Everyone who’s played Warhammer 40k in the ’90s will remember the green death world cacti with the red spikes made out of styrofoam and toothpicks. I built a few of them myself back then, but unsurprisingly they didn’t survive the dawn of the new millennium. More recently Jonas over at the Oldhammer Forum put together a whole bunch of these which are looking great.
Inspired by Cheetor’s excellent Alien Flora & Fauna series I’ve been meaning to extend my own collection of terrifying terrain for a while now but most things haven’t progressed past initial assembly.
During one of my hunts for source materials I came across an item that immediately jumped out at me as a modern version of the cacti of death though – a rubber massage ball from Tiger, available also in bright green.
Dark Angels livery makes for surprisingly effective camouflage on many jungle worlds
A dark green wash and far too many red spiky protrusions later I had a suitably alien looking plant, made for the ages. To complete the death world look, I added jungle foliage (some of which taken from a toothbrush holder also bought at Tiger) and a broken old skeleton to the base. Ironically, painting all those spikes did give me tense shoulders so I guess I’ll have to buy some more of these massage balls…
The second scratch-built Ironshark has left the dry docks and this time around I took some work in progress shots along the way.
Tools of the trade
It was a much quicker and cleaner process second time around, now that I had a template to work from and figured out the best order of construction steps.
Bottom and deck assembly
Body of the ship and Fimo jaw with markings for carving
Comparing with the Citadel catalogue page, there is obviously less detail on my reconstruction, but it has enough for my purposes. I see Man O’War ships somewhere between miniatures and playing pieces.
Ready for painting
The third Ironshark is at the second stage above, so I am hopeful of being able to finish it over the weekend. Next project – the dreaded Bloodship.
Ironsharks under sail in the Sea of Chaos
Since digging up the Plagueship I have been meaning to scratch-build some more ships for Man O’War. I decided on a squadron of Ironsharks of Khorne to get me started and so far managed to build and paint a prototype over the weekend.
Scratch-built Ironshark of Khorne for Man O’War
The original models for Man O’War are quite stylised and abstract, not to mention rather over the top. That makes it quite easy to recreate them, although I am not attempting to achieve perfect replicas, but rather recreations using the materials and techniques at hand.
The winding mechanism for the jaw is kept below deck
The shark bow of the ship is formed in Fimo, with cut offs from plastic sprues for eyes, cardboard teeth and fin and shield bosses from Skeleton Warriors for hinges. The chains leading below deck are sections from Dark Eldar trophies.
Texture is mostly just painted onto the cardboard
The body of the ship is cut from thin cardboard, held together with superglue. Rather than sculpting the oars I decided to simply paint them on strips of cardboard, same as the planks and the window slits. The mast is a toothpick and the yard a thin strip of balsa wood.
Ironshark ready to snap
Since I am in the mood for Warhammer scenery at the moment, I decided to make two staples of wargaming terrain – the wheat and the ploughed field. I had various versions of them in my collection over the years but these ones are meant to last.
The ploughed field looks neglected, and we can see the reason why – marauding bands of Beastmen have been terrorising the local populace and driven them off their land.
Two scratch-built types of fields
The wheat field was as simple to create as finding the right type of door mat in my local DIY store, cutting off a slice, painting the edges brown, and sticking the rest outside my door. Two purposes fulfilled for a fiver, not bad.
Wheat field made from a door mat
I glued the corrugated cardboard onto a sheet of sturdier cardboard to prevent it from warping, make it less prone to move around during games and to make sure it will survive many a battle.
Ploughed field made from corrugated cardboard
A tip for removing the upper layer of the corrugated cardboard: wet it lightly with a moist sponge and pull the layer off when the water has just soaked through it without having reached the middle section.
Cheap and quick scratch-built fields to wargame over
I finished the second burial mound and added a small themed vignette to the set. Looks like some adventurous robbers were caught by the barrows’ inhabitants and hastily made their getaway – or were dragged down into the gloom to their own graves.
Ghoul haunting the burial mounds
The wheelbarrow and sword are taken from one of Kev Adam’s Snorkling sets by Foundry Miniatures which I had in my bits box. The helmet is from an old plastic Citadel Miniatures Skeleton Horseman.
Grave robbers’ abandoned booty
Inspiration can come from unexpected places. I haven’t created any scratch-built terrain in a long while, but when my girlfriend brought me a papier-mâché tray and asked whether I’d have any use for it (I know, she’s a treasure!), it struck me immediately – burial mounds.
The tray made for four sections, two of which I started work on. Not sure yet whether I’ll do four barrows in the end or use the second set for something else. Maybe Goblin mud huts?
Cairn Wraith guarding its tomb
Work in progress on the second burial mound.
The source material, quartered. In case you are wondering, it used to hold kiwis.
Source material for the burial mound