Monday, August 12, 2013

AVAST! An exercise in inexpert 28mm ship building.

As mentioned in a previous post, my current campaign is a bit nautically centered - at least until I get these PCs swallowed by a larval godworm, then it becomes something else entirely. I started scouring the interwebs for 28mm scale ships, intending to buy a few if I could find some reasonably priced, but alas, I couldn't find a single one that even remotely approached what I considered to be reasonable. Maybe it's because I'm cheap, I dunno. There are some amazing ships out there, but nothing I would want my jackass players stomping their miniatures all over.

  However, I did stumble across quite a few articles on DIY ships which looked frankly amazing, and more than a few of these are based on Gary Chalk's templates, originally printed (as far as I can ascertain) in Wargaming Illustrated #183. The templates are available all over the place. Here's a link to them here.
The instructions call for cereal box card and balsa, but I had some extra foamcore lying around that I thought would be a bit sturdier than a Lucky Charms box, so I went with that in lieu. All together, the materials cost somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-8 bucks, so definitely a win on the cheap front.

  I usually stick to 'organic' type terrain for a reason. My giant, clumsy hands are not all that well suited to fine detail work. Sculpting tiny filigreed balustrades is not my forte. My blunt, thick fingers are more suited to hewing cliff faces from pink polystyrene. The kind of projects where defects can be easily transformed into 'features'. Ship building is not like that. It requires craft. It requires effort. Hopefully I put in enough of the latter to mostly disguise my lack of the former.

I started by printing Chalk's templates and then transferring them onto the foamcore. After cutting out the segments, I realized I didn't have, nor could I find, anything resembling 'assembly instructions'.  At this point, only fifteen minutes into the project, I began to just kinda wing it.

The foamcore holds a good bend, for the hull sections, and the balsa decking looked decent. I started embellishing the plans with cut in stairs and banisters. Then onto the masts. I wrapped varying lengths of dowels together with craft wire, and cemented the joins with super glue. You can see in the photo that I punched the rear mast straight through the deck in completely the wrong spot, and then tried to cover my shame with a balsa patch and wood glue spackle.

 Chopped apart an old pre-painted D&D mini for the figurehead here, jammed up under the bowsprit. Added platforms on the masts to facilitate play.

At this point I started thinking about doing elaborate netting and rigging, and decided it would only serve to interfere with the 'playability' of the boat. Also, lazy.

Here she is fully assembled at right, and below with sails and paint. For me, it didn't really come together until I added the canvas sails. For some reason, up until that point, even after painting, it looked like crap to me. The sails, though. They make me happy.

  We've been playing with the boat, dubbed the Red Grace, for a few months now, and it serves exactly the role I had hoped. Though it could still stand with more embellishments and details it's been a great addition to the tabletop, and I'm pretty proud of the results. Apologies for the weird formatting, Blogger is outsmarting me today.
Thanks for the look.          -JM


  1. I just came across your boat. Nicely done. Well done actually. Love your commentary. Quite funny.