One thing about the good old days is that they weren’t all that good. At least, not if you’re talking about variety of stuff you could buy off the shelf, ready-made. These days there are many, many times more of everything available: more miniatures, more scenery, more paints, more rules, more tutorials – you name it, there’s more choice now.
However, back in those long-gone days or yore, when we hadn’t got more than a few card buildings out of old White Dwarfs to stick on the table, we had to make sure own. And, when we did, we used all manner of rubbish: insides of old radios, toilet roll holders, Pringles tubes (once they’d been invented), toothpicks, film cases, and so on. Whatever you could find that had an interesting shape.
While I’m intending to use slightly more robust materials than cereal packets for my own core construction, I thought it would be fun to go back to that nostalgic ransacking to see if I could find any interesting stuff for my Old Skool Skirmish boards.
The first victim was an old router I found. It’s not worth anything on eBay, and it’s outdated so it’s not much use elsewhere. So out came the toolkit…
Here’s what it looked like when I started.
The dirty white outer case popped off easily enough. Can’t see a use for that. The inner box has perforated sides that look like they should have some use, so I wanted to get into that. Fiddly stuff, but it came apart in the end.
The PCB is mostly rubbish. I’ve seen them used on scenery before, and they look terrible. Just like giant PCBs, which is silly. The trick is to find something that’s got an interesting shape you wouldn’t be able to easily make, but which you can disguise in terms of scale and provenance.
I’m liking the look of this clear plastic curvy pseudo piping. Not sure what it’s actually doing in here, though I can see it as piping on a tabletop.
The other bits I like are the insides of the ports. These look like they might do as air-con units, or something like that once they’ve been taken off the board.
Then there’s the sides of the inner case, with their perforations. It’s nice and robust, so could be a wall of some sort. Might suit some part of my modernist Plaza.
I’ve not quite finished hacking off the goodies and dumping the rubbish – I ran out of time before I had to write this. You can see where I’m going though. And this is fun too. You never know what you’re going to find when you crack something open!
Do you game over scratch built terrain made from found items, or are you a buy off the shelf kind of gamer?
Funnily enough, this weekend saw me put together a plastic model kit set of walls and ruins AND scratch build some castle walls with my son. (For a GIANT God of Battles game we have coming up in two weeks FYI)
I will very happily scratch build things, or buy actual made to use stuff, or buy stuff that can be used as scenery … maybe with some modifications.
So far the castle wall includes, the plastic kit, the foamcore and wooden details and a big gate action figure toy thing bought for a £1 at a charity shop.
Sounds like an excellent combo. I think it’s this sort of mix that makes the most of each element.
Loads of the terrain featured in Horizon Wars was scratch built to some extent. I’ve been told to stop by SWMBO, but it’s a compulsion. So more I donate new pieces to my local clubs.
The tubes are optic cables carrying the various LED outputs to the outer casing. PCB gubbins is pretty good stuff if you can cut it off the board. It’s especially good for making little pieces of scatter terrain. However, a big challenge for scrap terrain is glue. A lot of the plastics in consumer products aren’t compatible with typical hobby glues.
I recently found a product from Evostick, called Impact that’s the best I’ve yet found for all-purpose multi-material gluing.
I wrote an article for Miniature Wargaming on the subject which I think they’re going to publish next month.
Glue is always an issue. I’ve known people who swore by hot glue guns, though that does melt some materials. Personally, I mix and match, though I have to admit a fondness for Araldite.
I did have before I gave it away as a gift a fantastic space station made out of a PCB.
And obviously where units have been broken or ripped open certain types of PCBs look appropriate (representing of course PCBs…).
I always look for interesting shapes to make it easier to cut oit windows, doors etc. Especially if you want stuff to look symmetrical it is easier using a template.
What a good idea. I hadn’t thought of using the interesting shapes as templates. Intriguing…
Scratchbuilt terrain. Always.
When I used to game more intensively, I had the ability to eye up any object in terms of what it would look like as 28mm terrain. Bits of broken stuff were always my favourites.
Once, on holiday in Greece, I walked past a burned-out ruin. There was a mess of broken white enamel, where someone’s beautiful bathroom set had fallen and shattered. The contrast of the soft curves and the hard fracture edges was beautiful in a “someone bombarded the hell out of a beautiful futuristic city” way. Did I carry those broken shards all the way back with me? Yes I did.
Of course you did. Anything else would have been crazy 🙂
Made a batch of scenery for the local games club a few weeks ago, one of those things one got taught a lifetime ago at a club, and stuck in back of memory . You use 1″ wide strips about 6″ long as a fixed size to construct scenery on, or 1.5 by 3″. for blocky bits
In ones case this time it was used with old plastic sprue’s and mdf sprue’s from bits box glued and used as fencing/barricades, with bits chain, mesh and plant-roots or old signs, or street furniture. Its all good as its tatty and quick to knock up just sand and grit base. If broken just stick together and dab with paint. And painting just needs washes and blocking on with cheap poster paint.
However the advantage is that with the small base it forces you to think creatively and stores easily in a old shoe box.
Simple, knockabout terrain pieces are great for clubs, where they’re likely to take a lot of punishment. As you say, a blob of glue and a dab of paint can repair ruinous terrain without being obvious, and suits a lot of games.
The stuff I’m thinking of here is a rather finer standard (both in terms of level of detail, finish, and fragility) because it will live in my house and only come out with folk who are going to treat it nicely 🙂
One is curious as with your attention to detail if it will ever be just right, or will it be something to keep improving. 😉
There’s always room for improvement…
I’m not sure what they’re called but in the middle of the chip board there’s some cylinder things, metal wrapped in plastic. Clip them off, turn them upside down and add a small handle on top and they look like some kind of toxic waste container with a lid.