Thursday, June 16, 2011

Albert Speer's Lego

I like Hirst Arts blocks. I know some people have problems with them, but some people also like to hear their own voices gonging around in their heads just for the hell of it. To those people I say "Fie on you!"

With a little imagination and some forethought, Hirst Arts can be the basis of exceptional pieces, lending a titanic and substantial quality to a model, that cardboard or thin plastic cannot convey. Of course, at the same time the pieces can look blocky and heavy, without any real attempt at architectural interest or significance.

Like something Albert Speer might have made out of Lego.

In my opinion, restricting yourself to only Hirst Arts when modelling may lead to exactly that sort of feel. I have found that following the maxim of "there are no hard and fast rules to modelling" has helped.

One of the first pieces I made out of Hirst was this Moghul tower for DV. Using a Pringles tube for the former of the tower and foamboard for the crenellations, I think it was a decent first try. It taught me some useful lessons, including using other materials to achieve the final result. And that Pringles are yummy. Lessons that I pursued in my next piece.

This was a neat little ruin, built for CBW as part of a much larger cityscape, which will eventually develop into a 6x4 foot table (if not larger).

The Dark Angel marine (courtesy Anthony Pearson) gives the scale. I wanted a Gothic monument to collapsing civil order, plenty of rubble for cover, with a hint of the imperial splendour that the chapel once displayed. I also wanted several levels on the floor, with a nifty little sniper roost in the shattered dome.

The base is card, although in future I may use gatorboard which is like foam core but with ultra-thin wood instead of card as the outer layers. (Go to Eckersleys in Sydney). Under the back columns is a slight raise in level, with a grate that has exploded out, as if some shambling horror has made a surprise visit from the stygian depths beneath the city (I'd like to thank REH and HPL for the use of the word "stygian"). A couple of steps lead up to the rounded apse.

Both these levels were made from thicknesses of balsa. The basic shape of the chapel was cut and roughly sanded down and then I built the shattered remains of the walls. Apart from the statues in the wall niches, all the bricks and columns were Hirst Arts. The statues were supplied by CBW, not sure where they are from. Once I placed and glued all the bricks, I glued irregularly cut pieces of stone-embossed plasticard on the floors.

I then hacked a hole in the lower floor and fashioned a burst grill from a GW photo-etch set. Just for a bit of atmosphere.

You can see the grating through the apse.

The dome was built after pieces were hacked out using a set of cutters to make the sniper hole. All these elements were then left to dry, as I built the floor of the dome using spare bits of wood from old ship models. Once the floor was built, I made it look like it had been destroyed by . . . destroying it. I twisted it until parts snapped and bent, and then set it alight with a butane lighter. Love the smell of butane in the workroom, smells like . . . modelling.

I attacked the dried brickwork with the cutters, hacking chunks of plaster out of the stones , grinding holes into surfaces and, defacing practically every surface. Be careful at this stage, too much can be way too much. Better to be a little conservative than to have to try and repair damage that undermines the look.

A surface of gravel and sand was spread out over the ground and floors, leaving the embossed plasticard to show the brickwork.

The rubble was a combination of resin pieces from Reality in Scale (cheers, Otto), pieces of shattered Hirst Arts bricks and columns, and bricks from a weekly collectible magazine that builds a medieval castle (after 100 weeks and about a thousand bucks - I gave up after about 6 weeks, although I do have the complete Fokker Triplane kit from the same company if anyone is interested, unmade and unopened - would like to sell, I'll don't have time - there is a website with a weekly how-to for it. Follow this link:

As I laid the rubble down, I was aware of the need to have plenty of room for figures to be standing behind the cover provided. The apse will take a terminator base, the dome fits a sniper, plenty of space in and around the ruins for all manner of figure.

Painting was relatively simple. Sprayed various shades of brown, sand and black, in almost a camouflage style all over the model. Left the dome and wooden floor off to make it easier to paint and treated them in the same manner.

While these were drying, I made the bronze nameplate, out of plasticard and plastic lettering, and Scibor resin Templar shields. The plastic lettering came from Slater'sPlastikard (follow the link: ). I bent the pasticard sheet first.

I inflicted damage aplenty, undercoated in black, painted with Model Masters Brass, washed with a Tamiya clear mix of smoke, red and yellow, washed with a turquoise shade, and drybrushed with brass again.  Don't forget, I paint in enamels, so if you are using acrylics, then . . . well, hell, you're on your own, baby, you drank the cool-aid, you went with water-colours, you're waaaaaay too good to sniff turps fumes 24/7 like a reeeeeeeal man , so you can just kiss m . . . . .

I'm sorry, it's been a long day.

Anyhoo, after the paint has dried and, apparently, the fumes have dissapated, I dry-brushed like a bandit from a mix of brick red, tan, yellow and white, with a touch of black to dirty it up, through several layers , lightening all the time, throwing in some yellow or a bit of blue as my taste dictated until the final colour is as you see, sort of a dirty, battle-scarred, smog-blasted sandstone, very familiar to Sydney-siders (battle-scarred, not so much - peaceful place, Sydney, great for a visit, beautiful city, pissing down rain at the moment and cold - love it).

The wooden floor gets a drybrush as well as does the brickwork on the floors, using more red and tan in the mix, with a lighter yellow-brown highlight, and blackened at the edges.

I added a couple of Nimix photo-etch Templar crosses as floor and wall inlays (you can just see one in the apse above), bronzing them, again for atmosphere.

Once all the elements were put together I was well pleased with the outcome. It can be considered complete, but there are a few things I might add, like a bit of foliage, vines up the front wall in places, grass tufts, just to age the piece a little, and maybe a bit more rubble on the dome level. The idea of some tattered battle flags is tempting as well, but one must be careful not to gild the lily. Detailling is fun, but also can be a pit of despair and can lead you into ever-decreasing circles of "touch-up".

You got to know when enough is enough.

So enough for now. But just wait until I start the step-by-step on the Moghul fort. You will all eat your heads with jealousy.



  1. Nice work - great detail you've added to the projects.

    As you've noted, the Hirst kits lend themselves to basic square shapes - you've certainly avoided that problem.

  2. Damn good work sir, beautiful to this angry soul.

  3. Superb work that man

  4. Looks great... really, really great. I very like such projects, made with backing "story" in "telling story" itself.

  5. Gentlemen,

    Thank you for your gracious words. Always appreciated.


  6. PC - stop posting and get my Moghul fort done : )

  7. Fantastic work PC

    Naughty GWZ very naughty.....

  8. As always Peter you work is inspirational.