On The Work Bench – Building Project No: 7 – Part 2

Progress this week has been slower than I would have liked owing to a major dose of Man Flu.  Apparently there is a strain which is doing the rounds which has been labeled Aussie Flu and is by all accounts rather nasty.  All of this has of course been wasted on “her who must be obeyed” who’s level of sympathy extended only to the words “Man Up”.  As every man knows, Man Flu is generally considered by 50% of the world’s population (mostly men it must be said) to be worse than child-birth.  There is of course a counter argument to this by approximately 50% of the world’s population (mainly women unsurprisingly) that this is of course nonsense.

Despite pointing out these statistics the level of sympathy from “her who must be obeyed” surprisingly went down!  Further more it was pointed out to me that when she had the same as me a few days earlier she still got on with the house work, cooking the meals and doing the shopping.  Proof, if indeed proof were needed I pointed out, that her viral strain was clearly not as bad as mine and hence why I had to stay in bed.  I can’t recall what she threw at me.  Women, can’t live without them but can’t shoot them either!

So, as I say, model progress not as much as I had hoped but a fair bit done none the less.

Having stuck the four sides of the building together it proved necessary to do a minimal amount of cleaning up and do some patch work on each of the corners.  This was done using Milliput and a cocktail stick to etch in the brick work where appropriate.  My next step was to start work on the roof.

As I mentioned previously I had already decided that the roof on this building would be fixed and because of this I chose cardboard for the base layer.  Had I decided to have a removable roof then I would have chosen MDF, the same base layer used for constructing the walls.  The other reason for using cardboard (in this case cardboard from a corn flakes box) was because in this instance I wanted to get the bowing effect that comes when the PVA dries out which doesn’t tend to happen when using MDF, hence using it for the walls.  Old buildings often have warped roofs and I was hoping to get this by using cardboard instead.

Having cut the cardboard to a length slighty longer than the building and with a little bit of an over hang front and back I then drew horizontal lines 5mm apart to indicate where each row of tiles would be placed.  The next job was to cut out each tile and glue them down.  To produce the tiles I used a tile cutter which was a Christmas present to myself from “Green Stuff World”.  Essentially it’s a hole punch and they do others in various leaf shapes.  Santa bought me one of those too.  Thereafter it was all about glueing each tile in place and as the finished roof took over 1100 tiles it took a while.  That said it was an ideal job given I wasn’t at my best and I had YouTube to keep me company throughout.  A little tip if you find yourself doing this.  Dip the tip of a cocktail stick into PVA every so often and use it to pick up the tiles instead of trying with your fingers.  Makes the job much easier and surprisingly speeds the process up a lot.

When doing the roof tiles I find it’s best to do so much and then let it dry before doing some more otherwise it can all become a bit messy.  It also helps with your sanity too.  So, while things were drying I set about making other bits and pieces such as the fence, log pile, five bar gate, water trough, window shutters and doors.  These were mostly made either from match sticks, wooden coffee stirrer’s or both.  For the doors I also used some metal foil to make the hinges and twisted wire for the fence.

That’s as far as I’ve got since last week.  This coming week I’m hoping to start the out building shed and begin painting some of the figures.  I’ll also give some thought to the inside of the building before permanently fixing the roof in place and attaching the chimney and ridge tiles.  I also need to finish the windows and then start on … (to be continued).

Progress pictures below.



On The Work Bench – Building Project No: 7 – Part 1

Welcome to my first post of 2018!

Those of you who follow my blog will be aware that I have been keen to start a new building project and over the last few days I’ve managed to get things started.  The diorama when complete will be a further addition to my WW1 series.  I’m not sure I would describe it as the centre piece but it will be the largest piece in the eventual timeline.

Some modellers I know begin their next project by sketching out plans for the proposed build, I’m not one of them.  I’ve never really worked from sketches, mainly because I’m useless at drawing and so learnt instead to formulate and retain all the details in my head.  I can’t therefore share with you a picture of what the end result will look like until it’s complete.  However, the basic idea behind the model is that of a rustic type cottage/farm-house on the French/Belgium border with two or three civilians/farmer types watching as a dozen or so British troops pass through their land on their way to the frontline.  Not very exciting I grant you but the best excuse I could come up with for the type of building I wanted to construct.  In my head it looks OK!

One thing that I do though before starting a new diorama is create a written list following a brain dump of all the things I could potentially include in the model.  I then use it as a check list as I go along.  I then look to see what’s in my bit box and follow this by working out what I can scratch build and what, if anything, I might need to buy.  For this model the list, which will most likely be added to, currently looks like this: –

water trough, wheels, ladder, barrels, window shutters, chimney, tree, plants, chain, rope, fence, chickens, sacks, tools, fence, gate, cobblestones, puddles, wheel tracks, door thresholds, door handles/knobs, hinges, boxes, crates, grass, walls, furniture, wood pile, path, animals, shrubs, ridge tiles, roof tiles, weathering, shed with corrugated roof …

The starting place for all my buildings is the base.  Paul at “Just Bases” does some nice stuff and the biggest base that he does which has an acrylic cover measures 351mm x 201mm x 135mm high and is reasonably priced.  Someday I’ll do something bigger but storing it will be the difficulty and packing it away to keep the dust off of it seems a shame; for now this is as big as I go.  So, taking account of the base dimensions I decided to go with a building which measuring 190mm x 100mm x 100mm high.  I also decided that the walls of the cottage would be stone in appearance and that the roof would be fixed and not removable like some of my previous builds.  I also decided that the basic construction would be made using 3mm thick MDF which would then be suitably clad.  I have used cardboard and foam board before but find they both bow as the cladding dries out which doesn’t look great and makes it harder to assemble the sides and ends.  The MDF warps a little but it’s minor by comparison.

Having made these decisions my first step was to measure and mark out the sides and ends followed by the locations of doors and windows.  The first buildings I ever constructed were MDF kits produced by Sarissa Precision which were excellent but very two-dimensional.  My painting skills weren’t, and still aren’t, good enough to produce a 3D appearance so I went with cladding to achieve some relief for shading and highlighting.  However, what these kits did give me was an easy way to achieve 28mm scale measurements.  For this build the doors measure 40mm high x 25mm wide and the windows are 20mm square.  One door and window to the back wall and one door and two windows to the front.

My next step was to cut out the four sides and check assembly.  This was followed by marking out the door and window locations and then cutting them out too.  Once done I used match sticks to make window and door frames which were then glued in place and left to dry.  Once dry, each side of the building was in turn coated with DAS clay which was then levelled and smoothed out.  I had never used this clay before but was advised via a YouTube tutorial to add PVA to make a kind of dough mix.  The PVA apparently prevents the dried clay from future cracking.  Having only ever done this once I have no idea if this is true or not but I figured better safe than sorry and besides it did seem to make sense too.

Before the clay dried (the clay air dries and does so reasonably quickly but I thick adding the PVA slows the process down) I used my recently acquired “Green Stuff” textured rolling-pin to produce the stone effect.  This was another first and I was extremely pleased with the result.  It is best to wet the rolling-pin a little as this prevents it from sticking.  I also found that it worked better to roll the pin forward a little and then roll it back on itself again making small advances as you move along.  Rolling back enables the impression the roller makes to be more defined but if you go to far forward the roll back is less likely to line up accurately with the initial impression made (I hope this makes sense!).  Once done I cleaned the rolling-pin up using soapy water and a nail brush before any clay residue had a chance to set.

Having let everything dry overnight I then wanted to complete a couple of other things before assembly.  The first was to complete the door and window on the rear wall.  I decided the door would be in a shut position and the window, which would have wooden shutters, would have these closed too.  For both the door and the window shutters I used wooden coffee stirrers cut to length and glued in to place.  Holes were drilled in both the door and window shutters to accommodate the tip of cocktail sticks which were used to make knobs and handles.

The second item I wanted to complete before assembly was to construct and glue into place the internal window frames.  In the past I have tried to use all sorts of materials for this and haven’t been truly happy with any of them.  I think it’s the scale which has given me the difficulty as I just couldn’t get things to line up as I wanted or make them without breaking.  However, following a moment of inspiration I tried using some preformed mesh wire, the same as I had used to make railings on a previous model, and found this worked very well.  I rebated the MDF at the back of the front wall a little and inlaid the section of wire and then glued it into place and left it to dry.

Once everything was dried it was time to test the assembly before gluing.  A little sanding was required to ensure a smooth fit although it was evident that some filler would be needed at each of the corners once put together.  To ensure a stronger bond I glued small sections of foam board to each internal corner and then held everything in place with a few elastic bands to pull it all together before leaving it all to dry.

Next up is the roof, windows and shutters, the door and the Chimney and …… but these will have to wait until part 2.

Progress images below.



WW1 British Command – 28mm Scale

So, Christmas is over, the parents have made the short journey home and most importantly the wife imposed modelling ban has been officially lifted!  To be fair it was important to spend some quality time with the old folk as well as the kids. However, there is only so much TV dross I can take so I confess to feigning an after dinner sleep on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day.  This proved positive though and gave me some time to gather my thoughts together with regard to this years  modelling past, and more relevantly, next years modelling future.

In modelling terms this year saw the start of my blog, a major departure from 54mm scale figures to 28mm and my involvement with the Plymouth Modelling Club.  All have proved to be very enjoyable.  I love the sense of community that my blog provides and the comments I receive are extremely motivational.  Dropping down in scale has enabled me to do so much more and my creative juices have increased considerably.  I still love 54mm scale but producing buildings and dioramas in this size is simply far to space consuming.  Joining the modelling club, not everyone’s cup of tea I know, has also proved a success.  I think more than anything it has given me an opportunity to compare my work with others and although I’m not the most gifted modeller I do feel that I can hold my head up and make a contribution.  On to the future.

First up is the completion of the WW1 project.  I have a few items to finish and a couple to start and then I think it will be time to call it a day.  I’ve no doubt I will return to this period as I love it but I need to use some other paint colours!  Looking ahead I have a few ideas around the Zulu wars which may get off the ground and a WW2 scene is gathering some momentum in my head.  I found some Viking figures recently which I liked the look of and Santa brought me some American Civil War and Old West figures which as some of you may know is my genre of choice.  Aside from figures there are a few diorama ideas that I want to explore and as I may have mentioned previously, I have a growing urge to start another building.  In fact I’m pretty sure this is where I will kick-start the New Year.

At the end of January the Plymouth Model Club hold their annual in-house competition.  There are a couple of categories which I will enter and it will be interesting to see how I fare.  If I do well then you’ll hear more about it!  The club does do monthly competitions and I haven’t done too badly at those but I suspect some members will have geared themselves up for this one event so it’s hard to tell.  In any event it will be a new experience and should be fun.  Thereafter there are a number of shows to attend including Telford in November.  I’ve heard a lot about Telford but never been.  By all accounts it’s a huge and fantastic event and will doubtless be the subject of future blog posts.

Back to actual models and this posts offering.  As I mentioned previously I have a couple of WW1 items to finish.  This was one of them.  There was very little to do so the limited amount of time available following my modelling ban was more than sufficient to get this one off of the work bench.  The model itself is a simple enough affair.  The figures are from Gripping Beasts and Great War miniatures, all white metal and all very nice castings.  The quality of Gripping Beasts in particular is fantastic.  Figure painting was done using a combination of acrylic and oil paint.

My WW1 timeline needed some officers in it and this is what I came up with.  It’s hard for me when dealing with this historic period to put the series “Black Adder Goes Fourth” to the back of my mind.  It’s tempting therefore to say these officers are trying to determine what square foot of land they plan to sacrifice 20,000 men for.  Every which way I’ve turned when researching elements of this project the tragic loss of life and various statistics associated with this war simply beggar belief.

Model photo’s appear below.

To close this post it’s appropriate to acknowledge the New Year.  I believe in the power of positive thought (although I’m not the greatest exponent of it) but I suspect like many others my New Year Resolutions rarely last more than a few weeks.  I have therefore, to quote Baldric from Black Adder, a “cunning plan”.  For 2018 I have come up with three resolutions which hopefully will prove successful.  In no particular order they are:-

  1. Having never smoked I’m going to pull out all the stops to make sure I don’t start in 2018
  2. I will resist all temptation to drink alcohol at breakfast
  3. I will aim to increase my weight and go up a waist size but will not be upset if I fail!

Happy New Year.




Casualties of War

This week’s offering is a simple 28mm vignette of a couple of wounded WW1 British soldiers being attended by a clergyman officer.  I figured that within my growing sequence of scenes for WW1 something along these lines was a must have. Photos appear below.

The figures  – the one on the stretcher and the clergyman officer offering a cigarette – are both from Gripping Beasts while the standing smoking figure is from Great War Miniatures.  All white metal and excellent castings.

The Great War preceded the British National Health Service by some 30 years so back in those days a cup of tea and a woodbine was generally regarded as a “cure all”.  Whether you’d lost a limb, been the victim of a mustard gas attack or just suffering from undiagnosed post traumatic stress there was nothing like a fag, a cup of tea and a pretty nurse to ease the pain while reflecting on how lucky you were!

Brave men all of them. Arguably ignorant of what they signed up for but brave none the less. I do however wonder what they would have made of the world we now live in and if they felt their efforts were worth dying for?  Think I may need to set up another blog for the purpose of having a daily rant!

Wishing you all very Merry Christmas and  Happy New Year.




WW1 28mm Stand Alone Figures

An odd week this week where work got in the way of modelling.  I’m not a big fan of the phrase “Work Life Balance” mainly because it has the word “work” in it.  Still on the positive side of things I managed to get a couple of minor figures done and off the work bench and I also received a couple of exciting modelling tools in the post.  OK, so exciting is a bit of an exaggeration but I am looking forward to using them in due course.  More on them in a moment.

I couldn’t get my head around how to use the first figure in a vignette or a diorama so I decided in the end to paint it up as a stand alone.  The figure itself is a dead ringer for Field Marshall Haig, which was probably the intention of the sculptor, and as Haig was a major (and highly controversial figure) during the war it was very appropriate to include him in my timeline sequence.

The second figure is a very basic conversation.  Basic to the point that I pretty much just cut his legs off!  Well to be fair I did have to do a bit more than that to tidy it up but not a lot more.  So why cut his legs off?  Well, in January my model club has its annual in-house competition.  I plan to submit models in the diorama and stand alone figure categories, it’s my thing after all, but I wanted to enter another category too.  I’m not a plane, tank or vehicle kind a guy so chose to focus on the miscellaneous category.  I wanted a quick win and something different and so decided to go for a 28mm Bust.  A bit of a cop-out I know, particularly given how much fantasy stuff is out there, but next year I’ll give it a better go.

The modellers out there will appreciate the scale of a 28mm figure but others might not so I decided to put a Vallejo paint pot next to each figure for perspective.

So, back to the two tools.  Some of you will have probably been aware of them both for years but I only came across both of them by chance a couple of weeks ago.  First up is the corrugated iron maker, the other is a textured rolling-pin.  I bought two of these, one produces a cobble stone effect, the other a brick work effect.  Basically you roll it over Miliput or similar product and it leaves the appropriate impression behind.  Well I like them anyway and am looking forward to seeing how they come out.

Photos below.



“It Will All Be Over By Christmas” – WW1 28mm Diorama (Part 2)

A little narrative on the completed diorama, images of which appear below.

Following the declaration of war with Germany a patriotic call to arms led to mass recruitment the length and breadth of the country.  Recruitment centres were set up just about anywhere with lengthy queues forming outside town and village halls as well as on the open streets. My diorama is set in the grounds of a modest stately home with men queuing along the pathway outside the main gates.

A few observations regarding the construction of the diorama. The recruitment posters are all real posters which were downloaded images appropriately resized. The table was made from match sticks and the red, white and blue bunting from paper. The railings were constructed using wire mesh and simply cutting away pieces here and there. The paper forms on the table are real Attestation papers printed and downsized.  The tree was another wire tree constructed along the same lines as others I have done and which I have covered in past posts.  The shrubs and bushes were constructed using seafoam and leaves from Noch.  The grass edging was constructed using twisted wire to replicate Victorian rope tiled edging often used in grand buildings of the day.

The figures are all commercial 28mm figures from various suppliers and are without any modifications.

Although I’m not creating my WW1 models in the sequence of the timeline I am hoping to create this particular model will be number two in the sequence and is the natural follow on from my “War Declared” vignette which I recently posted.

Images of the completed diorama are below.



“It Will All Be Over By Christmas” – WW1 28mm Diorama (Part 1)

“It will all be over by Christmas” – well at least that’s what many of those brave men thought when they enlisted following Britain declaring war on Germany.  The truth was far different of course.

In my last post I mentioned my aim of trying to put together a modelling timeline of significant WW1 moments with the intention of creating a few depicting less obvious images of the time.  Life in the trenches is the image most people think of when reflecting upon the Great War and rightly so but there are others too which I (and perhaps it is ony me!) think are relevant.

The idea behind this latest model is the enlistment and recruitment of the civilian men into the armed forces of the day.  Only when I looked into this a bit more did it get me thinking about how significant I felt this was.  There was the obvious bravado of young (and old) men thinking it truly would be over by Christmas and that all they had to do was give the “bosh” a bash on the nose.  What I hadn’t appreciated until I googled images of recruitment posters was the level of propaganda. No punches were pulled in implying you were a coward if you didn’t sign up!

All in all it certainly made me wonder just what would happen in this day and age.  Would the people of today sign up quite so readily to be lambs to the slaughter?  Hopefully we will never know.  Nevertheless this is definitely a topic for a deep and meaningful conversation to have after consuming large quantities of alcohol!  I digress, back to the modelling.

So, having decided on the subject for the model I set about trying to find appropriate figures.  Civilian figures as I think I may have mentioned before present a challenge, too few out there on the market.  That said I came up trumps having found some great figures by Footsore miniatures.  Military figures proved easier to find and so before too long I was getting started.

Painting the figures is well underway and a rough outline of the diorama is floating around in my head (I never work to plans or drawings – perhaps I should?).  All things being well the diorama will be finished next week but in the meanwhile a few figure images to be going on with along with sneak preview of the base work.



War Declared! – WW1 28mm Figure

Work on the Great War project continues and at the moment I reckon I’m about a third of the way there. The only problem is ideas for other models and dioramas keep popping into my head and the project keeps growing. In truth I really haven’t got a clue how many more are in the pipe line. This is partly fuelled by my idea to create a timeline of models, the aim being to reflect the start, the very big middle bit and the end of the war.

So as far as the timeline goes the first model in the sequence is this one. I needed something to kick-start the war in figure terms and although I had other ideas I couldn’t find the figures. Civilian figures are hard to find in 28mm scale (is that a niche in the market?) but then I got lucky and found this newspaper man figure from Black Pyramid Gaming. The figure is one of a four piece set which goes under the name of Jack the Ripper. It’s an excellent figure, well cast and perfect for my needs. Definitely a site I will use again.

The figure itself painted up nicely and I managed to find a Post Box to provide a bit of street furniture. The newspaper images were made from downloaded images of real newspapers scaled down and made into small bundles.

A small contribution but in the sequence of the timeline a crucial one and one that overall I was pleased with. Next in the sequence will be a model reflecting the enlistment programme that was put into place immediately following the announcement of war. I’ve managed to find the figures and all being well I hope to provide a progress update on my next post.

Thanks for looking.





28mm WW1 Diorama – “Gone But Not Forgotten”

When I decided to do some WW1 figures and dioramas for next years centenary one thing I was keen to do was produce a few models that were relevant but (hopefully) different.  When ever I see models for this era they are almost always trench scenes with or without tanks.  Don’t get me wrong there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, in fact it’s highly relevant but too my mind there are many other images to be portrayed and I guess that’s where I come in.  That said, and before for I dig a hole for myself, I will (and have) do some models which will conform with convention (but no tanks, I don’t do tanks!).

So first up is my 28mm diorama which I have chosen to call “Gone but not Forgotten”.  Appropriate as today is Rememberance Day.  In modelling there is a side to war which can some times be forgotten – death!  I don’t know how many dead soldiers were brought home but as far as I can establish most, for a variety of reasons (body identification being but one), were buried where they fell.  Having said that a great many soldiers who enlisted early were repatriated having been seriously wounded and unable to fight on.  Sadly a return home did not guarantee survival and many soldiers died of their injuries before and after the 1918 armistice.  It’s this scenario on which the diorama is based.

The figures are all stock figures and were purchased from a couple of suppliers, Footsore Miniatures and North Star Military Figures, all excellent castings.  I’m not sure how accurate the clothing for the civilian figures actually is for the era but on balance I’m not sure it really matters, not to me at any rate.  The scene is a simple one.  In addition to the grave we have the gravedigger in the background, the vicar/priest, the dead soldiers mother/wife and his soldier brother.

Ground work was straight forward but looked a little flat so I built another tree to provide some height and a little more interest.  The finishing touch was a small wreath made of twisted wire with Noch leaves added.





28mm WW1 Mounted Figure – James Newton Langley 1876 to 1935

So who is James Newton Langley?

James was born in Brixton, London in 1876, enlisted in the Middlesex Regiment on the 7th June 1915 and died in 1935. He went through the war until he was demobbed in 1918. With his regiment he saw action at Ypres and the Somme as well as numerous other encounters.  James was my Great Grandfather and below is one of a few pictures which were handed down to me.

James Newton Langley 1

When I was searching for WW1 figures I came across a 28mm mounted soldier by North Star Military Figures which got me quite excited. The figure itself was of an officer (James was a humble Private) but with a couple of minor alterations I felt I could produce something a little closer to the photo above.

The first change was to remove the upper part of the figures boots and turn them into gaiters.  Next up was to add white braiding to the horse harness and to the figures left shoulder.  Minor alterations which made a considerable difference but about as much as I could realistically achieve given the casting of the figure and my own ability.

The next thing I did was to take the photo and flip it so that the horse and rider were facing the other way.


Finally all that remained was to paint the figure and add it to a plain base. As a model this falls a long way short of being my best work. As a meaningful figure it sits top of the pile.