Sunday, August 7, 2022

Petco Visit Terrain Finds!


Cork Bark in the foreground looks like rock.
The two greenish mountains were made for turtle environments.


One of my favorite places to visit for wargaming terrain is the Petco national chain store of pet supplies. The aquarium aisle is loaded with all sorts chotchkes and niknaks to decorate fish tanks and reptile terrariums. For example, resin treasure chests, sunken Spanish galleons and rock caves could all potentially find a use on the wargamer’s table. In the past I’ve found a Greek temple ruin, an Egyptian Sphinx and Burmese statue heads. Other items such as plastic plants can be turned into desert or jungle vegetation. Kitty litter is a good material for making stone walls. The list goes on and on.

Resin Buddha Heads from Petco

This Greek Temple Ruin has appeared in many of my Ancients and Sudan wargames.
The trees were made from 
artificial plants bought at Michael's Stores.

So yesterday I was looking for some cork bark to use in the making of some mountains for my Sudan Project. Lowe's and Home Depot let me down with regard to finding any large chunk pine bark, but there was a Petco store across the street from HD so I thought that I might as well stop in and see what I could find. While I could not find any bark (used to line terrarium floors), I did score a couple of great finds in the Turtle Area Aisle of the store.

The first item was a turtle platform that looks like a large mesa-like rock structure. I plan on repainting it in more desert like colors for the Sudan. The second piece, a jagged rock formation spire, is also perfect for what I am looking for in off the shelf Sudan terrain. Again, a coat of red-brown paint and some dry brushing of highlights will turn the spire into a nice desert terrain piece.

Here are several pictures of the Petco terrain "in situ" on my game table. The game mats are from Cigar Box Battle Mats.

An old Airfix desert building fits nicely with the turtle terrain and cork bark.

More Egyptian Artillery Crew Conversions

The number of artillery crew poses in the Armies In Plastic figure range is rather limited, so I started examining some of the Egyptian infantry figures to see if any of them would be suitable for conversion work. I found a pose where the figure is running or lunging - a pose that I consider useless for close order troop formations - and decided that I could repurpose the figure into an artillery crew man by removing his rifle and replacing it with either a ram rod or a trail spike. I already had ram rod poses, so I used the charging figure for this conversion. It was a simple matter to cut away his rifle and then drill holes through the hands so that it could hold a length of wire (an off cut from a North Star spear that I saved for a rainy day). I mixed up a bit of green stuff epoxy putty and fashioned the end of a trail spike to put on the wire. The raised foot was a problem, so I placed a ball of putty underneath the raised foot and then fashioned the putty into a tree stump. I am waiting a couple of days for the green stuff to dry, after which i will spray prime the figure, paint him, and spritz him with a gloss coat finish.

The Before (right) and the conversion After (left) of Trail Spike Man.
The other two artillerists are just simple head swaps.

My plan is to have enough Egyptian artillery crewmen to man one Gatling Gun and one Krupp artillery piece. I might add another crew to give me three pieces of Egyptian artillery for my Sudan army project.

I hope to finish off another ten Beja warriors today and then wait for the arrival of Beja reinforcements in tomorrow's mail. My original plastic Beja contingent was 100 warriors and my plan is to increase that to 200 figures. Thus each Dervish player will command 100 figures divided into two 50 figure units.

I have three Egyptian infantry companies of 16 figures each and my plan is to increase the regiment to four companies, or 64 figures in total. Then I will paint a second Egyptian regiment of Sudanese troops. This will give me enough Egyptian infantry to form a giant square with 32 figures on each side of the square and then two Gatling Guns on two corners of the square. Three squadrons (already painted) of Egyptian Lancers (3sqs by 12 figures per squadron) provide support for the infantry. This will be my finished Egyptian Army for my Sudan Project. 


  1. They are looking great. As far as clubbing figures go I do find them a little annoying but still incorporate them into units with other poses. My own reasoning is that the pose is not inconceivable but why use the club when one has a nasty sharp bayonet? In a confused stoush one might not have time to turn the rifle around if an enemy approaches from behind. However when providing a defensive pose such as in an infantry line or square soldiers do not present their buts (except for Scotts presenting their butts to infuriate and goad an enemy).

    As for the running pose I like it and I have some units that are all charging whilst other units are stationary and shooting or preparing to resist cavalry. There is, though, more likelihood of paint loss from a raised leg so I often do what you have done and place an object under and touching the foot. I also use small actual stones and sticks as well as putty.

    It is good to see large units on the wargame table as I find little units unconvincing except in a truly skirmishing game. However, most of my units are 25 men (or, in some cases, women, elves orcs etc) because anything much larger is unwieldly.

  2. I learned to use pet supplies back when I started playing Warhammer, because in fantasy and sci fi it's easier to justify the weirder scales and colors. But I did use aquarium supplies for one thing (beyond jungle plants) that I discovered in The Sword and the Flame - fishtank gravel works better than kitty litter for denoting trails and the like.

    The one thing I dislike about Armies in Plastic is the huge variety of poses, though I totally understand the charming appeal of the toy aspect. I emailed them once and asked if it were possible to order a batch all in one or two poses, and they said no. I buy a lot of their stuff, but not at such scale that I could afford to build entire regiments in a given pose, so I stick to 1:1 skirmishes with them.

    1. Probably each mould sprue has two of each pose and so the contents of one spin goes into one box, hence the difficulty in splitting up the contents for the producer. Fortunately I buy enough boxes that enables me to put enough like poses into a unit of infantry.

  3. I hate to be a pedant Jim, but Buddah wouldnt be seen dead in the Sudan, although they are very nice pieces. Ive been lucky enough to travel in Cambodia where the Buddah is seen everywhere. The Sudanese wouldnt have lasted two minutes in the jungle, especially when facing all the insects that bite and sting. Still some great purchases.

    1. The Buddha purchase is one of those “buy it now or else it won’t be there again when you ultimately decide that you need it” theorems. 😄