Sunday, December 21, 2008

Lord of the Rings terrain - Rohan house

Another little project I was inspired to try out was making a Rohan style house.

Again I found the GW source book; the Two Towers, very helpful. I have made lot of other houses before, but they have all been the medieval style; wattle and daub style construction supported by wooden beams and posts. This is the first building I have done to look fully wooden.

This is the first of at least three that I need to make to complete sufficient houses for the sourcebook scenarios. Whether I go the whole hog and make a Hall of Meduseld later, we'll have to wait and see!

The house is constructed from 3mm card purchased from stationary store. I have usually made things from simple cardboard in the past, which whilst cheap (or free if scrounged) is not as easy to work with and you always need to fill in the cut ends. So the card sheet makes a welcome and easier change, and wasn't hugely expensive.

This was then faced with 3mm balsa wood, again scored to look like wood planks. Extra beams were added at corners and along walls. Windows and doors were cut out, and shuttered windows and a door were added. A small door handle was added using a tiny piece of plasti-card for a base, a ring of 15amp fuse wire, and a blob of green-stuff putty to hold handle ring in place.

The thatch was made from teddy-bear fur. (I hasten to add no teddy-bears were harmed in the production of this model!). The fur (from a haberdashery store) was cut and glued into place with PVA glue. Once dried this was soaked down with a thinned mix of 75% PVA and water mix. An old plastic fork was used to get the fur to texture as desired. This was left to dry. Due to high water content of glue ,it took about 3 days to fully dry before painting.

Painting was with the usual Hobby/art store acrylic paints.

Quite a pleasing result and several more to make.

Aragorn leads Legolas, Gimli and a warrior of Rohan, against the vanguard of the Uruk-Hai attack.

Lord of the Rings terrain - Scaffolds

Another terrain project for LOTR SBG I have recently completed is a scaffold construction.

This was described in the Two Towers supplement, for a scenario where the Ents attack Isengard. However the scaffold will have more uses, including representing mining structures in the Mines of Moria, and also general orc structures in Mordor.

In fact, I noticed the other day, while watching the Fellowship of the Ring DVD, in the first swirling shot we see of Barad-Dur, if you look closely there are scaffolds on top of the towers to suggest they are still under construction and will be taller once finished.

The model is primarily made from 3mm balsa wood. Cut into strips for the legs and cross beams of the structure, and used as panels for the decks. These were scored with a sharp pencil to give the impression of planks.

The ladders were also balsa wood, trimmed down finer to make the ladders. I used a plastic Uruk siege ladder as a "template".

The string I got from local model store, normally used for model ship rigging. I probably could have got something cheaper from a haberdashery store, but couldn't find one locally. This was glued into place with thinned PVA glue.

A bit of gardening cane was cut for the hook rope to wind onto, on the a-frame crane structure. The hook itself was made from 15amp fuse wire, bent to shape.

The whole was painted using acrylic art-shop paints, (waterproof poster paint type stuff). I think they are called "student acrylics" by FAS and come in 500ml bottle for about $12 from warehouse stationary, and other art / hobby stores.

The base was done with sand textured paint as before (equal parts PVA / Black paint / sand) then dry brushed up once dry, with shades of gray.

The string was later painted a dark yellowy brown.

Fairly straight forward to make, although a little time consuming. The string was the most fiddly frustrating bit!

Here uruk-hai orcs defend the scaffold at Isengard against the attack of Treebeard and the ents.

Here the goblins of Moria, infest the old mine workings of the dwarfs and rain arrows down on the fellowship as they pass.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Moria Goblins Rocky cave

I decided to have a go at making some terrain for the Mines of Moria scenarios.

I have long had a pile of white polystyrene packaging material piling up under my games table, which I always thought would be useful to make into "something".

Well I hit on the idea of using it for rocky structures for the mines of Moria. It would be useful for scenarios with the fellowship making their way through the mines, but also to reflect earlier battles there between the dwarfs and the dark forces. It will also be useful for any Mordor scenarios, which will use similar dark rocky terrain.

I used a polystyrene hot wire cutter, to cut up the pieces in shapes. I decided to keep them flat topped so models can be stood on top, and also to allow ramps, rocky bridges and scaffolds and other terrain to join a series of these together. Since LOTR SBG makes use of differing height levels of terrain, this makes this kind of terrain ideal for these scenarios.

The polystyrene was PVA glued to a 3mm thick MDF wood base. The whole thing was them painted with a 50/50 mix of PVA glue and black acrylic poster paint. The PVA seals the structure and stops the black paint being water soluble once dry. It would stop the white of the polystyrene showing through the subsequent bark layers.

I then collected a load of bark chunks from the gardens bark-chip mulched borders, and broke these into various shapes and thickness, and glued them with PVA glue to the sides of the structure. Once dry, I sealed the top flat edge to the bark edges with a decorative filler using a mastic-gun. Again once dry, I then mixed up some sand-textured paint (equal parts black paint, PVA glue and coarse beach sand), and brushed this to the top of the model and base edge.

The bark was then painted with the 50/50 mix of black paint and PVA glue. Again to seal the wood and undercoat it.

Once dry, the structure was dry brushed with dark gray, then subsequently lighter shades, until finished as desired.

And there we have it. I finished this one to completion first as a test to see how it would turn out. I have a load more to finish off now. The others are all bigger, with some have differing levels, ramps and cave mouths incorporated into their structures. Should look great once all done and connected together.

I do like the nice rocky effect the bark has produced. Far better than trying to sculpt the polystyrene and then just sand tincturing it.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

More Adventures in Middle-Earth : Fire & Wood!

I have been working on several larger pieces recently. Not that they will cohesively form any one force, but simply that my son desired I "paint that one next"... and of course he likes the big creatures.

So I have been working on the Balrog, and recently finished it to my satisfaction.

The Balrogs, were originally Maiar, which makes them "demi-gods" for want of a better description for the lay person to grasp. They were spirits of fire who were seduced to the service of Melkor (one of the Valar who turned to evil through a desire for power of his own), the first Dark Lord, who later became known to the elves as Morgoth.

The Balrogs were also known as Valaraukar, scourges of fire.

Morgoth used these Balrogs as his most powerful servants and commanders of his vast hordes of orcs and other foul creatures. They were led by Gothmog, the lord of Balrogs. They took part in the assault on the hidden elven city of Gondolin and brought about its end.

In the final cataclysmic battle of Beleriand, when the Valar led the hosts of all good forces against the dark powers, Morgoth and his servants were defeated, and those not destroyed, fled and hid. The Balrog the Fellowship find in Moria, is a remnant of this ancient time, as Gandalf rightly knows, and fears to encounter.

Perhaps fate would have it that Gandalf would be forced to confront this beast at this time, since, if it had answered Sauron's call to battle in the forth coming War of the Ring, who knows what destruction it could have caused to the forces of Good.

Here it is:

The model is truly awesome compared to a scaled 28mm figure, and stands 9cm tall to top of flaming crest, with a wing span of 26cm and a length of 17cm. It makes the creatures in game power quite terrifying, and understandably so!

The model is all metal, except for the wings which are plastic, presumably to save weight, and reduced the chances of them breaking off, during handling.

Being a large multi-part kit it required quite extensive drilling and pinning, gluing and subsequently gap filling and hiding and sculpting by using "greenstuff" epoxy putty.

One thing I found with this, and subsequent large models I have done, is the shear size, weight and bulk of the model makes handling and painting them quite a challenge. Since I typically paint late at night via angle-poise lamp, those large wings cast seriously long and dark shadows when you are trying to see to paint the other side! Several lumps of foam sponges were used to prop and balance the model in various positions to effect the paint job.

I painted the model, pretty much by following GW's online painting advice, which I have to say I found extremely helpful. It certainly beats wading through acres of books trying to find the right colour picture of a troopers uniform to get the colours just right. Well done GW.

More than any other project, I applaud GW on their handling of the LOTR game. I accept the rules have already gone through a couple of revisions and some rulebooks and supplementary books have become out dated, and this may have frustrated earlier players of the game. I suppose I am fortunate to have found this game in its present version.

I also like they way they have not slavishly stuck to the movies, but have encompassed the scope of the story from the original books too, with characters catered for who never made it to film. The great number of extra scenarios they have proposed for game play also widen the appeal of this game.

But I am digressing...

Needless to say I look forward to trying out this behemoth on the table top.

And now to matters of a more woody nature, namely Treebeard the Mighty Ent, also known as Fangorn.

The ents were originally created by Yavanna, one the Valar, who was goddess of all living things on Middle-Earth. Fearful of what harm would befall her creatures as the races of elves and men awoke on the earth and started harvesting its resources, Yavanna created the race of ents to protect the trees and forests. In real terms, the ents are neither good nor evil, and as Treebeard answers to the hobbits, he is not on any side as nobody is on his side! Everybody, good and bad see his trees as a resource to use, and this must cause him no end on consternation. But he is certainly no friend of the orcs, and his rage at the wanton destruction of his forests by Sarumans orc forces, finally sets his mind to war, and the Ents march to their doom!

Interestingly, Tolkien often uses the word doom, though not necessarily the way we use it these days. If we say doom, we tend to think of it as something bad happening, yet Tolkien uses it more like the word fate. So if you are doomed to do something, then it will in all likelihood happen for good or evil, in the end...

As such the Ents are truly ancient beings in their own right having been on the earth since shortly after its creation. Indeed Gandalf respectfully calls Treebeard "Eldest", despite being a more ancient and powerful being himself (one of the Maiar, when in the West he was known as Olorin).

Here is Treebeard, accompanied by the hobbits Merry and Pippin riding in his topmost branches.

Again this was a challenging and interesting model to make. A multi-part kit again in metal requiring, drilling, pinning, gluing and puttying, before painting can commence. Once again GWs website provided useful help in suitable colours and techniques to use. On completion the model stands a little less than 12cm tall.

As a little extra, whilst assembling the treebeard model, I remembered I had an old treeman model from GWs Warhammer fantasy battle game from many years ago. A quick rummage in the "lead mountain" revealed an assembled but unpainted model on a square base.

After much thought and deliberation with my son (who will be commanding the forces of good) it was decided to leave the model as it was. It is the same size and height as a GW LOTR troll model, and afterall, Morgoth did first make the trolls in mockery of the ents, so its seemed quite feasible to use the model, albeit with house rules, as a "small ent" or perhaps "enting", and simply use the same stats as the troll when using it on the table top. So it was transfered to a 40mm round base (thanks to Terry Swain for the spare base!)

I had thought about converting it and lengthening its legs with wire and greenstuff to bring it up to size with Treebeard, and thus give my son a second proper ent for his army, with appropriate stats for the game. Sadly this fell on deaf ears if for no other reason than he liked the "little ent" model as it was. Sometimes there is no arguing with a 5 years olds logic!

So here is the old treeman model, now as "little ent"

Consequently since it was using the same techniques, he was painted up at the same time as the Treebeard model.

Next things on painting table were a bunch of goblins from the mines of moria set. These were plastic figures, which complimented some more metal goblin archer figures that also needed doing.

One thing I have decided to do with the goblins is give them regular "outdoors" grassy bases. I know most folks will think of the goblins as being from underground, but during the War of the Ring and previously in the Battle of the Five Armies from Bilbos time, they do venture forth from their underground lairs to battle the forces of good in the open, so a standard base option seemed sensible to me.

Finally as a quick test paint, I did one of the Rohan foot soldiers I had lying around:

Plenty more where he came from...

I have just finished the paint job on the Nazgul riding Fellbeast, but still have to varnish and base. He'll be in the next blog update... see you then!
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