Monday, 28 August 2017

Kong's Lair!

With the jungle terrain now assembled ahead of our game of Congo my mind started to wander with regards to all the possible additional pieces I could add to make the experience truly immersive.  At the centre of table was to stand Kong's lair, described in the scenario as a tree large enough to shelter the great ape.  Well yes, I could have done that, but when you hear the words 'Kong's Lair', what do you think of?  Remnants of a once great civilisation, now lost to the ravages of time and the relentless march of the jungle?  Possibly a cave system with precipitous drops and steaming vents, hinting at the island's geographical instability or perhaps the remnants of those challengers foolish enough to attempt to dethrone the king of the jungle?  A tall tree just wasn't going to cut it!  
Just the very mention of Skull Island is enough to get the imagination racing and since Kong's first celluloid outing in 1933 it has remained a forgotten, secretive place where wondrous and deadly creatures have lived, undiscovered for millenia.  In truth, Skull Island could be a life's work, so how to bring a little bit of cinematic magic to the tabletop?  
I often find it amusing how the most unexpected of discoveries can lead me on some of my most enjoyable flights of fancy and this was to be another case in point.  As I was perusing the virtual aisles of 'Swell Reptiles' looking for that just so shape of plastic vivarium plant, I happened upon an 'Exo Terra Primate Skull'.  This was a small, 10cm x 9cm x 9cm white resin, humanoid skull for £4.99 and as soon as I saw it I knew that I had discovered Kong's lair!  Once safely delivered to Awdry Towers the hastily sketched plan was consulted and away we went, sawing, cutting and sanding offcuts of blue foam to form a base for my skull.  I had envisaged a cave like sculpture and so had to assemble the pieces to give the impression that the skull had be hewn from the rock itself.  I had limited myself to a fixed base size using the terrain tiles from 'East Riding Miniatures', which also had the added benefit of linking it, visually, with the 'Dangerous Jungle Terrain' pieces.
With the basic shape assembled I layered pumice gel to give it a more organic feel before rummaging through the bits box to see what other treasures I could unearth.  I happened upon some 'Fenris Games' ruined stonework rubble, which I was able to intersperse with my crudely cut blue foam pieces giving everything a little more depth and along with some of their large broken pots I started to consider the idea that offerings had been left to the mighty Kong to pacify the beast.  
This idea spawned additional, smaller pots and salvers* and then it was time for the skulls!  I'm not sure why, but I seem to have an array of miniature skulls from a variety of manufacturers and these were liberally positioned as if they were gruesome trophies.  Additional body parts littered the nest area of the interior before the final addition of some jungle vines, using embroidery threads, were added.
*Which were actually medieval shields from some long forgotten project! 
When it came to the painting, the piece was airbrushed with a couple of tones of grey* and then the earth matched to the previous stands.  Lots of washes were applied to give a more naturalistic feel to the rock as well as hinting to the never relenting creep of the jungle.  The final touches included some leaf litter and clump foliage with one or two judiciously placed tufts.  
*All rocks are grey, right?
With that my homage to one of the silver screen's most endearing monsters was complete, all that was needed now was to introduce Kong to his newly appointed lair.

Also added to the 'Command Stand' page.

101 comments:

  1. Up early on a bank holiday ­čÖé Lovely piece of terrain..I need to get my congo rules sorted and the factions finished off. Then I could get a gorilla, I probably already have a lair.

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    1. I was, but then had to go back for a little snooze. :) Many thanks Matt and I have no doubt that you will really enjoy Congo when you get there.

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  2. Awesome stuff, Michael. I don't think you appreciate the scale of that skull until you put your Kong up against it. What a great central piece for your deepest, darkest Africa tabletop :-)

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    1. Thank you so much Simon. The skull, whilst a decent size for the tabletop, is obviously much smaller than a human one and so really worked well as a bit of terrain - decent price too.

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  3. Absolutely superb, son much better that the large tree.

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    1. Thank you Simon a man after my own heart.

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  4. Beautiful, really inspired. As for all rocks being grey, well all rocks are somewhere between black and white except for the red, pink, green and multi coloured ones. Skull island is almost certainly volcanic, therefore basalt which starts greenish black and weathers to ochre. It would also have limestone from coral, which is grey. So you are right. Geek speak done.

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    1. There you have it, straight from the Geologist's mouth! Many thanks Martin. :)

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  5. This article is inspiring. It totally made me reach for my Victorian pith helmet, don some heavy duty jungle/safari gear, pick up my long rifle, and go a huntin`. Sadly, with the house being painted up in prep for the (hopefully) house sale next year, all my beloved Colonial and Victorian stuff is safely packed away for now (I really must fish out some of my old AARs, fiction and campaign chapters sometime... ran that for years, back along.).

    Your terrain build is masterly. Looking forward to seeing it in action on the game table.

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    1. Thank you so much Steve and I'm looking forward to the great unearthing of the Victorian collection when you safely land wherever it may be.

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  6. Very evocative stuff - well done.

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  7. Great scenery piece Michael, utilising multiple parts from lot's of sources, the art of truly great scenery !

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    1. Thank you Dave, great feedback especially from someone who sets the bar so high in these matters.

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  8. What a fabulous build from start to finished. The end results are fabulous you are the master!

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    1. Thank you so much Simon, that is very kind of you.

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  9. Another great Awdry creation . Well done . I look forward to seeing the game report

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    1. Thank you Dave. It has had one outing, but I was so focussed on running the game that I didn't really take any photographs/notes for a report. :(

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  10. Home sweet home...Creative, inspired and superb job Michael!

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  11. What a perfect centerpiece to an amazing set of terrain! I really like how much character and history you built into it! And grey rocks just look better for some reason haha

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    1. Thank you so much Brain, really pleased how it works with the other pieces.

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  12. Ain't that a work of art, then? You're making me feel inadequate, mind...

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  13. Fabulous work Michael. I always enjoy seeing your flights of fancy when it comes to creating terrain pieces :)

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    1. Thank you Tamsin, this was a particularly enjoyable one.

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  14. That is one of the coolest things I have ever seen!!!!!!

    Never mind kong, thank god the owner of that skull isn't still around!

    Cheers Roger.

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    1. Thank you soon much Roger and yes it does make you wonder what else might be out there?

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  15. What a cracker! Some of your best work right there Michael!

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    1. You are incredibly kind Paul, thank you.

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  16. Just fantastic Michael, I love it! Best not to question why one has a large collection of miniature skulls.

    So first day of school when your students ask what you did with your summer vacation I dare you to answer "I cut up a skull to make a home for a giant ape".
    Cheers, Peter

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    1. Thank you Peter and I was starting t worry myself, eery box I looked in there was another little bag of skulls - all very strange!

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  17. A very impressive job and yes as far as I know (from living in London) ALL rocks are grey!

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    1. Thank you, always good to have a second opinion confirm my delusional thoughts. :)

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  18. Lovely work, Michael! It has a delightfully organic look.

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    1. Thank you A.J. really pleased with this one, it all came together once I spotted the skull.

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  19. Absolutely stunning work, Michael. Very nice to see the start to finish shots too.

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    1. Thank you Dean, I do like to keep a record of where things come from.

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  20. When you are finished with your "school teaching life," you will have no problem securing a top position in a movie special model making shop. Great theme, vision, modeling, and Top Secret Photo.

    Thenceforth, at the humble JME Man Divot your illustrious endeavors will be referred to as "Awdry's Amazing Modeling Masterpieces."

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    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you. What a fabulous comment, not to mention honour. :)

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  21. If that is the maquette for re-modelling Awdry Towers, I'd be very interested to see how the planning application goes. I'm imagining all sorts of objections "The proposed development may attract malevolent giant primates to the locality..."

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    1. I could certainly see one or two raised eyebrows at the Parish Council meeting! :D

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  22. Just what we all need Kongs Man Cave!

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    1. Perhaps it just needs a flat screen TV and crate of bananas in the chiller! :D

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  23. Really nice scratch-build Michael. I'm always impressed with your keen eye for finding useful bits at the store.

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    1. Thank you so much Rod, I do seem to developing quite an extensive bits box though.

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  24. Outstanding sir! Just outstanding

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  25. Wooooooooow! Pure magic!
    Awesome work!

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    1. You are very kind Michał, thank you.

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  26. Excellent, I love it. This will discourage the column from fetching it.
    Fred from Studio ;-)

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    1. Thank you and thrilled you stopped by Fred.

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    1. Oh dear Paul, I didn't see that one coming - you are in a league of your own. :)

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  28. Fantastic build Michael! You never cease to amaze!

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    1. Thank you so much Terry, that is really very kind of you.

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  29. A mosst magnificent and fitting lair for the mighty Kong.

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    1. Thank you Joe, I just felt he needed a little something special.

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  30. Why does your work constantly make me feel like I'm doing this hobby wrong? :)

    Awesome stuff as ever Mr Awdry.

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    1. Now nonsense Kieron, but thank you for the kind words.

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  31. Very impressive, Michael. Given the size of your Kong, that's a substantial piece of terrain and will really draw the eye when placed on the table. Can't wait to see all your jungle terrain in play, as the whole table will look imcredible.

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    1. Thank you Jez, it is not as big as you think, well certainly doesn't look that out of place given the Dangerous Terrain around it.

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  32. Another great job. If I had half your scenery making skills, I would be a happy man.

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    1. That's very kind Mike, but don't forget that you have inspired a good many of the builds with your now imaginative responses.

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  33. Ha, another great idea I will 'borrow'! Have you seen the dinosaur scenario in WI? What Congo needs is a good campaign system. The game cries out for linked scenarios.

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    1. Borrow away and no I hadn't, off to town to see if I can track down a copy.

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  34. AMAZING vision and execution. This is simply superb!!

    Frank
    http://adventuresinlead.blogspot.com.au/

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  35. Downright stunning Michael! It's amazing how you are able to create such evocative scenery from next to nothing...

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    1. Thank you Sander, but much of the stimulus comes from the many others out there I follow.

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  36. Absolutely superb work on the skull lair. Great stuff Michael. :)

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  37. 'Maybe it's not a sculpture of a skull, but...' (shiver)

    Brilliant!

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    1. Now there's a delicious thought. :)

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  38. Michael, you're truly a gifted person. Such abundance of creativity paired with the necessary craftsmanship to pull it through is simply impressive. That beasts lair will provide an excellent centerpiece for your games.

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    1. What an incredibly nice thing to say and coming from someone whose work I admire greatly is even more heartening.

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  39. I'm really enjoying this Kong project Micheal. Splendid build work and painting for sure!

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    1. Thank you so much Dai, really enjoyed this one myself.

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  40. I do believe you have out done yourself Sir! Splendid, splendid, splendid!

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  41. Really lovely work and a useful step by step, don't worry about the skull fetish, it's quite widespread !
    Best Iain

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  42. That's a fantastic piece of art Sir M!

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  43. Wow! What an amazing piece of terrain. Love the pots. Cheers, Karl

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    right away...

    (VIDEO) Want your ex CRAWLING back to you...?

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  45. Really nicely done! The end results speaks for itself ... excellent work Michael.

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