Monday 3 June 2024

Finishing Trees

Some thoughts on making trees. Besides wanting these trees to be robust, as in clumsy fingers proof, wanted them to look really sharp. 

So the amount of work they took to get them to this point is pretty hardcore, amounting to several hours per tree. Probably more than the average wargamer would likely want to spend making trees.

For anyone foolish enough to want to make more realistic trees, I suggest getting Modelling Trees by Gordon Gravett, from Wild Swan Books Ltd. He hand makes the trunks by twisting wire, and uses photographs to replicate specific tree.

He makes me look like a shortcut taking slacker.

So, while there's still some work to do on the bases, and the sabots they will sit in, what I've done so far can be summarized as follows:


1. Twist up a trunk (I used Woodland Scenics product)

2. Mount on a base (I added a coin for weight)

3. Prepare seafoam branches with hot glue gun

4. Glue seafoam to the trunk using either a contact adhesive, or hot glue gun

5. Texture tree with flex paste, then spray or dip the tree into Plasti Dip, or PVA (I did both)

6. Prime tree grey-green-brown (or other colour to taste) 

7. Spray tree with hairspray and sprinkle on ground foam/tea leaves, whatever works for you (repeat as needed, but don't over do it if you want a lacy see through trees)

8. I sprayed the foliage green, then sprayed a lighter shade of green, followed by a light dusting of yellow (to achieve desired colour)

9. Spray with Yacht varnish (super strong sealant)

10. Spray with mat scenic cement (belt and braces)

11. Admire your finished tree(s)


I bought three Würth 500ml Universal Pump Spray Bottles (they have metal inserts in the nozzle) for this project. The ratios for the PVA and mat medium below are more like guidelines, adjusted them as necessary.

PVA was thinned as follows: 6 parts PVA, 4 parts water, plus five drops of glycerin (acts as a flow improver for PVA).

Mat scenic cement. You can use Mod Podge, but I made my own as follows: one part isopropol alcohol, two parts water, and then add three parts matt medium.

Plasti Dip thinned using their thinners, 50/50 mix as recommended by the makers, to make the product sprayable.

Thursday 30 May 2024

King Cobra

This very sad looking RAFM King Cobra came up on eBay at a keen price, that forced me to acquire it. Okay, maybe forced is over-egging it, but it's King Cobra, and I don't have one.

Missing one arm, which is a problem that means either finding a spare, or making a replacement.

I don't know what I'll do yet. Anyway, the first thing to do is throw it in some Nitromors and strip all the gunk off it. Happy, happy.

Catch you all on the bounce.

Wednesday 15 May 2024

Stages of Making Trees WIP


Making trees has turned into a torment for Tantalus. I could post every week another update on progress and setbacks. I am being tasked and could even rename the blog to Lost in Trees, or something.

However, that would be boring.

And for those of you wondering how long it took me, or why I spent so much time making these trees, all I can say is that I'm not as good a model-maker as I would like to be, but I'm stubborn about learning from failure.

So, here's a post showing the stages of making a tree.


In the picture above, left-to-right, shows the process.

The first tree in front Seafoam sprigs glued to an armature next to pair of tree done earlier after flex paste has been applied to blend both together.

In the background is a one armature waiting for me to apply Seafoam sprigs to its branches, and the other is a partially finished tree.

And a picture from above. Note how one can see through the trees.

At the rear and to the left is a tree armature that I fabricated using three pine tree armatures glued together. I wanted to make a Birch tree, but it's really only an approximation because I've taken liberties with its form.

The right rear you can see the tree that I had finished building in a previous evolution, which I was not happy with.

I decided it needed to be be remade, and this his shows how I inserted new Seafoam into the structure to rebuild it. The next tree post, see what I did there, I will break down the how and whys I did these tree the way I did.

Catch you all on the bounce.

Friday 26 April 2024

Can't see the Forest for the Trees

So, here it is, the big update, sort of. A breakdown of how my process in making these trees has evolved. Some thoughts and comments, and where I'm going next.

First up. After stripping my previous builds I had to repair one of the trees; as you can see below.

In case it's not obvious, the trunk was covered with homemade liquid Greenstuff (a fifty-fifty mix of Milliput and Greenstuff diluted with methylated spirits to make a paste), and then I glued a Woodland Scenics deciduous tree on top (making a taller tree in the process).

Once I glued the parts, I wrapped some micropore tape around the joint, spread a thin layer of super glue on top, then sprinkled some baking soda on top.

And here is the complete tree repaired in all of its glory.

Below shows how I used hot glue to strengthen the stems of the seafoam. It works, but it is time intensive, and requires a bit of skill to tease the glue along each of the branching stems.

Click to embiggen

And it's not accident proof. I broke a stem when I dropped my tree off the table onto the floor.

However, I then remembered I had some Woodland Scenics Flex Paste, which is some sort of acrylic or silicone paste. It dries hard, yet remains flexible! Worth a try.

I brushed it on all over the seafoam stems and the tree trunks.

I would've used this before, rather than make my own liquid Greenstuff, if I had remembered earlier on in this project that I had a bottle of this tucked away. But, I forgot, as one does.

Besides, I've been working on this project for a month, and my build process has evolved. And this is as far as I've got.

Catch you all on the bounce.

Saturday 20 April 2024

Real Robo Manifesto Size Comparisons

Void Scar Miniatures Taurus APC next to RAFM HG conversion and Abrams

Shocked to find it has been six years since I posted the size comparison shots for what I call my Real Robo Manifesto here and here for the 10/12mm – 1/144th scale Scopedog and Abrams.

These pictures are showing my 15mm – 1/100th scale models.

I placed both vehicles on bases to make their ground be approximately the same. This is one good reason for basing vehicles to match them to figures, but I don't like basing vehicles.

Void Scar Miniatures Taurus APC next to RAFM HG conversion and Abrams

It bears repeating that wargame models are not built to a scale, but made to a size.

This distorts the proportions of objects, which leads to erroneous assumptions about their size. The classic example is the picture of a Sherman tank with infantry next to it in real life versus wargame models.

M4 with men of US 60th Infantry Regiment, Belgium, 9 Sep 1944. Photographer; Spangle

And here's an official picture from Warlord Games. Because figures need to be based, one can see how this starts to throw off the relationship between the size of the tank and the men.

Not helped by the fact that wargame soldiers are broader to make them more robust when being handled see here.

Mr Dave Taylor

And for even better pictures comparing 1/48th scale Tamiya Sherman and a properly proportioned infantry figure and a 1/56/28mm Bolt Action Sherman and soldier see here.

So, the Taurus APC was a spontaneous impulse purchase bought at Salute as a possible conversion to serve as a cybertank from my World of Drei series. More about this in another post.

Now back to making trees for my forest.

Monday 15 April 2024

Salute 2024

Sidney Roundwood and Richard Clarke of TooFatLardies

I haven't been to a Salute since before Covid, so it was great to go this year. Especially so since the new Elizabeth Line makes the journey really easy.

Schmoozed (which will be the word that best describes my day at Salute) with Big Rich, Nick, and Sidney of TooFat Lardies. The lads are the biggest inspiration to my wargaming hobby.

With Nick Skinner of TooFatLardies

And then I bumped into GZG Jon; long time friend, former SFSFW original committee member, and purveyor of wargame goodness.

With Jon Tuffley

Touched base with Mel Bose, The Terrain Tutor too. He has a book that's worth checking out.

Susan and me with Mel Bose, The Terrain Tutor

And, I met Annie from Bad Squiddo, who has asked me to make her some trees for her, as she loved the ones I posted on Twitter.

With Annie Norman of Bad Squiddo Games

And my new, bestist fan ever, Gab of OrkAngel. He's asked whether or not I would like to run a model making workshop? We shall talk and try and work out something.

With Gab of OrkAngel blog

And my acquisitions, because no post about going to Salute can be without a picture of what was purchased (though I went with no intention of purchasing anything, which is a forlorn hope at Salute).


A God Hand sprue clipper, a Deep Cut Studio six foot long strip neoprene river, a 15mm resin Taurus APC from Void Scar Miniatures, and of course the free Pirate Annie figure.

Thursday 4 April 2024

Seafoam Branches

The box of seafoam arrived, and I made up two bases with five trees. I used E6000 Plus to glue the seafoam pieces to the branches. The trees didn't turn out as well as I wanted, because I had to cut the seafoam into very small branches to get them to not drop off while the glue set.

Starting again, I did another two bases with eight trees.

This time I used spray impact adhesive. This was much better for attaching the seafoam to the branches, but was both smelly and messy. So, while this batch were better, after flocking the trees still weren't working for me.

So I stripped the trees bare, managing to salvage four trees (three seen here), and started again.

I used a hot glue gun this time round, and while the glue doesn't grab as well as the impact adhesive, and can create strings, it is the least worst option for me in a small flat that I don't want to stink out.

So, after a lot of faffing finding the best method to glue the seafoam to the trunks.

Here is as far as I've got. Next I will flock and spray the foliage green. This project has totally kicked my ass.

Friday 29 March 2024

New Dremel

My beloved decided she would buy me a new Dremel to replace the old one I broke one, which had delivered sterling service for nearly 25 years, before I busted it.

The old one was 125 watts, my new one is 175 watts. So it has a lot more oomph.

We also got a new hot glue gun because working on the trees has led me to the conclusion that sticking seafoam to Woodland Scenics armatures is tricky.

I tried E6000 plus, but it takes too long to set and the seafoam sags. I also got some spray contact adhesive to try, but it's way too messy for the confined area I have to work in.

So, hot glue it is.

Again, I'm doing fiddly small stuff so need to be able to control the flow, and my old glue gun was anything but easily controllable.

Tuesday 26 March 2024

Forest Full of Trees

I've assembled some of the large deciduous trees from Woodland Scenics. These trunks still need texturing, which is just brushing on texture paint/gloop.

Super easy to do, barely an inconvenience.

And these are some pine tree armatures, along with a deciduous trunk I've butchered, and three underbush saplings that I'm making as an experiment.

And below is  is my forest, all the trunks painted and based ready to apply the seafoam branches.

Great Birnam wood is one step closer to arriving and delivering the prophecy.

Wednesday 20 March 2024

Dremel Embuggerance

Those who follow me on Facebook will know that I broke my Dremel. Too much force when using it caused a stall, and it stopped working.

The saga of trying to find a spare rivals one of the greatest tales ever told (only a slight exaggeration). This armature is no longer made, but we have the internet, and I found samples for sale around the world.

Huzzah! All good, right?

Nope. The Australian dealer won't ship internationally, and the Italian dealer can't ship to the UK either, Which sucks.

So I moved to Plan B.

Plan B was to try a physical repair of the damaged commutator, which Susan did, as it required soldering the delicate broken wires together. Afterwards I did the less delicate gluing, and bodging to secure the broken piece so that it won't come apart at 33,000 rpm.

That repaired failed, so now I moving to Plan C and buy a new Dremel.