MODEL RAILROAD SCALES

iron_kingdoms

Since there is a link between the Iron Kingdoms and steam locomotives, I often read posts on the Privateer Press forums about model railroading. Most of the time the questions deal with scale and cost of materials. Most of the time the other people responding are correct. However, not always. Please refer to this link which helps describe the scales.I have been involved in model railroading since before I was ten. So I have a little information that I can supply about the right size of model railroad models that work with WARMACHINE and HORDES miniatures.∞Take a few minutes and watch this video: Introduction by Michael Gross. Also, be aware of this website as it offers excellent information.∞

The Big Question: SO WHAT?!

First, please understand that model railroading is a hobby all on its own. It has folks who are passionate about their hobby in the same way you love playing WARMACHINE or HORDES. So understand that model railroad models are relative to war game miniatures. They are Big Boy Toys and can easily get expensive. Second, wrap your head around the idea that model railroaders and their hobby shops are an awesome resource for the miniature wargamer. These guys tend to be good at making terrain and scenery. So they can offer tips and tricks that you don’t know or understand yet. Also, model railroad hobby shops have a great supply of tools and materials you’ll need for WARMACHINE and HORDES. So make friends with the local model railroad geeks. You might find out that they like miniature wargaming as much as you do. So find your local hobby shop, and start networking! Click this link for even more information.

What is the difference between gauge and scale?

Gauge refers to the distance between the inside edges of the running, or outside, rails on a piece of track. The most popular gauge of track in the toy train hobby is O (pronounced “oh”), which measures 1.25 inches between the running rails. Scale refers to the ratio of a miniature train’s measurements compared to the dimensions of a full-sized, or prototype, train. For example, an O scale train has a 1:48 proportion to the real thing, meaning that 1 inch on the surface of the model equals 48 inches on the surface of the prototype train. Toy train manufacturers generally have not made trains that are completely to scale because doing so might increase production costs and leave the trains unable to negotiate the sharp curves on typical layouts. Increasingly, however, firms are making trains that deserve to be called scale models. Article about Scales and Gauges.

Keep in mind that S Scale and O Scale are a little easier to find (especially on eBay) and less expensive. S and O both work just fine with WARMACHINE and HORDES models in size ratios. (Although the Black 13th might work better with OO scale models … because they are so damn tiny.) G scale is big and although it is idealistically the best to use with WARMACHINE and HORDES best the Iron Kingdom locomotives are B-I-G …  BIG! … the price is much higher and availability of G scale models can be tough depending on where you live.

MODEL RAILROAD SCALES
MODEL RAILROAD SCALES

What should I look for in buying a model train?

Modelers should consider these elements: realism, running capabilities, and level of detail. Beyond that, you’d use the same considerations as deciding whether to buy a $1,000, a $50, or a $5 watch. Obviously, there should be more inherent quality and value in an expensive locomotive, but the mid-priced version is often an attractive and well-equipped alternative. It’s the inexplicably cheap one that warrants caution. Check out eBay. And if you just want to buy a little toy train that you can hack up, convert, and paint for playing WARMACHINE scenarios then check out your local DOLLAR STORE, DOLLAR TREE, K-MART, AND WAL-MART. Especially at Christmas time they tend to carry plastic toy trains that are an excellent scale, and right price for miniature wargamers.

What types of track are there?

Besides the obvious size differences between O and S gauge toy trains, O gauge track comes in a variety of measurements that allow hobbyists to create circles of track with different diameters and so operate trains of varying lengths and sizes. O-27 track means you can build a circle of track with a 27-inch diameter. Shorter locomotives with a few cars run best on this track. O-31, O-42, and O-54 track can be used on most average-sized layouts, while O-72 track creates the largest curves for longer locomotives and trains. Operators seeking realistic track can select from GarGraves (available in rigid sectional or “flexible” versions), the 21st Century Track system by Atlas O, and the Rite-Trax system from MTH (a modular system with pre-formed plastic roadbed).

Types of track
Types of track

Where can I buy this stuff online?

Well, again, I encourage you to find local sources of model railroad supplies. You probably have a local hobby shop in your area that maybe doesn’t carry Privateer Press stuff, but does stock model railroading supplies. Go there. Introduce yourself. Meet people, and support your local hobby shop.

But beyond that, you can always check out eBay as mentioned before. Then you can shop around on the following website that I often shop:

Hobby Linc.com

Walthers Online

RAILRAMA

Train Universe

Wal-Mart

In any case, there are a couple of fun scenarios out there for WARMACHINE using model trains. Find whichever type of model train is right for you, and have some fun with it. Convert it, kitbash it, and paint it up. When you get your model done, please come into the Privateer Press forums and post the finish product. I’d love to see it.

Have a good one!

Keep rollin’ sixes.

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THE DINER

Plasticville makes some very nice O Scale buildings that can be used in miniature wargaming on the 25mm – 30mm range. This particular building is The Diner. It was given to me by my Father-In-Law in a large, dusty box that he had stashed in his outbuilding shed. He said that the box had a collection of models that he and his brother had used when they were growing up. He thought I might get some use out of them in my miniature games … and he was right.

This is what The Diner looks like normally:

And this is what I did with it:

I wanted the Diner to look like it might have been a train car at one time and now was converted into a place to sit and eat.
Everyone likes rivets, right?
The backside, complete with graffiti.

I’m pretty happy with how the building turned out. And I’m very grateful to have a cool Father-In-Law that keeps my hobbies in mind when he’s sorting through his shed.

Keep rollin’ sixes, folks!

SMALL TREES

Do you follow the crowd, or form your own opinion?

Mossy Rocks

We live in a time dominated by all kinds of public opinion polls. Decisions are being driven by the crowd, and sometimes this is a good thing. Surveys can inform us about people’s experiences with products helping us make wiser purchases. Opinion polls can tell elected officials of how their policies have been received by the public. And when information is gleaned on a personal level, it can help us in making decisions in a variety situations.

The same can be said about the scenery and terrain pieces we use with our little toy soldiers. Blogs, podcasts, and videos reveal the good, bad, and ugly about all the choices of terrain that we have out there. Before buying, most people will do a little research in order to find out if the piece is made well, transports easily, and holds up decently to the use and abuse of miniature gaming. However, in the end, personal opinion wins out.

Some people like homemade terrain, and others hate it. Some people only buy their terrain, and would never waste their time making something that they would view as “ugly” and “unattractive.” Others just want something that works and is inexpensive to put on the table. Heck, some people just use whatever is laying around like books, plates, soda cans, and pie pans.

There’s nothing like playing “King of the Hill” from WARMACHINE using a big fat pie pan.

Anyway, it really comes down to the reality of what you want in quality. Do you want to spend some hard earned cash to have beautiful stuff to put on the table, or do you need to use “upcycled” stuff from around the house and “found items” to make your terrain? It’s really up to you.

If you’re into inexpensive items that you can have fun making into terrain, then this is another idea for “Terrain on the Cheap” for you!

As I discussed last year, you can make simple, functional trees using Moss Rocks and Dowel Rods. You can likely find both items in a local craft store or dollar store. Here in town you can buy them for $1 each at the Dollar Store, Dollar Tree, JoAnn Fabrics, and other stores of that kind.

Mossy Rocks

You simply need to cut the dowel rods to your desired length, and paint them to your desired color. After they are dry, carefully push one end pf the dowel rod into the foam “rock” to make a tree. You can also do this using toothpicks if you choose. Additional detail can be added easily by using Green Stuff on the dowel rods to bulk them up, and carve in details to resemble tree bark. In the end, you’ll probably want to attach them to some kind of base depending on what game you play. I recommend at least a 40mm base for WARMACHINE.

Trees

And ta-dah, you have trees for your favorite miniature wargame!

Also, go over to WWPD and check out this awesome article about making flocked felt tree templates. Not a bad idea.

Until next time, keep rollin’ sixes!

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TRASH INTO (TERRAIN) TREASURE

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Waste not, want not.

The foam tray from your chicken nuggets or meat of choice might make a good trash bag stuffer for you. But it’s a cheap and effective hill for miniature wargaming for me. It’s just the right size for a decent hill, already sloped for reasonable movement of models on and off of the terrain piece, and it’s inexpensive. Plus, it’s a “green” way to recycle your trash. It’s actually called “upcycling.”

Make sure to use soap and hot water to clean the tray. Common sense applies here.

Spray the tray with some textured paint, or add texture using a mixture of white glue and sand.

Spray the entire piece with either black or dark brown spray paint. When dry, paint it with a dark brown color, and then highlight it with a lighter brown color. If you wish, add some green highlights to simulate grass.

Apply white glue, and flock. Adding some static grass, and maybe some field grass will finish it off.

Then, it’s ready to go. You have a functional hill for playing a few games of WARMACHINE and HORDES.

Keep rolling sixes!

hills008

TERRAIN: GROUNDWORK

Learning to make good Groundwork templates is an essential skill in terrain making and building.

Simple Groundwork Template Terrain
Simple Groundwork Template Terrain

Begin your project with easy to find materials. I will be using thin plywood, Titebond white glue, green putty, vinyl spackling, and basing supplies (sand, flock, static grass, talus.) These templates can be used as generic groundwork templates in your games of HORDES and WARMACHINE. You can use them as sections of rough terrain, building and ruin bases, forest templates, and other generic terrain. For now, I’d recommend sticking to 5″ x 5″ or 4″ x 6″ templates.

Simply, the project goes like this: (1) Shape (2) Texture (3) Glue (4) Scatter (5) Flock (6) Paint (7) Accent (8) Seal

(1) SHAPE: Cut your template to the size you want it. Craft Stores often sell their craft wood in various sizes. You may be able to find a size that you need pre-cut however chances are you’ll need to use an hobby knife or dremel (with cutting disks) to give the template a little shape. (Using foam is easier here as you can just cut it to shape with a hot wire cutter.)

(2) TEXTURE: Apply your putty and spackling. These materials help to add texture to the template. You can also use a fine grit sand mixed with paint as a substitute. Also, Spectre Hobbies sells “Texture Gel” which does the same thing very well. Anyway, add the putty first followed by spackling. Leave empty space at the edges. Add the putty, spreading it thin and pressing a few medium sizes stones into it. Follow up by adding the spackling to the remaining empty spaces starting from the center. Allow the template to dry before going to step #3.

(3) GLUE: Coat the template with glue. I use Titebond straight from the bottle however if you wish you can use some water to create a 1:1 mixture. It’s really up to you. Spread a thin coat of white glue over the entire template including the empty space on the edges. While the glue is still wet, continue with step #4.

(4) SCATTER: Place a paper or cloth towel under the template. Gather at least three grades of stone-like flock. I recommend craft sand, fine talus, and coarse talus. Sprinkle the stone flock over the template beginning with the finest material and ending with the coarsest. Allow the template to dry. After it is dry, carefully shake the template over a container to remove any extra talus. I usually shake the excess talus right back into its original container as to not waste flocking materials.

(5) FLOCK: Same story as step #4 but this time with flock. Use at least two colors of flock, one dark and one light. Take a cup or sifter and mix the flock together. Now get the white glue. This time, use a 1:1 mix of water/white glue. If you have a scenic sprayer, use the regular mixture. Figure out where you want to add patches of grass on the template. Add your watered down glue to these areas, and then sprinkle with your flock mixture. If you have a scenic sprayer, mist the flock lightly to add an additional seal. Allow the template to dry before moving on to #6.

(6) PAINT: Using a black or brown spray paint, coat the entire template. After the template dries, use a large brush to paint the entire thing with a basecoat of dark brown or reddish brown. Don’t worry about getting fancy because this is a basecoat. Once the entire ground is painted, it’s time for drybrushing. Start with the rock outcropping, painting them with a dark grey. After finishing with the rocks, drybrush with a slightly lighter color. Remember to take a little care to maintain the level of “dryness” on the dry as to avoid ugly smudgy spots on your template. Afterwards, drybrush a second time with a even lighter highlight color to add contrast. Allow the template to dry before moving on to #7.

(7) ACCENT: Now is when you can add Undergrowth, Bushes, and Grasses. For undergrowth, use polyfiber. Separate the polyfiber be carefully tearing it into layer. Stretch the layer until thin and lacy. Apply white glue to areas of the template you undergrowth. Gently push the polyfiber into the glue, then sprinkle around the edges of the polyfiber to add volume and to fill gaps. Do the same with bulky moss or foam bushes. To add grasses, simply add small amounts of white glue to the surface, and add small pinches of grass to the glue. Allow glue to dry before moving to step #8.

(8) SEAL: When you are happy with your template, use a matte spray like Dull Coat to seal it. Lightly mist the entire template with the spray. It will protect your template while you’re moving models and tossing dice on the game table.

Groundwork Template: Large Rock
Groundwork Template: Large Rock

WARGAMES FACTORY SIZE COMPARISON

I recently commented on Wargame Factory’s facebook page that their idea of creating a Zombies vs. Shocktroopers game would be great if the models were closer in size. Their 28mm zombies are closer to 25mm while the 28mm Shocktroopers are just right in size.

The zombies seem okay in size ar first but comparing the sizes of their arms, hands, heads, and feet shows that they are wee compared to the hulking shocktroopers.

THEATER

When you’re building terrain for your collection, don’t forget to add a little flair. A movie theater is a good idea, whether it’s vintage or modern it would be an excellent little eye catchers for your urban combat table.

French Theater bombed during World War 2

Whether out on a date, filling a few hours between trains, or just to get out of the house, the world has loved going to the movies from the first reel to the present day. By the 1920s, no American town worthy of the name was complete without a theater – and those that didn’t have one often set up a retractable screen inside the local opera house.

The biggest and grandest, rightly called “movie palaces,” were built new from the ground up. No expense was spared in construction, particularly on the highly visible front with its ornate decorations and the all-important marquee that blazed to life at twilight. Inside, attention was lavished on every furnishing, from lamps to seats to the stage itself. One of the key attractions in the years before “talking pictures” was a massive pipe organ, providing a “sound track” to accompany the action on screen, as well as the music for audience sing-alongs.

One of the major problems for theater owners was a tremendous drop in business once the weather turned warm. The last place people wanted to be was inside with hundreds of other people on a muggy night. But that changed quickly with the arrival of air conditioning. Often the first building in town with the new fangled air cooling equipment, people began flocking to theaters to escape the heat for a few hours. Studios began holding the release of major pictures until warm weather to turn bigger profits and early summer is still one of the most important periods for the launch of new movies.

Popcorn and candy have long been part of their appeal, but the theater also became a social center. Always a busy location (especially in areas where lots of folks worked second or third shifts), most theaters could count restaurants, candy kitchens and ice cream parlors among their next-door neighbors, as these businesses served people coming to or going home from the show.

As downtown areas faded in the postwar years, so too did the once great movie houses. Many were closed and bulldozed as the interiors required major work to make them suitable for most other occupants. Lucky for us though, a fair number survived and have been restored to their former glory. Many now show classic movies, are home to small theater groups and provide a venue for live stage shows.

So don’t hesitate. Add a little flair to your collection, and start building today. And remember to email me the pictures so I can post them on the blog!

GameCraft 28mm Buildings

Gamecraft has some pretty cool 28mm structures available. I like the Saloon (above) and I believe it would make a pretty nice addition to any wargamer’s collection.

TECTONIC CRAFT STUDIOS

This cool terrain line has been officially funded. Check out the Kickstarter site and see what it’s all about. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with their ideas and funding.

Tectonic Craft Studios

ANARCHY TERRAIN


Need WWII terrain? Need it in any scale? Need it now? Then check out the huge range of pill boxes, tank traps and gabion walls from Anarchy Models right now.

Whether you need terrain for historical wargames, sci fi skirmishes or battles on a truly epic scale; with their 15mm, 20mm and 28mm terrain, they are sure to have something ideal for your battlefield, no matter what scale you play in or the setting. These high quality resin scenery pieces are ideal for a variety of game systems and miniatures ranges and are sure to add that extra level of realism to your games

In the meantime, stay tuned for more affordable wargames terrain, because the Anarchy range is always expanding.