Friday, September 18, 2015

The Shrunken City of Summergrove: An Aquarium Terrain Conversion Project

   A few years ago the local Petco pet store moved to a new location, and when the old store was closing they had a big clearance on everything. Preferring to sell the old store's stock rather than move it.  Everything started at 25% off, and as the weeks went by the discount grew. When things got down to around 75% off, I went in to see what was left in the aquarium decoration department, and one of the things I got was this nifty little tiny castle on a pedestal.  For those that are interested, its item number is: PETCO 1095811. A quick look on Google reveled that it was actually part of a series of 4 with differing castles on top, and it looks like there are still some around for sale.
The original aquarium piece, shown with a 28mm figure. 
      I had stuck it in a cabinet not really having a specific use for it, or knowing what to do with it exactly.  Then when I recently got my Frostgrave rulebook one of the things I enjoyed reading in it were the little sidebar notes of supposed quotes from adventurers in the city; telling about some of the odd things they had seen on their excursions, such as a naked woman frozen in a block of ice, and a horde of rampaging stone hands.  The idea came to me that my little city might be a perfect such oddity to have in my version of Frostgrave. And so the idea for the fabled Shrunken city of Summergrove was born.  Perhaps a neighboring city at one time who had run afoul of a powerful wizard from Frostgrave; who got his revenge by shrinking the city and entrapping it in a glass dome.
A look at the Milliput addition to the back. And you can see some of the broken building tops.
       The aquarium piece wold have been fine as it was, but I felt it stood too tall for use with 28mm figures. So, the first thing I had to do was separate the top from the bottom.  I managed this with a little effort with a hammer and chisel.  Unfortunately, in my enthusiasm I damaged some of the city buildings in doing this, so be careful if any of you try.   After I had separated the top from it's pedestal, I drilled a hole in the underside to accept a standard clear flight-stand peg.  I then got a spare large round plastic base I had, and drilled a hole for the bottom of the flight-stand peg into it.  I then gave the base a top of paving stones cut from thin cardboard and glued in place.  After that, I sprayed the base flat black and then drybrushed the stones with various shades of grey.  When the base was dry, I glued the base, flight-stand, and castle together.
   To make the dome, I dug out an old top from a bubblegum-machine prize that I had saved.  The rocky piece the castle sits on wasn't quite big enough, or circular enough, for the dome to fit well, so I had to use some Milliput to build the back out a bit to fit the dome (see photo above). I also used the Milliput to fix some of the buildings I had broken while separating the top form the original pedestal.
The finished piece shown with a 28mm figure.
      After I fixed the buildings I painted my repairs to match, and then gave the castle a wash with dark brown ink to bring out the detail.  I also painted he extended platform I had added to match the existing one. Lastly, I glued on the dome.
A close up of the castle detail.
    I'm really pleased with how this turned out.  I think I will use it as a floating obstacle, moving randomly across the table.  It could also be used as an interesting objective in a scenario.

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