Saturday, March 22, 2014

Opening a new front

As I alluded to in my Cold Wars report, it looks as though I have a new project on my hands. (A new miniatures project, that is.) It started with a flea market purchase: my dad and I ran across a set of blocks called "CastleBlocks," seemingly intended for building somewhat stylized castles and towns. For the most part, they are little pinewood cubes, printed with doors or windows, but there are a fair number of cylinders and arches to liven things up a bit, as well as a variety of roof pieces, all a nice cheerful red. They didn't exactly seem historical, but they sure looked fun.

All 102 CastleBlocks, along with the helpful diagram showing how to fit them back in the nice wooden box.

As I mused over these, it all just sort of coalesced. The blocks might not work for any of my existing projects, but they had a nice toy-like look to them. They would fit right in with a "classic toy soldier" armies--stiff poses, glossy paint, plain green bases, etc.--which is a look that I've idly considered exploring before. The size is about right for 1/72 scale, and I had a box of Emhar 19th century French infantry left over from a previous project--the red-roofed buildings had a vaguely Mediterranean feel to them; I could pit them against the Lucky Toys Austrians in a sort of "Italian Wars of Independence" setting. One problem, easily fixed: I know very little about the Italian Wars of Independence--but I'd much rather do it with "imagi-nations" anyway. And so the imaginary nations of Occiterre and Elabrün were born. (The other two are more notional for now, but it's surprisingly hard to leave empty space on an imaginary map...)

Now, painting time since the convention has been pretty scarce, but yesterday evening I finally had time to sit down and start working on first of my Occiterrans. They aren't quite finished yet, as I'm planning to do the bases somewhat differently than my usual sand and flock--that will probably get done sometime after next weekend, when I pick up the shipment containing their Elabrünese opponents.

There is one additional touch I have added so far: town bases. I was at my local craft store this morning (who doesn't need a couple more bottles of paint?) and noticed some little pine boards. Recalling a similar sort of thing from H.G. Wells and his "Floor Games," I picked up a couple to use with the CastleBlocks. With a little black line decoration and some varnish, I think they fit right in. (I'll probably leave the other sides blank for flexibility's sake.)

Anyway, I'm looking forward to this--hopefully I'll be able to squeeze in some time to work on it over the next few months. I still owe a post to the few units I finished before Cold Wars, so look for that sometime in the next few weeks, along with more from Occiterre and Elabrün...


  1. There seems to be a movement towards exploring practical methods of depicting built up areas on the war games table. Although very stylised, this method here looks very handy and potentially attractive.

  2. Ooooooh shiny! I knew I was going to like these. And you've just given me the answer to a minor conundrum. Thanks.

  3. So the streets are sized to fit your proposed 60mm x 20mm element bases? You/we need to find some small spring firing cannons...this clearly needs a physical skill element.

    1. The streets should fit the proposed bases, yes. And if I need a bit more space, I can always nudge the houses around a little...

  4. I really like that..a really great "nostalgia" style.