Four hours to make a 112-figure regiment in 28mm!

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Yep, just somewhere between three and four hours to complete a regiment of 112 figures,  from go to whoa, including flags and basing!

I posted last week that I was going to try out some of Peter Dennis’s paper figures for a change from my usual metal. This 28mm British regiment was my first attempt, and I’m pretty darn pleased with how it came out.

From the front and back, they look pretty impressive. In fact, at a glance you’d be hard put to tell them from metal or plastic figures. This illusion even remains when seen from an angle, but obviously a side-on view gives it away. However, most wargames are seen from front or behind, so that’s not a problem.

Construction was a lot simpler than I thought it would be. As per the instructions, I copied the figures onto 100 gram paper, which is 20 grams heavier than normal photocopy paper. Before any cutting took place, I held the sheet upside-down to a light and dabbed some PVA glue onto wherever I could see the back of any muskets, swords or pole-arms – this strengthens them.

Gluing the figures together goes really well with UHU All Purpose glue (though Peter warns you not to use UHU Multi-Purpose glue, which must be different). The figures are grouped in a sort of concertina pattern which you fold up to make the three ranks.

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Cutting out – which was the part I was a bit nervous about – was much easier than I expected. The first few figures were a bit painstaking, but once I found my rhythm, I was away laughing. I used a small pair of scissors, and turned the paper in my hand to cut around all the detail. It still leaves a bit of a white edge, but that adds an outline which I think makes the figures ‘pop’.

I ummed and ahhed about doing any basing effect. I see most people generally don’t. However, I decided to just use a simple application of PVA glue and static grass to give a bit of texture.

The figures, being made of two layers of 100 gram paper glued together, are like very light card. But they are surprisingly strong. And even if a bayonet or two does tear off in play, they’ll be dead easy to replace.

Next effort in a few days will be a unit of charging highlander Jacobite rebels. Och aye!

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I’m going to try out paper soldiers

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I’ve decided to try something different – paper armies! For the last couple of years I’ve been keeping my eye on the rapidly growing range of books that Peter Dennis has been pumping out, each one covering a different campaign using 2D paper soldiers and scenery.

After having enjoyed so much making some Dutch houses out of cardboard, I finally decided to give these paper figures a go. So I ordered two books to try out, covering a couple of periods I’ve always fancied, but couldn’t face starting to collect and paint from scratch: the Jacobite ’45 Rebellion, and the American Revolution.

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Actually, this isn’t the first time I’ve played with paper soldiers. Many, many years ago (er, many decades ago), my then-flatmate Alan Hollows drew and cut out two Seven Years War paper armies, using a whimsical style reminiscent of Asterix the Gaul. I wonder if any New Zealand readers still have photos of these wonderful home-made figures?

Anyway, back to the Peter Dennis books.  On receiving my package in the post today, I was very pleasantly surprised to see the books were choc-a-bloc with not only every type of figure you would need for both sides, but also flags, artillery, carts, casualties, markers, appropriate buildings and trees, and even two sets of wargames rules (beginner and advanced versions). Wow!

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You can see the quality of the artwork from the illustrations I’ve reproduced here. The fronts and backs are carefully designed to line up.

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Peter has developed an innovative concertina folding system that enables you to  produce stands with multiple ranks of figures. Have a look at this video of how to assemble these figures:

But please don’t try assembling the sample images from my blog – my camerawork will have put them out of alignment … and, anyway, you should buy the book!

I’m told the finished figures are very sturdy, despite being made out of paper. You can literally throw them into a box after a game, give it a good shake, and they’ll still come out good as new next time you play!

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Apparently the 2D effect works well in wargames, as the players generally stand on each side of the table anyway. I’ll be intrigued to see how this works in real-life – but the photos in the book are very promising.

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Anyway, I’m going to enjoy trying to build my first army over the next few days. But even if I were never to cut the figures out, these books are simply beautiful to look at in themselves!

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I’m also really excited that later this year Peter will be publishing a book for the War of the Spanish Succession – another colourful period I’ve always fancied, but couldn’t face starting.

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He’s also coming out with a book of (3D) buildings for eighteenth-century Europe. I’ve pre-ordered both books already!

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Two WW2 Dutch farms in cardboard

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This weekend I finished the final two Dutch card model buildings by ‘Gungnir’ that I had bought recently from WargameDownloads. I’ve posted previously about the first four buildings for a small Dutch village. This latest pair consists of two farmhouses.

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The first is a massive farmhouse/barn complex from the province of Gelderland. Like the other card models I’ve made so far, I have replaced the windows and doors with snippets copied from digital images of real-life buildings. I’ve also added some different coloured tiles to the roof to add a bit of interest to the large area it covers.

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The second building is a smaller brick farmhouse. It is apparently modelled on one near Arnhem, though the shutters are my own addition. Note the traditional ‘Tree of Life’ decoration on the fanlight above the front door.

Talking of shutters, I’ve since been told that they are traditionally painted in distinctive designs and colours for each province. So for these two buildings to be on the same wargames table, I’ll have to change the shutters on one of them so they are both the same.

I’m now looking for a nice paper windmill, which is almost obligatory for a Dutch wargame setting!

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A whole 28mm Dutch village in a weekend

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My WW2 Dutch army isn’t quite finished, as I await the release of the May ’40 Miniatures Landsverk armoured car and a couple of artillery pieces.  So in the meantime I’ve been working on some terrain for them to fight over. This small Dutch village is the result.

My budget for terrain is somewhat limited, so I needed to find a reasonably priced solution. And the card models by Dutch wargamer Gerrit Postma (also known as ‘Gungnir’) certainly meet that criteria – $6.00 for a six downloadable buildings from Wargame Downloads. I had to spend another $15 to get them printed on light card, but even at $21 for six houses, that’s still a steal!

My other criteria was that the models had to look … well … Dutch. Anyone who has travelled to the Netherlands knows the neat and tidy look of the Dutch countryside, which carries through to their traditional architecture. Gungnir’s models achieve this look very well.

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You could simply print, cut out and assemble these kits as is. The above picture from Gungnir’s website shows how attractive they look straight from the kit. But I decided to do some extra detailing.

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Firstly, before printing the models I used my graphics programme to replace Gungnir’s drawn windows with ones copied and pasted out of suitable front-on photographs of real houses. This made the windows really come to life, with intricate frames, lace curtains and even pot-plants in some of them – typically Dutch!

I also added some additional time-appropriate sign-writing to the shop and to the bar windows, also located by searching images on the internet.

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For my first attempt at printing, I used my home copier to print onto standard A4 paper, which I then glued onto card backing. But the resulting lamination had a lot of air-bubbles. So I went to a printing company instead, and asked them to print the designs direct onto light card.

A bonus of using a commercial printer was that their industrial-grade copier provided crisp resolution that I could never achieve on my home printer. Well worth the extra $15!

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I got two copies printed of each design. I cut both out, but then on one of them, I also cut out all the windows, doors and other openings. I then sandwiched the top layer with the cut-out holes onto the other layer, giving the windows and doors a slightly inset look.

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After that, assembly was pretty straightforward. I glued as much as I could whilst the pieces were still flat. The roofs were the trickiest part, as with so many angles the paper can develop a mind of its own! I found the solution was to glue one side of the guttering to one wall, and wait for it to dry completely. Then I could glue down the rest of the roof later without it trying to flick itself out of place.

To give the models a bit more strength, and to stop them blowing away in the lightest breeze, I cut a thick piece of heavy card to the base-size of each house, and then glued it inside the bottom of the walls.

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So far I’ve assembled four of the six buildings (and one of them I’ve done twice, the first being a test run).

  • a barn-roofed Dutch house
  • a row of two workers’ cottages
  • a hip-roofed corner shop
  • a small pub (the “3 Hoef Ijses”, which means “3 Horseshoes”)

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I still have the small and large farms to go. And, most exciting, I’ve just learned that Gungnir does some other Dutch buildings as well, such as a villa and several factories!

The scale of the buildings I bought was 1:72, which some would argue is a little on the small side for 28mm. However, I am quite happy with the two scales together. But if you do want something a bit bigger, Gungnir also produces pre-printed card kits in 1:56 for 28mm figures. Or you could simply enlarge the prints onto A3 paper!

Overall, these are very nice kits indeed. They are cheap, beautifully designed, and fit together well. And with only a minimum of detailing, you can easily personalise the kits to match your imagination of what a Dutch village should look like.

I guess the only downside for wargaming is that they don’t have removable roofs – but neither do many other kits these days. There are ways you can work round this when playing a game.

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Sights and sounds of the Netherlands in miniature

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Today’s posting has nothing to do with the hobby of wargaming. But if you like terrain modelling, or model railways, or the Netherlands, or video sound-mixing, there’ll be something here for you! Especially if you consider that the above and below photos aren’t of a real Dutch double-decker train, but a model in 1:25 scale.

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Although I was born and live in New Zealand, my heritage is Dutch – both my parents emigrated here in the 1950s. So I love visiting the Netherlands to explore my ‘roots’.

Most people when they think of the Netherlands imagine windmills, or tulips, or dikes. For me, one of my first impressions of the Netherlands when I visited for the first time back in the 1970s, was the yellow Dutch trains! I was so taken by the dog-nosed Dutch commuter trains that I drew one in my travel diary!

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And that impression has remained right to this day, through my many return trips to the land of yellow trains. During this time the Dutch national railway company has continued to use yellow and blue as their livery colours, albeit in different configurations as the trains have modernised over the years.

Keeping the same colours for so many decades is surely unusual in the corporate world, where PR people will change colours and logos on a whim, with no thought towards preserving tradition.

Another memory from that first trip to the Netherlands was visiting the miniature city of Madurodam, an amazing model town situated in The Hague. Madurodam recreates many of the characteristic locations of the Netherlands in 1:25 scale. Having always been fascinated by models, I was captivated, and spent many happy hours there!

I hadn’t given much more thought to Madurodam for many years, until the other day I stumbled across a YouTube video depicting a railway view of this miniature city. Not only does the camerawork beautifully capture the tiny scenery that so entranced me back in 70s, the film-maker has married the visuals to appropriate audio that adds to the experience. And there are yellow trains – lots of yellow trains!

Watch the Madurodam video:

This is not the first Dutch model railway video I’ve seen recently that uses realistic audio. One of my favourite examples is taken at Miniworld Rotterdam.

It explores this huge 1:87 layout, starting with a small Dutch town and the countryside (complete with windmills!), and ending up in the bustling heart of a miniature Rotterdam, with trams, motorways, and even ship-building at the Europoort harbour. And, of course, yellow trains …

Watch the Miniworld Rotterdam video:

Certainly inspiring model-work for wargamers!

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Revisiting a spectacular Battle of Saratoga game

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Some of the games I’ve played over the years really stand out in my memory. From time to time I’ll feature these old games here on my blog.  

This particular game stood out because of the amazing terrain and figures.  To my eye, this was a convention-grade game, but played in a garage! I never recorded the date this game as played, but it would be a good decade or two ago now.

This game impressed me so much at the time that I even put together a website about it, from which I’ve copied the following text and pictures.  Much to my surprise, the site still exists – thought my amateur hand-coded HTML doesn’t seem to have preserved the formatting too well.

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Before the storm.

The year is 1777 – General “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne’s expedition to cut off New England from the rest of the rebellious American states has reached the clearing of Freeman’s Farm. The lines of redcoats form up around the farmstead, whilst a redoubt has been rapidly thrown up on their right. They steadfastly await the Americans advancing from out of the woods in front of them.

Myself and two other New Zealand wargamers, Paul Crouch and Steve Sands, had recently bought a copy of the British Grenadier rules, and we were determined to try them out. One Sunday afternoon the three of us finally managed to get some time off together, and this is the game that ensued.

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British lines around Freeman’s Farm.

This closer view of British redcoats from General James Inglis Hamilton’s brigade around the farmstead shows some of the amazingly detailed 28mm miniature soldiers and terrain owned by Paul.

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British redoubt.

The scenario rules for this battle state that the troops of Brigadier-General Simon Fraser’s brigade can only leave the confines of their redoubt on the British right after a throw of double sixes. “I never get double sixes,” says Steve, throwing the very first dice of the game – you guessed it, double six!

So Fraser’s light infantry and an artillery piece emerge from the redoubt in the first move of the game, throwing the American plan into disarray before they even start moving.

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Poor’s columns advance down the road towards the waiting British.

On the American side, Roly commands General Enoch Poor’s brigade of infantry and artillery. The scenario calls for them to enter by a road on the left of the American position. But instead of heading diagonally towards the British (visible in the distance in this photo), the threat of Fraser’s troops making their sortie out of the redoubt means that the Americans have to change their orders to make a right turn and form their lines more to the centre.

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The American advance in the centre.

Poor’s brigade has now been joined by that of General Ebenezer Learned, played by Paul. Meanwhile, General Benedict Arnold and his aide can be seen in this photo, directing the commencement of the assault on the British line. Unfortunately, another double six means that Arnold is lightly wounded, and so has to temporarily leave the table.

You can also see the amazingly realistic ground-cloth that Paul inherited from the late Jim Shaw. Thrown over a piece of carpet underlay, which in turn is draped over strategically placed objects, it gives a realistic rolling ground effect.

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The British line awaits the onslaught.

After moving their line back slightly to form a better defensive position around the farm, the British lines stolidly await the American attack, with some loyalists skirmishing to their front. The redcoats’ objective in this scenario is to hold the farm position.

All the figures used in this game belonged to Paul. They included castings from Front Rank, Foundry and Perry Miniatures. The exquisite flags were mainly by GMB Design.

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The lines close.

Slowly, inexorably, the American lines advance towards the British. Because of the extended maneuvering that Poor’s brigade has had to do to avoid Fraser’s light infantry and artillery, it takes quite a while to reach this stage of the game, so we “fast-forward” at this point by doubling a few moves to bring the troops into action.

Movement distances in British Grenadier are randomised, and generally must be taken the full amount. This makes coordinating an attack quite difficult, but true to the period.

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Charge!

Finally the first regiments of the assault charge forward.

The mounted officer in the background is not just for show. These rules have an innovative system where units earn ‘disruption points’ from movement, firing and melee. The more such points, the harder it is to do anything. Generals can help units shake off these points, but only one unit per move, so they have to pick and choose. Thus mounted officers realistically gallop to and fro all over the battlefield.

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The second American line in support.

American troops in hunting shirts form the second line.

Under these rules, an attack needs to be well supported, as the disruption points can cause havoc to the first line. On the other hand, you don’t want the second line too close, as they have to move their full distance, so can actually collide with the rear of the first line, causing even more disruption!

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The British line holds.

The American regiment on the far left has defeated a British battalion and forced it back. But the British battalion on the right holds out valiantly, whilst General Burgoyne dashes up to bolster its defence. Here yet another double six is thrown, but Burgoyne survives and it is his ADC who is killed.

In the foreground are Colonel Daniel Morgan’s riflemen and light infantry, who have been in front needling the British lines all during the big American assault. Now they can pull back out of the way to let the line infantry do their job.

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The Hessians arrive.

The Americans have only succeeded in pushing back one British unit, when to their right they hear the beating of drums as Baron von Riedesel’s Hessians arrive on the battlefield, thus extinguishing any hope of the Americans forcing the British out of the Freeman’s Farm position.

So in our game the British win. This would possibly have had a major effect had this happened in the real battle. It was the British surrender at Saratoga that finally induced the French to take part in the American War of Independence. In our game, this might not have happened ….!

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Map of the battlefield.

This overview of the battle shows how the game progressed. You can see where Fraser’s men issued out of the redoubt at the very start of the game, and how they forced Poor’s brigade to make some complicated manouevres instead of directly attacking Hamilton’s position. Meanwhile, the British backstepped to form a better defensive line closer to the farm, and then the subsequent huge American assault on the centre took place. Right at the end of the battle, the Hessians arrived on the British left to cement their victory.

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The players – Paul Crouch (Generals Learned and Arnold), Roly Hermans (General Poor) and Steve Sands (British/Hessian), all members of the [then] Kapiti Fusiliers Historic Gaming Club in Paraparaumu, New Zealand.

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Paul’s son Rylan enjoyed the game too!

 

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Filed under American War of Independence, Foundry, Front Rank, GMB Design flags, Kapiti Fusiliers, Perry Miniatures, Uncategorized

Fantastic new 3D-printed pirate ships!

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Yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum! At last I’m able to mention a project I’ve been working on for the last month, which has been shrouded in secrecy.

I was helping out my mates at Printable Scenery to prepare for their new ‘Lost Islands’ Kickstarter, which launched this morning. They asked me to build a couple of their prototype ship models for use in the photography on their site. I was only too happy to oblige, but I was sworn to secrecy to ensure maximum impact when the Kickstarter came out.

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I almost let the cat out of the bag when I posted some photos of the model sloop at sea in my swimming pool (yes, they actually float!) … but that was before I realised there was a secrecy clause, so I had to quickly delete the pics when I found out.

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Anyway, all can now be revealed! The models are part of Printable Scenery’s new ‘Lost Islands’ Kickstarter. This is a collection of highly detailed 3D printable port buildings, ships, and tribes for home 3D printers, shown in the short video below:

As the Kickstarter publicity says:

Swashbuckling adventure awaits. Sail with your motley crew from the wretched streets of Port Winterdale to the jungle tribes of the Lost Islands. Defeat monsters, pirates and explore the world with nothing more than a barrel of rum, a fine ship and the stars to guide the way.

Each pledge is delivered as an STL file pack to print on a home 3D printer. If you haven’t got a printer, then Printable Scenery also maintain a list of licenced printers around the world who can do the job for you.

My brief was to build, paint and rig the two ships in the new collection – a sloop and a frigate.

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The first model I made was the sloop. The hull was dead easy to paint – just a black undercoat, then dry brushing with a couple of shades of brown, and painting in details such as the carving, bolts and ironwork.

A final dry-brush with the lightest of coats of white really brings out the detail, and weathers it at the same time. But use only a very light touch – if you use too much white, the ship will look like its sailing the polar regions!

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The rigging is the biggest challenge of making a sailing ship model. But I found it very easy in the end. I used a couple of pictures of real sloops to give me an idea, then cut some pieces of dowel to size. I roughly scratch-built the cross-trees where the main and top mast join together.

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I gave the masts and yards  tapered ends with a pencil sharpener. They were then all stained with normal household wood stain. I chose a rather dark walnut shade that I happened to have on hand. However, if I were to do this again, I would get an oak stain instead, I think.

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Once the mast and bowsprit were done, then I started on the rigging. And this is where I found out the secret to ship modelling – use thin elastic instead of cotton or thread. With the latter, it is difficult to keep everything tight. But elastic keeps every shroud and stay of your rigging completely tawt.

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I had an added challenge – my project brief from Printable Scenery was to make the ships so they could be folded up to be transported from New Zealand to the USA to go on display at the GaryCon and AdeptiCon shows.

By using elastic, this problem was quite simply solved. I just placed the masts into their holes in the hull without gluing, so they were held in place with the elastic rigging. To fold everything down, all you have to do is lift the mast against the stretchiness of the elastic until it pops out of its hole, then lie everything flat on the deck. Reassembling, you just do the opposite. Simples!

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The actual model (though not the early prototype I built) will have accompanying layers to portray the interior, so your miniatures can fight ‘below decks’ a well. Cool!

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The frigate was a bit more challenging, as it has three masts. I also wanted to experiment with adding furled sails.

The hull was painted in the same way as the sloop, though I decided to add a a bit more colour, such as the blue and white upper-works, and the red insides to the bulwarks.

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I used some cardboard to scratch-build the fighting tops that hold the top-masts to the fore and main masts, and a simple set of cross-trees for the mizzen mast. Winding a bit of string around the masts at intervals adds some interesting contrast to the plain dowel.

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The hardest part was that I decided to move the position of the platforms where the shrouds and ratlines are attached to the hull. I preferred them to be smaller than on the printed model, and aligned behind each mast, rather than forward. A bit of cutting and gluing of the platforms, and, hey presto, quickly done!

The ratlines are formed by gluing bits of cotton across the shrouds (tying them on was far too fiddly for me!). The sails are some light linen folded into position and tied onto the yards with elastic.

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Of course, I just had to see if this ship would float too, and, sure enough, it did! Hmm, playing a wargame in a swimming pool – that brings to mind some ideas for the future …!

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