Once I started painting my Shonen Knives I was soon enjoying it enough to realise that I needed to get some similarly themed terrain. Kurîpu Jima became the plan.
In addition to pretty classic images of Japan such as the one above, my primary visual influences for the terrain were things such Akira Kurosawa films, the Shogun Assassin/Lone Wolf and Cub movies, the Azumi movies, 47 Ronin (2013), 13 Assassins (2010) and the Usagi Yojimbo comic book.
Historical accuracy is nice, but not a priority. If I can keep the vibe reasonably close then Im fine with that.
I wanted the following in Kuripu Jima:
- Buildings: enough to create a small villiage
- Bridges: one is never enough, two is a minimum requirement
- Tracks/roads/paths: in game terms they usually dont have any effect, but visually they are important
- Tori and road shrines: to add atmosphere
- Paddy fields: a fun and thematic way to represent swampy ground
- Fencing: versatile and useful. I also cant help but imagine a lightly fortified village, a la The Seven Samurai.
- Carts: they will double up for use in convoy raid style scenarios.
- Produce/crates/barrels: handy ground level scatter terrain that will make the town look more lived-in.
- Foliage: cherry blossom, Japanese maple and bamboo groves at the least
Bear in mind that while the vibe of the Shonen Knives – and therefore by extension Kurîpu Jima – is that of feudal Japan, this is not a historical project, it is a fantasy project. That gets me off the hook regarding a few historical accuracy issues.
While I like the idea of trying to stay somewhat historically authentic – its fun, its interesting and it helps to lend some believability when more fantastic elements are involved – that isnt this projects primary aim. Compromises have been and will be made in the interests of the projects actual goal: getting enough terrain to play many themed games on a nice, atmospheric and easily varied table.
Balancing the price of kits, the time that I have available, the standard of the result, my general patience levels and how likely I am to get the project finished led to Plastcraft being chosen as my building suppliers.
The Plastcraft “ColorED” range is made primarily out of pre-cut, pre-printed, foamed PVC. The roof pieces are coloured, corrugated card. I bought the dojo earlier in the year as a test, to see how well made it was and whether it would suit my purposes. I assembled it rapidly in front of the TV and coloured in the exposed edges with felt tips. I took some photos.
I liked how the photos looked.
The Plastcraft buildings are not dirt cheap, but they are not hugely expensive either. They are very rapid to assemble and once assembled they are ready to game with.
I have heard some online dissatisfaction regarding these products but I was the opposite. For very little time expenditure – and time is the most precious resource that I have – I had the most important elements of my village fully prepared. If I had scratch built or even had to paint similar buildings it would have taken me literally ten times longer I reckon. Thats a good trade off.
I bought a few other ColorED models and I had a small town ready for gaming with in a couple of days. This was very heartening.
I am still considering adding some light weathering and washing to the building models, particularly the red areas. The red needs to remain bright, but needed more contrast all the same. I will likely get back to it a later stage.
Next on the list was some foliage. After doing some research into how other gamers had approached that, I came across this simple solution on the “Dressing the Lines” blog. Simple, quick and effective is what I wanted, so I literally bought the same catalogue items that “Roly/Arteis” had bought and from the same China based Ebay seller. Thanks Arteis!
I bent the bottom fifth or so of the wire core tree trunks and hot glued them to MDF/HDF bases that I bought from Warbases. I also used hot glue to bulk up where the bend tree trunk met the base, making vague root shapes on the base while I was at it.
I sealed the foliage with thinned PVA/water/dish soap mix and covered the bases with different Citadel Texture paints to match my dusty gaming mat. I also used the Citadel Stirland Mud texture paint to cover any of the exposed wire that had become exposed on the trunks when bending them. Stirland mud also blended the hot glue “roots” into the tree pretty much perfectly.
In addition to adding tufts and the like to tie the trees in with the Shonen Knives bases more, I also glued some of the foam foliage from the tress to the bases, to suggest the gorgeous mess that cherry blossoms make.
Plenty of the bits of coloured foam had collected in the bottom of the bags that the trees were supplied in during transit, so it was easy to add lots of atmosphere by using those bits like that.
At this point I had six buildings, a tori, a shrine gate and two lanterns, a bridge, a pergola and forty cherry blossom trees ready to game with.
Not bad and certainly more than enough to get some nice thematic games in with (like in the shots above and below featuring Captain Armitage Shanks and the scurvy swabs that paid a visit from Dawn of the Lead not so long ago).
That said however, in order to give the terrain set some longevity – using the same items repeatedly is very dull – I needed to add some more items. I will cover the next phase of Kurîpu Jima development next time.