to take its place!
Let’s finish by going back to black-and-white to show once again how effective the overall effect of the buildings and accessories is.