March 2– Back from vacation, the shop is open!

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Terrain Showcase: The X-Mansion

This weekend, Atomic Mass Games announced their X-Men expansion for the Marvel Crisis Protocol miniatures game, and their launch video looked great– I love the new models! I've been waiting a few months to post images of the X-Mansion that I built for their photo shoot, so here's a look at the display board, and a peek at how I built it.

The board started with a 2' x 2' wooden frame around a layer of insulation foam. I mapped out the positioning of the walkways and driveway, and then I built the mansion out of foam core board.

For the surface texture of the building, I used brick and shingle textured styrene card from Plastruct. I picked up some O-scale model railroad windows from Grandt Line and traced the positioning onto the foam core. Then I glued strips of the brick card around them, leaving the exposed foam core to be painted later as the "glass" of the windows.

Most of the parts were kept separate for painting, including all the window frames and the stonework over the windows. The stone arches were made from thick PVC card, pressed with a piece of concrete to give them a rough texture.

For the damaged section, I cut out a section of the wall and build floors inside the structure. The floors, broken timbers, and exposed framing was all built out of basswood.

I painted the bricks with a variety of reddish-browns, and then applied the "mortar" in between them by mixing some Elmer's wood filler putty and wall spackling compound with water to create a slush. This was then painted over the bricks and wiped away, leaving it in the recesses between the bricks. Once it was dry, I sealed it with Testors Dull Cote, and then painted some thinned GW Agrax Earthshade over it to tone down the brightness of the mortar.

Then, I masked off the bricks and sprayed the window spaces with black, and grey to create a transition from dark to light, and painted some diagonal reflection lines. The painted window frames were then glued in place.

The additional damage was created by cutting and pressing the bricks in, and brushing black and grey over top of the blast marks.

The porch was made by stacking layers of foam core board with a layer of thick styrene on each step to create a lip. The columns were made from thick styrene tubes, with a thick ring of tube at the top and bottom.

The brick sidewalks were made the same way as the mansion walls. The craters and blast marks were cut into the surface of the insulation foam, and then textured with sand and gravel. I added some paving stones made out of thick plastic strips to frame out the walkways and driveway.

The wall was built from square wooden dowels, textured with the brick plastic card, and the plastic "wrought-iron" fence was from the same company as the model railroad windows.

One final touch was the courtyard statue, which Atomic Mass Games was kind enough to have 3D sculpted for me. (I've seen the online comments about this and, sadly, it is not an upcoming scenery piece.)

One final bit was to add a car smashed through the front gate– I used a car from the NYC Terrain Pack, and cut apart the hood and bent up the front end to make it look appropriately wrecked. The gate was made from the same section of plastic fence, doubled up for more height and then broken and bent.

Here's the finished display board, and some detail shots:

'Til next time!


  1. That brick work is amazing, and so is the window painting.

    Grandtline stuff is really quite detailed, and more gamers should use them for terrain (particularly suitable for larger figures like these marvel ones)

    1. Thank you! Yeah, Grandtline is my favorite source for windows. I've been using them since back when I was making Wild West Exodus buildings. The local shop used to carry them, but I think the company Grandt changed hands and they can't get them anymore. Going directly through the new company's site is the only way. I much prefer to see them in person so I can be absolutely sure of the size.

    2. Yeah, local train stores seem to be fading even faster than local game stores... that is where I got mine too.

    3. The store I go to is also a distribution hub, so they literally have a warehouse of stuff in the back. (It's the only store in America where you can ask them if they have more in the back, and the answer is "yes, we do have more in the back.") They will (hopefully) be around for a long while.

      But because of the sell-off of Grandt Line products, I don't think the new company that owns them is part of the distribution chain anymore.

  2. Looks top-notch as always, Rob!

    I especially like these two elements:

    1) The skid marks in the gravel. The effect is very well done. It looks like a car really did skid to a stop, removing the upper layer of decorative gravel in the process. That's a great detail! Your attention to this, and skill in executing this, is flawless!

    2) The linear gouges in the dirt. You perfectly managed to capture a dynamic, organic look. I can 100% imagine Cyclops (or whoever) firing off the blast that carved those lines. They're great!

    1. Thank you! I try to pay attention to little details, like how the different elements interact and overlap. It was fun cutting up the brick textured card and making separate bricks to be broken out of formation and scattered about.


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