Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Come over to my house and play!


An idea has been churning around in my head for some time though its been far below the surface.  Suddenly I found myself aware of, and acting upon it; a larger surface, in the house, upon which to photograph, and play with, toy soldiers.   Time to head out to the shop.

I figured out the materials on paper and drew up a plan, then it was time to power-up the table saw and start cutting.

The table is designed to fit in an unused corner of the furnace room.  The available space is about four feet by seven and a half.

All that remains is to brace the legs, and to start building topographic elements - things for soldiers to hide behind!

Band-saw and sander (with extra coarse belt) teamed up to make some cool artillery lunettes.

Back to the sander to use the disc to transform odd pieces of 2"x4" into boulders.

Things are shaping up, with stone ridges, boulders, and terrain features.

For the most part this was all done using scrap wood that I just had lying around.  All of the hills are stepped, ziggurat-style, to allow soldiers to appear to be climbing them.

The pieces were cut and stacked for a large hill.  This was the only feature which had the layers permanently glued and clamped.

Hey, you use your clamps, I'll use mine.

Here's one version of how this strategic point can be utilized.

Now came painting and texturing.

For texture on most of the pieces I liberally brushed carpenters glue all over the surfaces and then sprinkled fine sawdust all over the wet glue.

This process is really easy and way cheaper than buying hobby-shop flocking.

Texture applied...

its time to paint.

Things are starting to take shape.

I cut a creek out of a sheet of Plexiglas and reverse-painted a creek on it.

Now came time to paint a backdrop.

I used the James Hope paintings at Antietam National Battlefield for guidance.

Using acrylics I got started.  Getting a nice gradation of blue for the sky was actually the hardest part.

The backdrop took about six hours to paint. Then I shoved the table back into position and started placing the various elements.

All pieces, save for the largest hill, have separate layers...

providing a variety of combinations.

With the paint barely dry and as the last element was put into place the troops started arriving on the field.

Artillery was well-represented and putting the lunettes to effective use.

A sentinel on the high ground surveys the arrival of the army.

In the valley below he sees the cloud of dust as cavalry thunder across the otherwise peaceful creek

Ancient boulders sit impassive to the machinations of man.

A signal station is established on a high prominence.

More artillery is rushed to the scene.  One can only imagine the outcome.

An outcome that may be the fodder of a later post.

Here it is, a nice, warm, dry place to play the winter away.  Total time to make this was two weekends and a few evenings in between.

This is a work in progress.  Right now I'm working on a road, lane, more terrain, and a railroad bed, and more trees as well.  I'll be posting more as things continue to evolve.  Do tune in.

The more things change...

the more they stay the same.

Soldier on!




Quantrilltoy said...

It looks very effective Mannie. I could do with your carpentry services here as I am taking one of my wargame tables apart and moving the sixty odd boxes of soldiers underneath ( not to mention surrounding cabinets) to rip up my carpet, soaked from a roof leak. My wargame table is about fouteen by ten feet but I'll probably using insulatuon foam for the new terrain. James

Scott B. Lesch said...

Oh Manny that's all fantastic!

BTW, I know a lot of folks have the hobby molds, but is they any chance that Union bugler says "Lesch" on the base bottom? I sold a good number of those.

Alan Charlesworth said...

You have created a very beautiful and individual look their Mannie. Great for playing and photography. I really like the crafted wooden pieces. Very durable and different to all the foam stuff you usually see.

Brigadier Dundas said...

That was a very thoughtful presentation of your process for tackling a fairly large job. I especially like the hand painted background. Thanks for sharing your inspiration.


Unknown said...

"Nice work, excellent back-drop." Nice use of colors! I applaud your willingness to use wood for terrain. Styrofoam is easier so way to go Mannie .... Chasseur

Tim Gow said...

Fantastic work - very well done!

joppy said...

Brilliant use of spare space and very inspirational. I should really get myself of the settee and into the garage (workshop) but it's too cold.

Hugh Walter said...

If I might say so - one of your best posts/blogs ever, for a number of reasons, not least the little nostalgia heart-string pull at the end there!

I too love the wooden scenics, the backdrop was a hell of a thing to tackle and the 1st photo'sesh proves the worth of the whole efort, thanks for shareing it with us.


Unknown said...

Hey Mannie, My name is Dwight Grosso and I just joined your blog. I first saw your videos on youtube about a month ago and was hooked. I love the way you do your hobby. It is very refreshing to see things done your way when what I have learned how to do is from games workshop and Wargames Illustrated.

Don M said...

Manny, hats off to you a fantastic