Many many (many many) months ago I got in touch with Woodland Scenics to write a review of some of their starter kits having seen pictures of scenery made by their products on the interwebs and was, generally, quite impressed.
The kits arrived and I was, if I’m honest, intimidated by the level of work that would be needed to build something. Not because it’s hard but because I lacked the (a) time, (b) patience & (c) the ability. However, I’m very fortunate to know a Chap who is a bit of scenery building guru. A certain Chap who worked for the Games Workshop around the same time as I did and was responsible for building some truly awesome boards in his store.
I refer, of course, to Lee of The Chaps. Passing him the two starter kits just prior to a game of Dystopian Wars a couple of days after getting the kits whilst I muttering; ‘Here, a present. All you have to do is build something awesome and write a review. But don’t take too long.’ Well 9 months isn’t that long I suppose. So, without further a do I hand the reigns of this post over to Lee and his review of Woodland Scenics.
I was happily plodding away with getting my FSA fleet (slowly) painted when Phil gave me two boxes of ‘scenery stuff’ and asked me to ‘build something awesome’ and write a review on how I got on.
The ‘stuff’ in question was two of the Learning Kits from scenery masters Woodland Scenics, specifically the Rock Face and Landscaping kits. Being firmly in the Dystopian Wars groove, I thought building a nice big island to sail around/hide behind/crash into (Jeremy) would be the ideal piece to demonstrate the contents of the two kits quite nicely.
I’m fairly experienced at building scenery so I pretty much jumped straight into the Rock Face kit after a quick glance at the basic instructions on the box. There are far more detailed guides on their website – but what can I say, I’m a cowboy. Casting the faces from the mould was simplicity itself, just mix the correct ratio of powder with water and hey presto; you’ve got a paste that dries fairly quickly to produce a good-sized slab like rock face and a smaller, more versatile, rocky strip.
Doing this first meant I could crack on producing the basic island structure while it dried. I settled for a fairly standard largish island made from a hardboard base and polystyrene landmass, and figured I’d try and get two of the rock face moulds along one of the sides for the cliff. Once I’d produced the second set of faces I played around with how they’d fit together without making it clear they were identical. I ended up cutting one diagonally in half and a placing each ‘triangle’ either side of the intact rectangle piece. They were very easy to cut using a modelling saw which gave enough precision to keep the detail intact. The smaller strips from the mould came in very handy adding smaller height faces and fallen rock sections around the main cliff section.
You are also provided with a roll of plaster cloth to fix the cliffs in place and there is a very good reason for this – do not use glue, trust me. More on this in a moment. After using up all the plaster cloth around the cliffs and over other areas of the island, I decided to add some areas of sand around the base of the cliffs to represent shingle using PVA glue (see what I did there?)
With the construction complete I moved on to the paints you also receive in the Rock face kit (it’s like they thought of everything) but these work in quite a specific way. You dilute the paint to an almost wash like consistency and apply it directly to the Rock face which is made of Hydrocal. Hydrocal is kind of like chalk and it soaks up the washes like a sponge giving a very realistic stone effect.
However, it doesn’t work if there’s something like glue preventing this from happening, and this was when I realised that gluing the sand on perhaps wasn’t the best way to go. I sorted it in the end, but the short of it is: Do not use glue anywhere near Hydrocal. Ever.
It was now I dug into the landscape kit and discovered a green base coat paint with which to cover what would be the green areas of the island. This stuff was great and gave a very nice muddy green tone with which to glue my choice of flock over afterwards. And what a choice! There’s a flock for every occasion in there. Along with a big bag of standard green you get another four types in various colours plus a bag of larger clumps to represent bushes or trees depending on your scale.
After a liberal coating of Scenic Cement using the spray gun included in the kit, I covered the muddy green base in the generic green and then added some of the lighter and darker shades to represent shadows, foliage etc. It was here I ran into my second problem. Make sure you shake the bottle of scenic cement thoroughly before using, and I do mean thoroughly. I thought I had done this, but half way through covering the first layer of green flock in a sealing coat of cement a blob got clogged in the nozzle turning the fine mist into messy jet. Needless to say, the flock did not stay where it was supposed to and a bit of a mess ensued.
Anyway, once this obstacle had been overcome, it was quite fun adding all the different shades and clump foliage pieces to create an effect as realistic as you want to achieve. A quick bit of paint on the hardboard to create the lapping ocean and the island was complete.
All in all the kits were great, and aside from the piece of hardboard and some polystyrene, provided all the materials you needed. Plenty of them too, I only used barely a third of the bag of Hydrocal so there was easily enough to build another 4 moulds worth and only a fraction of the flocks included in the Landscaping kit. The box says enough to do a 2’x2’ section and this would most definitely be the case. The mould from the Rock face kit can be used repeatedly too so is actually a sound investment.
Just watch out for odd stumbling block that I ran into – or better yet, simply watch the videos on the website.