More roads…and the attic gets some storage!

Despite having a nightmare day with the kids I managed to get the batch of vinyl roads finished and put together a howto, try out the magnetic foam roads, get the Helmer units put together and find time to sit down and write this lot up! I’ve still got to log in to work to run some database updates but that can wait 🙂

First up, the vinyl roads.

1. Cut the tile into 40mm side strips and then cut any curves, junctions required. Peel off the paper backing to reveal the adhesive and lay them all out. Then scatter the lot with a mix of fine and medium model railway ballast.


 And as you can see, I had a helping hand from my daughter. She insisted and it was easier to say yes!

2. To make sure the ballast is well fixed, use a spare spray can as a roller and make sure it’s all well stuck. Don’t press too hard though as the ballast seems to ‘powder’ under heavy pressure!


3. Once it’s had a little time to dry in, adjourn to a suitably open space…

 …and spray the lot with Army Painter Leather Brown

4. I’d intended taking a pre and post grass picture but didn’t have the camera to hand during the first session but basically, a good dry brush with my mid-brown and then a top brush with a cream/off-white. And then PVA and my standard static grass to give it some contrast.


I’d decided to add some bits of bush but I’m not sure it’s necessary and may make storage a but harder as they’ll not stack as well

5. Finally I sprayed the lot with matt varnish. I’ll likely try the PVA mix other people have suggested on the next batch of scenery.

Overall, quite pleased with them. Not sure how they’ll hold up to regular use, but that’s unlikely to be an issue with the number of games I play!

Following the suggestions of a few people on other forums/blogs I picked up some magnetic backed grey foam sheets. This was to use as modern tarmac roads. The easy option is to just cut it into strips and use as is. But that’s too easy for me! So, I’ve tried to add a verge (no grass on yet) and some white lines. These latter were problematic. I used a white gel pen and it doesn’t take too well to the foam, but not too bad though. It would also have helped if I’d got the lines in the right place!


This gives a view of the thickness of the foam. Although the magnetic basing adds to the thickness, it also makes it more robust and the added weight helps hold it on place.

I was almost tempted by the idea of coating my boards with sheet metal as then the roads would ‘stick’ in place! Again, I’m not sure on how tough the foam will be but it should be OK. And for 49p a sheet it’s a bargain! These roads are 35mm wide. I may still do the main batch in 30mm wide. And I also need to look into what the correct road markings should be!

And finally, to conclude this lengthy Sunday night post, I made up the Ikea HELMER drawer units. Given the amount of thin steel and sharp edges involved I only managed to draw blood once! They are a great little find (£20 each). I’m going to line each drawer with a non-lip sheet, and maybe make up some compartments to separate stuff. It would also be useful to have some holed ‘panels’ to store Vallejo pots upside down. I think this may help the issue I have of the ‘dropper’ drying out and blocking up.

As you can see, the desk is a little cluttered

 The plan is to move the two units under the left side of the desk

 So there we have it. Some progress of sorts. I now need to decide how many credits I can claim for the various roads pieces?

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Hobbycraft…a love/hate visit…

Today I had a trip to Hobbycraft in search of scenery making material. To ‘earn’ this trip I had to agree to a trip to Ikea with wife and kids to get cushion covers! Luckily, this also enabled me to purchase two Helmer draw units for my ‘toy’ storage 🙂

Prior to leaving I’d checked the Hobbycraft website and they had a offer to register for their newsletter and get a £5 voucher for spending £25 or more. So I registered, closed my browser when they started hassling me to send the offer to friends, and waited for the confirmation email and details of the voucher to come through. Nothing appeared. Now it transpires you have to follow the process to the bitter end to get the download link. Stop early and that’s it. You don’t get the link and there is no way to go back and find it! I pointed this out in the shop and was basically told, no printed voucher, no discount. So I placed my basket on the bench and stormed out!

An hour later, after going home, finding the correct sequence for the voucher, printing it, I returned and got my £5 off! I still think it’s an iffy sequence on the website and I shall complain. It was the staff attitude that pissed me off though…

Anyway, what did I buy?

  • lots of PVA! You can never have too much!
  • some green flock which I intend to use for hedges.
  • some brown felt to try for field/rough ground areas
  • some magnetic backed rubber foam – for roads
  • some 1mm plasticard – for? Not sure yet 🙂
  • and a Citadel Battlemat!

The main purchase was to be the magnetic backed rubber foam. In grey, the magnetic sheet gives it a good robustness and assuming I can cut it neatly, and maybe add a verge and white lines, should make good tarmac roads. I may still try the vinyl tiles for this as well but it can’t hurt to have plenty of roads! I’ve also got a brown sheet (all are A4 and 59p by the way) which I may try to add texture to for wood bases.

The battlemat was a semi-impulse buy. I’d seen them in use on Sgt Steiner’s blog and have been looking for a replacement for my Purbeck terrain tiles, which although OK are just too bloody space consuming! I’d popped into Games Workshop in the week to look at one and thought they looked OK. But I wasn’t too keen on paying £18.50. A trawl of the web found a few offers at £14.50 but then with £3+ postage it wasn’t much of a saving. Hobbycraft were supposed to stock them and the website said £18 but the £5 off would make it worthwhile. It turned out they had them on for £15 so it was quite a good deal. Of course I ended up spending a tad more than the required £25 needed to use the voucher 🙂

The mat looks fine and I’ll hopefully get to try it next week as I have a game lined up at the Club – possibly a Punic based Impetus game.

I quite like my visits to Hobbycraft. I only go a couple of times a year. I know there are some things I could likely get online cheaper but it’s nice just to browse and take home a bag of goodies. The mess up with the voucher was annoying but worth pursuing. And it made the purchase of the battlemat worthwhile. It’s been nice to be working on some terrain again. I know I really need to crack on with the 28mm but I’m contemplating a day off next week to have a little blitz on them.

All in all a good little day. I’ll be making up my Ikea units tomorrow and having a bit of a tidy. I should have my first batch of ’tile’ roads done as well. Pics will follow…

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On a road to nowhere…

Well, eventually I suppose it will go somewhere. And for these poor Carthaginians this one definitely doesn’t lead to Rome! Anyway, my visit last weekend to Poundland/Poundworld was a bit of a disaster when looking for magnetic paper etc. but I did end up picking up a pack of four vinyl floor tiles for, obviously, a pound!

Now my first test with these is to use them for roads. They are fairly thin, flexible and the ones I bought were wood effect with six 50mm strips so you don’t even have to measure to cut, just cut along the line, with scissors if you want a rougher edge.  So I cut one strip. The tiles are self-adhesive so just peel off the paper and then scatter ballast material/sand (I used the former in fine and medium mixes) over the adhesive. I then used a spray can to roll over the top to press the sand in place. Let it dry.

I had intended spraying adhesive over this as well but the stuff I have seems to come out in strands so was no good! Instead I just sprayed the whole thing with Army Painter leather brown spray. Let it dry properly, then dry brushed to match the bases I use for my figures. Then PVA along both edges and flock to give a grass verge. Once dry, spray the lot with matt varnish to seal it.

And we have:


It’s thin, flexible and I should get 6ft out of one tile! The others will provide some curves, junctions etc. Then I plan to do some thinner strips, use a very fine sand/ballast, spray black and dry brush grey for modern roads for my micro-armour. And then a few more for fields/rough ground.

Not too bad really for a pound…

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Carthaginian Spearmen…

Having finished off  the Gauls a week or so ago, and being slightly in deficit on my Neutral credits 🙂 I decided to have a little re-basing frenzy to catch up before cracking on with the Swans. As I’ve been doing odds and ends of my Punic War stuff I’ve been slowly re-basing units to reflect my current basing style. I’d only ever done eight stands of regular Carthaginian spear and four of veteran when I did my DBM armies in the 90’s but last year I spotted a few deals on eBay from abugan (ex-Falcon minis in the Philipines) and through various deals and trades I acquired enough figures to finish off my current veteran BG and do another regular one. All have now been re-based so here they are, two veteran units on the hill and two regular in front. All Essex miniatures:

 This is the first regular BG and I painted these back in 1993 when I lived in Birmingham. For some reason I went for plain bronze shields with designs on only some:

 These were my veterans. I picked up four more stands (inc. command) and just repainted the shields to match what I had. The painting styles are a pretty close match:

 This lot are regulars and all from abugan. Only slight issues is one stand have a slightly different style shield as the figures came off two command elements which were obviously done at a different time or by different painter. And I painted up the standard bearer myself to make up a full command element:

 This was the unit of veterans I bought. I wasn’t sure about the shield designs and was tempted to re-paint them but in the end left them as is:

 The command stands:


 I know there is some debate at the moment in Slingshot on whether the ‘Roman equipment’ veteran spear in Hannibal’s army actually fought in the Roman style rather than as hoplites. Apart from the various literary interpretations put forward to support this there is the suggestion that the scutum is not suitable for traditional hoplite combat. However, the triarii were spear armed and they seemed to manage it OK?

I had contemplated double-basing some/all of these but in the end decided to stick with the standard bases. Partly because there is no variation in base depth for this troop type and partly because I have no casualty figures at the moment to tart up a bigger base!

I’ve got some cavalry to do next and will also likely re-do my command stands as I have a few figures left over to make them interesting.

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Update….painting, Slingshot and The Fort

Having gone slightly negative in my Neutral credits I figure I’ve got ’til the end of the month to get back positive again! I’ve made a slow start on the first 12 of my RSMs now that I’m happy with the colours. Flesh is done and hopefully on to jackets tomorrow night. It’s going to be a push to get them all done for the game but I figure it should be doable. Next week is half term so I’ve got two days looking after my daughter and I should be able to send her down the road to friends for an hour and get some painting done!

This week also saw the arrival of the latest Slingshot, 274 January 2011. I’ve only had a brief look but as ever, the letters page is a good read, there is good commentary on the tournament scene, and an interesting article, Scipio’s Masterpiece: The Battle of Ilipa, by Patrick Waterson which is right up my street! Other articles (full details here ) will get read on later visits to the loo! Big change this issue though is in the style of binding. The last few years have seen a proper bound magazine with glossy cover. The glossy cover remains but the mag is now folded and stapled. This is mentioned in the Editorial and the reason seems to be cost, which I fully understand, but I think it is a move in the wrong direction. When I re-joined the SoA I was VERY impressed with the quality of Slingshot, both in content and the physical presentation. It looked professional. The stapled version loses some of that shine I think. Content is, and I’m sure will continue to be, excellent, but it just feels ‘less’ when you hold it. I hope they can reconsider and return to the old binding. To be honest, upping the sub to cover it would probably not put anyone off!

And I’m also currently reading Bernard Cornwell’s The Fort. This is a novelised account of the Penobscot Expedition in Summer 1779 where a British force of fewer than one thousand Scottish infantry were sent to build a garrison in the State of Maine and the State of Massachusetts was determined to expel the British. I’ve read a lot on the AWI but mostly connected with the Southern campaigns and although I knew the event by name I had read little detail about it. I’ll not go in to the story here but I’m just over three quarters through and although I’m enjoying it, the enjoyment comes more from the subject matter than the quality of writing. I’ve read most of Cornwell’s books and have enjoyed them, but always found the style a little repetitive if you read a few one after the other (Pratchett suffers from this as well). His Arthur trilogy (Warlord) was the only set where I think he really hit the mark as a storyteller. However, The Fort seems just too formulaic. The characters make the unfortunate slide in to caricature, the marine officer and the American leaders (Lovell and Saltonstall) being the worst offenders. His portrayal of the main British officers, McLean and Moore, is much better. And I hate the ways he always finishes a section something like ‘Because the Fort wasn’t ready, the Americans were coming and it was too late’. He does this lots, and lots and it starts to grate. He also seems to repeat things way too often, as if you might forget them. It’s almost like the crap TV shows now where they spend a couple of minutes after the break telling everything that happened BEFORE the break! I just found it annoying…

It sounds a little harsh because I am enjoying it. It has made me want to read more about the expedition and also the Minifigs Continental Marines I have primed ready to be painted as British Guards may now actually be painted as Marines! I don’t know if he has other books planned around the AWI. I hope so. But I also hope he puts a little more creativeness into the writing.

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