The occasional exploits of Brigadier 'Tubby' Bykleigh and the Rhanzlistan Field Force

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Speaking of Hills...

...a few of my readers may remember this ~

Its a former display item for those cod Victorian houses which are sold in Garden Centres around Christmas time. Sue and I were out for a drive in early January this year when we called in at Mere Park garden centre, near Newport in Shropshire. They had a whole building given over to selling off surplus Christmas stock, amongst which were several sizes of these plastic vacuum formed range of hills. This was not the biggest, but it measures about 44" x 18", and seemed to me ideal for converting into some decent sized mountains for my Bhurpas to inhabit.
Now, only eight months later, Phil and I have begun to transform them for the tabletop in GHQ! The first stage was to acquire some 6mm MDF. Local DIY stores used to cut the sheets for you for free, no more apparently. The local builders' merchant will do this, but they were waiting for a part for the saw! Several weeks passed, cue our friendly builder neighbour Martin {Who converted GHQ very reasonably for me.} who offered to get the sheet and cut it for me. Cost £10.06 to him, as opposed to £24.50 to me ~ more incidental evidence of 'Rip Off Britain'!
Having acquired the MDF our first task was to cut off the lower lip around the form and to pad the interior of the vacuum formed hills to make it more sturdy in a game. For some strange reason I forgot to take any pictures of this stage! Sorry! Its packed with off cuts of polystyrene packing I collected over the year from new electrical equipment, held in place by seemingly yards of gaffer tape and all sealed in with clingfilm. It looked a right mess I can tell you but the hills were really solid when we turned them over to fix them to the MDF.

We fixed the hills to the MDF first with an upholsterer's staple gun and then with a hot glue gun to seal the edge to the MDF. It took four glue stick reloads to do the job! The whole piece of 4' x 2' MDF can now be safely handled for the next stages over at Phil's. The first of these was to paint the exposed MDF boards to guard against warping when the texturing and ground working get underway.

While we are generally happy with the overall look of the piece in its raw form, we did agree that the left hand side was rather too stark and gamer unfriendly, so we added some polystyrene pieces to the board to represent a more accessible approach in a game. {By the way, the holes you can see in the flat areas are for the electrical wiring to light up those houses I mentioned.}

The next stages are to coat the exposed polystyrene pieces in filler to give them the necessary strength and then to coat the plastic form, added pieces and the exposed MDF in Polytex flexible ceiling paint. As you can see, we ran out of filler, which Phil collected another tub of today, so I have no doubt the whole piece will soon be ready for the next phase, adding scree slopes and then spraying the whole with Humbrol acrylic 'Dark Brown' as the base colour to work up from.
This is where we are at now. More news of the Mountains of Rhanzlistan as the project unfolds over the next few weeks. Do pop back when you can to see how it develops.


  1. TSSF in a nutshell DB.
    Filler added, more Polytex and rock fall to added next.

    1. Thanks for the latest pictures for the next instalment Phil, and for explaining the nemonic to me! Looking good I think so far.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Phil, we are confident it will look better as we go along.