Figures for a friend, Swedish Warband 1650

Ready to defend Swedish soil or perhaps add a little! I think they have a very distinctive look easily recognized on they battlefield.

I rarely paint for hire, then if I do its for a friend who wants “Something special” and when one of the “Dogs of War” gaming buddies Frank asked several times to think about painting his Swedish Warband for use with the “Donnybrook” rules system I hesitated to do it. I looked at the figures from the “Assault Group”, 24 infantry, 12 cavalry he had already purchased, they were very nice, well-proportioned and sculpted. These were no “old Glory” figures, these would paint up well but would show any mistake or lack of care. In other words, they would look great if painted well, short cuts would show with these unlike “rougher sculpted” figure types. I decided that the cash generated from the commission would slide me into my 28mm Samurai Warband figures from the Perry’s nicely, so I agreed.

For a long time I have dreaded painting horses, tough to make look “alive”, I think over the years I have developed a style and method that accomplishes this and is almost “fun” for me to do!

There was also going to be quite a bit of custom work involved, hand made pikes, pose alterations, and custom flags to be made. I also do very custom bases on my figures and when I paint for others it’s a complete “head to toe” job, flag tip down to magnetic base. I don’t want a great looking figures sitting on a so-so base! I take quite a bit of time on figure prep and finish since I think the majority of figure painters and especially sellers don’t! I have seen quite a few mini’s in my day and lots of friends have purchased figures to flush out their collections. The vast majority of these figures are not prepped properly or coated and sealed after painting resulting in wear marks from handling, spears, swords, and other pieces breaking off, and the flocking and basing looking old and worn very quickly. Cheap figures ALWAYS have a short cut involved, that’s why their CHEAP. A good automotive primer sprayed on and left to dry for 24 hours is best. Sealing with at least two coats of GLOSS COAT is a must, DULL COAT is NO protection! Let the Gloss coat dry for 12 hours, less depending on weather (dry and hot out) or speed it up GENTLY with a warm blow dryer! My figures and much of my terrain has been done this way and you can take my stuff to the sink and gently was off dust with cool water and a soft brush! If need be.

I make my own flags, copper sheet, and handpaint them, I think for better or worse its now a completely “painted” figure.

The job was tough but it was also fun! It was a period I had not painted and the color scheme included lots of yellow, a color that is always tough to paint. Below is a short run down of what was done. The pictures will speak for themselves as to how successful I was…enjoy!

A little cutting and filling can make horse’s look quite different from one another and add a dynamic feeling.

I played a game of “Donnybrook” at the “Dog Pound” Saturday and enjoyed it! Not sure if I’ll bite, jury is still out as I’m not a fan of card driven activation where you can have a player sit around doing nothing for most of the game, as well as units unable to react to clear threats for to long a period. The use of so many different dice to preform actions and the fact they change as a unit takes damage is a bit confusing and I think could have been handled differently. I will play again since I have Moors that can be used, perhaps Frank won’t want his Swedish, and it’s really about getting together with friends, kibitzing, and just having fun!

The command group from the Pike-man unit. These are really nicely sculpted and have great poses! Click and enlarge the picture we reveal the pike tip work done with kneadite “green stuff”

Swedish Warband 1630,

(36 x 28mm Figures, 24 infantry plus 12 cavalry)

Clean and prep. (mold lines and flash removed, figures washed, hands drilled)

Figure modifying and assembly. (Including handmade pikes & horse positioning)

Handmade flags and poles. (custom copper flags and steel poles.)

Prime with high quality automotive primer. (Krylon ulta flat black)

Painting to a Collector Standard. (Blending, highlighting, washes, aging, ect..)

Hand painted flags. (3 separate designs attributed to “The Blue Regiment”)

Figure sealing. (two coat of Testors gloss coat on figures, One coat gloss to seal base material, One coat dull coat to entire finished figure and base)

Mounting (3mm Litko plywood + .30mm magnets, custom 45 degree base clipping)

Base treatment. (filler putty, rocks, paint. Two color flock, Static grass, Tufting and flowers) The entire base is gloss coat sealed and the figure can be lightly washed, softly and quickly in cold water if needed to remove future dust.

 

Fire and Fury ACW “Battle of Newhall Pass”

Last Saturday saw me and good buddy Stevie G beg off gaming down at the infamous “Dogs of War” club and return to our “roots” by doing some American Civil War gaming in 15mm.

Steve and I had met 30 years ago over a battle of Johnny Reb ACW at the “Last Grenadier” in Los Angeles California, the city of Glendale to be exact. The Last Grenadier (sadly now gone) was a local Mecca for miniature gamers in Southern California and many of us cut our wargaming teeth there. Steve and I had never met but both worked as “Grips” in the Hollywood film business and because we both had the habit of painting figures during our lunch breaks on the set had known of each other. Now grips have a particular style and look and it was just moments into the gathering of 10 or so guys doing the battle that we looked at each other and realized at long last we had met! Over the next 25 years we have gamed, worked together, and had a great time doing it!

My “Main Man” Stevie G. This is his happy face…before his dice decide not to co-operate! The stone wall area would be the site of the bloodiest fighting for the day. The upside down “T” section of the walls would become infamous to both side as the “Bloody Angle”

We no longer use Johnny Reb but have moved over to Fire and Fury since it is a bit more streamlined, simpler, faster, more popular, and is used for the basis of the Age of Eagles rules we use for 15mm Napoleonic’s.

This battle report is not going to be too detailed since neither of us have played Fire & Fury for several years it was to be a “shake the Dust off game” at best. I’ll mostly let the pictures speak for themselves.

Looking good you Johnny Rebs!

We took fairly balanced forces, 50 infantry stands each representing 1 small Division each. Each of us also had 2 Division Generals and a Corps commander. (forgive me if I misuse Brigade, division, Corps, in my descriptions, comes from playing Johnny Reb and painting units for that system) The Union had 2 three gun battery’s and the Confederates 2 two gun battery’s  since Union artillery was normally better and more numerous. The Confederates received better troops and commanders. I rolled a random entry on my side and Steve picked entry for each of his divisions. The scenario was to get control of the area thus denying the enemy the entrance to the pass.

My first brigade the “Stonewall Brigade” commanded by Brigadier General James Walker advances onto the field. On the road in the background you can see the lead brigade of my 2nd division.

Major General Edward M. Johnson watches Stewart’s Brigade move brigade up the road leading to the stone wall later known as the “Bloody Angle” The 2nd Maryland in their early war Zuoave uniform lead the way! We see the messenger arrive confirming that the Stonewall Brigade has dispatched reinforcements. Brigadier  General Stewart is seen on the other side of the road.

Since I had rolled my troops entry areas before Steve’s entry I new where my troops were going to enter and had a vague plan on what area I wanted to occupy. Steve got too choose where he wanted to go after me but without knowing where I was. No real advantage to either side. Both sides pushed their men hard trying to get to the best positions first. Commanding my forces was Major General Edward M. Johnson, Johnson quickly realized that the Union commander was making a mistake and separating his forces in a flanking maneuver that would result in his two brigades not being able to effectively support each other.  Johnson decided to deploy the “Stonewall Brigade” defensively  and attack with the 2nd Brigade in the north along the stone wall. Johnson also decided to send 2 regiments of the Stonewall brigade to help while recalling the 2nd brigades artillery south to help defend against the “Blue Belly’s” about to attack there.

The Union 2nd Brigade advanced as a dense mass, another mistake of it’s less experienced officers! this would quickly cause deployment problems as they approached the angle.

Using the road the Unions elite 1st brigade attempts to flank the Confederate forces. This took time, allowed the southerners to form a strong defensive line along the woods, forcing the Union to now advance through a storm of shot and shell in the open field.

Steve’s Union troops are very nicely painted with detail that one normally see’s only in 25mm and larger. Here you see some of his Zouaves as well as the tail end of the “Iron Brigade” in their “Hardee” hats.

The Union’s “Iron Brigade” leads the way. They would suffer greatly in the coming advance across the “Killing Field” but survive to fight another day!

The first few turns saw only troops rushing to take up position, at first the Union commander surly felt his choice of of terrain was going to work well…but the men arriving at he positions were met with a sea of fluttering enemy flags and the howl of Rebel yells across the fields!

Seeing the enemy already so close Union soldiers deploy into line of battle…trusting in their commanders.

The more experienced of the Union brigade commanders realize that they have already fallen in to a dangerous trap! Outflanked and facing superior numbers they prepare for a hard fight.

Rebel forces surge forward enveloping Union forces on two sides before even a shot is fired. Union artillery is mostly still moving up and the one battery deployed is badly handled in the confusion missing and doing little damage!

On the Union right at the “Angle” both side open up a hot exchange of musketry. Either uncertainty, inexperience, or Union commander Steve’s dice result in the Rebels coming out on top in nearly all the exchanges of musketry!

While the right exchanges shots the rebs on the left hop the wall preparing to charge with their superior numbers and better close in abilities.

The Union officers continued to urge their men forward trying to reach the wall and halt the Rebel advance. They would make it but a moment later a howling mass of Rebs charged over and into the Union line. A finial round of musket fire cracked all up and down the “Angle” as steel met steel and blood flowed….

Confederate charges go into both Union side of the “Angle” with the Blue coats slightly disorganization and in disorder it will not go well! The Union artillery on the hill only managed to get off one shot and did little to the advancing Rebels.

On the Confederate right, just south of the “Angle” a powerful line of battle is setup with Rebel forces even retreating some to increase the distance and time it would take the Union forces to reach them. General Johnson hoped this would give him time to crush the Union force in the north and then use his combined force to deal with the Iron brigade and the Union forces crossing the field. He was also counting on his concentration of artillery there to severely weaken the advancing blue coats.

The southern flank of the Confederate lines, The Rebels are slowly withdrawing to the line along the woods that their artillery now occupies. Beyond them we can see the fight at the “Angle” start to heat up!

After two turns of charges and melee, the Union was beaten back in disorder and lost several stands. Before they could recover the rebels charged again capturing (swept from the field results with a 10+2 roll and a 10+3 roll!) or destroying two full brigades, one Union Battery, capturing both the Division and Corps commanders! As the remnants of the Union northern force skedaddled two Reb Brigades were released to reinforce the southern force.

One set of charges later half the remaining Union force would be dead or captured.

The Confederate line of battle was ready and waiting!

I painted these over 25 years ago but they still look pretty good! (Several rebasings..lol)

Seen from the Union side. I sure would not want to be in these boys shoes! It really makes you stop and think on the bravery of men both North and South who for the most part didn’t understand why they were fighting other than “There’s a fight about something and I’ll not be left behind!”

Proud as ever the “Iron Brigade” leads the way!

The Confederates held their fire, not used to being on the waiting side as the Federals approached. One Rebel gunner was heard to say “agin us or not them are some brave boys!” as he touched his wick firing the first round….

Southern Battery’s open up a devastating fire on the advancing Federals. My high die rolls help them hit there marks!

Despite their bravery the Iron Brigade feels they wrath of the southern battery’s. This day Union Artillery failed to live up to it’s reputation, providing little in the way of support for the boys in blue!

Southern fire seals the loss for the Federal troops this day, but swears one Sargent, “There will will be a reckoning one day soon Johnny Reb!”

With their one division wrecked and unable to make headway against the other flank the Union commanders sound retreat and use the fading light to cover their withdrawal.

The battlefield as it looked on the last turn.

Steve and I shook hands and despite his loss agreed it was a lot of fun. The rules play very easy and we remembered things as we went along. We did a bit of an after battle kibitzing and both agreed it was a union loss due to mistakes in deployment and not helped by lackluster die rolls on his part. I wish someone would invent a game where “1s” are great cause Steve would be unbeatable! It was great to get out figures that have not been used much in the last years, heck I even may do a bit of work on my small Union force!

 

 

 

“Escort Service” part 2

These will make a great unit for the “Escort” scenario in SAGA

So for Part 2 of my “Escort Service” I finished up my pig herder and his swine. I also based these guys for ease of movement but tossed in a bit of a twist in that I did it like a movement tray. I did this because I wanted the ability to use these figure singly in other situations.

To make the base I used some sheet polystyrene the same thickness as my “LITKO” bases used for SAGA infantry, about 1/8 inch. I arranged the figures to my liking and then traced onto the polystyrene the area that would be the base. The base was cutout using a hobbyist sized band saw from Micro Mart.

This is a great tool to have in anyone’s tool arsenal! If you do not have one a “cooping” saw will do the job as well, well almost as well! The cut was done with a sloping angle edge to make it blend better with the terrain.

 

Next a sheet of thin magnetic sheet stock was cut in the same shape. This will later be contact cemented to the styrene base to both hold it to the storage drawer’s metal lining and help hold the figures in because of their magnetic bases.

I arranged the figures on the base again and this time traced their out lines onto the styrene in preparation for cutting the holes the figure will sit into later. My figure bases are round and 1 inch or 25mm. I used a 1 ¼”  “Fostner” bit in my drill press to cut the holes. A “Fostner” bit cuts perfect round holes not possible with a regular drill bit. Not cheap but you will only ever need one and used for cutting plastic will last your lifetime!

 

Once the holes are cut the pieces are assembled using contact cement and with a bit of finish sanding is ready for finish decoration. I use a recipe of Durham’s “Rock Hard” as a base material in landscaping and in 20 years found no problems. Mix it 80% with 15% white wood glue and 5% water. Just experiment with this formula until you get it right. It should be the consistency of porridge, easily spread on and a bit flowing. As it dries u can push it around for a natural unevenness. The glue is important since without it the “Durham’s” may chip or flake with table use.

Even though the individual figures are removable with a little effort you can make it blend very well and hardly noticeable in the base.

Once again I get wrapped up in the building and forget the pictures but I think you get the idea and feel free to ask question in the comments. I think it came out great and this now finishes 2/3rds or the “Escort Project” so see you soon for the last installment!

 

Building units for an “Escort Service”

I always like to set “my” minis apart from the rest of the pack, go the extra mile. I enjoy when gamer’s say “are those so and so manufacture?” because they look a bit different. I do this in a couple of ways, painting, basing, and customizing the figures themselves. I like variety in my figures and sometimes a line doesn’t have enough different poses for me so I’ll grab some sculpting putty (two part green stuff) and have at it. Now I’m no sculptor, I don’t do whole figures, but I’m pretty fair at cutting models up and customizing them.

I’ve been trying to clean up some lose ends on the work bench and one of the projects sitting on the shelf for a while has been some Dark Ages civilians for SAGA scenarios. For the “Escort” scenario I needed three objective units and I had the minis for several carts, and a pig farmer and his pigs.

The collection of figures and carts getting prepped for “Escort” duty!

Most of the minis were from Gripping Beast and they are great figures BUT I was not satisfied with the way they would appear around the carts. I just didn’t think the poses were quite right; I wanted them to really appear as if they were pushing/pulling cart. There was also no wagon driver…. This led to them sitting half done on the shelf.

After looking at the project for about a year while I painted a few other SAGA warbands (Normans, Vikings, and Anglo Danes) I decided to do something about it. I decided that there was no way around it I was going to have to create a sitting driver. Now I’m no sculptor but I’m not bad at taking one figure and modifying it to be what I want, in fact that’s one of the most enjoyable aspects of this hobby.

I have nearly all the Foundry Vikings and consider them the best Viking line available. I have quite a few still unpainted and after going through them I soon found a likely candidate for customization. I wanted to have;

  1. One arm using a whip.
  2. One arm holding reins
  3. Legs easily modified to sitting position.
  4. No armor.

I found a great candidate and prepared for “surgery”

Arms were almost right to start with but the legs would be a lot of work.

The Figure was wearing a sword and that would have to be removed.

Foundry uses a good quality metal in their figures and cutting and filing are very easy. After studying the figure for a bit I determined where and what kind of cuts were needed. Some cuts like the arm were completely through but most were wedge type allow removal of a section to allow bending of the figure into the proper pose. After the cuts and bends the areas were made to look right with Kneadite “Green Stuff” sculpting putty. Cutting, bending, and lots of filing were done to the rear buttocks and leg area to create a sitting figure. To help “blend” the figure into the seat a sheepskin seat cushion was sculpted from more green stuff

Yellow lines show cuts made.

The figure also got a whip made of brass rod and a “Greenstuff” handle in the arm that normally held a spear. The green stuff was give a day to cure and primed and painted.

Brass whip really gives life to the figure!

The cart itself had already had work done to it to make it look better and have more detail. Since I wanted to have the driver holding some reins I wold have to create them and make it look believable. Very little real evidence on rigs from the period really exist but ox carts still in use today use much the same systems so a believable modification was worked out.

Sculpting putty was used to create pads on yoke as well as blend in the area where the horns were glued on.

I keep a lot of small cheap chains bought at a local craft stores “bead” section and used a few links to create the “iron work” as well as some small aluminum wire twisted and painted to look like rope.

Do you need this kind of detail? “I do!” it’s eye candy! The rope wire will be bent under the oxen’s necks, cut to length, connected, primed, and painted.

The white “centra” board is a thick plastic stock that later will be carved and customized into the base

Well it’s about here in most of my projects that I just get sucked to finishing them and forget to take pictures but its mostly done anyway. I did the reins, the base, and few little touches. There is still another figure to do but he will come later. Here’s a few closing shots of the finished project….enjoy! If you like it please leave a comment, it keeps us going!

The iron yoke work shown earlier can be seen here in it’s finished state as well as the base work. Ancient dirt roads looked much different than the ones used by cars today.

I think the finished yoke work came out nicely. the reins are simplified for project, but most just involved turning an animals head in the direction you wanted to go.

Much of the baggage was created from “Sculpy” modeling clay, as well as the tarp.

The reins are thick thread painted as rope and a hole was drilled in his hand to allow pass through. I really like how the figure came out. I not sure how the figure feels being taken from “warrior” status down to “cart driving farmer”?

Well it was a fun project and one of those pieces of “eye candy” that makes the battlefield come alive! I have several more projects in the “Escort” series and they will follow shortly.

Table ready!

 

“Dogs of War” battle reports coming

Chris A (left) and Chris S (right) running one of the “Dog’s” mega convention games “SHANGHAI”

My “Primary” gaming group the “Dogs of War” will soon be posting their Battle Reports here on my site. Chris Snell the great patron of “The Dogs” (he devotes part of his house to us) has for many years sent out weekly emails covering what has gone on and what is coming up at the club. Over the last year we have been refurbishing the club and I thought it might nice to also have the weekly battle reports Chris does get a facelift as well and giving Chris the ability to post them here with pictures would be a great way to do this.

Chris Snell (standing right) helps run the SAGA event at Games Empire. Seated is another Dog, Frank V.

A little bit about Chris…. Well Chris has been one of the original “Dogs of War” since the beginning and also probably the most active. In fact I can’t remember any “Dogs” game or activity that he has not been at!!! Chris has put himself in the forefront of all the projects and his efforts contribute mightily to everything the Dogs have ever been, done, or hope to do. Without Chris’s patronage the “Dog’s” may well have dissolved long ago. The “Dogs” are a great bunch and they all contribute much to the whole, but in any group there are always a few who provide the backbone that others build on, thanks Chris.

Side trip to Aberdeen Proving grounds, Historicon 1999? Joe, Dave L, Joe’s nephew, Tim D, Chris A,Chris Snell, Bill W (me) and sitting on fender of German Jagd Tiger is Ron Green.

So you will soon see Chris’s weekly reports appearing here! Yea Chris! I encourage all the “Dogs” to subscribe to this site and receive notifications when these reports go up. You can simply scroll down the main page and towards the bottom of the right side column you will see an option to enter your email and receive notification of new articles and updates on the site.

So welcome Chris and “Reports from the Pound”

Chris S (in tri-corner hat and long coat) helps run the Dogs pirate game “Maracaibo Mambo” at a past HMGS/PSW convention.

Storage Wars

Over the years my local gaming group in Southern California the “Dogs of War” have amassed a huge collection of miniatures, terrain, mats, and all manner of gaming material that when not in use has to be stored somewhere! When we moved from our long time clubhouse in Burbank (thanks to Danny’s garage) to our present digs (the bottom floor of Chris’s house) we found out just how much stuff had accumulated!!! well in the years since that move it has grown by leaps and bounds. Some of it ended up in a few storage units but most went into Chris’s garage and got to the point that it was near impossible to find things or get a car in it. The main gaming area had reached gridlock and the place was being suggested for an episode of “Hoarders”

The group put its collective head together and decided that it was time for a massive clean out and refurbish! I came up with a bit of a plan and this started with organizing the garage and building proper shelves for storage. The current shelves were plastic and groaning under the weight of several tons of lead! When newcomers visited the club and were asked if we had figures for such and such period the response was always “sure what scale do you want to play in” So it was decided to build strong shelves that would both hold the weight, provide additional space, and survive the earthquakes our area has from time to time!

Since I have built and out fitted trucks for the “Movie Biz” for many years the task of organizing this was my job, labor was pulled from all the core club members, and the material bought and paid for by selling off un-needed miniatures and terrain from the clubs pile.

The first stage of the project was to clean out and redo garage and this is a short video done over one of two weekends this stage took.

Storage Wars

Chris S (on ladder) Bill W (me) Tim and Joe (adjusting my neck!)

Are these really shelves? or bunk beds for Chris’s “indentured” painters?

Danny,& Joe, and Chris A

Chris and Tim bring new light into our lives!

Chris & Tim& Steve G

Chris A & Galen

 

 

 

Total Battle building project

I have written a few articles on the TOTAL BATTLE miniatures buildings and how much I liked them. Well I still like them and everyone who plays in my battles echos that along with my decision to go with 10mm buildings in 15mm games for a better look when representing towns and villages.

The slightly smaller 10mm buildings allow more buildings using the space that would only allow two or three 15mm buildings

Over the last year in between other projects I have been painting these buildings and occasionaly transporting them to games not at my place. I quickly realized that to prevent dammage to them I needed to come up with safe and easy way to transport them.  For years I have made an effort to bring innovation to wargaming with miniatures, especially when transporting miniatures and terrain. I dare say some of the things that are common today in the miniatures world where developed by myself and a few others. Bold statement? Yes but when I started miniature gaming people were slapping 3-4 colors on mini’s, gluing them on some painted cardboard, and transporting them to games in old pizza boxes!  Times have changed!

So this article is about finding a way to store and transport all my lovely Total Battle miniatures buildings easily and with out damage!  Recently I decided to change the way I store terrain at my place because overtime I found much of my terrain was getting dusty and dull looking even though it was stored in those multi level plastic storage drawers. The drawer system did a pretty good job but over time dust would still filter in especially since my gaming area shares the same space as my shop and terrain making area. The drawers were also not that convenient for transport. My career in the movie business had given me a lot of experience in storage and moving of equipment safely so I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to this. I want a system that works quickly, easily, and most important does the job. I searched long and hard and finally settled on a plastic stacking box system from “the Really Useful Box” system. The system is readily obtainable, strong, and economically priced. In the US they can be found at Office depot and Office Max as well as tons of internet sellers, I’ll list the common sizes I use at the end of the article but the one used for my buildings box is the 17 liter box.

The beginning of the “new” system. Old drawer storage on right and new “Really Useful Box” system on left. Easy to see and grab what you need and the stuff stays clean!

Over the last year or so I have been replacing my “plastic drawer” system with the “Useful Box” system and had reached the point of finding a good way of storing my Total Battle buildings in one. I wanted to keep all the buildings in one box but I also did not want to use too big a box (length & width) so I settled on one that was smaller but deeper. This box would to hold most of the buildings in it on one level but required me to “create” a second shelf in the box for the balance of the buildings with a bit of room left over for a few other terrain items.

The next step was to figure out how to keep the buildings organized and secure in the box so to prevent damage as well as easily see that everything was there (useful when picking up after a convention/away game when your tired and may miss something. My first idea was to use some powerful Neodymium Magnets in the base of each mini and then line the box bottom and shelf with thin steel. This required drilling the base of a building and then gluing a magnet or two flush in the bottom. It worked ok but not perfect. If there was a jar or a lot of vibration to the box the buildings could shift and it would be a bit of work to modify all the buildings….I didn’t like it. Next idea was to go back to another tried and true method we use for camera gear and other delicate gear, foam cut to size. This too required some work but in the end was a better system and not that hard, it was the way I went.

The right tools always make the job easier, safer, and faster. Note the single sided razor blade.

I recommend getting a good piece of foam not the white or tan soft foam found in chairs and couches as that foam tends to age and deteriorate when not sealed up in furniture. Use the grey packing type foam, it’s stiffer, last longer, and cuts easier. You can pick up this foam at any foam supply cheap. I bought a 2’ x 6’ one inch thick piece for $12. This project would only use around 2-3 feet so plenty left for other projects! To cut the foam a RAZOR sharp tool will be needed, utility knife, xacto knife, or even the razor blades made for single sided cutting. I used all 3 types and found the simple razor blade to be the best. Blades will dull up and this project took three.

Measure the bottom of the box and cut a piece of foam to match. Make sure to get a tight fit. I cut a bit over size and then trim down. Next the buildings are laid out on it and using a fine tip permanent ink marker (this ink wont later rub off on buildings), one by one mark the buildings position on the foam. Turn on some music, take your time and cut out foam from where the buildings will sit. It’s important to make these cuts just right. Too tight and paint may rub off over time, to lose and your buildings will fall out. Take your time and watch your fingers.

My first attempt at spacing was a bit to crowded and would have required the foam to be cut to thin and then lose needed strength so after a bit or rearranging the bottom layer looked like this.

Now that I had the spacing to my liking it was time to cut the foam.

Check your arrangement several times and when you are sure it works its time to mark the areas that will be cut out. Use a fine tip permanent ink sharpie for this if you have one, other markers may have cheap ink that wont really dry and rub off later on your buildings!

Cutting foam or anything else requires careful attention to what you’re doing! First to prevent injury to yourself and secondly to make sure you get the cuts right! Take your time! There is an old saying about cutting “measure twice cut once, measure once cut twice!” and its always possible to remove more material but once a cut is too big your in trouble. I did all this building cutting and fitting with a single sided razor and used 3-4 blades since even foam dulls the blades.

When cutting I made sure I cut slightly on the inside of the line ensuring a tight fit and remembering I could always take more off if I needed to. Switching to new blades after abut 5-6 buildings made sure the blade was always sharp enough to be able to cut by simply pushing straight down using a slight side to side motion.

As with most of my projects and articles at a certain point I get so wrapped up in it I start forgetting to take pictures! When I finished the bottom section and started work on the second level that was the case for this project.

My top shelf will sit on these two wooden “runners” holding the top shelf just above the bottom buildings. For my project full length runners on each long side were strong enough to support the top shelf. Take care to make sure these are level and an equal distance off the box bottom on each side so the shelf sits correctly in the box.

The second level would be made of 1/8th inch plywood (luan) and sit JUST above the tops of the bottom level of buildings. The bottom level hold the biggest and tallest buildings, the top shelf the smaller buildings (height wise). Make sure you plan all this out at the beginning of the project!!! Be doubly sure that all the measurements and tolerances will work out!

The top shelf being 1/8th inch is easy to cut using a small power or hand saw, again cut oversize and trim to fit. A second piece of foam is cut for it and the process of layout and cutting in the buildings happens just like the bottom shelf. I haven’t yet but I may use some spray contact cement (3M 77 spray) to bond the foam to the top shelf.

As a final step I put a couple of flexible “tabs” on each end of the top shelf so I could lift it out and get to the bottom section. I started with couple of temporary tape tabs to allow me to get the correct spacing and balance for the tabs. Later I used some 2 inch webbing material pop riveted in to create a strap for this purpose. Don’t complete this step until you have arranged and cut in your buildings since the weight may not be balanced meaning your straps may need to be off set so you get level lift out of the box! Find the balance and center of gravity and adjust the straps to match this ensuring a level lift. Pop Rivet guns are cheap and a really useful tool to have around the house! Holes are drilled in the shelf insert and the strap where the rivets will go. I used a hot wood burning pen (a small heated nail will do!) to burn and seal holes in web strapping and a lighter to melt and seal edges of strapping after cutting.

Top shelf in and tabs just lay across the top. Some lose stuff has still not been cut in yet.

Finished box. You could drop this setup from several feet and have no damage to the buildings! the box may be damaged but the mini’s will not be.

All in all I think this project came out very nice and made my hauling these buildings down to a game easy and safe from any damage. It’s also going to do a much better job of keeping my terrain looking good for years to come!

The only fault I could find with these boxes is they do not give dimensions on the box except to list capacity in liters. Their website does give the dimensions as well as a picture that does a fair job of letting you see which ones match for stacking.
I’m currently using:
64 L, 33L (both stack) Big
32L, 17L (both stack) Medium the 17L was the size used for the building box.
9L, 4L (both stack) Small