Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Guide to Creating Woodland Scenics Trees, Agent Orange Style

So many gaming blogs provide tutorials and guides that I felt obligated to provide one of my own.  My tutorial will focus on assembling Woodland Scenics  trees to use on your gaming tables.  I recently did this myself, and can now share the steps I used to create trees that look like something from Operation Ranch Hand.  Follow closely and don't deviate from these steps to get the same look.  Be warned, this is a fairly advanced procedure that will require a lot of your time and aggravation.  A huge portion of aggravation.  Don't enter into this lightly.

Step One:  Start off Wrong
Go to your local hobby shop and be sure to buy all the parts separately.  If you buy the tree kits, you'll end up saving money.  You can't be serious about this hobby if you are trying to save money.

Step Two: Increase the Challenge
Throw away the bags that have instructions printed on them.  It's far more rewarding to do this from memory after reading the instructions once.  Be sure to throw out the bags just before someone dumps a sloppy mess of food scraps on top of them.  This will ensure you won't got back to check.

Step Three:  Stop Thinking and Start Doing
You will have bendable wire frames of trees and bases for them.  The tree is flat, like a two dimensional picture.  You will have to twist the branches to make the tree come to life.  Don't twist the trunk, as that will provide depth and interest to the tree form.  Bending the branches and not twisting the trunk will make the finished trees look like they fell out of a book press.  Just like leaves.

Additionally fit the trunks into the bases provided.  But don't glue these together.  You'll never be able to accidentally pull them apart at a later time if you glue it now.

Step Four: Hob-e-tac Hell
 You should have purchased the recommended Hob-e-tac glue.  Open the lid and watch it spill out everywhere like a vanilla volcano.  There's no way to avoid this so just enjoy the experience.  Now apply Hob-e-tac to the branches where you want the foliage to be.  During this process, you will also get Hob-e-tac on your hands as well.  Remember this step, as we will return to it in a moment.  First, an important point:

Apply the glue in the stingiest, most miserly way possible.  Treat the Hob-e-tac as if it's your own precious bone marrow.  Also the instructions advise you to wait at least 15 minutes for the glue to become tacky.  Well, of course you have it all over your hands, your desk, and the part of your carpet that wasn't covered by a drop-cloth.  It feels pretty fucking tacky, don't you think?  Just go to the next step without waiting.

Step Five: Apply Foliage.  To Everything.
You should have a bag of clump foliage that you purchased (or it came with your kit, if you are one those lightweight hobbyists who needs to be hand held like a simpering baby).  You are to dip the tree frame into the foliage bag.  Don't bother to break apart the clumps of foliage in the bag.  I say this because you have to stick the foliage on with your hands anyway.  Of course this means the foliage will also stick to you as well.  This creates a neat little interplay between trying to get the foliage off your fingers and onto the branches.  All the while you'll be knocking off clumps that you've already attached, many of which will roll away to become toys for your cats.

Also, when doing this be certain not to attach the tree wireframe to a wider and more stable base.  If you do, the tree won't tip over every time you look at it.  This constant toppling will simulate an earthquake for your model trees.  The foliage will flake off more naturally this way.

Step Six:  Let Dry Overnight and Touch Stuff
You are done!  Or so you think.  Leave your model trees and go wash your hands.  Don't worry about washing off all the Hob-e-tac since it will have gotten on places that you have no idea about. You can now go about your house touching things like telephones, keyboards, computer mice, and expensive iPhones.  Rest assured that the Hob-e-tac will be surreptitiously applying itself to everything you have touched.  So later you can try to explain to your family why your keyboard is so sticky.  Won't it be fun to see what your family thinks about your excuse?!

Step Seven:  Witness the Defoliant Look
The next morning you will have gone back to your hobby room to admire your prior day's work.  If you have been following this guide you should find piles of fallen clump foliage piled about your tree models.  To truly get that Agent Orange feel, a few pathetic clumps will hopefully still be clinging to the wireframes.  Congratulations!

Optional Steps

These are some optional steps I took.  You don't have to do all of this, since your tree models will pretty much look wilted and dead after all this abuse.  But I'm into this hobby for the depth of detail you can go with modeling.  So if you share the same mania, try the following:

1. Go back to the store for more advice.
I picked a hobby store that was totally out of my way.  You may elect to pick a hobby store conveniently located to you.  If you're a wimp.  At the store, you should talk to the salesperson who confidently gives you advice the runs completely counter to the instructions provided by Woodland Scenics.  This person will most likely tell you that Hob-e-tac is not the right thing and that white glue is better. If you point out that this is not what the instructions say and the salesperson insists he knows better than the manufacturer, then you've got your man.  Listen to him.

2.  Use the white glue.  Contemplate throwing everything away
So if you followed the salesperson's advice, you've inevitably discovered that white glue is not your friend.  You've also probably ruined a good portion of you clump foliage.  By now it should be filled with dust, dirt, and cat hair from falling on the floor so often.  Go ahead and pitch that as well.  Ironically, my destroyed clump foliage landed in the trash on top of those discarded instructions.

3. Go back to the store again and don't talk to any of those dipshits
After having a day to cogitate on matters, you will likely have remembered something about spraying things with Scenic Cement.  Oddly, this is what you should've purchased on your first trip.  But all the extraneous trips are building character.  So get this cement and get out before someone gives you bright ideas about using superglue on the trees.

4. Spray the trees with cement.  Overspray the cement onto other import things.
To experience the maximum possible "character building opportunities" be sure to spray your trees in front of other things that you don't want to be enshrouded in a near permanent cement.  You'll enjoy chipping out these models later on.  It's like being an archaeologist, carefully chipping out fragments of your expensive models from the cement.

Well, that's about it.  Hopefully you found this guide useful.  Enjoy your trees!
DISCLAIMER:  I feel obligated to state that this was a parody of what I did to totally screw up my trees.  You should carefully follow the instructions on the package.  Use a good amount of Hob-e-tac (not white glue!) and definitely let it set for 15+ minutes before applying foliage.  If you do the opposite of what I described, you should get better results than me!


Drunken Samurai said...

Fuuny stuff!

Tim Kulinski said...

Dude! Once again you had me laughing the whole time man! Why can't you be this funny when you win???? LOL

We need to do a terrain day over at my place so I can show you some short cuts.

Scott said...

Hey Jerry, I really liked this post, funny as heck and brought back many memories…
I must admit I looked at the whole Woodlands Scenics thing when I needed trees. But I just couldn’t bring myself to pay the price – ‘I’m not paying that for trees!’
I’m a bit of a miser when it comes to terrain and scenic items, the figures usually cost so much I’ll be damned if I’m going to shell out on terrain I can make myself, so…
Off to $2 shop, buy a heap of cheap wire, twist this together to make tree armatures, wrap in masking tape and cover in sand textured paint. Glue these to circular card bases and cover that in same sand text paint. Drybrush, looks cool. That was the easy bit. Add Foliage, hmmm…get green pan scourers and chop to pieces and hotglue gun these to tree frames. OK its looking tree-ish now.
Add spongy looking flock – look again at sponge stuff in expensive hobby product, and think, I’m sure I can make that. Scour local shops and find a place that sells the foam that goes in sofa cushions. Chop sponge into cubes. Get Dark green paint, and dip sponge in paint and ring out to get rid of excess paint but ensure sponge is fully coated.
Then the fun but, put all this in a plastic storage crate, and sneak into pantry and take wifes hand-blender…Whizz whirr scream screech later, I have a pile of fluffy sponge flock. Blenders not looking too good though…
But how to attach this to tree?
Basically I coated all green pan scourer stuff in white glue (I wasn’t going to use that expensive hobby glue), and then dumped armature into sponge and squeezed it all on and around with my hands. Yes glue went everywhere, but left to dry overnight with it lying in and fully covered with the sponge, this seemed to work with not too much falling off…
Once all stuck on I gave trees a light spray with a pale yellow green spray from DIY store just top give them a bit of a highlight.

It seemed to work OK and kept me busy for about a month getting roughly one tree done per day, that way.

Was it all worth it. I dunno, but I can look back and laugh, and the trees have lasted well…

Jerry said...

Thanks guys!
@Scott, while your method sounds like a lot of steps involved, it can't be worse than what I went through. It will certainly be less money.

@Tim, Any tips are appreciated. I've got seven trees falling apart that I blew about $50 on.

@Anyone else: I think these Woodland Scenics trees absolutely suck in every possible way. Stay away from them, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Don't they make "preflocked" trees? I think I bought some at one point in time from Woodland Scenics.


Jerry said...

Hi Tom, Yes they do make pre-flocked trees. But I wanted to get some that worked with 28mm models. That means trees about 5"-7" tall. Pre-flocked prices on those are about the same as the kit, except you get two compared to seven. In retrospect, it's probably not a bad choice!

Drunken Samurai said...

I will have to show you how I did my trees. It is way easier and probably cheaper. I use the Xmas villiage trees as the armatures and then glue on moss. Really easy and I have gotten years of use out of them.

Limo Hire said...

Hello Drunken

How you say that this posting is funny.