Kurîpu Jima: Buildings and Sakura

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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.

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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.

UsagiYojimboTown1

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.

Image from plastcraftgames.com

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Basing these forty trees took four or five times longer than getting all twelve Plastcraft elements table ready.

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.

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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).

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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.

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19 Responses

  1. Those are really lovely Cheetor. You’ve managed to create a whole world with only a few elements well chosen. Nice work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very nice of you to say Conrad, thanks.

      The world building aspect of the hobby is crucial to me, although it has only been in that last decade or so that I have had the right combination of resources to push it in the direction that I do now. It gives corresponding levels of satisfaction.

      I have kept green and purple out of the terrain palette so far, and I think that helps to distinguish my slowly expanding purple and green miniature force from the terrain. Limiting the palette like that does add a lot to the mood.

      Adding green bamboo at a later point will be bittersweet I suspect.

      Thanks for the feedback Conrad!

      Like

  2. A very interesting write-up into the process, and the final results really can’t be argued with – all in all, excellent work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Warburton. It has been fun to turn the project from literally nothing into its own little world over the last few months.

      Lots more to come!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, amazing. I mean, it’s all amazing but stuff like the cherry trees definitely fill out the picture.

    For fencing, could you use chopped down sushi mat(s) to make bamboo fencing like this (http://www.mastergardenproducts.com/railfencegarden.jpg)? I don’t know how authentic it would be but it’d look reasonably plausible. You could make pretty tall fences for rich people’s gardens etc, or low ones for farm yards.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good idea re the sushi mats, thanks.
      I have got to the stage that I can cover the table sufficiently for gaming. The next step is to add thief’s to give more variety: bamboo groves, other tree species, some more landmarks, road shrines/objectives etc.

      The sakura/cherry blossom is important really. It’s so evocative that the brain desperately tries to make the scene work, glossing over some of the less plausible elements.

      Thanks for the feedback NSA. That sushi mat idea is good…

      Like

  4. Very nicely done and evocative of your inspiration art. You do need the saki house with a miserable yojimbo as that seems to be in every movie, series, and comic I have read.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Excellent compromise between getting a village fast and a pleasing look. i think the trees are effective and convey the idea of cherry blossoms (obviously the look could eb improved but then you need the same time for one tree that you would spent preparing all the other stuff which is not very practical ;)). I do liek the mdf buildings. it seems they work very well for Asian architecture and don’t scream “MDF”. So overall a wonderful backdrop for your miniatures.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are certainly ways to make miniature cherry blossom that looks precisely like a scaled down tree. This links to a particularly excellent example.

      As you say, I went for a more rapid, broad stroke effect. I pick and choose where to spend the extra time and tree foliage isnt it one of my preferences.

      The buildings are actually PVC foam sheet rather than MDF, but it amounts to the same thing. They are a bit broadstroke too however, being Asian (or more likely Chinese) rather than Japanese. For my purposes they were the best compromise though.

      Im glad that you like them daggerandbrush.

      Like

      • Thank you for the link, I recall this thread. Very nice results that actually rsemble the MiniNatur cherry blossom nets, at a fraction of the costs.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Dr Mathias is a talented guy.

          As for cost, well that depends on how much time spent making foliage is worth to you, by the hour.

          The blossoms in that thread are amazing though.

          Like

  6. Very nicely done! How did you do the autumn trees in the dojo pics?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Arteis.

      The autumnal trees are painted versions of the Games Workshop plastic woods kit, with a link to how I approached it and why HERE.

      I have recently picked up a few more of those trees. I plan to use them to represent an approximation of Japanese Maple.

      Thank you for sharing your info about the cherry blossom trees. They have added loads of atmosphere to my table.

      Like

  7. Stuff looks great Paul enjoy your game with Mr Saturday.

    Liked by 1 person

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