All I Want for Christmas is an Impressive Bush

A wise man from Birmingham once said “It’s Christmaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas!” and once again he’s right, ‘cos its here again.  On Lard Island that means two things, a surplus of mince pies and sherry and a Festive build project.  This year we are looking forwards to testing the ideas and army lists behind the forthcoming Far East Handbook for Chain of Command, so we have a HUGE project ahead of us.  I need to paint several armies, read a huge pile of books and, possibly the most challenging bit, build a whole load of jungle and associated terrain.
For me the figures and books are pretty straightforward.  The jungle is a bit trickier as, to be frank, I don’t have a really fixed idea about what I am going to do.  I’ve looked at a lot of ideas on-line, but unlike Goldilocks, I just can’t find one that is ‘just right’.  So, with no clear plan, I thought I’d just jump in and have a go.  We shall see where that ends up…
First things first, I knew that a big pile of palm trees I had bought on eBay would be centre stage.  I also knew that some 3mm MDF terrain bases I had got from, Charlie Foxtrot would be the bases.   You can see them here.

This first stage was pretty simple.  I added some artists mounting board to some bases to give variation in elevation, drilled some holes and stuck the palm trees in place with hot glue.  This is all pretty blooming obvious.  I used artists mounting board as I find that even high density polystyrene is a bit squidgy and when tall trees get knocked the principle of leverage as discovered by elderly bubble Archimedes is applied and said tree is torn from its base.  Artists mounting board would, I hoped be a bit more resilient.  I also had it to hand, which sometimes will suffice.  An artists mounting board in the hand is worth an Archimedes in the bush.


Actually, having done this I did find myself wondering if the minimal change in elevation as worth it.  In fact when two bits of board are applied it isn’t really that noticeable.  Three bits, however, do give a better result.
Anyway, that was the easy bit.  What next?
Well, I reckoned that I wanted to add four layers of foliage.  A relatively tall layer of, say an inch to an inch and an half in height, followed by some lower but possibly wider planes to give ground cover.  Below that would be rotting leaves on the floor with a general layer of green vegetation on top or around that.
For the tall foliage, I used a mix of fish tank plants some of which were good to go out of the pack, some longer tailing plants were ideal only when snipped into sections.  I decided that once again I would drill into the bases for these as this really does increase the strength.  The plant below is a good example of what can be found on eBay for peanuts.

Next, I used the longer”chain” type plants designed to sway about in a fish tank to create some standing plants.  When you loom at them straight from the pack they look utterly useless.

However, with a judicious clip or snip they can look like this within seconds.  Much more useful.  If not actually perfect for what we want.  I’ll also be using these later for some areas of lower standing vegetation.  Again, drill a hole and stick in place with a hot glue gun.

Now, a quick interlude here before we look at shorter and wider plants that will give us ground cover.  Why, you may ask, am I now painting these plants and trees before I stick them into the base.  Surely I don’t want my plants looking quite so vivid and plastic?  You’re right.  Many tutorials suggest painting stuff first of all, even taking apart the bits of trees and painting the foliage and truck separately.  There are two reasons for this.  Firstly, I am lazy and the idea of painting individual palm fronds strikes me as being as thrilling as contracting botulism.  Secondly, I am not convinced that we can’t just tosh on the paint and get a pretty similar result to treating this as though it were the Sistine Chapel.  This may well be a huge Crocodile which returns to bite me in the arse, but I feel pretty confident at this moment.
Right, off to walk the mad dog.  More later on bush related fun.


9 thoughts on “All I Want for Christmas is an Impressive Bush”

  1. Your army lists for the Pacific can really be quite expansive. There should be early and later war lists for the Australians and Americans, a smaller list for the New Zealanders and a wide range of lists for the British as well. For the latter, there would be early lists for those armies that resisted the Japanese in Malaya and Burma and later armies that would include Gurkha and Chindit components. And of course there’s the Chinese, Dutch KNIL, and French in Indochina. The good thing about the Japanese is that although there is some variety to be had between the IJA, SNLF and the new parachute troops available from Company B you could make the argument that one size fits all. I look with great anticipation to see how this project unfolds.

  2. Hi Richard, I’ve had good luck with exactly the same palm trees as you with two methods. First, from a distance use a spray can of buff, olive green, and whatever other natural colour you’ve got to dust on a layer of colour. Do this from the side/bottom and then top. This’ll dull down the shiny fronds and give a bit of variation.
    Second, if you’ve got an airbrush handy you can do the same thing but with a little more control. In total, this’ll cost you an hour of time if you spray at the stage this article is at in terms of trees.
    Happy modelling!

  3. Hi Richard — Instead of layering with card and drilling holes, glue some foam insulation on top of your base, sand to shape and height, then simply push trees and impressive bush into the foam with a glue gun. Easy! I’ll try to post some photos of my jungle clumps later. Chuck

  4. Hi Richard ~ I used Sean’s spray can method successfully. I also used Chuck’s foam idea. Then I covered the entire base with a sheet of dried moss from a craft store’s floral arranging section. Great jungle plant possibilities there! Oh yeah, I used white glue then sprayed the moss with either wet water or isopropyl alcohol then copious amounts of diluted matt medium. It’ll last forever and the colors hold up well.
    Have Fun walking the mad dog!
    ~ Tom T

  5. I put together some terrain together for Saipan that followed same process. I would recommend quite a few single trees as well as the groups. I also made quite a few broken palms – post blast damage.

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