Monday, 8 February 2010


Having more or less completed the '55 Days at Sea' project, and been tempted to dip my toe into Napoleonic Naval with the 1/4800th ships from Tumbling Dice, I had realised that I had sucker-punched myself into a whole new arena of gaming; whereas over the years I had collected a fair number of terrain items for land based games in various scales, I realised I had nothing suitable for naval ones. Of course I had spoiled myself with the purchase of a Terrain Mat Seascape mat, but felt, well, that it was rather flat, and ever the fickle one, decided it needed some things to 'liven' it up a bit.

Looking at some of the scenarios I was interested in pursuing, I decided that a good place to start would be with some islands. Bearing in mind that I would be using them alongside a wide number of differing scales, these had to be generic, and relatively plain.
Casting around for ideas on the net, I was made suitably envious by the efforts of Mr Beasley over at King's Sleep:

and also here:

These are excellent examples of scratch-built ones, but I was nervous of this route due to my own past attempts at working with polystyrene in the borrowed corner of a domestic setting that is my workspace - I'm still finding bits of the stuff everywhere.....
So I went with some items 'off-the-shelf' as it where, from Kallistra's Hexon Scenics range.
Obviously, these are designed as hills and elevations to complement their terrain tiles, but I thought could be used as stand-alone islands on a sea mat.
Above and below we can see the 2 Hex R/BR rocky outcrop in brown, which retails at UK £1.50:

These are in vacuum formed plastic, and are nicely balanced, with enough heft to prevent any warping, and were cleanly cast; the only preparation necessary was a roughing up of the surface with sand-paper before painting.

I also purchased the 3 Hex H/BR hill in light brown, which comes in at £2.00. As you can see, these are pretty large, if thinking about using them with smaller scale naval, but I felt would therefore represent a number of island types as we crossed over the various scales, from 1/4800th up to Aero/AquaNef at 1/1200th or beyond.

Seen below with a couple of the 1/4800th from Tumbling Dice, you can see what I'm aiming at:

As the terrain pieces themselves do not come with much of an edge area, I decided to mount them on some 1.6mm card, so that I could depict a more natural run-off into the sea itself, and model on some rocks, etc. Some quick daubings with some filler mixed with acrylic paint, and an undercoat after a rough sanding produced the below:

Kallistra themselves recommend flocking the pieces, and indeed, offer them for sale ready-flocked, but I have had issues in the past with flocking large terrain pieces, which tended to turn out looking more as if they were the carcass of some fuzzy-furred soft toy, rather than a contoured bit of the landscape!
I therefore decided to chicken out and stick with a painted surface, although I might add some flock sparingly in the future.....could look good combined with some sand/grit along the sea shore, but some of the surfaces on the piece are quite vertical, and perhaps this would stray into fuzzy bear territory....

This piece measures some 21cm long, by around 12cm at its widest point, so should definitely be big enough to interfere with line of sight, and enable some sneaky manoeuverings by the various fleets - but could end up with them chasing each other round and round the island though....hmmm....!

The other, larger, island has yet to leave the workbench, primarily because I want to take advantage of the flatter surface to give a more inhabited look - the hex divisions might make good roads - I've certainly been inspired recently by the scrap/sprue cities built here:

and also here:

to think that something similar might look good gracing the surface of the piece, maybe with some casemates or batteries for defence, so stay tuned for more in the near future.....


  1. Those don't look half bad as islands. I wonder how they would look with the addition of some sponge flocking to make them look more tree-covered?

  2. Hi Eli, thanks for the comment - I think the camera flash has been a bit harsh on the finished product - they are much more matt in real life, so pass as a forest canopy if you squint :-).

    I wonder if the addition of sponge flocking would limit the size range of the island - it would make the flock appear as realistic trees of a certain size, and therefore match more a certain size of mini - you know how I love ability to scale with the smallest stuff!

    Loving your new header picture, BTW, that's exactly what I always imagined when reading the title of your Blog!

  3. Thanks for the mention and praise .

    A few problems I have found since the build:

    1) The edges take a battering and show white flecks when on a blue mat.
    2) Flying over them is impossible as I do not have flat surfaces to put the stands on.
    3) The magnetic bottom I have put on the bottom is very powerful and makes it a pain to get the biggest one off the storage box.

    Hopes this tips save you some issues


  4. Hi Andrew, you're welcome- the quality of your various Blogs speak for themselves!

    Thanks for the tips, I had a similar problem with a Fort William Henry I made for 2mm on a magnetic base - so much twisting and tugging to get it out of storage, the card bottom began to warp....maybe I'll leave these as is.
    I'll make sure to seal these with a matt varnish to help stave off any dings - but a very good point about 'flying' over them - no flat places to support a stand - didn't think of that....I'll try to address this with the larger piece when it's done.