Thursday, September 6, 2007


The Village of Gross-Gundtburg, Silesia (buildings by HG Walls)

The Gasthaus Alter Fritz in Gross-Gundtburg (buildings by HG Walls)

Der Alte Fritz is perfectly satisfied with nothing but the best, so when he requires a building or a piece of terrain, he turns to that master architect supreme, Herb Gundt of H.G. Walls for the piece. Herr Gundt has been the official royal architect to the King of Prussia since at least 1990 and maybe even longer than that. Click on the pictures to see a larger view of Herb's work.

I would guess that Herb has easily made over 50 different buildings for me over the past 15 years or so. Projects include the walled churchyard at Hochirch, several sail-styled windmills, red-tiled houses and thatched roof houses for 18th Century Prussia, Sokolnitz Castle, a complete Roman village and villa, an American colonial village, McPherson's Barn at Gettysburg and perhaps the most amazing work of all, the village of Leuthen done in winter with ice and snow all about.

One of Herb's greatest strengths is his ability to take a client's pictures or hand drawn concepts and to execute them to perfection. I can hand him a sheaf of sketches containing my ideas and it seems like he always builds exactly what I had in mind, or as often is the case, the execution is even better than I could have imagined. Whenever I travel to historical sites in Europe or the US, I take along a camera and take scores of pictures to use as ideas for future projects.

The village pictured above, which I have called Gross-Gundtburg, is the result of two separate projects that I had Herb work on for me. During the 1994 Christopher Duffy Tour of Fredrician battlefields in Saxony and Lusatia, we visited Hochirch, where in 1758 the Austrian army of Marshall Leopold von Daun surprised Frederick in his camp at the village of the same name. Converging columns of Austrians attacked the Prussian camp from three directions and very nearly destroyed Frederick's army. They probably would have but for the gallant stand of the Margraf Karl (IR19) regiment in the walled churchyard at Hochirch. On our tour, we ate lunch at the Gasthaus Alter Fritz, which you can see in the pictures above. After lunch, I circled my way around the churchyard, taking pictures of every possible angle, for I knew that I would have to have a model of the church made by Herb. Needless to say, it is a beauty.

The thatched buildings come from a "Silesia Project" that Herb built for me. You may be able to notice the existence of stork's nests atop some of the chimneys in the pictures. For some unknown reason, Silesian storks build their nests in such precarious places. The little thatched bird house comes from a Menzel drawing that I found. Herr Gundt likes to add little extra touches such as the scarecrow in the garden of one of the out-buildings. He made the scarecrow's head out of a pumpkin casting from a Sleepy Hollow range of figures and plunked it atop of a pole. It makes for a rather quaint vignette. Other little gems include things like laundry drying on a clothes line between several of the buildings, piles of firewood and various work tools sitting in the yard. Herb is a pleasure to work with and I give his work my highest possible endorsement.

Oh by the way, the figures marching through the village are from the Old Glory SYW range, the trees are from K&M and I have no idea who made the deer, although I think that I recall buying them from Ral Partha at a convention many years ago.

Making Your Own Terrain SquaresYou may also be wondering about the terrain boards that you see in the pictures. Der Alte Fritz made these himself. Imagine that! These were part of a purpose-built set that I constructed to re-enact the Battle of Kolin (June 1757). I took the map from the Clash of Arms boardgame, Kolin, and converted the hexes into a ground scale. From there I was able to convert the boardgame into a grid that I used to layout the terrain squares.

I used 2 feet square ceiling tiles as the foundation for each terrain square. Why? Because Der Alte Fritz does not have a table saw with which to cut perfect squares from MDF board. And even if he did have such equipment, he is too much of a chicken to even want to use the saw. Fritz likes to keep all of his fingers and thumbs, thank you very much.

The contours were built up with pink insulation boards and then an undercoat of brown paint was applied to the surface. The next step was to apply gallons of spackle compound, pre-mixed with brown paint, to the squares. Where there were roads, I penciled in the road outline and did not apply the dark brown spackle to the road areas. I came back after the boards dried and troweled in a tan colored spackle for the roads. Wheel tracks were then imbedded into the wet spackle using old artillery castings. Then some fine sand or talus was randomly sprinkled about the still wet road for added texture. It can take about one to three days for this all to dry out, depending on how much spackle was applied to the board.

The grass process was next. I drybrushed some tan paint over the dry boards to provide highlights to the ground. The dry brushing effect is quite evident on the hills in the background in the top picture. Then I sprayed Woodland Scenics "scenic cement" over the surface and shook out a layer of light brown flock on the surface. I let this dry over night. The next day, I went back and sprinkled a layer of fine texture "burnt grass" atop the brown flock. This can be randomly scattered in blotches all over the board. I like to leave some brown areas without grass for variety and the grass colors can vary from light to dark. Be careful that you don't get too "splotchy" with the green flock and end up with the dreaded "spotted cow effect" on your squares. You will find that you develop a pretty good feel for what will look right after you have made your first couple of terrain squares. So don't worry about the cow effect.

Terrain squares are not as difficult to make as they would appear at first sight. The process takes several days and can be tedious at times. However, the end result is certainly worth all of the effort, as you can attest to from the pictures above. If a complete klutz such as Der Alte Fritz can make terrain squares, then anyone should be able to do the same. Terrain squares are not as flexible or transportable as the traditional felt cloth and telephone directories method, but the visual payoff makes it worth all the time and effort.


  1. I think I saw some of those buildings in Battlegames 8. Very handsome!


  2. I agree . . . the terrain and buildings are both very nice.

    -- Jeff

  3. Impressive buildings and terrain. Thanks for sharing.

    Best Regards,


  4. Great buildings, I wouldn't mind getting my hands on some, but tremble at how much they may cost.

    I've toyed with the idea of terrain tiles, but have always turned away from them. The reason is that I haven't come up with a good way to secure them whilst in play. I've considered velcro, carpet tape and things of that "ilk", but all have proved somewhat lacking. Any ideas for this?

    Also have you had any problems with your spackling cracking?

  5. I've thought about using velco but when you are making some 50 or 60 tiles, like I did on this project, that's a lot of extra work for minimal payoff, visually. So I didn't do it. Unless you have a perfect square in the underlying board, the boards will probably have 'ditche' where they come together regardless. If you are worried about the boards moving around, lay some of your old felt table cloths underneath the boards. then they won't move.

  6. Damned fine terrain and buildings Jim. You are a lucky man indeed!

    I like your blog more with every visit.