Tag Archives: lasercut

Warbases Skirmish Movement Trays

I picked up a batch of simple lasercut MDF trays sized for 25mm bases on one of my recent Warbases order. Pikeman’s Lament uses either six or twelve figures per unit as standard, so I bought a batch of six-base skirmish trays (listed on Warbases’ site as “Dux Brit/Zombie Trays“) and a pair of twelve-base three by four regiment trays for when a PL pike unit is in Close Order, both cut for the 25mm MDF bases I’m using for my English Civil War/Pikeman’s Lament project.

Each tray is two layers of 2mm MDF, lasercut and with the two layers already glued together straight from Warbases. I’d been thinking of replacing the bottom solid layer of 2mm MDF with something thinner (probably .030 plastic card) as I am not a huge fan of big thick bases, so having them arrive pre-assembled forced me to consider different options.

As an aside, if you really did want un-glued movement trays, or even just the tops so you could do your own base layers, I’m fairly sure Martin and Warbases crew can set you up that way. Chuck them an email and ask!

I finally broke out my grossly underused Dremel tool, poured a pint of excellent beer, and sat down on the back patio with this unwise combination to modify my movement trays to my liking!

Beer and power tools, an excellent combination! Also pictured, grumpy cat wondering why it’s so damn hot and why her human servant is insane. Click for larger.

A Note Of Warning: Power tools capable of 30,000 RPM and alcohol is not a recommended combination. Sanding MDF without wearing some sort of filter mask is also not recommended. Even though I was outside while doing this, I can still taste MDF dust on the back of my mouth over a day later. Wear a dust mask of some sort. Don’t combine power tools and beer, even very good beer. Dear readers, be smarter than me. Thank you. Also, should you not be smarter than me, don’t send lawyers after me. They’re scary. Thank you again.

Anyway…

A couple of minutes with a sanding drum on the Dremel per base rounded the top edges off nicely, and the corners of the regiment bases. I touched up a few scuffs from the Dremel by hand with regular sandpaper, knocked the nasty MDF dust off, and then brought everything – including the beer – inside to my workbench to add a bit of sand here and there to the trays.

First two bases done on the right, untouched ones on the left. Click for larger.

With that done, I put the Dremel away, poured another pint of beer, and put a bit of sand around the edges of the trays, being careful to keep it out of the holes. Dark brown base paint followed, then some drybrushing after that was dry, and finally some of my usual flock/turf mix here and there to help blend everything together.

Sand, base paint, and drybrush done, starting flock. Click for larger.
Flock all done. I might add some tufts or other detail bits eventually, but this will do nicely for now! Click for larger.
The bases in use with Warlord pike in various stages of completion. Click for larger.

These movement trays are a great value and will make “big” skirmish games a bit easier to manage! I’ll definitely be getting more, especially of the six-base irregular trays, and might contact Warbases about some custom irregular trays for my cavalry, who are mostly on 20mm by 40mm rectangular bases, or my artillery, when I add some guns to my Pikeman’s Lament forces. Having the entire force on similar movement trays would look really sharp and make games a bit more streamlined, especially if I’m running convention games for other people.

Review: Warbases MDF Vehicles

Warbases started doing vehicles in lasercut MDF and cardboard (greyboard) a few years ago and I was intruiged right away; a lot of 28mm vehicles are fairly expensive or (especially for World War One, Russian Civil War, or other early 20th C gaming) simply don’t exist.

It took me a while to get around to ordering any of the vehicles, but I now have a Pierce Arrow truck and an Albion truck that I’ve built, and I’m pleased to say these are really nice kits, great value for their cost, and quite easy to build!

The Peasant Cart

I also picked up Warbases’ Peasant Cart 2, which is part of their Carts & Wagons line, listed separately from the Vehicles line. This is a straightforward little model, about 20 pieces including the wheels, and produces a nice solid piece of wargaming scenery. It’s called a cart, but it is a full four wheel wagon.

Assembly and painting didn’t take much time at all, maybe half an hour. I used a random grubby wash of green-grey over the whole wagon, added a bit of pale grey for the insides of the wagon, then did a bit of edge highlighting with a grey-white mix just to pop some of the edges a bit. I’ll probably glue some straw (cut from manila cord) down to the inside of the wagon just for a bit more easy detailing.

Assembled and painted wagon, resting on top of a paint jar. Click for larger.

The wagon is big enough that two or three figures on 20mm bases could fit in the bed of it, although it’s too narrow for 25mm or larger bases to fit flat.

The Trucks

The Pierce Arrow is a relatively small truck, with room for two or three figures in the truck bed. The Albion is quite a bit larger, with room for 6 figures on 20mm bases or 3-4 figures on 25mm bases in the bed.

Albion truck under construction in the foreground, Pierce Arrow in the background. The figure is a 28mm Pulp Figures mechanic on a 20mm base. Click for larger.

Each truck comes as a couple of small sheets of MDF and an even smaller (business-card sized, roughly) sheet of greyboard card, with roughly 30 or so parts per vehicle. The instructions are photo-illustrated PDFs on the Warbases website, which does mean you can check them out before purchase. It sometimes takes a bit of peering at some of the photos to figure out which part is being fitted where, and as always I highly, highly recommend carefully dryfitting everything before you start adding glue!

One thing I noticed and appreciated about both trucks and the wagon is that any part that isn’t unique is actually identical to any corresponding part – the sides of the truck beds are identical and interchangeable, for example. Most parts aren’t labelled or numbered, but this nice design touch makes it hard to screw up the build process. Warbases has also put on-sprue/on-sheet photos of the parts of all three of these kits on their website, which helps sometimes with keeping track of parts.

The Pierce Arrow truck took me maybe an hour to assemble and paint to the point you can see in these photos; it’s got a bit of detail painting and cleanup left to do, and maybe some more weathering, so these are fast kits to assemble and get onto the table. I stopped assembling the Albion at the point you see in these photos so that I could paint the undercarriage before adding the wheels and fenders, as the Pierce got a bit cramped to paint with the wheels in place and the Albion has fenders on all four wheels, not just the front. I’ve also skipped putting the cab roof on the Albion for now to make painting the inside of the cab less painful.

Top view of both trucks with figures on 20mm bases in both. Six fit easily in the Albion (left) while three only just fit in the Pierce Arrow (right) with the third one overlapping. Figures all by Bob Murch/Pulp Figures. Click for larger.

The Pierce Arrow has been basecoated dark green with a black roof; I’ll do a round of highlighting (mostly of the edges) and there’s some detail areas like the wheels, headlight, and front grille left to paint. I haven’t decided what colour to do the bigger Albion; possibly dark grey or tan. Both colour schemes will do for either military or civilian vehicles of the era, especially in the chaos of the Russian Civil War!

The fenders, incidentally, are the only really fiddly bit of these kits. They’re lasercut card (greyboard) that you have to bend gently and then glue to an MDF inside piece to get them to hold the needed curve. Neither fender on the Pierce Arrow is quite right, although both are acceptable given the battering such fenders would take on the real vehicles! The instructions from Warbases say to bend the fenders over a pen or the handle of an Xacto, but doing this caused the greyboard to crease for me. I had better luck gently pressing the pieces against the pad of my thumb with another finger and gently flexing the card into a sort of curve that way.

That quibble aside, these are great kits and I’m sure I’ll get more eventually. They’re very sturdy once assembled, well designed for easy assembly, and it’s nice to have such an inexpensive source of vehicles for Early 20th C gaming!

Impudent Mortal Paint Rack

I first heard of Impudent Mortal when Richard of TooFatLardies used two of their buildings to build himself a very nice brewery for WW2 gaming. Rich got his through Minibits in the UK but it turns out Impudent Mortal is over on this side of “the Pond” down in the States.

I was interested in the universal brick look of the industrial buildings, which are the sort of Victorian/early-20th C brickwork you can find almost anywhere in the world right up to the present day, so I finally ordered a pair of brick buildings, a 6″x4″ rectangular building and a larger L-shaped building.

I also ordered one of their paint racks, the 66-bottle 3-level Reverse Eyedropper Paint Rack Extra Shelf, as most of my paint collection is Reaper Master Series in the very nice dropper bottles.

Communication from Walt at Impudent Mortal is fantastically quick and shipping is similar; everything arrived while I was away in northern Alberta then had to wait until I got back to the real world before I could do anything with it! Both buildings and the paint rack arrived tightly wrapped in heavy cling-wrap, the industrial version of your standard sandwich wrap, which kept all the components together very nicely inside the box.

I’ll get the buildings covered properly when I assemble them soon, but my first impression from dry-fitting the smaller building and then properly assembling the paint rack is that everything fits together easily and solidly. All the Impudent Mortal stuff is laser-cut from 3mm MDF, which will make for very solid buildings and a very solid paint rack.

Instead of shipping their stuff with instruction sheets IM has both videos and PDFs on their website, which has the advantage of giving you an idea of how everything fits together even before you buy it. The paint rack I bought is 14 pieces: two vertical sides, six shelf pieces, and the rest bracing at the backs of the shelves. Each shelf level has two pieces, the top piece with larger holes to hold the body of the dropper bottle, and the lower piece with smaller holes intended to hold the top of the lid of each dropper bottle.

Each level also has half a dozen smaller holes in each back corner, intended to hold brushes, sculpting tools, pencils or other small tools. That’s a useful way to use up the corners too small to tuck one more bottle into, but the lower pieces have holes in them too, which is odd – it means only the lowest shelf can actually be used to hold most things, because a brush or pencil put in one of the top shelf’s holes will just fall through. Leaving those corners of the lower pieces of each shelf pair solid would make them more usable.

Assembly was easy and quick and the fit was good. Lay one vertical side piece out, add all six shelf pieces with a bit of white glue, then drop the other side piece in and click everything together one shelf piece at a time. The various braces go on and keep everything square, and you’re done. Maybe ten minutes after I started I had the paint rack on my crowded painting bench and was loading paint into it!

paintrack
Workbench with new Impudent Mortal paint rack, 12 October 2014. Click for larger, as usual.

Making space for the new rack forced a badly-needed reorganization of my fairly small and very crowded painting bench. The small holes for paint brushes and tools will allow me to downsize the round white tin on the left to some sort of smaller container soon, now that files, pencils and such are tucked into the new rack, and the space-consuming clutter of overflow paint bottles from the homemade rack on the left is now nicely contained in the new rack. The shelves on this particular rack are far enough apart that you can fit GW or Tamiya paint pots between the top and bottom pairs of each shelf level, which is a nice bonus. You even have space to do that with a few pots per level when all the holes have dropper bottles in them – see the right-hand side of the middle shelf in the photo above!

The top shelf of the new rack will eventually hold my collection of acrylic artists inks that I use regularly on figures, but give the weight of those bottles I have had to leave them off until the glue had properly dried on the rack!

The IM racks are available in several different styles to fit different types of bottles; this one is about 12″ wide, 8″ deep and just under 12″ tall. Highly recommended and good value for money.

Hope everyone is having an excellent Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend, if you’re lucky enough to be a Canuck, or a good ordinary weekend if not!

Sarissa CityBlock Buildings, Finished

Finally have the Sarissa CityBlock 28mm lasercut MDF buildings to a table-ready state, including another hand-painted advertising sign on the side of one of them.

Here’s all seven buildings (six CityBlock plus one Narrow Townhouse from the Gaslamp Alley range) stacked up somewhat awkwardly:

sarissa_4aug2013
All seven MDF buildings, ready for the tabletop. Scale provide by three 28mm Pulp Figures reporters. Click for larger.

In one of my earlier posts, Chris had asked in comments about how these buildings came apart, so here’s the Hotel Atlantic spread open:

hotel_parts
The Atlantic Hotel spread into it’s constituent parts; three floors and a roof. Click for larger, as usual.

You can see I haven’t (yet) done anything with the insides of any of these buildings; beyond possibly splashing a coat of plain paint in, I’m not sure how much I’ll do inside them.

So, having built seven of the things but not actually written a full review, what did I think? First off, I like them, and will definitely be ordering more of Sarissa Precision’s buildings at some point. They’re solidly built, well designed, have enough detail to look good right out of the box, and are also easy to add extra detail to. Everything fits together very well, the laser-cutting is crisp and precise, and the CityBlock & Gaslamp Alley buildings are good generic city filler buildings, similar to thousands of real-world buildings all over the world, pretty much anywhere Europeans influenced architecture. Use them as-is, you could be nearly anywhere in North America, the UK or much of Europe; add a few “local” touches (different street furniture, a few different buildings for flavour, etc) and you could be in Shanghai, Cairo or Singapore just as easily!

I’ll do a couple of things differently on the next batch of MDF buildings I build, though. First of all, painting MDF is like painting a sponge. The stuff absorbs paint and water like crazy, and is actually quite hard to paint as a result. You go through a surprising amount of paint to get decent coverage; and because of the absorbency you can get streaky or blotchy paint coverage very easily. A couple of my buildings required a second coat of their base colour, and painting details like windowframes and the signs was harder than it should have been because you needed thin, wet paints and a well-loaded brush to get good coverage. So I’ll be doing as much painting as possible before assembly next time, instead of rushing assembly this time just for the joy of having complete buildings sitting around!

Spray cans or an airbrush might actually work better than brushes for basecoats on MDF, if you have access to an airbrush or a better selection of spraypaint colours than I do currently.

I’ve got a whole pile of small scenery detail bits that have been building up on the edges of my painting desk recently, so with these buildings out of the way it’s on to them to get them done and into play, then onto more figures! We’re having a Pulp Alley game tomorrow that should feature all my new buildings, so look for photos of that soon too.

Sarissa CityBlock Buildings, Part The Third

Progress continues on my seven Sarissa Precision buildings, albeit at a slower pace than I’d intended!

Basecoat and drybrushing is done on all seven buildings, gravel roof details likewise in place on all seven, most of the doors and windowframes are painted, and I’ve started cleanup and finishing.

I’ve always liked the looks of the big hand-painted signs and advertisements on the sides of older buildings, so given the wide blank side walls of the Sasrissa CityBlock buildings, it seemed natural to break out the smaller paintbrushes and go to it!

hotel_at
Newly-painted Hotel Atlantic sign on the side of the three-storey Sarissa Precision CityBlock building. Click for larger, as usual!

Still some cleanup to be done on the basic lettering, and I might yet redo the red ornamenting in both top corners, but the basics are done and I like how it turned out. This was all done freehand with a brush over some light pencil lines for guides, after I used Inkscape on the computer initially to play with letter sizes and spacing and figure out some basic guides. The “Hotel Atlantic” seemed like a good generic name, likely to occur anywhere in the English-speaking world, or even in non-English-speaking areas as the hotel set up to cater to English-speaking travellers.

One of the other buildings has a blank white square on it currently; later this week I’ll figure out what sort of sign or ad I want on it, too.

Sarissa CityBlock Buildings, Part The Second

Having assembled my new Sarrisa Precision lasercut buildings, it was time to consider adding some extra details to really make these buildings “pop” and bring them to life. One of the things I wanted to do was add detail to the fronts of the buildings, especially the cornices at the roofline, which are often quite elaborate on brick or stone urban buildings built in the late 19th or early 20th Century.

As I’d assembled these buildings I’d reflexively kept the bits of MDF from inside the windows and other openings in the models, and looking at the little pile of lasercut leftovers, I realized they’d be perfect for basic detailing and adding some relief to the fronts of my new buildings.

sarissa2
The three-storey Sarissa Precision building, and the sorted offcut bits of MDF. Click for larger, as usual.

There were more than enough bits and pieces to do the fronts of five of the seven buildings, with leftovers to keep going on the remaining two if I decide, although I’d like to use some light card in layers for a slightly different look on the last CityBlock building and the Gaslamp Alley townhouse.

Here’s all six of the CityBlock buildings stacked up, five of them with basic ornamentation added with “scrap” MDF.

sarissa3
All six CityBlock buildings stacked up, five of them with front details added. The statue is roughly 28mm tall, just for scale. Click for larger.

Next step is chimmneys and other rooftop detail. I’ll use basswood and plastic tubing for chimmneys, and create roof hatches, vents and roofwalks from basswood and card. Masking tape for tarpaper or paint and fine gravel will complete the roofs, then there’s painting to be done!

Sarissa CityBlock Buildings, Part The First

In my last post (two+ weeks ago!) I mentioned I’d bought a bundle of Sarissa Precision’s lasercut 28mm CityBlock buildings to bring our pulp gaming into an urban realm. I’ve finally got all seven buildings assembled; here they are on the counter.

sarissa1
All seven Sarissa Precision 28mm lasercut buildings. Click for larger, as usual.

The six similar buildings are from Sarissa’s CityBlock bundle, with one extra floor purchased to give me five two-storey buildings and one three-storey building. The seventh building is the Narrow Townhouse from Sarissa’s Gaslamp Alley Victoria SF line.

The CityBlock buildings go together quickly and easily; the walls and floors are 3mm MDF, and the window frames are seperate sheets of 2mm MDF designed to slot in behind the walls. The first several buildings I put together with more enthusiasm than consideration and glued the windows in right away; for the ones I’ve finished more recently have had the windows left out for now to make them easier to paint.

The floors and roof all come apart to allow access to the interiors of the buildings during games, and the simple tab-and-slot system should survive many games with no issues. The buildings all feel very solid once assembled.

The Narrow Townhouse from the Gaslamp Alley range is one of Sarissa’s most recent releases, and there’s a number of tweaks, refinements, and added details compared to the older CityBlock buildings. The interior floors have wood planking engraved on them, some of the etched and cut detail is a bit finer, and instead of 3mm & 2mm MDF, the Gaslamp buildings use 2mm MDF and laser-cut light cardstock, called “greyboard” on Sarissa’s website. This makes the Gaslamp buildings lighter than the CityBlock ones (although just as solid) and somewhat more detailed. The windows have both inner and outer frames lasercut from cardstock, for example.

Having assembled the basic buildings, I’m now turning toward detailing them before painting. I want to add some details and bits on the front facades and cornices of the buildings, and to the roofs. I’ll use fine modelling gravel on some roofs for a tar-and-gravel roof, and narrow masking tape on others for tarpaper roofs, and add details like chimmneys, roof walks and possibly even rooftop signs.

After that it’ll be time for paint. The engraving on the CityBlock walls is too large to “realistically” be brick, but I’ll likely paint several of them up in traditional red bricks anyway, as well as some as stone.

Detailing photos and writeup in the next couple of days!

Wagons from Frikkin’ Lasers

Got a nice box from J&M Miniatures earlier this week, and even before I cut the tape on the box I could smell the future… oddly enough, the future (of wargaming scenery) smells like scorched MDF. Laser-scorched MDF.

Specifically, a whole whack of 4Ground’s wagons. Corey had ordered approximately enough wagons to provide logistics for an invasion of Russia (well, OK, six…), which he might get around to showing off here at some point, and I’d tagged a single extra General Purpose wagon onto his order. I’ve previously reviewed 4Ground’s Generic Horse Cart, so it was nice to get my paws on the cart’s larger relative, the GP Wagon.

In the ziplock, you get a single 8″x5.25″ sheet of 3mm MDF full of laser-cut wagon parts and a single double-sided sheet of illustrated instructions. That and a dab or three of white glue are all you need to turn out a very nice wagon.

wagon1
4Ground’s General Purpose wagon, still in MDF sheet form.
wagon2
Wagon mostly finished, upside down so I can get the wheels in place.

The GP Wagon is a bit more involved than the Horse Cart, but everything is very precisely cut and well engineered. I’ve built injection moulded plastic kits that fit a LOT less precisely than this MDF wagon does! The only time I found the photograph-illustrated instructions less than clear was when beginning assembly of the front axle/steering assembly, but a bit of dry fitting reveals that the pieces really only go together one way, which makes it hard to really screw up.

wagon3
Finished, with the wagon pole pivoted vertical and a 28mm Copplestone Bolshevik militiaman for scale.

You have the option of adding canopy hoops over the bed of the wagon for the classic covered wagon look, but I elected to leave them off this one. The next will probably have hoops, just because! The finished wagon is just over 3″ long (6″ including the pole), about 1.75″ wide across the hubs, and about 1.5″ tall. You can fit three figures on 20mm bases into the back, two if you use oversized 1″ bases. I’ll probably paint both this one and the Horse Cart eventually, but even in bare MDF they look pretty good, with the dark laser-burned cut marks providing nice contrast to the normal honey-brown MDF.

Links of Interest, 28 March 2013

Short links of interest post while I buckle down and get more cavalry painted for our Russian Civil War games — why is it that six damn horses take as much effort as two dozen infantry, anyway?

Burn In Designs do paint racks, buildings and other laser cut stuff. I rather like the vertical paint racks that minimize the footprint they take up.

Mad Mecha Guy do more lasercut stuff, this time 15mm science fiction buildings and bits. The chap behind MMG is also apparently the sculptor of Ground Zero Games’ awesome new engineering mechs.

Terrain For Hippos is an entertaining blog with loads of photo tutorials of short, straightforward terrain projects, all presented by a semi-literate cartoon hippo named “Grot”.

Speaking of painting horses, I just discovered this huge infographic JPG via DeviantArt, which goes into all the many variations of horse colour, including useful information like which colour of mane, tail or hoof is usually seen with which coat colour.

Finally, the interesting folks over at Naval & Military Press have just started their Easter Sale which means 20% off across the board on a huge and fascinating array of specialized military history titles! I’m saving this quarter’s gaming budget for Trumpeter Salute in ten days, but NMP’s booklists are always full of tempting items!

Wargamers With Frickin’ Lasers, Part II

Exactly seven days after I ordered some Orthodox crosses and a few other laser-cut bits from Archeotech, a small padded envelope arrived from the UK. Tucked into a pipe-tobacco tin were 20 of the Orthodox crosses and a pair of small rowboat kits. Amusingly, the tin still smells strongly of pipe tobacco, which combines with the faint burnt-wood smell common to laser-cut MDF in an odd but not unpleasant way.

pewpewpew
Orthodox crosses and such from Archeotech. Click for larger, as usual

Andy of Archeotech designed them in pairs out of 1mm MDF, so you glue them back-to-back to get a squarer, cleaner edge than you’d get with a single piece of 2mm MDF. This means that you get a mixed batch of fronts and backs. It’s fairly obvious which is the front and which the back with the MDF Andy uses; one side is noticeably shinier and smoother than the other.

I’ve assembled two of the crosses already, and tacked one of them onto a penny just to get it upright. Scale is provided by a Pulp Figures 28mm U.S. Navy gunboat sailor, also on a penny base.

The other part of my small Archeotech order was a pair of their little rowboat kits. The laser-cut 1mm MDF bits here provide the frame and detail bits (oars and oarlocks) for a small 2″ long rowboat; you provide a strip of light card or heavy paper about 7mm wide for the sides of the boat, as detailed in the well-illustrated instructions on Archeotech’s website. This isn’t a serious figure-carrying vessel, more a small detail piece to appear alongside a dock or as a tender, to provide nautical flavour. It’s a well-designed little kit, though, and the basic idea could easily be scaled up to make a small launch or powerboat that was capable of carrying three or four 28mm figures on small bases.

As I mentioned in my first “Frickin’ Lasers” post, Archeotech is set up to do custom/semi-custom lasercutting specifically for wargamers, and to work with wargamers on designs. I’ve certainly got some things I’ll be approaching Andy about in the future!