Friday, 8 December 2017

Totems and tokens and traps - oh my!

The festive season is very much upon us and so once again it is time to hoist the Christmas banner atop the front page as I look forward to spending some time with family and friends.  That said, as we rattle towards the end of the year, I am still catching up with posts from the summer holidays; where does the time go?

This then is a post to document the little extras, and flights of fancy, that I indulged in as part of the ‘Congo’ game that I hosted in the summer.  The scenario called for the mighty Kong’s lair to be delineated with some form of markers.  Fortunately, the ‘Adventure Pack’ that I had picked up from Wargames Foundry came with four skull topped totems that would be perfect for the job.  
As nicely sculpted as they were, when it came to painting them they just felt a bit small to act as the final portent of the all powerful Kong; something needed to be done.  As a simple solution, off cuts of roughly hewn blue foam were glued to some ‘Warbases’ MDF circular bases with the existing metal totem pushed into the top.  With a liberal scattering of additional skulls, they were complete and just required paint effects to sell the illusion.
Flushed with success I decided to see what they looked like in situ and whilst delighted with the overall effect, I felt that there was too much of a gap between the totems, certainly big enough to drive a giant ape through – more were required!  I toyed, briefly, with the idea of replicating the existing versions,* but something, somewhere pleaded for more!  Researching the area and period, I had seen many an image of the wonderfully disturbing fetish totems, carved idols often covered in rusty nails and spikes, used to embody the spirits.  
*after all how difficult would it be to stick a skull atop a bamboo skewer?
Having convinced myself that this was the direction that I wanted to go in I tried several times to achieve the desired effect, but sadly to no avail.  I can’t remember the exact point that my addled brain drifted to children’s toys, but the recollection of the Playmobil penguins used in my Batman scenery prompted a different line of enquiry.  Having successfully stalked my quarry through the often impenetrable maze of a well known online auction house, it wasn’t long before a consignment of plastic primates landed on the doormat of ‘Awdry Towers’.  
In a frenzied bout of modelling the required elements were assembled leaving the painting table reminiscent of the worst atrocities from the Congo basin.  More blue foam and the addition of some chain and my creations were starting to get to where my imagination had led me.  Although at this stage, I had decided against spiked totems, I did think that some indication that the natives had been making offerings to appease Kong would be a nice idea and duly added some plates and crockery.  Finally, they were painted to match the original markers and et voila!
Now you would think that having already spent far too long on my pulpy pedestals that my creativity would be sated for the time being, but alas gentle reader this was not the case.  Buoyed with enthusiasm for the project, I reviewed the games terrain chart in search of any other likely subjects.  A ‘pile of skulls’ was fairly straightforward, my worryingly large collection of plastic body parts yielding just what was required, but a jungle trap and quick sand would need a little more thought!
I can’t tell you just how much I enjoyed tinkering around with these final two pieces.  All sorts of items were pressed into service including a plastic Zulu warrior’s arm, Empress Miniatures terrain bits, cocktail sticks and some of the new Games Workshop crackle paint for the dried mud!  
Several ideas were discarded in favour of new versions, but ultimately I happened upon a couple of solutions that worked.  Interestingly neither of them were used in the scenario, with our intrepid explorers narrowly avoiding the pitfalls in both the games that we played, but they will be there to trap the unwary another day.
Finally, then, and purely in the interests of completeness, I should mention the plastic tokens that I picked up for the game.  I need to stress that the rule set comes with a cardboard sheet of press out tokens, sufficient enough to play the game.  For some reason I always find myself looking to replace these with something more substantial so as to protect the originals, what I am saving them for I don’t know, but there you have it – all very special, as my wife would say.  These particular versions were from ‘Blotz’ and laser etched Perspex, all perfectly serviceable and a reasonable price to boot.  Having gone for white tokens, to match the original card versions, I did find that the different engraved designs were a little hard to distinguish, but a splash of ink soon resolved the issue, the excess simply dabbed away.
So with the terrain pieces assembled, the madness should have stopped there, but alas this was not to be the case.  Whilst I was scouring the terrain tables for possible ideas to build, I happened across several creature encounters that I could represent, but that story will have to wait for another day.

95 comments:

  1. The terrain tokens look Fab. There is also a very nice level of humour in each piece as well. What is more I guarantee they will look good on the table top and enhance the game.

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    1. Thank you so much Clint. I'm glad you feel there was a sense of humour to the pieces as that was very much where they were coming from in my mind - real boy's own adventure stuff.

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  2. Wow wonderful stuff Michael, the idea to use the toy monkey heads was inspired & the poor chap in the quicksand what a terrible end to his adventuring days :)

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    1. Thank you Frank. The joy about these is that there was no pleasure to create them and so I was able just to let my mind wonder.

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  3. They look absolutely brilliant!

    Scatter terrain just adds another level to games.

    Shame you never got to use the trap tokens!

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    1. Thank you, I'm sure they will get another go in due course.

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  4. What an excellent tokkens and scenery! Masterpiece!

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    1. You are very kind Michał, thank you.

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    1. Thank you and great to hear from you too.

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  6. Excellent, love the decapitated chimps!

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    1. I can't tell you how much grief I got from the 'Saintly Mrs. Awdry' about those chimps - it was worth it though. :)

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  7. Fantastic use of parts to achieve masterful renditions of totems and traps Michael, the painting brings it all to life, look forward to the post on creatures

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    1. Thank you Dave, really pleased with these ones and had so much fun putting them together.

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  8. Some really great ideas Michael, and the work you've put in to turn them into reality is excellent! Fantastic additions to the tabletop :-)
    Brilliant job on the tokens too - simple but VERY effective!

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    1. Thank you so much. Once the jungle was built, it really seemed to help inspire the additional bits and pieces.

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  9. Brilliant. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

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    1. You are incredibly kind Roy, thank you.

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  10. Smashing stuff, you clever man!

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    1. Thank you Paul, greatly appreciated Sir.

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  11. Creative, fantastic and inspiring as always...just perfect!

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    1. You are a generous as ever Phil, thank you.

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  12. The beheaded toy is a bit disturbing :-), but you've turned it/them into some really nice plot point markers. I like the traps as well [and I'm straight off to look at Blotz for better quality counters for Congo...]

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    1. Thank you so much and I have to say that decapitating the toys made me shudder too.

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  13. If you rub a coloured kids crayon over the Blotz tokens it brings out the detail on them. These acrylic tokens are really good. I like the totems and traps!

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  14. You have a warped sense of humour, sir, and I like the results! There's nothing like free form modelling, allowing your hands to follow where your mind wanders.

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    1. Thank you A.J. and i couldn't agree more with regards to the freedom to let one's mind wonder, all very liberating.

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  15. Season's Greetings to you, Michael! All of your conversions are brilliant - most of all those golden monkey heads!

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    1. Thank you so much Dean and I am delighted that you like them.

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  16. Very nice expression of you imaginative modeling mojo. And I must say, IMHO, that a man who is sinking into the oblivion of quick sand and at the same time is determined to keep his weapon "dry" is worth his weight in sand!!

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    1. Thank you Jay and he really is a trooper isn't he? ;)

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  17. Perfection - at its very best :)

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  18. Wonderful work again. I love your basing style and I always find new ideas to create some small dios. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thank you and what better compliment than to hear that they may be, in some small way, of inspiration to others.

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  19. You truly are a modelling wonder my friend! I am so jealous of your brilliant skills, great stuff!

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    1. Now stop it Snader, you'll make me blush. :)

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  20. Excellent stuff all around Michael! I will certainly revisit this post to fashion my own versions of these items. I think I will just put a hat atop the quicksand though!

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    1. Thank you so much Terry, what a lovely comment.

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  21. Sensational stuff, Michael. Breathtaking in their simplicity and awesome execution!! I'm green with envy :-)

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    1. Thank you so much Simon, that is incredibly kind of you.

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  22. Nice looking terrain bobs there Michael and great repurposing of those toy heads :)

    However, I was very disappointed to find out that the end of the post title was a tease and there was no George Takei in the content :( ;)

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    1. It took me a while to get there Tamsin, but when the penny dropped I roared with laughter, thank you.

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  23. Beautiful and well thought out as always. Congo is on the list for next year I need to sort out my African forces once and for all 🎅🏽

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    1. You and me both,,, might make for a good game with the Old Guard

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    2. Thank you Matt and I hope you have as much fun with it as I have.

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  24. Utterly madcap ... I love it!

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  25. Love the trap and the quicksand! The monkey heads are very successful adaptation of toys!
    Best Iain

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    1. Thank you so much Iain and relatively cheap to do too.

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  26. I never, ever get tired of reading your "flights of imagination" posts mate. Another gem!

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    1. Thank you so much Millsy, it's always a blast to see hem actually come to fruition too.

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  27. You make it all look so easy and provide no end of inspiration. Keep it coming.

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    1. Thank you so much Kieron, that is so kind of you to say so.

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  28. Your use of the Playmobil apes is brilliant. All your Congo posts are such a great inspiration, especially since I'm running a jungle campaign myself. By the way, how well does paint stick on the Playmobil plastic? Regards, Karl

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    1. Thank you so much Karl. I have used Playmobil toys a couple of times now and it seems to keep the paint well. I undercoated mine with a Games Workshop black spray primer and airbrushed the base colour on with no apparent issues.

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  29. These all look cracking but that quicksand trap is bloody inspired and looks brilliant!

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    1. Thank you very much, it was a particular favourite of mine too.

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  31. Simply brilliant. I must ask where does the crockery come from or how do you make it. My one attempt at a green stuff pot was rather poor.

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    1. Thank you Gavin, the crockery were originally from Baueda Wargames and I had picked up a set through Magister Militum: https://www.magistermilitum.com/scale/28mm.html?cat%5B%5D=61959

      The plate is actually a shield!

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  32. All great but The arm sticking out Holding the rifle is brilliant and hilarious!! :-)

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  33. Brilliant stuff and got me thinking for the ghost project. Thanks for posting Michael inspiration stuff as always.
    Cheers
    Stu

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    1. Now that sounds intriguing Stuart, I shall look forward to seeing what you come up with.

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  34. Some fantastic work and really creative ideas.

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  35. Lovely stuff Michael. Great idea with the toy monkey heads.

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    1. Thank you Mark, really pleased with them myself.

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  36. Those pitfalls and monkey idols are fantastic. Now I wish I was working on a pulp serial.

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    1. Thank you! I have the same problem when I see things I like, just looking at you Vampire post and now want to get back to my Witchfinder project!

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  37. Spectacular work Michael! As always I‘m amazed by your creativity and the amount of thought you put into each single piece. It must have been a pleasure to have a game on a such exquisitely endowed table.
    My only minor criticism would be the quick sand base as I‘d have thought the poor soul would have let go of the rifle when sinking.

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    1. Thank you Nick, very kind of you to say so. As for the quicksand base, what you can't see is that there is a rope attached to the base of the tree stump. If he can just make it a step or two further he might make it out and will definitely need his rifle then. :)

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  38. That`s it, I can`t take any more. Time to root out my "The Sword and the Flame" and start good old Queen Vic (God bless Her) gaming all over again.

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  39. There are some really nice ideas here Michael. I might just steal some.

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  40. Those are some fantastic markers Micheal!

    Christopher

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  41. Astoundingly good work on these markers! Top-notch results.

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  42. Sometimes you scare me with your ideas. They are brilliant, but you scare me.
    Great job, though.

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  43. I did wonder where hyou were going with the Playmobil chimpw, bue wow, how well did they turn out!
    All the other bits and pieces are superb as usual and as I too have an aversion to bits of cardboard on wargames table they'lladd so much to your game.

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  44. Incredible work Michael - have a great Christmas!

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  45. Bit late on the comment, Michael, for which I apologise. Great use of the Playmobil chimps for your idols. I'd been looking at their site recently to see if they had any suitable bits for use in my games (mainly looking for walls) but I am quite taken with their whale. A good price for a nice model - although I can't quite think of a use for it yet. And then I saw their Ghostbusters sets and starting making mewing noises, imvoluntary twitching towards my wallet. So far I have resisted, but I have a feeling that it won't be long before I give in...

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  46. Excellent work and pretty inventive choice of parts-stuff Michael - kudos. :)

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  47. Stunning work !!! Love the man in the Quick sand and the use of playmobile monkeys.

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  48. A very merry, MERRY Christmas xxx

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  49. These conversions look fantastic ... so very creative!!!

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  50. Wonderful, characterful pieces. Perfect work, my friend.

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