Sunday, 22 December 2013

Terrain Bits n Bobs provided by the season!

Welcome once again to my blog. Today I will be exploring a seasonal topic. The silly season is upon us and hobby time is becoming slim....unlike Father Christmas or me for that matter.

Assuming that you have been good you will hopefully get a load of nice miniatures and kits. Or if you have been bad,you have sent Santa the black mail note and on Boxing day a group of Black Ops Ninja Elves have stormed your home liberating a badly photoshopped picture of Santa and Rudolph in a compromising position. Hey I try it every year! Those Elves are lighting quick. Santa also seems to dodge the Santa traps I set up too. I think I need to lay off the eggnog and cheesy Xmas movies!  

Now of course you will need some terrain for your new table top forces to fight around. Any one who is into the Wargaming scene knows how expensive that can be. There is plenty of stuff out there at this time of year to make terrain from cheaply. All it takes is a little practise and imagination. Lots of  these items are just laying about and waiting to be thrown out. You will be the brave liberator saving them from the rubbish heap! I shall now list some of things you can find and what you can use them for.

First a rule – always ask permission to take or use stuff even if it is going into the bin. People find our hobby strange as it is without acting in a creepy and insane manner. Plus you don’t want to get into trouble for stealing.

Oh – a tip! When asked to explain in routing in the rubbish asking/begging for items tell them that you are working on a Art piece built from recycled materials. Its easier than explaining that you want to make a model so your toy soldiers can fight over it! It can lead to long conversations with relatives looking puzzled or for a quick exit.

Strap in dear readers, this could be a bumpy sleigh ride!

Artificial Christmas Trees

Last year's old tree is getting replaced. Before it goes to the landfill go check it out. Often there is realistic bits. Trim the branch ends off with some clippers. They make great model trees. Some trees have realistic tips. Just take them off and you have a instant forest after gluing them to bases

Battery Operated LED lights
There are a lot of £1 battery operated lights out in the stores this year. Now you are asking what the eggnog?? Well these guys can be butchered and added to models to make realistic looking lights. Now before you go mad go and read a few articles on what to do. Sites like Terragensis carry articles on how to wire LEDs into models.

Blister Packaging
Now lots of things come in sealed blister packs that are near impossible to get into. Often you have cut the item out. Keep this clear plastic. It is handy for using as a paint tray, making glass windows or even plastic card.

Broken Toys
Come New Year there will be many broken children's toys out there headed for land fill. Check them out. Many toys have bits that can be used or recycled into something for the table top. Make sure you ask before you liberate these items. You don’t want a reputation as a grinch.

Cheap Toys
This is the time of year that the thrift stores are filled with cheap toys. You can buy up a variety of items to use as terrain or tanks/vehicles.

Christmas Cards
Christmas has passed and you and your loved ones have a pile of greeting cards to go to the tip. Now the fronts of these may have sticky jewels or other decorative items that can be used on your models. The backs can be used for model making. Many of my models use thin card.

Christmas Ornaments
If your family follows trends they may replace decorations regularly or your family may want to replace others. Grab these as many are usable for terrain. Don't neglect the old tree decorations either. Many are buildings others may be used for other things such as planets. At worst they can be cannibalised into something else.

Cocktail Sticks
So you are hanging around the Buffet filling up on grub. There in front of you is a party treat designed by Vlad the Impaler. Stuff stuck on a wooden stick. Help yourself to stuff and eat your fill. Keep the sticks. They are handy for making fences, pinning bits of polystyrene and the all important Punji Stakes to impale those dungeon explorers.

Corrugated Cardboard
Often at this time of year someone gets some new white goods or a BIG gift. These often come in cardboard boxes. This is handy for making building, ruins and other stuff. I often use it as basing material and I have built roads out of it. The issue is that it can warp. Layer it so that the corrugations on the layers run in opposite directions. It helps build the strength.

Drinking Straws
You often get drinking straws when out and about. So keep them. They are ideal for making pipes.

Drinks Stirrers
You often meet friends at fast food places and coffee shops. These places often have wooden or plastic stirrers. Grab a few. Wooden sticks can be used for making fences or flooring. Plastic stirrers can be used as struts, detail, aerials, sign posts and more. I have even though of using them as a base for building 1/3500 scale star ships.

Food Packaging

This is the time for feasting. Plastic food tubs/trays often make great a basis for Sci-Fi buildings. They can be flimsy so use PVA glue and paper in layers internally. It takes time but it does stiffen them up a treat. The other use is for mixing trays.

Foil mince pie trays make great craters. Larger foil trays can be used to mix coloured plaster in. Let it set and then break it up – instant Rubble scatter for your ruins!

Gift Boxes
This time of year the shops are filled with unusual shaped gift boxes of various sizes. They are cheap to buy and make great starting point for a building.

Gift Cards
The joys of the plastic gift card. When you have used it, then what? You have a plastic card! I have used them many times in my models.

LED Tea Lights
Like the LED lights there is also LED Tea Lights that flicker like a real flame. Handy if you have young children or animals. These can be reused as fires or other items. Again check out online for guides on how to use them.

Lollipop Sticks.
If you have a sweet tooth you can stock up on these or you can wait until the kiddies have finished eating their's. Or you can just buy them from the craft store. These come in both plastic and paper. They make great posts or pipes.

Plastic Cutlery
Many parties have plastic cutlery at the buffet. No one wants a load of drunks with sharp metal objects running about or they don’t want the best silver vanishing into the pockets of that dodgy relative. Plastic cutlery can be used for all manner of things such as struts, girders, detail and other things such a cockpit canopies. Help in the post party clean up and score lots of plastic goodies. You may also score some brownie points which never hurts.

Pressed Cardboard Packaging.
Many items come in Eco Friendly Pressed Cardboard Packaging. These are great for making buildings on frontier worlds. The pressed card looks like old de-laminating concrete. Like the plastic tubs they will need re-enforcing with PAV and paper. I have made many buildings like this this year.

Polystyrene Packaging.
The other popular packaging material is Polystyrene. It is also popular with model makers too. Often then will need sealing with PVA glue. Some textured paint and details and you can make all manner of buildings and ruins with it.

Real Christmas Trees.
If your family is like mine, you will love a real tree at Yule time. Come new year they go to recycling or the fireplace. Now look closely at the branches. Remove those needles that still remains. Clip bits for logs or dead trees. Some bits make great alien trees.

Snow Mat
Every store sell this at this time of year. Or so it seems. Snow mats are for making Seasonal scenes with those decorations. Now they are good for gaming too but I found the fleece material often makes the figures fall over. But dear Gamer all is not lost. Glue it to your gaming boards. Give it an coat of PVA glue and there you go. Frozen wasteland.

Spray Snow
The instant way to decorate your home. Okay I have never used it for modelling. Put a layer of PVA glue on your board. Spray the spray snow on. Let it dry for 24 Hours. Put a couple of layers of watered down PVA glue on the spray snow to seal it. Hopefully it will make a good durable Snow Board.

Sweet/Chocolate Wrappers
Ahh the joys of the season. Lots of sweets & chocolates. Now stop. Look at the wrappers. They are often made from coloured foil or cellophane. They are great for making model fires or other coloured glass.

Walk in Nature.
After all that feasting you may feel the need for a walk to aid the digestion. Go to your local park or out into nature if its close enough. Why? Mother Nature is a store house for modelling materials. Twigs for making logs or trees, Small stones for rocks, Litchen for bushes and pine cones for making alien trees. There has been a few fantasy dioramas that have used Acorn cups or Chestnut husks as drums or crows nests.

Wrapping Paper
After the Christmas day there is tons of this stuff heading for landfill or recycling. Grab it. It can be used to re-enforce those plastic tubs or make paper mache hills.

That's the list, it is by no means exhaustive. I am sure you will find more items to use.

Hopefully you will have blagged some great items to make terrain with come the new year. Good for your pocket and it helps save the planet by recycling some old items. Of course I realise that I may get hate mail or death threats when your significant other/room mates/parents when they realise that I am responsible for you hoarding junk. But for our Art it's a sacrifice I am willing to make!! ;-)

Finally I Wish you a your family a Very Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

Best Wishes!!