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For my miniatures games at Necronomicon, I like to have some sort of terrain piece on the table that stands out as a potential attention-grabber, in the hopes of attracting any wandering undecided players in the game room prior to start time, and perhaps motivating them to go sign up for the game.  The trouble is that such terrain pieces with a strong vertical element BLOCK LINE OF SIGHT for seated players.  For a miniatures wargame, that wouldn't be such an issue, when you usually just have two standing people with laser pointers maneuvering around the table.  In an RPG scenario, it's maybe 6 people (plus me), and I'm usually the only one standing.  Some tall building in the middle of the table means that one or more players can't see the zombies/mutants/whatever behind the building, or their status tokens, even though the PC should have no such trouble (being right there).


Therefore, certain toy play sets I find at the thrift store can fit the bill.  This "facade" or "backdrop" piece helps to set a scene, but it's on the GM's side of the table, in lieu of a GM screen.  It serves as a staging area to hide minis and reference sheets (not die rolls -- I roll them out in the open), and since it's right next to me (and I am standing up for most of the game), it shouldn't be blocking line of sight for any of the seated players.  (If a PC moves to a position where he's going "behind" the facade, then he's leaving the table zone, and I either need to set up a new area as the action shifts, or just resolve that we're going "theater of the mind" for whatever that PC is doing poking around off-stage rather than staying and joining in on the fight or whatever other action is dominating the main scenario area).


The price for such a play set varies according to the moods of the price-setter, I guess.  One day, I'll find some elaborate play set and it's just $1-$2.  Another day, I'll be excited at finding the perfect set piece ... and then I see it's been set at $25 (and it's not even remotely COMPLETE), so I pass it over.  I confess, there are a number of items I've gotten because I figured I'd get some sort of use out of it (without a specific plan) ... and after a while, some of those toys have gone right back to Goodwill after I figured that I needed some more garage space, and it was highly unlikely I'd actually get around to doing something with that toy within my lifetime.


Well, one acquisition I found at the thrift store was an incomplete version of the Nickelodeon TMNT play set:




Sadly, it's not the newer Toys 'R' Us version with the nicer details and bits.  Also, it was lacking the building-top water tower or billboard pieces (or the action figures).  I figured that this might be useful for a street scene either for a superheroic scenario, or perhaps post-apocalyptic.  And for $2?  Why not?






I started by removing the big neon green pipe in the back, the lower "sewer" level of the play set, and the electronic talking box (behind the central "Chinatown" roof section), along with the button and the giant turtle "foot" meant to kick whatever figure has the misfortune to be standing there when the button is pressed.  I used a Dremel tool to remove the protruding tabs on the bottom that would have linked up the "sewer" section, so the "sidewalk" could rest flat on the table.  One danger immediately was that I'd removed some important structural supports (the sewer level, the electronics box, and the green pipe), so at this point the remaining play set was a LITTLE bit wobbly.  It's rigid enough plastic, however, that it's not much of an issue, but I might have to reinforce the base.



Edited by Jordan Peacock
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The first obvious challenge was that there was a big hole in the roof where the button used to be.  Now, I could have taken the easy route and just turned this into some sort of "battle damage."  After all, by this point I've settled on the idea of turning this into a backdrop for a Fallout-themed scenario (though I still haven't out the exact details of that scenario).  So, a hole in the roof would be perfectly fine.


However, I got the silly idea that I could patch the roof by using some "plastic clay" and some epoxy putty.  "Plastic clay" is a product I got from Japan that's essentially the same thing as what's billed as "Instant Mold" over here -- a plastic that becomes soft and putty-like when dunked in boiling water, but solidifies at room temperature.  It's perfect for getting impressions of textures, and then (once it solidifies) using that as a push-mold with putty to add interesting surface details to models.  I've used it a lot for making custom miniatures bases and wreckage markers.





So, I used Instant Mold to get a sample of the nearby "shingle" texture, then positioned the piece over the hole, and pressed in some epoxy putty.  The result wasn't a perfect mesh by any means, and I'm likely to obscure the area with some "battle damage" after all, once this is all over, but it was still a fun experiment to try.



Edited by Jordan Peacock
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Another nice thing about working with a toy like this is that several of the components use screws to attach, so I can assemble and disassemble pieces for easier painting, and even just to temporarily put it back together again to see how things are shaping up.


EDIT: I'm having trouble sharing images so that everyone can see them, so I'm trying BOTH Google Photos and Facebook links.  Facebook links seem to expire after a while.  I apologize if this amounts to doubling up on the images from your POV, if BOTH work for you.  And if neither?  Uhm ... well, please let me know and I'll try to figure out an alternative, I guess.






I used pieces of cardboard to cover up some of the gaps on the buildings.  I gave the central roof a painting job with red.  There's some splash-over, as while initially I tried to use some masking tape to mark things off, the tape simply refused to adhere to the plastic for some reason, and in a fit of frustration I just left it off, since I'll be repainting the support columns anyway (what color, I haven't decided), and the dragon figures will probably be painted verdigris green with some bronze dry-brushing.


I haven't settled on what exactly the central piece represents.  Most likely I'm going to try to make some sort of a restaurant entrance facade back there (add some doors, perhaps some "shattered" blister glass windows), and then affix a circa-1960-style Chinese restaurant sign on top of the decorative roof section.  I'm thinking of something like this:




Also, there's a matter of scale adjustment.





The toy set was intended for cartoony-proportioned 2.5" tall figures, but it's a toy, so it wasn't necessarily "scaled" to those figures (although of course any portals -- doors, sewer covers, etc. -- simply had to be big enough to let them through).  The doors on the left building were just for looks -- not to be opened, or for figures to go through -- but they were still made tall and narrow to the point where the action figures wouldn't look like they'd have to duck to go through them.  That's a bit too tall for my 32mm minis (even the guys in power armor), so I used some strips of cardboard to add frame pieces to "shorten" the doors (and to add braces to the windows just because I thought it looked better that way).  I also added horizontal pane frames to the "windows" represented on the buildings, as they had stickers that portrayed such supports, but once I painted everything over, that would no longer be evident.


P.S., the figures used for reference are some Dust Tactics Allied Heavy Rangers with head swaps from a pack of "Post-Apocalyptic Sandbox" helmets from Brother Vinni.  I'm using these as proxies for hodge-podge mix-and-match power armor suits a la Fallout 4.






The other side of the street presented a little more challenge, as this door actually DID open.  I could have just glued it shut, or replaced it entirely, but I decided I kind of liked the idea of a door that could be opened (perhaps this could be the entry point for the next area -- for an adventure taking place inside, and somewhere in the basement), so I used a Dremel to cut the top section of the door (so it could be permanently glued in place, with a frame element), and left the rest of the door to open/close separately.  The frame needs a bit of adjustment, as the close-up photo shows.


Now, one thing I haven't settled on is what to do about that manhole cover.  Originally, it opened, downward, when the "splat" (mutagen?) button was pressed on the sidewalk.  I glued it all into place and removed the "splatter" button, with the intent of covering up that gap with some sort of debris, or perhaps some putty work (and taking advantage of that to add some cracks in the sidewalk, or some other sign of damage).


The manhole cover is ridiculously out of scale, but I might well leave it (just covering up the "NYC" on the text), and obfuscate it by having a bunch of clutter/debris on this side of the street.


Either that, or I might go ahead and remove it, and "patch over" the sidewalk.  (Do sewer covers normally go on the sidewalk, anyway?)  I actually have a few RAFM pewter manhole covers (25mm round bases), and I could easily use one for a more scale-appropriate cover to add instead.

Edited by Jordan Peacock
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On 6/6/2017 at 9:19 AM, OneBoot said:

Nearly all of your pictures are missing. :(


It sounds like a neat project, though!



--OneBoot :D


Huh.  They all appear for me.  I had a bit of trouble wrestling with how to post the pictures, since I put them on Google Photos, and Google doesn't seem to play nice with posting images on forums anymore, but at least as of this writing, I can see them just fine.  I'll try using another browser to see if that makes any difference.  (I'm using Chrome.)  I tried using Facebook before, but there, the photos only seem to be good for a little while and then the links just stop working.



Okay, I just tried Firefox, and Firefox does not display any of the images I linked from Google Photos.  Trying Internet Explorer next....




Argh!  Internet Explorer does not show the images, either!  Okay, I guess for now I'll try to go back and insert some Facebook images, but I think those expire after a while.




In the meantime, here goes again:


Google Photos:






Fallout Street Terrain WIP #7: The front section of a broken K-Line "hardware store" (O/S-scale) becomes the front of "Wok-a-Doodle Chinese-American Restaurant and Bar."  This is from my "bits box" of incomplete and broken Plasticville kits; the plastic is very brittle, so it's not as rugged as I'd like, but wedged in between the two buildings, my hope is that the thicker toy will serve to shelter this piece a bit.


For the restaurant name, I could have gone with "Jade Dragon" or "Happy Panda" or "Golden Phoenix" or "Shanghai Garden" or any number of generic names, but I decided I needed something really kitschy.  First prize would have gone to something invoking nuclear apocalypse (a la "Radiation King" or "Sugar Bombs" or "Nuka Cola" for established brands), but the closest I could come to that was, say, "Fat Man" -- but I don't think that would have made the best "generic Chinese restaurant" name.


So: a lame rooster pun, with a Chinese Zodiac rooster as the mascot.  Wok-a-Doodle Doo!  (I wonder if they serve breakfast?  It does say ALL-DAY buffet, right?  ;)  )


I did some image searching online for elements for signage, taking measurements off of any potential sign-mounting spots on the play set.  I overlaid things with a "distress" texture set on Multiply, used the spatter brush for a bit more grunge, and then used some texture samples to give even more distress to some of the signs at the edges.


I decided that the building to the left is going to be a laundromat with an on-duty Mr. Handy. (I could probably turn that into an NPC -- a cleanliness-obsessed robot who's a bit cracked because NOT EVEN ABRAXO can return everything to its proper sparkling-clean state.)  The right side I figure needs to be some sort of Asia-themed on account of the inset in the brickwork.  I decided to fall back on a grungified version of the original sticker that was there.  (It's not like I could ever actually read it, after all.)


I plan on putting an Abraxo ad/billboard above the Laundromat, and a Nuka-Cola billboard atop the other building.  Signage and posters will go wherever I can paste them.  The street signs are meant to be about the right size to go onto a street sign piece I have from the "Mars Attacks" Scenery Upgrade Pack (Mantic).


The sides of the buildings are rather smooth compared to the brick textures, and I toyed with the idea of using putty to replicate the brickwork on the front, but I don't have a very large sample area to work from.  Also, such a smooth surface might not hold the putty very well (and the plastic is a bit bendy there, so any solidified putty might crack off).  I may just have to leave the sides as-is, texture-wise.

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I use google for storing my photos, but I just download a local copy (and usually resize and crop) and then attach them to the post, since I've never found a nice way of linking them directly.

But what I can see looks cool and I really look forward to seeing everything as this looks like an awesome idea.

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While I'm at it, I took a picture of the Mantis "Mars Attacks Scenery Upgrade Pack" earlier, but for some reason I couldn't even get the Google Photos image to show up for ME when posted here.  So ... Facebook instead, for as long as this lasts, I guess.




I got this set as part of a nice grab bag deal along with some "This Is Not a Test" Peacekeeper minis (some multi-part pewter figures who make pretty nice NCR proxies).  It's a plastic construction set of sorts that comes with four baggies: three have a collection of "brick wall" pieces, all missing bricks, and some with "broken glass" indications, and a series of straight and corner connectors that plug into those holes on each side of the panels.  It's cute, but has a very toy-like / construction-set aesthetic that works against the idea of this really being from a brick building; the resulting structures don't have proper corners, and the connectors (or unused holes) are an eyesore -- like I had printed high-quality cardstock pieces, then ruined it by using little strips of MASKING TAPE to join them together at the edges and corners.  The fourth bag has a fence segment and an assortment of street "scatter terrain": a bench, a couple of alternative electric-box and sign-mount connectors, two fences, some junk barricades, a street sign post, a stop sign, a couple of wastebaskets and mailboxes, a bench, and some signs or hanging elements (planters? lamps?) that can plug into those alternative connectors.


My first big mistake was to base-coat everything grey before assembling anything.  It seems the plugs and holes were already a tight enough fit without some base coat paint to thicken things up, so I had to use a set of pliers to clamp the connectors in place.  (This mashed up the plastic a bit, leaving imprints from the "teeth" on the pliers, but not in any way that ruined the "ruined brick" look, so I'm okay with that.)  While theoretically one could assemble some terrain, then break it down for storage, I think more likely I'm going to assemble some ruins to be permanent, spruced up with some Fallout-ish signage, posters, and whatnot.  But relevant to THIS project, I plan to use a few pieces to spruce up my little facade project here.  Scatter terrain is cute and all, but self-standing sign posts and such tend to get knocked over when the table gets bumped.  I'd probably do just as well to glue down a street sign post or whatnot to give this terrain piece a little more detail ... and if I really, REALLY need that piece of terrain elsewhere, it shouldn't be too hard to pop it back off again.





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Wok-a-Doodle Terrain WIP #8: Installing the Facade.




I installed the K-Line facade into the "alley" area between the buildings, using some layered cardboard to try to gap-fill the recessed walkway area underneath the front door (in a suggestion of very shallow steps).  The bendy nature of the plastic is working against me here, as even once the glue dried, when I pick up the piece to work on some other area, the "spine" flexes a bit, and the areas of glue holding this facade in place break away, and the piece falls forward.  I may have to use more forceful means of securing this in place (e.g., drilling a couple of holes and using screws to anchor it, then covering anything up with some sort of debris, etc.).


For the dragon statues in the foreground (part of the original toy) I painted them in a "patina" color (sort of an icky grey-greenish hue), then dry-brushed with metallic brown (which works just fine as a bronze stand-in for me).  The K-Line building's facade was originally a fire-engine red, but I took some Graphite Gray and smeared it around on the surface, leaving bits of residue in recessed areas (between the bricks) and a noticeable stain on the surface.


The "Wok-a-Doodle" sign is visibly redundant from this angle.  The sign above the store front is nestled back in the alley area, and for all practical purposes, players aren't likely to see it.  They might get just a glimpse of the fact that there's some sort of building facade back there, but a lot of my work is probably overkill in that regard.  The sign on the arch in the foreground is much more likely to be seen by the players.  Still, I wasn't about to leave that HUGE sign space above the entrance on the K-Line facade BLANK.


Incidentally, the dragon figures and columns are hollow on the back.  I didn't bother gap-filling them, since it should be only the GM who looks at the table from that direction.  This isn't conventional miniatures wargame terrain, after all.  (There are a couple of "rooms" on the back side of the right building, which I might paint up the interiors of just for the sake of silliness, but it wouldn't be for practical use with miniatures gaming.)


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Wok-a-Doodle Terrain WIP #9: Right Building Work



I made an insert for the sign on the rightmost building that's basically just an image of the original sticker that went there, but with more "grunge."  I tried painting the "seal" next to the door to make it pop more (burgundy, then dry-brushed with pumpkin orange) and I think I like the result.  I'm a bit undecided as to how to paint the blocks/bricks on the building; the bottom part of the building could definitely go for a "mortar and brick" look (even if the "bricks" are very large for 32mm scale), but higher up there's just the occasional brick/block that's detailed, like they're sticking out randomly from what is otherwise a smooth surface.  I suppose that works for cartoony shortcuts ("I want to suggest that this is a brick wall, but I can't be bothered to draw EVERY BRICK"), or it could work for some fantasy building where the surface has been smoothed in plaster or daub-and-waddle but the occasional field stone protrudes.


I want the windows to have a grungy, grit-blasted, dirty look to them, and I started off by painting them graphite grey and then stippling with a much lighter grey, but there's too much contrast between the two shades of grey, so I'm going to have to go back and stipple some more with some mid-tones to make it more grimy and less splotchy.


For the sidewalk, I decided to rip out the manhole cover, and to try to make it look like a couple of craters are breaking up the sidewalk.  In the course of messing around with different effects, I ended up accidentally destroying the base coat on the too-smooth plastic sidewalk; once a bit came off, the whole thing started coming loose.  The paint just hasn't bonded very well.  I think I might have to sand it down before I try painting it again.  In the meantime, though, I wanted to get an impression of shattered concrete for the sidewalk, like some guy in power armor stepped off the roof and make an impact crater in the sidewalk.  (There will be a smaller crater occupying the spot where the "mutagen button" used to be, but I'm still sorting this out.)  I put a little bit of putty in the center and used a bit to anchor the cardboard pieces so there's more than just glue holding them in place.  Once everything has had a chance to dry and cure, I plan on coming back and applying some more putty and some sand from the back yard (I'm in Florida -- sand is everywhere) to do some gap-filling and detail work.  For one thing, where the cardboard pieces OVERLAP each other, that doesn't quite fit the desired look.  I may have to trim some pieces with a hobby knife, or maybe the application of grit and putty will solve the problem for me.  I think I'm going to fill the bottom of the crater with a bit of grit to level things out so a figure can actually be placed there (I don't want the whole area to become a "dead zone" that prevents figure placement), and I intend to etch a few cracks into the sidewalk (either via hobby knife, Dremel -- or I experimented in the lower right corner of the "crater" by applying a thin area of putty and then carving "cracks" into it.


There will probably be a mailbox or waste can against the wall (beside the door), but I won't do that until I finish the sidewalk and settle on how to paint the walls.  (I can at least start painting the mailboxes and trash cans, though.)  I THINK I might put a street sign on the corner.  A fire hydrant or newspaper dispenser might be nice, but I don't have any of those handy; I might just have to kit-bash with scraps.

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Wok-a-Doodle Terrain WIP #10: Laundr-O-mat.



The building on the other side seems to be shaping up a little faster.  I decided to paint the storefront frames at street level in "Ivy Green" (a subdued mid-tone green), and also experimented with stippling the windows.  I tried roughly painting the window frames ivy green as well, and I like the effect (though I'll have to go in with a detail brush and clean things up a bunch).  It's probably premature, but I decided to go ahead and try out my signage for the building.  My idea is that this will be a 24/7 laundromat with a Mr. Handy robot on duty ... and even after the Apocalypse, that poor, cleanliness-obsessed Mr. Handy is still there, and he's run out of Abraxo a LONG time ago.  (Thus, a potential encounter with the PCs.)  I cobbled together the "Laundr-O-Mat" sign with the Magneto type face and an inverse "bulge" text effect in Photoshop, a powder blue background, a ripped image of Mr. Handy (from some Fallout promo material), a big red circle for the "O," and then a couple of other text details for the "24 HOUR" and "SERVICE AND SELF-SERVICE" bits, with some stippling and texturing to suggest weathering (although the high-tech paints have held up remarkably well against fading).  For the billboard above the store front, I figured an Abraxo ad (just an image from Fallout, though I used the Clone Tool to expand the background tile area vertically to fill the dimensions available) would be appropriate, especially since it features Mr. Handy again.


The front doors are a bit weird: As depicted on the toy, they're just solid with a handle.  Should I paint them as top-to-bottom glass without a frame, or should I add some framing to make them look a little more "old-fashioned"?  I'm leaning toward the latter, though it'll require a bit more work.


Option #2: I COULD just Dremel out the doors entirely, and make a mini-diorama space out of the store interior.  I could probably fake some washers and driers with some papercraft.  But, again, the more sections I cut out of the plastic, the less sturdy it becomes.  Hmmmm.


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And here's the street scene, pretty much finished.




I cut out a frame for the double doors of the Laundromat, to make it look more retro.  Mailbox, waste can, and street signs are Mantis "Mars Attacks" bits.  The sample power suit is a Dust Tactics Heavy Ranger with a helmet swap (from a Brother Vinni helmet sprue), in an attempt to represent a suit of X-01 power armor (not Enclave APA-01, despite the nearly identical helmet) done up "Atom Cat" hot-rodder style, with a "flames" paint job.





Here's another view of the Laundromat, with a street battle with a Giant Radscorpion (Bones #77337, "Giant Scorpion").





I made the "impact crater" to replace the over-sized sewer cover from pieces of cardboard and putty, and decided to stage a "scene" to be silly.  One bizarre feature of power armor in Fallout 4 is that you can fall ABSOLUTELY ANY DISTANCE in power armor and take no damage.  (Beware: Your companion, despite wearing power armor, does not share this feature, and sometimes doesn't have the sense NOT to follow your example.  I learned not to go rooftop-hopping with the rocket pack with a companion following along on the ground.  Eventually, said companion, despite lacking a rocket pack and absolutely NEVER jumping, somehow gets up to a rooftop ... and falls off.  *CRUNCH*)


I'm also reminded of the first issue of the old "Tick" comic book, as the big blue idiot superhero misses a building while bounding from rooftop to rooftop through the City.  "Ah!  I'll break my fall with that flagpole coming up."  *SNAP* *SPROING*  (still falling, flagpole held under arm)  "Uhm ... I'll bounce off that large, flat, hard surface."  *CRUNCH*  Fortunately, the Tick is Nigh-Invulnerable.


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