Wednesday 2 August 2023

15mm SciFi Blocks - Small Blocks

I dipped into 15mm scale for some Bolt Action recently, and I'm really charmed by how individually based figures look in this scale. It's also a great scale for having tanks look impactful on the board without being obscenely large. 

So I'm striving to put together a set of modular 15mm terrain that I can use for Sci-Fi themed games. I'd like to try out 5 Parsecs from Home, Stargrave, maybe 5150 Star Army but naturally this is also a good fit for The Doomed (though not sure I fancy kitbashing at 15mm scale).

I already have some woods, rough ground, hills, ruined brick buildings, wreckage heaps, and hedges from my Bolt Action modelling, so here I wanted to make something that I could cram into a small box and use to create a wide range of sci-fi battlefields.

It was Jenga time. 

I picked up a regular sized tower and a small tower. For now I've just been working with the small blocks. At 15mm scale they're like a chest-high wall, or waist-high block if laid flat. I figured if I painted them up in a variety of colours they could be used for interior features or battlefield scatter, with the larger blocks providing the significant structural features. I've also got a stack of thin wooden coasters that I'll paint up as modular floor tiles. 

First step was to rip into them with a pair of sprue cutters and stab some bullet holes. 

Then sand them down a bit so that I don't give myself splinters. A 15mm guy for scale. 

I had a pile of wooden offcuts from various other projects, so I guess these work as greeblies and some larger pieces. 

My hope is that I can fit all of the small and large blocks into one of these thin boxes, with the tiles going in the second box. 

Painting these is actually quite daunting, as there's none of the usual detail that lets me get away with just priming, drybrushing, and washing until it looks good enough for the table. Prime them grey. 

Then I tried stippling, smearing, sponging, whatever desperate methods I could pull out of the box. 

Back in for some more coats. Just trying to make them look weathered and give a sense of scale, some more successful than others.

And finally tidy up some of the mess and give final coats to the bits that need it. 

Let's see how they look on the battlemat with some WW2 minis (my 15mm SciFi stuff is still in transit). 

It's hard to shake the toybox feel, but I think it works for purpose so far.

I think the tiles and larger blocks will help bring it all together. 

Then testing it on the black side of the mat as a makeshift interior. 

As you can see, these walls are just low enough to not quite block line of sight. 

But I think there's potential here. 

All in all I'm calling it a mixed success, and I'm exciting to get more of the set built. 

This week I'm at GenCon! Do say hello if you see me, but expect something of a minimalist post while I'm away. 


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  1. I have also found 15mm to be an absolute delight of a scale to work in. It has just enough details that painting miniatures actually involves painting something, not simply slapping broad strokes of color on it, but also not so many as to take up too much time.

    It really feels like the perfect middle ground between 28mm and 10mm/6mm scales in terms of versatility vs usability.

    As for the terrain itself - honestly yes it looks a bit toybox-y, but otherwise it's fine. You can probably fix this by slapping some greebling on the blocks like flat little control panels or whatever. Conversely that might make them less versatile, so you are always trading one thing for another.

    Also - where CAN one find you at Gen Con? I wouldn't mind stopping by and saying hello!

    1. I'm not on a stand, so rather unhelpfully I'll usually just be wandering around!

    2. Fair enough. if I do run into you I'd be sure to say hello.

  2. 15mm is the best scale. I'd considered doing something similar with blocks. I'd thought to glue some together to make more permanent modular structures. It would also allow me to obscure the blockiness somewhat but adding filler to the gaps like faux cement and small posters over the joins also.

  3. If you haven't I'd highly recommend looking into Crossfire - an older cult classic with some interesting mechanics that I think would be right up your alley.

  4. 15mm: the far more accessible scale for the space- and wallet-poor gamer. An excellent choice. Those jenga blocks look just fine, and very practical - an underappreciated trait in miniature terrain products. Perfectly suited to withstanding the natural weathering of wargaming.

    If you want some easily drybrushable greeblies, I've found cable ties of varying widths work well for strips, grills and panel textures. Some of those 1cm wooden craft cubes surrounded by 1cm-wide cable tie pieces make for quick and easy crates. Old circuit boards chopped up with some garden shears make for plausible computer panels. EVA foam sticks well to jenga blocks with superglue for quickly-cut sci fi shapes.

  5. If you are looking for something different than Bolt Action, I'd recommend both Chain of Command or maybe BattleGroup. A little more learning curve than BA but good depth and replay value.

    The sci-fi Jenga blocks look good so far. Keep going and I'm sure it will all meld together in the end for an epic sci Fi look.

    1. I have Chain of Command sat in my to-play pile, but will be a while before I get the chance!