What a Load of Cobbles

Yesterday I painted up some civilians for my 1940 Dunkirk project; whilst I feel that we need to be careful about how we represent civvies in wargames, I do feel that in some situations it is not only acceptable to represent them, but you need to do so.  In France and Belgium in 1940 when rumours of Fifth Column activity were rife and many fifth columnists actually apprehended, I think we need to include that in our games where appropriate.
Anyway, I posted a photo on Twitter and said “I can’t be bothered to sculpt cobbles”.  The idea of rolling out green stuff and poking it in around the feet of several models was just too much.  However, I did feel that didn’t want the civilians to be running across a field of grass.  So, I had an idea which, if it worked, would allow me to do a quick and simple cobble effect without the tedium of sculpting each one.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to buy my basic brushes in packs.  I’ll get a range of brushes, most of which are handy, but the odd one will be what I call a “stupid brush”.  It serves no obvious purpose and I never use it.  One like this for example.

As can be seen, it has absurdly long bristles and is a waste of space.  However, the metal bit which houses it could be useful.  I used pliers to pull the bristles out and then put the remaining bits in a naked flame which burnt them out.  I used a small drill bit to drag out any reside, leaving me with a round bit of metal.
With that done, I used quick dry Polyfilla and spread this on all or part of the base.  I smoothed this down with a damp finger.   
After a couple of minutes, I went to work with the paint brush, using the bristle housing to press into the filler to create round cobbles.  Apologies fro the rubbish photos, I was burning the midnight oil to get this done in time for Crisis.

After a minute or two the base looked like this.

I repeated this on all five civilian bases before leaving them overnight to dry.  I then added sharp sand to the rest of the base and painted as normal.  You can see that this gives a fairly rough and ready effect when viewed close up.
 When viewed from normal wargaming distance I think it works okay.  For me, on a tight schedule, it does the job.
What I have tried to do with the civilians is tell a small story on each base.  Front right we see the cyclist glancing at the family of the mother with baby, her husband and father.  Back right we have the mother, son and grandfather stepping aside to allow the Gendarme to pass.  Front left we have another family of mother father, daughter and elderly grandfather with a Nun assisting.  Back left we have a group of Nuns and in the centre we see the Priest accompanied by the well to do elderly couple, she in fox furs and clasping her handbag stuffed with the family jewels.
So, that’s the civvies complete, now I need to finish off my German infantry platoon and some British support options.
Just to add a few words here as I have had several people contact me and ask about some of the figures.  The figures are a mix of makes, chiefly Foundry and West Wind.
West Wind do some really nice French Civilians which can be found here:
WestWind Civilians  I also used West Wind for the Nuns from their Vampire Wars range. All of these I used straight out of the pack.
The Foundry figures are from their WWII British range and are sold a “British Characters” which can be found here: British Characters
Essentially they are characters from the support cast of Dad’s Army including Mr Hodges, The Revered Farthing, the Verger and others.  These are nice models, but an English vicar wasn’t what I was looking for, nor was a British Bobby on his beat, so a little conversion work was done.  The Vicar and verger were both beheaded and the heads swopped around.  The British policeman got a spare head from a French officer.
With a little green stuff I gave the Priest a gold crucifix and chain.  The figure which now had the verger’s head was given a collar and tie where it had had a clerical collar.  The police officer had his collar built up and I shaved off the British police cuffs and added a holster from a 1:48 model kit.  Where he had a British battle bowler hung from his belt, I cut that away with nail clippers and filed it down to look like the rear of the bag he is carrying.   
Simple conversions but ones that make the figures rather more appropriate for their purpose.


9 thoughts on “What a Load of Cobbles”

  1. ChamberlainSkeksil

    They look good!
    Have you tried deforming the tube so it’s not perfectly round? If you have more than one bad brush you could make a couple of different shapes and break things up.

  2. That brush is for pinstriping, but you’ve found a good replacement purpose for it. In the hands of a master, pinstriping is amazing to see, but for the rest of us, the brush isn’t terribly useful.

  3. Excellent use of the brush end. May have to give that a go. Yup bending and edge will give that un-uniform look, or what about a different size. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I’ve done similar with the eraser end of pencils. Pull the erasers out and squish the metal bit to your desired shape. If you’re feeling industrious you can hold a few of these together with an elastic band to cover a bigger area.

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