Sunday, August 2, 2009

Super Simple (and Super Cheap!) Desert Buildings

...I went in for gunboats...and came out with...

I'm sure someone somewhere probably already thought of this idea but I'm planting my flag in it nonetheless!...because, it's new to me! ;)... I saw a nice idea for using inexpensive cardboard pre-made boxes commonly found in craft stores here in the US for making the half circular paddle wheel housings found on the side of Nile gunboats over at the Wasatch Front Gaming Society Page. In the process of searching out the right shape I was standing in the store playing with the other boxes available and it hit me that the rectangular boxes would possibly make decent desert buildings...and they were only about a dollar per box!!.

the basic box...1.00 USD...

lid flipped and glued...

So I stood there with the box bottom and the box lid and did a simple flip of the lid...and wow a pretty decent beginning of a desert building with a parapet just the right size for 25mm figures! So in addition to buying the circular shaped box to make another Nile steamer, I bought a couple of the rectangluar boxes in different sizes and headed home to do some modeling.

The boxes are basically grey fiberboard covered with a brown "craft" or mailing paper that is a nice shade of brown that makes a good base color without having to prime the surface. The boxes cut really easily and thus surgery to make things fit is a snap. On the prototype buildings you see in the pics I used two sizes one large and one small. I simply flipped the top of the box over and glued it to the bottom of the box, flipped the whole thing over's finished... ready for painting!?

OK I know it sounds too easy but all I had to do was drybrush the surface with a light sand yellow. The surface of the boxes are just a bit bit rough and take drybrush perfectly. Then all that remained to was to draw in some details with a "Sharpie" marker pen (using a thin and a thick one as per my "old school method" described in an earlier post). To do the buildings up just a bit more I added an ink washed stripe along the bottom of the building (I've seen this done on some traditional buildings in Africa), it helps to give the building some color and detail. The parapet is also ripe for detailing with decorated corners and such, but for this first prototype I just left things simple.

On the roof I glued a square of basswood (scribed to look like a wooden roof "hatch") to detail the roof...and its done! The whole process took about 15 minutes and cost a dollar and some change. (Holy smokes! At this rate I'll have Khartoum in a few days!).

To get further versatility I cut the "parapet" on the smaller box to make a small wing that can be attached to the larger buildings to make variations...and...ok, this is really fun!

two story possibilities

and with the right surgery, perhaps a fortified city wall...

Next I'm going to try modifying the boxes to make fortified walls, gates and more to come!


Fitz-Badger said...

very nice! Simple and yet very effective, and they look "old-school" (in a good way)!

Bluebear Jeff said...

Very nice indeed. An excellent idea!

I've got a bunch of foamcore buildings ala the Major General's method . . . but these are much easier.

I like it!

-- Jeff

Anonymous said...

Yes, a brilliant flash of inspiration. I'm just starting out in Colonial wargaming, and this is the kind of idea I need.


tradgardmastare said...

Very ,very neat solution to housing issues. I have been most inspired by your blog of late...
best wishes

tidders said...

What super buildings, looking forward to seeing the river gun boat

-- Allan

littlejohn said...

Thanks guys!

Steve, I noticed you were working up colonials in 15mm and the smaller box sizes might work great for that scale.


Kasper said...

Those buildings are pure genious!
Well done and keep on blogging.
Best regards,