After a few experiments, and while I was still dithering over what period to choose, I made my first proper terrain piece: a conversion of the Dapol OO scale bungalow kit to a 15mm scale East European house. I took the pictures with an iPhone 4 so the quality isn’t great. One day I may re-shoot the views of the finished building.
I made the house in sections because I've learned from previous experience that I can't paint the interior properly if I put the whole thing together at once.
The walls of the Dapol kit are untextured plastic so I put a layer of Slater's wood-embossed Plastikard over them. I cut a piece of Plastikard to size, then placed the Dapol wall over the back of it and marked out the window and doors:
And glued the Plastikard to the kit wall:
Three things I learned:
1) It’s better to cut and glue one section of wall at a time rather than cut all the sections at once and hope they fit together.
2) Leave a little excess Plastikard at the bottom so that, if the walls don’t sit flat on the base properly, you can trim the card down to the right height and make the walls level.
Next, I glued on the windows. What attracted me to this kit was that the windows sit on the outside of the house. It looks wrong for the English-style bungalows the Dapol kit is supposed to represent, but right for many houses in the Baltic countries I have seen.
When all the walls have been faced with Plastikard, the house should look something like this:
The minis are Peter Pig 15mm U.S. Marines, for scale. I glued half of the walls to a thick plastic sheet base. At this point I found that the roof was bent. This wouldn't matter if I was gluing it to the walls but I wanted it to just sit on top of them so that I could put minis inside the building. My solution was to boil a kettle of water, pour it in the sink then soak the roof in it for five or ten minutes (I can’t remember the exact time – according to my original Flickr picture caption, it was Friday night and I was drinking Ukrainian beer). After heating up the plastic, I gently twisted it so it was straight again, then placed it on a level surface with a weight on it so that it would keep its shape as it cooled.
I added brick-embossed Plastikard to the bottom of the walls. I made the corners by folding the card then pressing the fold together with a pair of long-nosed pliers to get a sharper edge. As you can see, the card splits slightly when you do this. If you heated the card first, I suppose you would get better results but I didn't think it was worth the extra work. I intended to fill the cracks with a little filler but they are barely noticeable so I ending up forgetting to do it.
The kit is OO scale so it is too high for 15mm minis, so the brick trim makes the house look like it is raised up and disguises the height. Because the windows have been pushed out by the extra layer of card, they look right without any additional work.
At this point I slapped some base colours on the kit. The brick-embossed Plastikard only runs around half of the building at this point. I didn't want to finish the other half of the exterior until I had painted the interior and glued the remaining walls to the base.
I raised up the interior floor to make it more suitable for 15mm minis by adding a couple of pieces of 4mm MDF then laying more Plastikard over them as floorboards. I split the building into three rooms by adding two interior walls made from a thick plastic sheet.
The inside of the kit has various shallow holes and raised up part numbers. I cut the part numbers away and filled the holes.
The interior of the building, with the floor and interior walls cut to the correct size and the filler sanded down:
Tnd the painted interior:
After two days of staring at the kit, I realised that the walls needed door frames! I used Plastruct ‘L’ and ‘U’ beams, depending on the thickness of the wall I was attaching it to. I could never see the point of these tiny Plastruct beams until I realised the ‘U’ beams could wrap around both sides of certain thicknesses of plastic sheet and hide my wonky cutting. A door frame cut to size:
It's untidy at this size but it looks fine at a ‘gaming’ distance. I damaged the paint in several places while adding the doorframes and made a lot of extra work for myself, proof that it pays to plan ahead.
With the interior finished, I glued the remaining walls to the plastic base, added the brick trim and doorsteps:
After looking at more pictures of houses from Estonia to Chechnya, I decided to remodel the roof. I was tempted to cover it all with more Plastikard but, mindful of the tale about the venerable old broom that’s only had two new heads and two new handles, I decided that I had to leave something of the original Dapol kit visible. In the end I added a piece of corrugated card to part of the roof, to make it look like the house had been extended:
The roof looked wrong. Even painted, it looked like it was a bit of card stuck on to a plastic kit. At this point I realised I had also forgotten to add doors. More paint was chipped…
My solution to the roof problem was to add strips of tin foil where the slates and iron met, to make it look like roof flashing. The foil wasn't very easy to paint because the paint just slid around on top of it, but I got there in the end. Next time I will try using paper. I painted the base brown, with a layer of sand and flock on top. Here are some photos of the finished building:
I added a small piece of dowel to the back of the house. The roof doesn't need a support but it looked wrong to me without it.
Straight on, the house is pretty close to 15mm but you can still see it is slightly too large. However, when you look at the house from above during a game, the differences between the two scales are barely noticeable. I didn't use the Dapol kit doors and instead made new ones from Plastikard, based on a style I saw a lot in Riga. The miniature is a Peter Pig 15mm IDF mini, for scale.
To end this post, some interior photos: