Monday, January 25, 2016

28mm Jungle Terrain

So the guys have wanted to move some of our African gaming from the savanna into denser jungle terrain. After looking at Dr. Mathias' tutorial on LAF, I decided to take a shot at creating something that looks lush down at table level, but left plenty of  open space above for people to be able to easily move their figures around.

The first step was  to find something reasonable for the tree branches and leaves. I went through several bunches of silk plants, but the leaves always looked too large to scale properly for 28mm. I also looked at using foam semi-spheres covered in moss, but didn't think I could create something that looked satisfactory or that wouldn't get knocked over during play. In the end, I managed to find some flocked plastic ferns at the Micheal's craft store. These have metal wires running up each stem, so they are fairly sturdy and can be bent so the shapes look more natural. These are manufactured by a company called Ashland, and there are 7 stems on a bunch. Many of the leaves have curls on the ends, so I nipped those off, as I didn't think they looked appropriate for tree branches.

For the ground plants, I managed to find a great selection of cheap, plastic vivarium plants at the local pet shop.  These are made by a company called Zoo Med and come in a variety of styles and bag sizes. For this scale, I though the Amazonian Phyllo, Malaysian Fern, Australian Maple, and Borneo Star all looked reasonable.  I also threw in some plants from an Ashland greenery mat I had left over from the savanna project.

To give the impression of larger trees in the jungle, I picked up some cork bark branches at the same pet store. I sawed the ends flat for mounting, they dry brushed the branches in various shades of green to look like moss. Finally I used some shredded moss roll (left over from my hedge project) to represent vines climbing of the sides of the tree trunks.  The trunks will be mounted without branches on top, creating that open space so players can get their hands down into the jungle easily.

To mount the trees, I drilled holes in wooden disks purchased from the craft store.  The disks weren't that thick, so I doubled up areas where the trees would go to help prevent the wood from cracking over time. I originally mounted the trees first, but in hindsight I'd recommend applying the dirt and flock first. After the trees had dried, further holes were drilled for all the ground plants.

Here's a finished product. I've used various base sizes and shapes to give the jungle elements a more irregular layout, and also sprayed down each base with matte finish to reduce the shine from the plastic plants and also help hold the flock on the tree branches (they suffered from some shedding during assembly).

And another example of just the large tree trunks. There are also a few small bases of ground plants only to further fill in gaps.

Finally, here is an overheard shot showing  some of the open spaces for arms to get under the canopy easily. 

I still have more bases to finish up, but my hope is to get enough assembled to cover at least a third of a 4x6 table.  We'll try it out this weekend, so I'll report back on how it performs during game play. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

German Equipped Chinese

As I've mentioned previously, I want to be able to pull my Ma Warlord army into the Second Sino-Japanese War, so I ordered some German equipped infantry from Brigade Games, along with a German Pak 36 from Perry Miniatures.  

The Brigade figures are very well sculpted, but smaller than the Copplestone figures (though they seem close to the Perry). There was a bit if flash and mold lines that had to be cleaned up, but for the majority of the figures it wasn't too big of an issue.  Unfortunately there were a few figures where the mold line ran down the face or other areas that couldn't easily be filed down.  My hope is that will get lost in the background. As with my earlier swordsmen, I've moved the color of the uniforms into the green-grey tones and used Brigade's Kuomintang sun decals on the helmets to represent the 36th Division.

 The LMG package includes two LMG teams; one firing and one moving. The machine guns appear to be Czech ZB vz. 26s or 30s, but are missing the bipods. I've gone ahead and added those using some bits of jeweler's wire.

Currently no manufacturer makes a Chinese Pak 36 anti-tank gun, so those wishing to field one will have to pick from one of the German sets out there. The biggest problem with this is that many of the figures are wearing boots, which isn't correct for the Chinese. However, I did find a few photos online where it appears that not all the Chinese troops were wearing puttees.  As such, I thought a Perry DAK Pak 36 was probably going to be my best bet. The open collars don't look correct, but perhaps manning the gun is hot work. I also filed off the epaulets to help them further blend into my Chinese forces.  Overall, I think it ended up looking pretty good.

I still have a few Tibetan cavalry figures to finish up, but the army is getting close to completion. I'll take a group shot when everything is done.