Since we founded our wargame club we have sought ways to create convincing scenery for a low price. Two years ago our band of brothers started as a duo with nothing more than a little personal 15mm scenery and a green and a brown tablecloth. The club grew quickly so we bought club scenery. We also received gifts and hurriedly several members made extra club scenery theirselves. Some of us are very talented, like Rob who carved great hills last year, and Harm. In these starting months I bought Linka molds to see if I could speedily produce gypsum houses. 4Ground houses look ok, but are 15, 25, 40 pound or more. A lot for our low budget friend’s club. Properly finished, Linka gives beautiful results, even better than laser cut, check the Linka website and the picture below:
New linka molds are 12$ per mold, but much cheaper if you buy it second hand via Ebay. Linka looks like this:
I started experiments. I hoped that I had bought a cheap gypsum Lego system to quickly build fancy buildings in all styles. It was a disappointment. The gypsum was weak and often broke when I flipped the walls and roofs and doors out of the mold.
I bought dentist gypsum which was much better. However, combining several gypsum pieces to a house was a struggle. Connection is not easy, and the gypsum structure is not very strong. I had the same experience as blogger Lloydian Aspects, check his review who wrote:
One of the first things I discovered about Linka is that it can take ages to make a building this way. If you are a wargamer, and not a model-maker, then I would advise sticking to single-storey simple buildings. These can be made reasonably quickly and easily, but I made a big church with a fancy church tower, and a peel tower, and these took blinking ages. It won’t say this on theLinka site.
I abandoned the project and as a club we bought some inexpensive paper models instead. See this Dave Graffam model, below. Excellent model. I can recommend it. But paper models lack the real 3D and can look cartoonish.
I feared that both techniques demanded more time and skill and dedication than I have. I am just a poor boy/Though my story’s seldom told,/ I have squandered my resistance/ For a pocketful of mumbles /Such are promises (according to Simon and Garfunkel 🙂
Some weeks ago my little 5-year old boy wanted to ‘build a castle’. Scenery, it’s in the genes. After consulting an old wargame buildings design book (Ian Weekly) I decided to combine Linka and foamboard. General idea: build a quick, sturdy skeleton house with foamboard, glue wall pieces on the sides, close the cracks and gaps and openings with cheap plaster – ready. So we quickly glued a gate.
I retrieved the bag with Linka gypsum pieces and started glueing. No problem. I finished the backside, but that took a full morning. I had made the mistake to glue the flat walls first and the corners later, so I needed a lot of glueing and sanding and modelling my plaster and cutting walls to make a corner, I should have started with straight, angled corners and work towards the middle of the wall later, filling small gaps with plaster as a last finish. Well, next time. I decided that the building should look dark grey with blue and white.
I was a bit surprised by the result myself. Although my casting and glueing was as quick as possible and relatively sloppy, this was a trial project, the gate is ok, with a nice decayed look. My son added the snow. It was his idea after all. After this snow shower (a bag of cheap christmas snow powder from the supermarket) and blue and white glitter for a super frosty look, here’s the final result:
I checked how frostgrave scenery and frosted buildings look like:
- the technique to use Linka together with a foam skeleton and some plaster looks promising
- my castings should have flatter backs
- whith better planning and measurements wall pieces can be positioned and glued more efficiently. Construction shouldn’t take longer than 3 hours.
- glue corners first, walls later
- stone sizes look ok for 10-28 mm. But because of the doors Linka works best with 15-20mm. The tall gate doors are tall enough for 28mm.
- All other doors are too low, more for 15mm & 20mm/1/72. So to make 28mm houses, either don’t use the door castings, but carve openings instead; make taller doors with foam; or use some casting trick. For future use I found this article about correct scale door size
- Linka has bricks, wood, stone and roofs castings. These walls look much better than laser cut buildings.
- A Linka house is cheap. Foam and gypsum, This building cost me 2-3 euro, maximum.
After my first positive experiences with Linka gypsum moulds I continued with a second Frostgrave building: a tower. I was inspired by this Skyrim tower, above.
Here’s the how to:
- A round or hexagonal tower needs a strong core, I (originally) thought. I used a kitchen paper roll which I glued in polystyrene base with a flat foamboard floor as extra support. I cut two inner entrances and glued the wall pieces.
- Around the core I glued a plaster/foam cube as sturdy bottom, with a flat platform higher up. Making this entrance was difficult, for me, as newbie.
- I glued wall sections on foam for the diagonal corners (middle section)
- I constructed a foam box and glued blueish web pics from The Joker, Jesus Christ, Edvard Munchs The Scream and an Evil Santa Pic on the sides. With foam and Linka I made a ‘window’ around every picture.
- With pins and glue I attached the box on the base and the corner walls on the box. On top I attached the platform (pic 2), with glue and pins. A strong construction.
- Around this square platform I glued vertical foam walls, which I covered with Linka.
- In a DIY shop I found transparent plastic ‘eggs’, sliced in two. I glued one of the hemispheres on a foam roof on top. Put a LED in the tower for a lighthouse effect
- I found 4 zombies, a skeleton and 3 casualties in a Mantic sprue. Glued them on the walls, stone colour, as my horror wall statues. Nice effect.
- I painted 5 layers, started with black, then very dark blue, then dark grey drybrush, then a light grey drybrush, then a thorough white drybrush. Results in blueish white buildings. Added cheap snow from the supermarket.
- Matt finish. White glitter for an extra frosty effect. 12 inch high.
Happy with the result, but if I take time into account (30 hrs?) I was too ambitious.You see, I dreamed that with glueing on foamboard I had discovered a quick way to make 3D-walls, sturdier and easier than normal Linka (the gypsum walls never ‘link’ quickly, only after a lot of fidgeting and sanding) and quicker than carving a brick pattern in foamboard. ‘A beautiful building in less than 2 hours’ That was a mistake.
- Casting moulds takes about 30 minutes. Then you have about 24 castings. But you need more than 24 pieces, and some special pieces as well (4 gates for example), so the full casting process can take as long as 3-4 hrs. For this model used about 40 castings.
- Plastikard is not a solution, for buildings. I googled ‘plastic walls H0′ and found ’embossed Plastikard’ with wall patterns. I liked it. I calculated: 1 A4 Plastikard stone wall is €5,25. Which is not too expensive. But Plastikard has no windows or special sections or curved walls. So if I had used Plastikard instead of Linka, I would have needed to cut curves myself and fidget or buy plastic windows. So after all I estimate that a Plastikard tower with the same complexity as this Linka tower would still cost a lot of time and just more money. The gypsum is dirt cheap, this whole building including foam, styropur and plastic hemisphere is 7,5 euro max.
- The construction of a sturdy foam building, in particular a tower, took two or three evenings, for me as a beginner. The Skyrim tower is a round or hexagonal tower. I should have chosen a much easier square tower. I constructed my tower as stapled boxes attached to a cilinder core, which is quite complex.
- I even think that a simple hexagonal tower can be build without a core. The 5mm foam that I use is with glue and a few pins strong enough. No need for an extra core, or separate boxes, and many hours of glueing. Eight foam walls and a hexagonal top and a bottom are enough, and a lot quicker to build.
- Besides I thoughtlessly increased the difficulty because I decided to carve an open ground-level entrance which showed part of the inside. Which forced me to carve the gate doors out of two gypsum gates. As a result, during carving both castings broke and I had to fix them first. And because the inner tower was visible I was now forced to cut holes in the cylinder and glue castings to the inside of the entrance as well. With hindsight I can recommend everybody to keep plaster doors closed and locked.
- Must say however that the extra time spent added value, it’s a true lighthouse with a true light. Glows in the dark, very 3D, can rival with resin or lasercut buildings.
- Dr Faust reviewed Linka on Youtube, take a look!