Diary of Construction

If you’re interested in scenery tips, gaming ideas, or just want to hear about our moments of glory—and moments of despair—read on:


July 15, 2009: It’s Historicon, and I’ve just

spent $200 in the flea market buying every box

of Starship Trooper bugs I can find. With this

batch, I’ve almost 200 bugs—more than enough

for a sci-fi project. Also, I just saw someone

selling off a small sci-fi room built of

Hirst Arts Fantasy Architecture Inc. blocks—

blocks made of plaster using Hirst Arts molds.

That gives me the clue as to how to build my

underground passages. I’m committed. It’s time

to build this project.


Before I leave Historicon, I go to the Dealer Hall and buy some more odds and ends, particularly antennae and other sci-fi accessories from the Kyromek series from Scotia Grendel Productions.


Aug 1-15, 2009: I go on

a buying spree on the

Internet. I order

Games Workshop’s

new landing pad, as well

as a bunch of sci-fi

furniture from Antsy

Products at Old Crow

Models in the United

Kingdom to detail my


surface buildings.


I also order some

electronics—LEDs, a

blinking circuit, police

siren. Blinking lights on

the landing pad, for

example, should be

a funs surprise for



Finally, my Hirst Arts

molds arrive. I’m a big intimidated by the idea of making things with

molds, but I’m a grown man. I give it a try, and it was remarkably easy. In the next few days, I fill enough molds to make 1,000 building blocks.


Aug. 10, 2009: Used my table saw to cut 2-inch-thick extruded polystyrene (building sinulatino foam) into walls for my surface buildings. A while back, I’d bought some sci-fi bunkers from the Miniature Building Authority, and I patterned the buildings after them (45-degree walls, etc.). Cutting some hardwood sheets to size, I build a base for the buildings, but don’t glue down all the walls—to give me some room to glue in computer screens, bunk eds, toilets, etc. (Gotta go full detail here.)

Aug. 15. 2009: After some debate, I opt to go with Games Workshop Imperial Guard—the Cadians in particular—as my human figures. I really like the detail. As I want to run some role-playing/mystery games, I pin the arms and legs to the body instead of relying only on glue. With big battles, you can always replace a damaged figure. But in a role-playing game, where every figure is unique, I want them to be sturdy.

The first dozen figures are pinned and heavily customized. Another 15, including a heavy weapons team, are just glued together without minimal concern about customization, character, etc. These extra figures are for the bigger battles, where a laser rifle is a laser rifle is a laser rifle.

Aug. 16, 2009: The day I know I’ll get this project done by FALL IN! I spent the day building my dedicated surface table. It’s a 72” by 44” plywood top, supported with a frame of 1” by 4” planks. It’s tempting to simply start gluing EP (building insulation) to the top, but I want to maximize the appearance of the table (and protect the terrain), so I cut out side panels of Masonite to glue to the scenery side.

This wasn’t as hard as I thought. I used a cheap Black & Decker jig saw to cut the top of each side panel to match the planned scenery silhouette. So the terrain will end at the top of each panel, which will be painted glossy black to “frame” the terrain. Ought to be pretty.

Aug. 17, 2009. I start putting together the Games Workshop landing pad. After some thought of the extra work involved, I make the decision to drop the fancy wiring until after FALL IN! First, let’s get the project done. Then let’s go back and add the bells and whistles.

I prime a Games

Workshop Sentinel

(armed land walker) and

start painting some of the

computer screens and

hibernation chambers.

It’s a modest but creative


Aug. 18, 2009: I’m up to

1,500 Hirst Arts blocks,

so I’ll set that project

aside. It occurs to me

that I need to get the

surface terrain and bug

tunnels completed first,

so the lab section can

wait. I can run some very

fine games without it, and

I don’t want to be rushed

at the end. I want a

quality product.


Aug. 22-27 2009: I take

a break from scenery

and work on Cadian

infantry. It takes time,

despite the relatively

simply uniform. I guess

I’m just slow. Still, I get

18 figs completed, and

another 12 pretty close.


Sept. 6-7. 2009: I give

the hobby all weekend

—a rare occurrence for

a family man. (At least

one who wants to stay

a family man.) I attach

the side panels to the

main scenery board,

start gluing in Styrofoam, and paint my Games Workshop landing pad, as well as their new Imperial Bastion. Cobbling together some old City of Death plastic building pieces, I have the beginning of a huge Adeptus Mechanicus (Tech Priests) underground fortress.


A lot of Hirst Arts blocks—the beginning of my underground lab. Doesn’t look like much right now, though.

Here you can see the side panels that’ll frame the table and protect the foam terrain. I’m looking to paint the exterior glossy black so the terrain inside stands out.

To contact us:

Wednesday Night Gamers of Alexandria

Del Stover (President for Life)



Read more about our sci-fi project below, with photos:


  Diary of construction

  Details of our tables

  Construction techniques

  Terrain/scenario ideas

  Convention schedule