Having just finished my latest Napoleonic Battalion, I fancied a change. A recent post on the superb Test of Honour Facebook group had inspired me to send for some plastic Bonsai trees from China. The Bonzai trees make excellent full sized trees for a Test of Honour game. As a bit of a digression, I am usually not too fussed about the scale of my trees in war games, particularly when playing the larger battles. The trees on a wargames table are there to represent an area of wood, not to be a scale model.
However, Test of Honour is a skirmish game and a tree that is more in keeping with the scale of the figures and buildings seemed attractive. Even if the leaves are a bit on the large size, the overall impression would be of a specimum tree, as seen in Japanese gardens.
As you can see, the tree comes in a nice plastic pot so it was a simple task to cut it out and using a glue gun, stick it to an old DVD. I used ‘Seven Steps to a Better Life’ a free DVD from a newspaper and clearly nonsense, as none of the steps included ‘spend more time wargaming’. You can, of course, use any suitable DVD or CD…In fact, I think that would be an interesting survey…’Which DVD/CD is more suitable for scenery bases than watching/listening to! I digress once again, but at least I am recycling my rubbish!
The next job was to slap some filler (Polyfilla or other decorators filler is ideal) over the base and when dry, I covered this with Vallejo Dark Earth Textured paste. Incidentally, the temple dog in the picture is from the Ainsty Castings range. They do a set of two of these and also make a very nice Sampan – if you haven’t discovered Ainstey Castings the link is below and they have some very useful stuff! Once the paste was dry, I gave the whole thing a good coat of paint – I use emulsion for scenery, it’s cheaper. The base is now ready for detailing.
The next stage is to dry brush a highlight onto the textured earth and to add some scatter and of course, some grass tufts and flowers. While I was highlighting the base, I also used the same mix to dry brush the tree trunk to bring out the detail. You could really spend a bit of time improving the tree with a quick spray or dry brush but time was at a premium and I’m happy with the overall look for a piece of wargames scenery that I hope will see plenty of use.
Each of the stages above only take a few minutes but the drying time is the issue. So I tend to have another project on the go when I am making a piece like this. As you can see from the picture above, I am working on a set of ‘Giants in Miniature’ figures from Wargames Illustrated. The figures represent the famous duel between Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojiro and are a limited edition of 500 sets. If you would like one the link to Wargames Illustrated site is below.
The figure is straight forward to paint as he is all in black, so while waiting for my scenery piece to dry, I got on with him. Sasaki is in the background. ready for his coat of paint! You can see the finished Musashi in the picture above based and ready to fight his rival Sasaki. The final picture is a very poor shot of the two of them fighting in front of the Sarissa shrine, with the Geisha spy looking on. Sasaki is yet to be finished, requiring a coat of matt varnish, some extra highlighting and of course, basing.
As I have said, modelling time has been at a premium these last couple of weeks but I should have Sasaki Kojiro finished for the weekend and he will complete my triology of limited edition figures from Wargames illustrated. I’ve also got a couple more of the Bonzai trees to base, but now that I know what I’m doing , these will be a quick little project. It’s back to Nassau Infantry after that!
The Commercial bit
You can find Ainstey Castings site here:
You can get the Musashi and Kojiro ( there are 45 sets left at the time of writing) here:
You can visit the Arcane Scenery shop for all Vallejo paints, textures and basing products – we send post free! We have a great Samurai section and carry all of the Sarissa Japanese range.
As regards the Bonzai tree, you will have to search ebay! However, we are looking to import a batch from China – they will be a little more expensive but we are looking to see if we can bundle them with some buildings. If you follow us on Facebook, you will be the first to know!