Yet Another Hill

 I got a cheap 30-watt foam-cutting hot wand from China a few days ago, and tried it out by carving up a foam off-cut into another hill.

The metal wand — the bit that heats up — is about 200mm long, and is somewhat flexible. It works OK, though it doesn't really get quite hot enough to cut easily through the insulation foam I use. I haven't tried it out on expanded polystyrene foam, which it's probably intended for — that stuff is even more temperature-sensitive.

It was a lot easier and less messy to sculpt the 50mm foam sheet into a layered hill suitable for little army men to stand about on than it was to do the same thing with a knife. The stuff I use is designed not to poison everybody in the vicinity in the event of a fire, so the fumes aren't much of a problem.

It's not a precision tool though. I wouldn't want to try using it to cut up foam into regular geometric shapes, but for semi-random hack-and-slash work it's fine.
I tried out using 5-minute epoxy mixed with acetone as water-effects resin to create a boggy area at the base of the hill, in behind some boulders and bushes. It wasn't particularly successful, but I think I know how to improve the end result another time, and I'll give it another go.

The boulders are pieces of pine bark that I nicked from a local playground some years ago. The bark is quite a dark brown in its natural state; I've just given them a couple of layers of dry-brushing to finish them off. I like using it for rocks; the texture is reasonably convincing, and it's much lighter than actual rocks.

A couple of days later...

I've re-done the water in the boggy patch, and it's a considerable improvement over my first attempt. This time, in addition to the 5-minute epoxy, I used a tiny drop of sepia ink to colour the "water" and a lot less acetone that before. Being more viscous than the first lot, I had to tease each blob out around its perimeter to blend it into the surrounding groundwork. It does create something more of a meniscus than with the very liquid first mix, but it's more controllable overall and creates deeper pools, which gives me some nice tonal variations.

Skytrex SdKfz 10 (15mm)

 This, and a Horch heavy car, are the first 15mm models I've bought from Skytrex (I think).

This one is the little SdKfz 10 half track, which will go into service pulling around my PaK 36 anti-tank guns.

Unlike most other 15mm vehicle models these days, these ones are cast entirely from white metal, so they're heavy little things for their size. I haven't done any measuring, but they look OK in size and silhouette, certainly good enough for wargaming purposes, though they do have a somewhat cartoonish look about them.

One thing I do regret is the driver figure: he'd be better suited to a left-hand drive vehicle, as he's looking towards his right. That means that his face isn't really easily visible, which is a pity.


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Yet Another Hill

 I got a cheap 30-watt foam-cutting hot wand from China a few days ago, and tried it out by carving up a foam off-cut into another hill. ...