Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Tiny Terrain

Time to draw breath and update you all on the 6mm Great War project as I haven’t written anything for a while.

On the figure front I’ve got a couple of French corps finished, one German corps done and one awaiting basing. That’s quite good progress as I’m also working on 20mm plastic Andalusian cavalry at the same time.

The finished units in their storage case waiting for their magnetic strip

There’s still plenty more to do. I haven’t cracked open the BEF yet, and the missing bits of my order from Partizan from Mr Baccus turned up recently as well. Mostly more guns.

The figures aren’t really the problem. I have got in the swing of how to produce them and they’ll not be held up. Already thinking about whether I want to buy more*. The fact is that this is a new project in a number of ways, not just period.

Which is to say I don’t have any 6mm scale terrain. So I have to make that as well. What’s more modern warfare in Western Europe is no respecter of terrain. Armies will fight anywhere. In earlier period armies would give battle in locations suitable for both. The number of battles (especially in the ancient period) where the terrain is just a few hills and a river to pin the flank vastly outnumber all other types. Once you get into the industrial age with massed armies basically the armies will fight anywhere and over anything. Consequently you need more table dressing. In the case of what I’m trying to do as well, - Corps level actions up to army size in 1914 – the battles cover large areas and encompass built up areas, big woods, valleys and rivers. Hills ain’t just gentle slopes either.

The other thing is that generally wargames terrain isn’t to scale either, regardless of what we pretend. I’ve got 15mm buildings from a number of manufacturers, all compatible with each other. However in the case of public buildings, like churches in particular, the models are much too small. Churches are really big buildings. Our local village church has probably got capacity for nearly 200 people. If you took the floor plan of most 15mm buildings of this type could you comfortable stand 200 figures in the area? Trees, as well, are way bigger than we model. I’ve got a full grown ash tree in my garden. I can assure you that it is more than the height of 3 or 4 figures.

Rivers in Europe are really wide as well. Rivers in Britain tend to be narrower and faster flowing than the likes of the Rhine and the Seine. I’ve got a 20mm scale Bellona river that is probably even too small for 15mm. I’ve just pulled up a photo of allied forces crossing the bridge at Nijmegan in 1944. I can count 4 shermans and 8 trucks, all widely spaced and I can’t even see the ends of the bridge. Anybody puit a river like that on the table top?

So really having terrain exactly in scale isn’t going to work, especially as my ground scale is 6cm = 2km.

My first aim was to sort out some buildings. A bit of searching found this terrific website run by a German school  aimed at people who want to build a Christmas diorama: link

These can all be printed out onto card and are free. They’re also pretty much spot on 6mm scale.
I made up three or four of them, gluing the thin card round a polystyrene core** to stop them being crushed and to give them a little bit of substance.

Some German Uhlans with the full size buildings
They do look great, but a single building is taking up most of a square. Plus they are dwarfing the figures. Now I know this is correct, but the wargaming aesthetic is completely wrong. Luckily the buildings are downloadable as pdfs and my desk top publisher lets me load them and break up the graphic elements. I can then scale them down to half size, which means they take up about a quarter of the space.
Some smaller houses, still with Uhlans

 These might be too small, but I’m going to put together a dozen or so of them and try them en-masse on the table. A few of the nets are really simple and I can get 8 on a page.

I had a trawl round 'tinternet looking for 6mm trees but I need a lot and didn't want to blow my figure budget on them. In the end I've scratch built a few.

Scratch built trees. Still those Uhlans
This isn't the best picture ever. The trees are made of plastic coffee stirrers cut to length and hot melt glued to pennies.  The bases are then glued and sanded as with figure bases. The foliage is lumps of packing sponge I got from a box containing some fancy mixer tap we had installed.

Finally I made some road and river using brown paintable window sealant. I followed advice from this website: link but I'm not quite as competent as the author.

So this is everything put together. Reckon it looks okay. Haven't solved the hill problem, however. I need to be able to show forward & reverse slopes plus plateaus in a flexible fashion on a grid. The author of Op14 uses triangles and circles for slopes and plateaus respectively, but I want something a bit more "hilly".

So, thinking cap on.

*Of course I do.

** I have a Games Workshop hot wire polystyrene cutter. Best thing I ever bought from them.


  1. Great to see a new project underway with some of the thinking behind it's development- good luck with your 6mm WW1 Project - do like your scaled down buildings and trees- well done! KEV.

    1. Thanks. The encouragement is really welcome.

      Think I need to re-shoot the photos tho'. Not very clear.

  2. Do you think the Baccus figures would be compatible with Heroics and Ros? I see the latter have increased their range a bit under the new management.

    1. I don't have any H&R. Had some ACW at Uni. Hated them (see earlier blog!).

      Baccus probably aren't compatible, - Pete addresses this on his website FAQs: https://www.baccus6mm.com/FAQ/

      I reckon for 6mm that Baccus are the gold standard.

  3. I've just spent a weekend putting together a few of those paper buildings but I went the other way and scaled up for 15mm gaming. The site is a little gem

    1. I have tried to simplify the models where I can as the are fiddly (although I couldn't resist putting on the water wheel.

      I wonder if anyone has sent them any pictures of the models being overrun by toy soldiers.

  4. For operational, even more so than tactical games, I use sub-scale buildings as otherwise it just looks silly. I have a load of card buildings I made up in the 1970s to use with 6mm stuff, and Tim G use the Irregular 2mm buildings with his 6mm stuff.

    For hills, just put them on the grid, enough of the grid shows to figure out the forward/reverse slopes. Or put little corner dots on your hills. Or use e.g. carpet tiles or hexon hex sheets under a marked cloth. (I do all three).

    wrt Baccus vs H$&R, Baccus are towering 8mm giants compared to the petite and delicate 5mm H&R figures. Even the Irregular stuff on huge thick moulded bases is too small to go with the Baccus giants.

    1. I looked at the Irregular stuff and was very tempted. I will check out his stand next time I'm at a show.

      Putting stuff under a marked cloth is tempting. I'm looking at carving out a lot of thin contour blocks of different sizes at the moment. Marking the corners of the squares on them is something I'm doing with the Pacific War stuff that'll be at CoW.

      Thanks for the info on Heroics / Irregular. As I said above I like Pete's figures and I didn't like the Heroics when I had them.

  5. Brigade models (3mm?) buildings might be worth looking at for larger built up areas.

    If Baccus are nearly 8mm did you consider 10mm for this project? The Pendraken range is quite extensive and nicely proportioned.

  6. I don't agree that Pete's stuff is 8mm. They're 6mm to the eye, which used to be the way you measured figures.

    They're clearly not 10mm figures. I didn't consider any other ranges for this project, - the Baccus stuff is simply excellent. Well, I looked at other stuff, but there was no way I was going anywhere else once I'd seen what I've got now.

  7. This gives a really good way of making evergreen trees in 6mm.


    You can quickly build up a sizeable forest.

    For deciduous woods I buy packs of small 'pom moms' that you get in craft stores. Tease out the material a bit and glue bunches of them to small nails glued head down on a MDF base. Use the same technique as for those chenille trees for adding foliage. You'll probably want to spray the pom moms black before adding the foliage to cover any gaps.

    1. Thanks for the link. I don't think black bump chenille is a UK thing, but I'll look about.

      I think the nails for tree trunks is an idea I'll pinch. I've got a bag of clout nails with the big heads in the garage. They'll be easier to fix to the pennies, and more robust when I impale the sponge on them.

    2. Just be sure not to impale your hand on the nails too! In a sudden fit of 'health and safety gone sensible' I cut the points off mine.

      You can get bump chenille in the UK. I got mine from a company called Craft Bits - can't see it on their website now but a quick Google search throws up quite a lot of craft suppliers who do it.

    3. Good point on the nails. I shall be careful.

  8. If you want to go down scale for buildings i recommend Brigade models range. Examples can be seen on my blog at http://elenderilsblog.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Brigade%20Model%27s I also have an article that might be of use on making trees from seed cones from Alder trees.

    1. Thanks. A useful couple of posts. Must keep an eye out for Alder Trees.

      Now, if someone has clever ideas of what to do with ash keys I'll be well away.

    2. If nowhere else I know that there are some in the playing fields at Parklands which is the top end of Bradlaugh Fields at Northampton just off the Kettering Road. Not a million miles from you.

    3. Now that's a handy tip!