Thursday, October 25, 2018

An unexpected Ruin

A general post of catch up, because I haven't been posting as I would like to, as I've been distracted by this and that...
Correction: Wargaming and Blogging (including writing this blog and reading others) is a pleasant distraction from all my pressing concerns.

Why Hello There

I noticed the other day that there have been some new followers to the blog.  Thank you, I hope the blog will be entertaining / interesting enough to warrant a comment from time to time. Also, if you leave a comment I'll be able to click on your profile and see any blog you are doing and maybe we can become the bestest of internet friends. 

Operation Clean Slate

As I've been saying, I've had a lot of pressing concerns lately with almost zero hobby time over the last couple of weeks, so when I finally was able to sit down at the hobby desk I was struck by how messy and disorganized it was.  I also lost all hobby momentum during the long break and this increased a general sense of aimlessness... What project to work on?  what do I feel like doing?  I don't have any games scheduled and might not for the near future; and usually it's having a game or two on the schedule that provides me with a direction.  Winter is upon me with no conventions that I want to attend till next year, so now would be a good time to embark on some serious productivity to prepare something if I only knew what... there are these ACW CSA bases primed and ready to go but I've no enthusiasm for that right now.  A strange situation where I want to do hobby stuff but not really wanting to paint miniatures.   A hobby funk.  

Now I've talked before about the Rule of Two that ensures hobby productivity, and now I'll introduce the Clean Slate Act.  The Clean Slate Act is to be invoked in just this situation and is simply as it sounds: put everything away including pending projects (this breaks the rule of two which dictates that up to 2 projects must stay on the hobby desk until complete); clean off the desk, start over. 


just kidding, you don't get rid of anything, it's just a soft reset that allows me to find what I am excited about, and reshape upcoming hobby time to fit the ever changing demands of real life versus the other way around.  It's to be used sparingly though, for if you do it too often you just flutter from one project to the next and nothing gets done.   

Isn't it silly when grown up middle aged men like myself talk super seriously about playing with toy soldiers? 

My hobby desk after Operation Clean Slate

So my recently repaired ships were put away in their temporary storage place (the ships weren't so much a pending project as their storage case was), the ACW CSA bases stored away, all the miscellaneous hobby supplies were organized and cleaned up; leaving me with a clean work space for any project that might take my fancy....

Small Side discussion: Don't you hate it when blogs suddenly pivot? 

Let's say you're following a blog because it has really cool WW2 and AWI content.  You know; serious historical gaming stuff, and then suddenly the blog writer goes "you know what's really cool? SPACE SHIPS!"  "Space ships with lazers (pew pew pew) from this sci-fi universe that's totally made up!"  And in your heart you make an 'uhhng' sound.  That's happened to you right? 

So as bloggers we all know that a blogger has to write about what the blogger is excited about, or it just becomes a huge chore.  But since I'm not into space ships I get a little less interested in the blog now (the exceptions are starwars and star trek and anything Lasgunpacker does).   I guess there could be people who are into AWI and spaceships so that's just more good content, but shifting from historical to sci-fi is big pivot to another genre.  

I mean;  let's say that you're following a blog that's been putting out some real good content on, oh I don't know, maybe Napoleonic Age of Sail and the American Civil War for around a year when all of the sudden the guy pivots into fantasy with


(hehehe.. ahh.  that was a long set up for a small joke.
Alternate subtitle: Wargamer's Wandering Minds - to Middle Earth.  
So maybe I just lost everyone, or maybe it'll be like Matt's dungeon blog, who goes from ACW to LoTR and we all just follow along because it's all awesome. )

My NEW Lord of the Rings books have finally arrived.  I bought these on the 18th of September and they didn't make into my grubby hands till this week.  kinda a long time to be waiting in antici........pation.  

The two New books are on the bottom and say Middle Earth on them.
The books on the top represent my older LoTR library.  

I've always liked the GW LoTR game and probably only stopped playing it oh so long ago because I got more into something else.. but here it is, back again.  And as discussed in previous posts I've kept all my stuff.  The new rule book is making for some good bedtime reading.  But now LoTR has been big in my mind, and while waiting for the books to arrive I've been watching a lot of youtube videos about it.  I mainly watch youtube videos on those rare occasions where 1) I go to gym and 2) the gym's wifi is working.  Or I watch them in the early morning on my phone with headphones in, as I'm getting ready for work and everyone else is still asleep.  

And I came across this channel with this man building some amazing LOTR terrain using Hirst Arts molds (and a bunch of other techniques). 

Showing you this picture is going to create unrealistic expectations of what I'm going to do. 

Link to youtube page is HERE. The Arnor build video will show him using the ruined tower mold.

Now this guy is crazy talented and dedicated, and fun to watch.  And I started thinking, "hey, I have HA molds and I like LoTR ruins.  I have this clean work space here, and I don't feel like painting miniatures, so how about some terrain?"

An Unexpected Ruin 

I wasn't really planning on making a new LoTR ruin this year, but you go where the excitement is, and I'm all afire for this unexpected project.  If you are unfamiliar with HA molds I will point you toward the website HERE.  The basic idea:  you pour plaster into silicon molds which makes little plaster bricks that you then use to build terrain like masonry.  It looks awesome, trust me.
Now, I'm unlike Anton who produces such really great terrain and often so quickly that I'm half convinced that he sits in front of blue board pieces, raises his eye brows, and cracks his knuckles and the terrain just forms itself according to his will.  

No, this will take some doing. And I haven't done it in a long time so it's kinda like remembering how to do it.  

My collection of Hirst Arts molds

Step 1) Dig out the molds from their storage.  These are between 5 and 8 years old by now, and honestly they have stayed in very good shape.  A very good product / investment.  It also probably helped that I am a serious nerd and stored them according to the instructions (flat, in the dark, and covered in baby powder).  

The lucky 4 winners

I selected 4 molds to work with; the bell tower mold, the church mold, the generic brick mold (because you always need more bricks) and the floor tile mold. 

Step 2) through 87): Mix and pour plaster into the molds, let sit and harden, and pop out the bricks.
Do this over and over and over, over and over again until you get enough blocks to build whatever you are going to build.  

The plaster I am using

A super exciting action shot of mixing the plaster.
You don't want it super thick.  The consistency you want is best described as 'drip castle.
Like the kind you make on the beach. 

I don't really have plan at this point.  One can just follow the build instructions that come with the molds and are available on the website.  However, It's also great fun to just go with your own design.  

The desk is getting messy again, but I'm having fun and relaxing as well,
which is the whole point of course.
A few casts a night and the piles of ready to build bricks start to..pile up.
(piled up piles?  what a wordsmith I am)

A close up of bricks for the curious.

This project also fits into my current situation, where I can spend 10 minutes getting the plaster into the mold correctly, and then walk away for around 20-30 minutes while it sets / cures enough to be solid and do other more important chores.  Come back, pop all the bricks out, reset, and off again.

So now we're all caught up with each other.  Hopefully I'll get back to you soon and hopefully the process will be interesting.  One of the things I love about blogs is that you get to see a project develop in something like real time.

Thanks for reading


  1. Those moulds put out a great result. I never really see blog changes as a change in direction that might impact too much on audiences, rather most blogs are multi faceted and fairly dynamic and despite that generally still accord to a theme or a style that suits the audience.

    Mine is all over the place and probably has different audiences at different times regardless of the number of followers. I try to label each post with an accurate description and then people can decide whether to click or not. So some will click on armour topics, some on 10mm and some on board games etc, I just don’t think you can carry everyone with individual posts, but that collectively you end up with an audience that dips in and out and broadly likes what you do.

    Anyway, people always enjoy seeing a new project unfold, it is part of the inspirational nature of blogs.

    1. Thanks Norm. What you say is very true: I think most blogs over time become a mix of a variety of topics and that’s all fine. Your blog is a model that I attempt to follow. I’m just being silly about the topics but in my heart I’m not overly concerned; more just making attempts st being entertaining.
      I follow a variety of blogs bc I do tend to like a vast field of wargaming topics. πŸ˜€

  2. Hey, HA molds! I never got into them, but I have plumbed the depths of that website for all the nuggets of information therein plenty of times. Your ruin is coming along very nicely, which for a ruin could mean several things.

    And thanks for the vote of confidence on the "not Historical" blogging! I should throw in a twist, and do something historical just to mix it up a bit. (Plus it would be a tie into your original topic, since I find myself needing to clear off my own desk and get down to something new)

    1. Thanks Las, you do have my confidence. I think if you did s historical post it would catch me as a surprise!
      We’ll see how this comes out; if anything I can always smash it with a hammer and call it rubble. πŸ˜€

  3. Isn't it always the way that you get yourself a nice, clean workbench and then immediately proceed to mess it all up! ;)

    You've made a great start to the ruins project :)

    1. Thanks Tasmsin; a clean desk is a terrible thing to waste. πŸ˜€

  4. Well, you know my blog is a whole chaotic whirlwind of multiple projects from multiple genres and they all are dancing along to the whim my butterfly-like attention span - and somehow people (Some at least) keep coming back to see and comment on what ever shiny thing that has caught my attention... this week? day? moment? LOL

    Hirst is something I've never dabbled in. They seemed pricey and overly labourious. But one cannot deny the lovely results that people have created using those molds. Looking forward to seeing what you create my friend, AND, to eventually game with them!

    1. Thanks Dai. Your blog is a big variety of stuff but you do it with such style! πŸ˜€
      The HA molds are a bit labor intensive but no more than other asphodel this hobby. I keep meaning to email you to set a game up but life keeps getting in the way. ☹️

  5. Good to see some activity at the hobby table although your painting area looks immaculate. mine has NEVER looked that good. Hope life is settling down to allow some more hobby time. For the record, I like Hydrocal but not fantasy. Ok, I will give a nod to LoTRs and enjoy watching your project develop.

    Welcome back!

    1. Thanks Jon! I don’t think life will be settling down soon but that’s the way it goes sometimes. The hobby table was immaculate for a total of 1 evening. πŸ˜€

  6. I do like ruins projects...and this one is going along nicely!

  7. Ha ha I have been named and shamed as the ultimate wargaming butterfly. Amongst a very interesting post some important points which I wholly endorse which is do what you enjoy, it is our hobby and we should be doing it for ourselves not others and must free ourselves from any guilt. Separately I love the moulds looking forward to seeing the buildings grow and then fall into ruin πŸ™‚

    1. You were named but hopefully not shamed! I really enjoy your blog. In my heart I agree with you: on our blogs we have to follow our passions where they lead. I have no guilt but just attempting to be humorous. πŸ˜€
      You’re LoTR posts are part of the reason why It’s been on my mind so much!

  8. From one meanderer to another, I salute the epic example of same that this post represents: bravo! There's nothing like a clean hobby table to inspire activity.

    1. Thanks Ed. In this case the clean desk really did get the hobby mojo back. πŸ˜€

  9. To be honest,I started out with fantasy as far as miniatures is concerned,D&D and playing SPI lord of the rings little cardboard strategic hex games and then Traveller, sci-fi followed by historical and then an age painting mostly 40k so most stuff I have a vague residual interest in,so going from WW2 to starships wouldn't bother me,its mostly if I like the blog I guess,I really can't see me playing any of Norms hex WW2 games but he's engaging and informative and I am interested in the period so I'll read them and consider if I could maybe apply a bit of them to bolt action which I do play,so Lord of the Rings by all means! Your desk is impressively clear, I've never tried the Hurst brick moulds, they sound good, I've been involved in a bit of fibrous plaster work, I'd be interested in the costs of your little bags as 25kg bags aren't that expensive,then again, you'd need to make an awful lot of bricks!
    Looking forward to your ruins!
    Best Iain

    1. Thanks Iain! I too started with 40K and role playing vampires but don’t tell anyone...πŸ˜€
      You do need a ton of bricks. Those 2lbs cartoons of Hydrocal are around $10.

  10. Everybody gets into a gaming funk from time to time. Looks like you've already pushed through it though. And that's a nice painting space, BTW. Mine doesn't look that good even after it's been cleaned up. I've never tried the HA molds, as I thought they would be too labor intensive (I know, I know, I'm saying that as a guy who builds model sailing ships ), and I didn't have anything to use them for.

    I must say though, that when I saw the title of the post I expected the worst! This was a pleasant surprise; building a ruin instead of describing one.

    1. Thanks BW, it’s true that everyone gets into funks and I’ve found that for it’s usually a sign to do something else; a change is as good as a rest so they say.

      And also; casting little plaster bricks is kinda labor instensive but really no more than painting well or rigging, but requires less skill so it suits me better. πŸ˜€

      Thanks for the pleasant thoughts too. πŸ˜€

  11. LoTR! could have sworn it was going to be Napoleonics :) only kidding. We all chop and change, my ACW output has paused while my medieval force finally gets finished, plus some 28mm Naps for a game I want to put on needed doing. Might do my British heavy cavalry next. Who knows when I'll finally get round to my AWI skirmish project.

    Crack on Stew.

    1. Thanks Tony. It’s true that we all kinda meander to topic to topic; I don’t know anyone anymore that only plays one genre or rule set.
      Though you have an advantage over me bc all of those topics sound really interesting! πŸ˜€

  12. My soft reset will be when my replacement desktop finally arrives! The HA build looks quite interesting...

    1. Thank EL Gregoria; I appreciate the comment. Let’s hope the end result of the project will be interesting as well. πŸ˜€
      Good luck with your own soft reset!

  13. You had me going at "suddenly pivoting blogs". I was thinking, yeah that guy was building those beautiful ships with a promise of more to come and then his next post was Trojan War minis! Now I feel bad.
    I was heavy into LOTR back in the 70's when Elan Merch Inc., Custom Casts and Ral Partha were doing the Bakshi LOTR movie minis.
    I was into HA a long while back too. I loved them. I think I have every mold that was available by 2010. But two things happened. First I ran out of space. Second I discovered Napoleonic sailing ships. 1/1200 terrain takes up a whole lot less space. I have from time to time wondered if there was a way to use a y of my HA molds for some 1/1200 terrain but haven't come up with one.
    Hey Stew, have you seen the awesome new Game of Thrones minis yet? πŸ˜‰πŸ€—

    1. I know right? Luckily the GoT game doesn’t call to me yet. So far it’s been a fun experience digging out the HA molds and playing around. I’m being tempted into getting a few more myself. I don’t know if any HA stuff would work in the 1/1200 scale; it seems scaled to 28mm. But if anyone could do it, it’d be you. πŸ˜€

  14. I was always hoping LOTR would get my daughter interested in figure gaming, but sadly no.

    I always seem to have many projects on the go at once and I'm surprised when I actually make progress on some of them. I blame "bright ideas" for this. I'll see something and think I could game/model that. Then I start researching and if I'm really reckless out laying funds on figures/rules etc. But I am trying to hold back more these days, with a bit of success thankfully.

    1. Thanks York. I too have had my share of bright ideas that have never gone past the purchase step. I’ve also had success in holding back and lately I’ve been having more fun rediscovering the old than buying the new. πŸ˜€

      My daughter is still way to young for LoTR.

  15. So that's how they do it! Amazing dedication to go through using individual bricks. The results look like they justify it. Now I'm going out to find a way to cheat.

    1. Indeed David, that’s how’s its done. If you find a good way to cheat be sure to let me know. πŸ˜€