Mitteleuropa on the Cheap
Today was one of those days when nothing quite went to plan. Having completed my Freikorps mounted Dragoons yesterday I was intending to varnish and base them before penning a piece updating you on my Imagi-nations progress. However, the Gods decided otherwise as it has rained all day with a break just long enough to quickly varnish the cavalry, but not to even begin basing and I certainly couldn’t undercoat the next unit in the painting queue. So, thoughts turned to other aspects of the project, namely creating the look of middle Europe on the wargames table.
Most of my 28mm buildings are very specifically WWII and with a big emphasis on Normandy. For 18th century Germany I was keen for a very different, more antiquated, almost gothic, look. Some years ago I had purchased a bulk package of buildings on eBay. They were in resin, which despite all the great MDF products out there I still prefer, and I wheeled them out for a few mediaeval games where they looked the part. However, they never really won a place in my heart as they were a bit of an odd colour and some of the architectural detail didn’t make sense to me.
I did try to repaint some models, as you can see here. However, the texture still left me less than enthusiastic.
This building is a good example of what I wasn’t keen on.
The ground floor here is absolutely fine, with brickwork which could be repainted to look rather nice. However, the first floor is a bit featureless, with very odd windows which apparently go into the attic. If we look at the read of the building, the ground floor has no rear doors and neither floor have windows. This may be picky, but I find that implausible and it also less than ideal for a skirmish game where you want windows to fire from and doors to use to access the building.
You can call me picky here, and I should stress that I am not moaning about the quality of the buildings generally as they were VERY reasonably priced and can be thrown onto the wargames table straight from the box. Indeed, as I travel around the clubs in the UK, it is very obvious that lots of people do like them as they are pretty ubiquitous in club terrain cupboards. In fact, it may be that omni-presence which puts me off as I tend to like one-off items of scenery, or at least items which have been slightly amended to make them appear unique. Rooting through my spare parts box, I thought I had discovered the answer to my terrain conundrum.
Armed with the warbases building parts and a sheet of artists mount board, I set about converting the ordinary building into something rather different.
In the end I decided that the first floor frontage was really beyond hope and simply put a lintel in above the window. The real changes I made on the first floor were to add some windows, shutters, sills and lintels along with some timbering to suggest a wooden structure. What had been the faceless rear upstairs wall was now to be turned 180 degrees to be the new frontage. The weird little windows would simply be exit points for chamber pots.
Next I cross the Rubicon and slapped Polyfiller all over the models. At first I applied this with a knife (a butter knife to be precise) but then it became clear that an old pig bristle brush would do the job more readily. As an aside, pig bristle brushes are very handy for all sorts of “slap it on” jobs. You can pick them up from pound shops as these are the brushes kiddies get given at school. Frankly they are great for anything other than painting pictures (unless you want a picture which looks like it was painted by a pig) and are so hardwearing they will almost never wear out. As you can see below, I went for a rustic look, slapping the filler on and then smoothig it out with the butter knife after about five minutes.
Now, this is a bit of a leap in the dark as I have no idea if this will work or not, but as it stands the filler does look like a rustic plaster job rather than a 1930s pebble dash finish. I decided to just do two buildings as a test project today with a view to taking a more factory line approach next week if it works. Anyway, here’s the two now they are at this rather ugly stage in the process.
Tomorrow Nick and Sidney are coming round for a game as we can’t get to Salute this year, so you’ll see more of these next week. Possibly being hurled into the bin of the grand scheme doesn’t work…