Terrain Talk Pt. 18 – Building A Battlemat

With the Teeny Weeny Kings Of War project starting to come to fruition, I’ve hit the point where the lads need somewhere to do battle – the kitchen table will have to do for now, but it doesn’t exactly lend itself to any beauty shots. Realistically, it’s still a couple of months before we can regularly get back to face to face gaming, and Jim has custody of the big 6×4, so I’ve taken a different approach.

Now, full disclosure – this whole project was made possible by the genius of Mel The Terrain Tutor, and pretty much everything I needed to know I gleaned from this video, so I urge you to go check this out if you’re considering making one of these yourself (and I recommend you do, it’s actually not too tricky and very satisfying).

You’re going to need the following:

A plastic backed painters drop cloth/ dust sheet (terminology may vary from place to place – this is what I got off eBay). The good news here is that these things are frickin’ HUGE, 12′ x 9′, so that’s plenty of 6’x4′ surfaces you can cook up – desert, snow etc. (EDIT – make sure it is plastic backed, otherwise the caulk will permeate through and stick your cloth to whatever surface you’re working on)

Acrylic decorators caulk – I got through two tubes making this cloth.

Acrylic paint – I used black and brown for this. You want cheap acrylic craft paint here as this stuff will stay flexible and bend.

Sand and grit.

A plaster spreader (decorator’s tool – here’s an eBay link)

Flock and PVA glue.

A bucket or similar (I used an old paint pot)

I began by cutting out a 4’x 3′ shape to cover the dining table. and then gaffa taped that down firmly to keep it flat, and then emptied two tubes of caulk into an empty paint pot, and then squirted a tube of black and brown cheap acrylic craft paint in to make sure that I wasn’t going to have any patches of white coming through.

Delicious-er. Be aware, it takes a LOT of paint to get to this shade – we’re talking a tube of brown and a tube and a half of black craft acrylic (and you want acrylic because this needs to be flexible)
In goes the texture – sand and grit. The plan was to get everything down in one coat, a nicely mud-coloured, textured base that would be flexible and roll away nicely when not in use..
And now smeared on – I used a decorators scraping/ spatula tool here, picked up off eBay for a few quid – absolutely invaluable for this job.

After leaving that to dry for a couple of days, it was time to drybrush – I used two or three layers of brown mixed with bone, each time adding lightening the mix with bone and using less paint on the brush:

Not perfect, a few creases, but overall I’m pretty satisfied. Next came flock and dust to finish the product, and (fanfare please):
In situ! In the finest traditions of kitchen table wargaming, there’s a few books underneath to represent hills.
Creases :-/ but I can live with it, and not bad for a first attempt.
And in a sneak preview of my next post… battle is joined!

Must admit, I enjoyed this and I honestly didn’t think I’d get anything close to Mel’s results, but in the end I’m quite happy with this – thinking about doing a couple of overlays for the 6×4, maybe a desert or a snow theme? I now Jim’s got something in the works that could make use of a winter snowscape…

That’s all for now, stay tuned to see a proper look at my home made Dwarves next time, and maybe even a KoW battle report! Stay safe and thrifty out there folks.

The Valiant Conundrum

We live in strange and confusing times. Fake news, claims and counter-claims.. it seems like everyone has an agenda these days and it’s hard to know who to trust. But here at Skinflint HQ, we strip away the opinions and get straight to the facts, to answer the burning question so many of you want answered.

Just how well do Valiant Miniatures’ “heroic 20mm” WW2 miniatures scale with 40k figures?

I set out to find out – inadvertently ordering a full box rather than the single sprue I had planned to, but not going to argue with the results, 65 figures for £14.95! So maybe that Imperial Guard army you fancied doing isn’t so far out of reach?

I had actually got something slightly different in mind (assuming the results of my experiments were up to par) – we’ve already got the Guard for 40k in 20mm, and just doing the same thing in a slightly different scale seems a bit pointless to me (not to say we won’t do that at some point, but still) – I had actually planned to build a Levy platoon for Firefight, to work through the campaign in the rulebook, probably for a bit of Deadzone too, and I was planning to give them a bit of a “Colonial Marines” kind of vibe to try out another lost system from the 90s… more on that another day!

For my test figure, I based one of the little guys (late WW2 German infantry) on a 25mm round base, and after having drawn inspiration from this thread on TMP, I started to sci-fi him up a bit using card, superglue, granny grating (thanks Dan!) and greenstuff. He got a visor for the helmet (cardboard – this got knocked off during the conversion process and forgotten about, whoops), some body armour over his tunic (cardboard again), a greenstuff facemask – in the grim darkness of the far future, it pays to be COVID-secure – and some granny grating to turn his Mauser rifle into a lasgun/ pulse rifle/ autogun.

Mask, as is de riguer these days…
Body armour and knee pads
Upgunned with granny grating

Next step was basing – a bit of filler to smooth over the lip where the mini joins the base itself, followed by Ye Olde PVA & Sand mix, then a spray with white primer and a thin Smokey Ink wash. I’m not sure this really has an effect on the shading, but as I get older and my eyes start to go, this is really helpful to outline which bit is where on the miniature.

And the result:

Now we’re getting the 40k vibe..

I took my cue from the “Aliens” and “Avatar” films for the paint job, going with a craft tan base coat and a digital (ish) camo pattern using Army Painter Goblin Green, Vallejo Russian Green, Olive Drab and German Grey, all unified with a thin Smokey Ink wash and a very light bone drybrush.

I’m pretty happy with the result, he’ll do well for Firefight once he’s got his mates with him and he’s generically sci-fi enough to work in a variety of settings. And I’ve got 64 friends for him, all for under £15!

And now the answer you’ve all been waiting for – here he is with some 40k minis, an Ork, a Gretchin, most of an RTB 01 Marine and the Genestealers of Hive Fleet Imprudens:

As you can see, he looks pretty good – I think he works as a “true scale” human, he’s a bit puny looking compared to the Ork, but that’s kind of how it should be.. he’s taller than the Gretchin but much less imposing than the Marine, and that again is how it should be. So maybe those folks looking for “true scale” Marines are missing the point, the actual way to go is to downsize the humans?

Anyway, that’s it for now, I’ve got a LOT of superglueing to do to build a platoon of these guys! Stay safe and thrifty out there, we’re getting there now….