If you recall episode 6 of the Band of Brothers TV series about the Battle of the Bulge, you may remember the wintery forest fighting scenes (well that was most of it anyway). I really like the cinema photography of that episode (as well as many of the others) and the relatively clear line of sight with regards to obstacles – the dominant thing at forest floor level being the tree trunks. Of course the Ardennes is not only tall pine trees but it is the tall pine trees that, in my view, helps to set the scene. What breaks the line of site is not necessary the trees but the white fog that sweeps the forest and the uncertainty is what is lurking out there.
Mature Scandinavian pine forests look very much the same.
Most winter wargames tables have traditional looking Christmas Trees with some snow – it is the ticket to add some winter feel to your terrain. The pine tree is an evergreen and the Christmas tree shape is easy to deal with and to pimp up to look wintery. They are also relatively cheap, and easy to manage on the wargames table. I have use these to, in my opinion, great effect for my Fraustadt 1706 and Gadebush 1712 tables that was laid out at Joy of Six in the past.
However, in adhering to my new year resolution of doing some Chain of Command Winter war (that is the war fought between Finland and Soviet Union 1939 to 1940) I wanted to try to get some tall pine trees on the table. I looked around the net for some commercial ones but did not find anything that I particularly liked.
I then stumbled upon an excellent video (link here) from the world of railway modelling and followed it to the letter, with the following exceptions:
- Basing – I based mine on 40mm washers
- Skipped the step on the highlighting with the turf (as, in my case, I will highlight with snow)
- I did not add the additional branches on the tree trunk (but perhaps will do that later).
- I added some snow (step 1 a mix of snowflock, white paint and glue added on the edges of the branches, dry, step 2 apply hairspray to the tree and let snowflock drop over the tree standing from above).
Have a look at the video (link here) by Luke Towan.
That thing of using the steel brush on the balsa to create something that looks like a tree trunk is just amazingly efficient.
This is how mine turned out – a compromise if we compare to the picture of the forest above – but spot on for what I was looking for!
I did a total of 19 in the first batch (as I can not count to 20 yet! – it seems). I have made enough to do another 70 or so, but not sure how many I need.
Took them for a test drive and I like the way they add to the overall look.
Now I need to figure out a practical way of basing them so they do not fall that easily – I suppose a bigger base with magnets or something like that.
The video show what material you will need to make the trees, it should be all straightforward, but if not let me know. I speculate that the total outlay for doing the 95 trees would be in range of £70 to £100, which is less than £1 per tree. I will let you know when I have finished my batch as I do not know how much spray paint and glue I will be using yet. It is not a difficult project to do, but I trust that you are careful when you use any sharp tools and read the recommendations on any packaging on the materials that you use. I am not saying this as a general statement to absolve myself of any responsibility when you are sent on a violent trip to God-only-knows-where from spray glue fumes or sent to hospital to put your cut off finger back – I am saying this because I still tend to rush into things without considering the safety of myself or more importantly others around me before the production of a piece of shitty wargames terrain.
They are relatively sturdy (the spray glue and in my case the additional hairspray to apply the snow creates some rigidity) and will probably last for a while. I suppose a few more coatings of hairspray would make it even stronger (use poundshop hairspray).
I am using mine to do Winter War using Chain of Command, but I suppose the trees could serve equally well in many other conflicts using other rules. 😉
I intend to do some for Summer actions during the Continuation war at some point, but without the snow of course.
/ Next time some more markers, take care