Hirst Arts at Gen Con 2012

Hirst Arts tan Fieldstone Dungeon and Tower with Conical Roof for 25-28mm miniatures at Gen Con booth

Hirst Arts Fieldstone Dungeon and Fieldstone Tower at Gen Con

Hirst Arts is the gold standard for consistently high quality gaming products matched by informative tutorials and product support. To put it simply, Bruce Hirst really cares about both his products and his customers and it shows on his website and in the quality of the silicone molds customers receive from Hirst Arts. I am a huge fan. Dana McDonald of Custom Kingdoms attributes his start into mold making to Bruce Hirst and Hirst Arts. Whether it’s spotting Hirst Arts bricks in the pages of White Dwarf or seeing how Mike from Terranscapes has used the Hirst Arts molds, the figure of Bruce Hirst looms large in the last decade of miniature terrain-making.

Bruce Hirst Himself

I was positively thrilled then to speak with Bruce Hirst at Gen Con 2012, having watched all of his tutorial videos and read through his website completely multiple times. While he had an additional helper at Gen Con, Hirst normally runs his company with only his wife in Missouri and strives to match his own exacting standards. His current projects are three Tavern Accessory molds, which modelers can expect within the next month. As he reveals in the video below, even Hirst struggles at times to get a project right the first time, casting twice as many bricks as he will need to be able to go back and fix mistakes with his leftover bricks. Hirst also reveals a number of other insights:

Hirst was selling his molds at Gen Con, using the exact same pricing offered at hirstarts.com, which is usually $34 for a standard silicone mold with a 10% discount on orders of 5 molds or more. While this consistent pricing did not induce me to pick up any more Hirst Arts molds at Gen Con and some of the business aspects of the decision are beyond me, by not discounting himself Bruce Hirst has maintained a premium value on his molds and consequently I rarely see any pop up on eBay, much less at any sort of discount.

Science fiction corridor set for 25-28mm miniatures at the Hirst Arts booth at Gen Con

Hirst Arts Science Fiction Corridors: Who Wouldn’t Want to Game on This?

Robo Rally: “The King of Games”

I also ran into a Hirst Arts customer at Gen Con. Patrick Gilliland was running games of RoboRally on his custom-made Hirst Arts floor tiled board. Designed by Richard Garfield, Robo Rally is currently sold by Wizards of the Coast under its Avalon Hill division. In all, the board took Gilliland three months to cast, construct, and paint after a few weeks spent on its design and after testing its possible playability. To make the custom board, Gilliland primarily used the Sci-Fi molds, but also dipped into the Fieldstone and Gothic Floor molds, as well as making his own custom castings. Gilliland has also made replicas of four of the Robo Rally maps out of Hirst Arts floor tiles with his Exchange, Reactor, and Laser Maze maps being mostly flat, while his Coliseum has vertical elements.

Three dimensional 3D Robo Rally board made using Hirst Arts dental plaster blocks and tiles at Gen Con

A View of Patrick Gilliland’s Entire 3D RoboRally Hirst Arts Board

For Gilliland, who is an accountant by day, the Hirst Arts board is a fusion of two of his favorite gaming products. His gaming group has been playing Robo Rally, which he refers to as the “king of games”, for years and he cites the game’s competitive ruthlessness and logic programming as its main attractions. He is equally passionate about Hirst Arts molds, always having had a fascination with miniatures and building things, so he describes his Robo Rally board as “a match made in heaven”.

Medium distance view of Robo Rally 3D Hirst Arts block board at Gen Con 2012

Despite being an attendee of Gen Con for over 30 years, this year was the first time that Gilliland ran an event and he “had a wonderful time doing it”. Currently he is working on a long-term dungeon project that will feature three levels and come to a total of 96 square feet of playing surface. When he finishes it, Gilliland plans on bringing it to Gen Con. Usually though, the beneficiaries of Gilliland’s creativity are much closer to home; he has made a number of Hirst Arts dice towers, including one that resembles a Rube Goldberg machine for his daughter, as well as name plaques for his great nieces and nephews. Gilliland has also made four Hirst Arts Robo Rally boards, replicating the original game board’s layout.

Close Up Detail of Hirst Arts Robo Rally Painted Game Board at Gen Con

An Even Closer Look at the Custom Hirst Arts Robo Rally Board at Gen Con

Hirst Arts Vendor: Legendary Realms Terrain

Players get ready to play on Hirst Arts and custom terrain from Legendary Realms at Gen Con gaming table

Gamers Prepare to Play on Legendary Realms Terrain

A number of licensees use Hirst Arts molds for commercial purposes, selling pre-made terrain to customers who do not wish to cast their own bricks or floor tiles. Naloomi’s Workshop offers single casts of many Hirst Arts accessories and Itar’s Workshop features many entire buildings cast out of resin based on Hirst Arts designs. Legendary Realms Terrain was also at Gen Con, where its president and main purveyor Richard Parla was selling painted terrain pieces.

Parla and Legendary Realms Terrain also ran nine events over the course of Gen Con to display and promote their terrain and I caught a portion of one session one night while passing through Gen Con’s largest gaming hall. While the dungeon elements seen above and below are pure Hirst Arts, Legendary Realms Terrain sculptors custom-made the docks and the boats. For the nine events they used the Labyrinth Lord game system from Goblinoid Games, filling each of their paid sessions.

Hirst Arts dungeon for 25-28mm miniatures with miniature boats on water tiles at Gen Con

Custom Legendary Realms Terrain Boats Docked Against Custom Docks Leading Into a HA Dungeon

Legendary Realms Terrain was also successful inside the Vendors’ Area, selling 95% of the dungeon accessories brought and approximately 75% of their entire convention inventory according to Parla. LRT also received a number of new orders for terrain during Gen Con, which the company is now in the process of filling. One service that Legendary Realms Terrain offers is reproducing adventure maps as 3D terrain as well as creating custom accessories based on customer needs, with 20% of Legendary Realms Terrain’s custom products having been created to fulfill customer requests.

Parla is already making bigger plans for Gen Con 2013 including bringing more inventory and purchasing a larger booth space. While Legendary Realms Terrain had dungeon corridor sections for sale, their booth also had at least three bins with painted dungeon accessories like crates, barrels, and chests for sale individually, perfect for a GM who needs only a few obstacles for the PCs to fight over and through.

And More Hirst Arts Fans and Creators

I also encountered Bill Foreman aka Terrainaholic from Youtube at the Hirst Arts booth at Gen Con. Under the Terrainaholic name, Bill Foreman has some 895 videos to his credit on Youtube, including at least a dozen on Gen Con 2012 himself and has 11,000+ subscribers to his channel, which occasionally features videos using Hirst Arts bricks, but almost always features terrain of Foreman’s own making. We spoke briefly on camera and then talked for ten or fifteen minutes longer off camera with Mrs. Foreman joining us, discussing Youtube, Foreman’s day job, and terrain.

Hirst Arts casts were also the main component of this fortress/castle gaming board, which was left unattended one evening at Gen Con in the main gaming hall. It features heavy use of the Fieldstone molds and quite intriguingly seems to use the square Flagstone Floor Mold tiles to construct the walls of the fortress. The three pipes at the base on each side appear to be giant cannons to discourage anyone from besieging the gate and ramparts. If you have any knowledge of this board’s creator, please email brant at cravengames.com so it can be properly attributed to its designer (and so that we might get some details on its construction).

Hirst Arts plaster floor tiles and bricks arranged to create a castle or fortress at Gen Con 2012

Unattended Gaming Board from Gen Con 2012: Who Made It?

Comic-Con 2012 Hasbro Terrain Inspiration

For a number of years Hasbro, the manufacturer of G.I. Joe, Transformers, Star Wars, and My Little Pony toys, has shown off the latest G.I. Joe and Cobra action figures in its booth at Comic-Con. Hasbro employees or contractors pose the figures in elaborate dioramas and this year I believe they had at least four separate scenarios being enacted behind the glass cases. I contacted Hasbro to find out who built the dioramas and for details about their construction, but never heard back from the huge, global toy company.

The Cobra Installation

Two vignettes really caught my attention. The first is obviously a Cobra installation with Cobra Commander and his lieutenants Storm Shadow and Destro surveying the Cobra troops. Two Decepticons have bolstered the Cobra ranks. During the 80s and 90s, there were occasional crossovers between the two toy franchises in the Marvel comic books. The modeler or modelers have created a very convincing layout with a number of flat surfaces weathered to show a little exhaust and grime. While the red translucent cases and their loading carts come from the Comic-Con exclusive release of the H.I.S.S. Tank/Shockwave, most of the building seems to be scratch-built, using pieces of cardstock or styrene to create texture.

Diorama at the 2012 Hasbro booth at Comic-Con with GI Joe action figures lined up in a huge Cobra facility

I spot Iron Grenadiers, some new B.A.T.s (Battle Android Troopers), Alley Vipers, a regular Viper, a Night Viper, the Shockwave H.I.S.S. and Starscream, I believe. I love the stenciled Cobra logo on the floor.

Red Cobra stencil on floor of detailed diorama in the Hasbro Booth at 2012 Comic-Con showing Cobra Commander and Transformers

I am a little surprised that the modeler(s) didn’t add activity on the monitors for the two Cobra members on duty at the right, simply by printing out a miniaturized scene from a cartoon or comic. They also do not appear to be Tele-Vipers, which would have been extra cool. Their searchlights though probably do swivel. Can you spot the Soundwave in the picture? Who is he ejecting?

Looking down on Starscream and Shockwave as a H.I.S.S. in a GI Joe diorama at Comic-Con

Ninja Bridge Battle

The other diorama that also looked realistic to me (and therefore inspiring for building terrain for wargaming) was this Ninja Bridge Battle which seems to come straight from the second movie, Retaliation. If you have not seen the GI Joe: Retaliation trailer, these ninjas will have an aerial battle, anchored by ropes, on a mountainside in the film, battling against Snake Eyes and his team, including the yellow and black-clad ninja, Jinx. GI Joe: Retaliation‘s release date has been pushed back to March 29, 2013. These enemy ninjas are called Red Ninjas in the comic books appropriately enough.

Red Ninja action figures from GI Joe by a building and bridge at the Hasbro Comic-Con 2012 booth

The one criticism I have of this vignette is the choice of red to fill in some of the grout in the stonework. I gather that it is supposed to be blood, but if it is, the splatter is curiously not sticking to the stone faces, but instead running into the cracks. The building at the end of the bridge appears to be a straightforward construct, but the addition of the black trimming partway up makes it more believable. The clay tiles on the roof look good and 28mm modelers can achieve the same with the Hirst Arts Clay Tile Roof Mold.

Red Ninjas lay dead or falling in a bridge attack action figure vignette from Hasbro with a grey mountain backdrop

It’s scenes like these that had me playing with GI Joes throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, but back then we were limited to catalogue pictures that were nowhere near as imaginative with their environments. Similarly wargaming scenery brimming with castles, cobblestone streets, and lush forests drew me into Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40K.

Interview with Dana McDonald from Custom Kingdoms

Dana McDonald took a break from casting resin buildings to chat with me about the latest developments at Custom Kingdoms. If you haven’t seen my review of the buildings from Custom Kingdoms, it’s right here.

Craven Games: First off, what’s on the bench in terms of new products for the future?
Custom Kingdoms: Very close to the horizon are some Hobbit/Halfling homes. Other than that I am working on a fairly large bridge, and I am going to have some castle wall sections soon as well.
CG: Will those be external-only like your current line of buildings?
CK: Yes. Most of my buildings will stay exterior only. I plan on building a dungeon set though, so it won’t always be outdoors only.A bird's eye view of the miniature buildings from Custom Kingdoms.
CG: Will the bridge be fantasy-themed and wooden?
CK: Fantasy themed and built from stone. The current plan is to build it so that I can add center pieces with arches that reach the ground so I can build them as long as I want, with the base bridge just touching the ground on each end.
CG: Sounds good! I’m looking forward to seeing it. Now what about your resin trees? What is the appeal or advantage of them over Woodland Scenics or another model railroad suppliers’ trees?
CK: I’m actually glad you asked about them, because I think they are rather unusual. I have never been fond of the standard model trees. They never seemed to quite fit in, or feel massive enough, and also they are one of the few things in miniatures that is not a hard surface and painted. They were kind of a personal thing for me, and I think they strike a chord with some gamers, but are not necessarily universal.

I haven’t really seen any other models like them, so I don’t know if many people really know what to think of them. I will say though that a tabletop with several sets of them along with painted miniatures and houses looks fantastic, and everything seems like it belongs.
CG: Yeah, I was surprised myself, because I’ve never seen the need, but Miniature Building Authority also released some recently too, I think, maybe soon after you did yours. Is it kind of like wanting to have Lego trees to go with your Lego town?
CK: I think that is a great example. It is kind of like when you use real rocks for your miniatures you still need to paint them to make them really fit.
CG: Haha, sometimes I skip that part. Do you only sell direct or do some retailers carry your fantasy buildings and mark them up?
CK: I only sell direct. I am not set up right now to work well through retailers or distributors. Some day that may change though.
|CG: You may be familiar with the Colbert bump. What about a Blue Table Painting bump? Did you see a noticeable difference in orders after Blue Table Painting mentioned your buildings?
CK: We have gotten great referrals from Blue Table Painting. They are a great company, and all of our contact with them has been positive. I hope I don’t offend anybody by not knowing about the Colbert bump though. Our orders tend to come in waves so it could easily have been responsible for one of the waves.
CG: How did you get the word out in the first place to get Sean’s order?
CK: One of our customers was also a customer of Blue Table Painting and told Shawn about us.
CG: So word of mouth.
CK: Yup.
The view from a 2nd floor down a street lined with Custom Kingdoms buildings.
CG: Besides your awesome Tudor buildings, you have a whole line of steampunk buildings. What drew you to that niche? There’s really not that many competitors in it that I’ve seen.
CK: I have loved steampunk for quite a long time (before it was the cool thing), but I didn’t really have a good enough excuse to build the buildings until I started playing Warmachine. After I started Warmachine I had to build some. On a sort of side note. I also plan on adding quite a bit to that line.
CG: What do you play for Warmachine?
CK: I have Trolls and Protectorate. The stone cottages are inspiration from playing Trolls.
CG: Who’s your favorite caster or warlock?
CK: That’s a hard question. I actually love playing Gunnbjorn (Dire troll bombers rock with him), but I don’t think my opponents enjoy playing against a ranged army that much. And of course my game seems to fall apart when a couple of heavys get in close. IF they get in close.
CG: And does your wife play? She works on the buildings too, right?
CK: She does play a little. The Protectorate army actually is more hers than mine.
And she is the reason I can do Custom Kingdoms. She takes care of all the business end and paints all of the houses.
CG: Tell her I said ‘Thanks!’
CK: I have a full time job, so I don’t have the time to do it all myself. I will.
CG: So who’s her caster of choice?
CK: The good old classic Kreoss.
CG: So she really likes to beat up on you and knock you down some?
CK: And kick me while I’m down! And I hate trying to kill those lousy Bastions.

CG: Speaking of full time jobs, you’re still with the company that makes Guild Wars?
CK: Yes I am still at ArenaNet. I love the Job and plan on staying there for a good while. I love the game too.
CG: I was just about to ask if you play much yourself.
A Custom Kingdoms Cottage next to a Tudor building.CK: I have played many many hours. Especially during some of the European conventions. During those the company comes in at around midnight and plays with the demo players who are in Europe all night, so we would play about 10 hours a night for 5 or 6 nights straight. Other than that we have regular play sessions and play on our own as well.
CG: Do you think the makers of the game are on average better at it than the playerbase?
CK: Right now for sure, since the player base hasn’t really been able to play except for at the demos, but I am sure that will all change shortly after release. Though there are a couple of devs that are just unkillable in PvP.
CG: And that’s Guild Wars 2. Who influences you in online environmental design, like what other MMOs, artists, or architects?
CK: I really don’t have any particular influences. With environmental design it is all about really paying attention to not only the structure, but the way that time and weather affect it. And a lot of those details are found in everything. But of course I have to mention Gothic architecture since it is the coolest (not that my buildings really show it).
CG: Well, speaking of your buildings, what terrain builders inspire you?
CK: I am going to have to give a really boring answer on that as well, and that is that I don’t have any dominant influences. I have been building terrain for miniatures since before I even knew about Warhammer (I started making my own out of Sculpey a very long time ago).

Early on when I was in high school I would get inspired from the terrain that was in White Dwarf, and the Warhammer Armies books. It is kind of funny, but a lot of that terrain looks pretty bad now. I think the Hobby has come a long way in the quality of the miniatures, and also in the quality of the terrain that the studios make. Now I browse the web and look at video games (and watch the special features on the Lord of The Rings DVD’s), and look at cool buildings on Google images.
CG: I agree about the progress in the hobby, but a lot of the cardstock houses GW did in the 80s still look good to me.
CK: I have had to do a double take a few times when I have seen good cardstock buildings. They can look quite good with a casual or distant look.
A view down a street lined with Custom Kingdoms miniature buildings.
CG: So what do you play for Warhammer?
CK: I am going to have to confess that I haven’t played much Warhammer for quite a while now, though the main army I always played was Chaos.
CG: Blood for the Blood God!
CK: Of course the generic Chaos doesn’t mean much now does it? Kind of shows how much I have played recently. I started playing Chaos when Chaos was all one, then when it was 3, then one, then 4, or whatever it has become. It is just very Chaotic! I have to say though that the new giant monster miniatures are killing me. I really want to get some and stomp on some troops.
CG: No, not at all. You mean the Goblin Arachnothing? Or the Tomb Kings big Dragon Ogre looking thing?
[Or the less technical Arachnarok Spider and Khemrian Warsphinx.]
CK: Yes, I love the Big Goblin spider, and the Tomb kings thing. I always wanted to play the game with huge monsters, and about the time I stopped playing is when they finally started making them. I am actually considering starting all over again and building up a new army slowly. I have many fond memories of staying up all night playing Warhammer.
CG: You should have enough buildings for it!
CK: Of course!
CG: How tall will the castle walls be roughly?
CK: About 51/2 to 6 inches to the top of the battlements is what I will probably start with. I think that is close to what GW’s castle walls are.
CG: Troops stand at the 3.5 inch mark and the top of the crenellations is about 5 inches up. I have two of those boxes.
CK: Nice.
CG: Yeah, they’re maybe in the background of the videos. I think they could be a bit taller. I’m diverging here, but I was going to try to make my own from Hirst Arts. Mine were like 10 inches high, you can probably imagine the weight of plaster for just one section.
CK: I’ll bet you were scared to ever have one of those fall off the table. Or collapse it
CG: Yeah, it never got that far at all, haha.
CK: Speaking of Hirst Arts I need to take the opportunity to say that the first things I learned about making molds was from his website. I owe a lot to him.
CG: But we’re alike in both learning about mold making from Bruce Hirst.
CK: When I found his tutorials it was like finding the Lost City of Gold. I devoured his tutorials.

CG: Lastly, do you think we’ll ever see Custom Klingons or some other science fiction terrain efforts from Custom Kingdoms? Bruce did start out with fantasy and branched out into those cool sci-fi corridor sets.
CK: Yes, I do want to do sci-fi scenery. I would like a good sci-fi game to inspire me to do it sooner though. Maybe I should start 40k instead of fantasy again.
CG: If it will get us more terrain, then the Emperor commands it!
CK: How can I refuse now? I am sure the Inquisition will make sure it gets done.
CG: Amen. Thanks, Dana!
CK: Thank you, it has been great talking to you.

Making Rubble: Design and Materials

Part of my plan for my Cities of Death table for Warhammer 40K is having plenty of rubble. It adds Difficult Terrain, can occasionally block Line of Sight, creates Cover, and adds visual interest to the table. Since I don’t want to game exclusively on a table with ruins, but instead want an equal or greater number of intact buildings, I don’t want any of my buildings to have fixed rubble glued to them. They need to be added as needed.

Getting the Rubble Right: Influences

Long before making my first rubble pile, I was struck by some observations Mike made in this Terranscapes Youtube video on the Ruined City he made for a customer. His rubble looks quite believable.

The second major influence is the Pegasus Hobbies Rubble pack (which I’ll be reviewing briefly separately). Its three pieces were useful to look at and compare to as I made the various ones below. They have a very standard tabletop painting quality to them and my goal is to equal or exceed them. Their design though is excellent, even though my needs are slightly different.

My Approach to Rubble

  1. Modular/Removable: I need to be able to model intact buildings and ruined ones. I can’t have the rubble glued to a building.
  2. Realistic Presence: Most rubble scatter terrain is designed as being an irregular circular shape. From the brief research I did and just a lifetime of experience of watching movies and consuming media, it is natural for rubble to accumulate against the sides of immovable objects. Tanks with Dozer Blades would push the rubble out of the way. In photos of bombed out WWII sites, avenues have been cleared out to let vehicles and supplies through. The Grand Bazaar level in the game Battlefield 3 also meshes with my understanding of rubble smooshed up against the sides of buildings.
  3. Semi-Circular Design: The nice thing about two semi-circular rubble piles with roughly the same width is that they can be pushed together to create a single larger rubble pile.
  4. Use Rubbish: A major driving force of my creating rubble is to use up my plastic sprue and Hirst Arts miscasts. I can’t afford to chop up perfectly good Cities of Death buildings to have even more natural rubble. I have almost enough Pegasus Hobbies buildings to spare a few sections, but I would always rather keep them usable for buildings and unblemished.

Rubble Materials

For all of the rubble bases I have been making, I have used For Sale signs from Wal-Mart for $1.59 or so. They do bend, which is an issue, but they don’t warp from glue or water, and polystyrene cement bonds with them.

Sprue Rubble

The first material I turned to for my rubble piles was sprue and only sprue. After gluing down pieces of varying sizes and realizing that the look was odd, I tried to keep them all about equal in length. I didn’t fuss over trying to make them resemble actual bricks though. I think the overall effect is alright, especially at arm’s length. It doesn’t bear much scrutiny though, but certainly helps with recycling sprue. I realized I needed something to cover empty spots on the base and glued sand down to fill them out.
An early rubble pile made with plastic sprue with gaps.
I took the idea of sprue rubble pretty far in this 1’x1′ section for my Cities of Death layout:
Plastic sprue has been chopped up to represent the rubble of a building.

Cork Rubble

I had a ruined bulletin board, but ended up throwing it out because the cork on it was so cheap, but the idea that I could use cork for rubble lingered. I also had a roll of cork purchased years ago from a craft store. For my semi-circular designs the roll of cork has the wonderful advantage of two straight edges. I used hot glue to affix it and worked in layers, switching to tearing off pieces towards the top. I think it needs further crumbles to make it look more realistic and ultimately cork is a poor material to use.
Rubble pile made from cork doesn't look good.

Architecture Blocks or Modeling Blocks

A former colleague once brought in a model building kit because he knew about my interest in gaming. It had a bag of wooden building blocks inside and a bag of shingles. I have never been tempted to use the bag until I set about creating rubble. The bricks work wonderfully. My supply of them is quite finite though, but I’ll be glad once the bag has been used up. They are near the scale used in the Hirst Arts Small Brick Mold. I also glued some round craft sticks and painted them as rusted metal.
Rubble pile made from architecture blocks

Plaster Miscasts

When casting with Hirst Arts molds, especially earlier on, I would end up with a lot of pieces that were either too low, not having enough plaster, or which had a large piece of plaster on the top, because I had scraped the molds too late. You can sand or chip away pieces that are too large, but that’s a lot of work for a good brick or accessory. I realized recently that I could probably top off pieces that are too low, but have already saved many in a plastic bag. I also have the plaster from scraping, the plaster from the cup used to mix and pour it from, and plaster that dried on the spoon.

The look is the closest to Pegasus Hobbies’ product and is superior to the other methods. The variety of shapes in the miscasts gives just the sort of chaotic jumbled effect found in real war rubble.

Hybrid Rubble

Perhaps not surprisingly the best looking rubble comes from combining the architecture bricks with sprue and a lot of plaster miscasts. To me, these all meet or exceed my expectations for quality realistic rubble.

Conclusions

One of the things that I ignored as I went through creating my initial rubble piles was the fullness that real rubble has. There aren’t conspicuous gaps in the densest parts of rubble piles. Those areas would naturally be filled in. Both Terranscapes and Pegasus Hobbies get this aspect right. I think I will go back through on my earlier pieces and add plaster fragments to help fill in the gaps.

I also think that a small variety in coloration really adds a lot to rubble piles. I may add a few muted colors to the existing piles as well.

Moving forward on future rubble piles, I may include a few recognizable Hirst Arts pieces that are not miscasts or cut up a few panels from my Pegasus Hobbies Gothic line and strategically place them in prominent positions in the new rubble piles. I think a few IMEX Platformer pieces might also make their way into rubble.

Jungle Terrain for Martian Board Set, Privateer Press & DUST, Other Stuff

I am not a big fan of jungles. I like deciduous forests and elven glades. But I want some foliage for my Martian board set from Terranscapes. He just released cacti tree stands, which look great, but I don’t want to tie myself to the Desert Southwest theme. I also wanted to practice getting down matching colors for the board so I can add more terrain to it myself.

The result:
Aquarium plants mounted on CDs and painted to match Terranscapes Martian board sets.

One of the things that got me going on these jungle stands was dropping by the Exotic Pet Store on Smoke Ranch and Decatur when I was picking up my mother’s ashes last month. I noticed that besides the wallabies and prairie dogs that they also had some pretty decent looking small aquarium plants for 4.99. Use aquarium plants! has always been what’s said on forums, in person, and in White Dwarf. But all of the plants I have ever seen at Petco or Petsmart have been either a.) crappy ones I’d never use or b.) 9.99+ for something pretty, but wouldn’t go far. I just checked out both stores again this week after I made these and still nothing new for me to get. So here’s what I got from the Exotic Pet Store:

Zoo Med – BU-14 Small Australian Maple $4.99
Zoo Med – BU-13 Small Malaysian Fern $4.99
Zoo Med – BU-18 Small Cashuarina $4.99

I also got two plastic plants from Michael’s for $6.99 each and cut them up using snips. One of the plants I really ended up disliking and was staring at all of my leftovers until I started thinking of jungle traps like in Swiss Family Robinson with a tiger in them, or just the jungle getting plowed over by tanks like at the end of Platoon and made a couple of smooshed stands: