Post-Apocalyptic Greenhouse Scratchbuild, Part 1 – Assembly

The aspects that probably I enjoy most about the tabletop gaming hobby are model conversion and scratch-building. Last year Josh came up with the great idea for a post-apocalyptic greenhouse, so we worked out a deal wherein I would build the model in trade for some models from an ongoing Kickstarter.

Josh supplied some core materials, including stone mosaic craft tiles, and small-scale bricks (roughly the size of a cinderblock at 28mm scale) for model building, and I provided the rest. Ninety-five percent of the model came from materials I had on hand.

To start, I laid out the floor tile, then built up a small wall of bricks. The tile and brick were too grainy to work with super glue, so I used contact cement as the binding agent. On top of the brick, I then used balsa to frame out the shape of the building.

Next, I framed out a removable greenhouse roof, and windows. The original plan was to use clear CD covers from broken CD cases as windows. The material is hard and scores and snaps easily (I use these for movement trays all the time). I quickly found the CD case cover was too thick and made the windows look cartoony. Blister-pack plastic proved to be the perfect material.

All of the window were built as larger pieces framed with very thin strip balsa on both sides of the plastic to make panes. This added strength to the window pieces (very necessary when they were later distressed) and covered the unpainted, underside glued to the window (to avoid having bare clean wood showing on the other side of the pane in the finished model).

For the roof, which needed greater rigidity for regular gameplay, I found an old transparent plastic sign cover, stiffer than the blister pack, but not nearly as thick as the CD case. The entire process of laying out the balsa strip for proved to account for probably two-thirds of the entire build time.

Finally, it was time to add a whole lot of detail. Highlights consist of:

  • A catwalk above the interior made from screen mesh, styrene rod, paperclips, and balsa. Underneath is strung hose made from tubular plastic covered wire (the kind you have to untwist when opening toy packages) and tiny watch gears for sprinkler heads. Inside a pipe runs down the wall from the catwalk to the floor, just inside the building from the water tank.


  • Two large fanvents in the rear wall made from vents cut of of zoid parts, and a couple of fans I picked up several years back from Evil Mushroom Games, and a few other bits
  • A balsa table on styrene legs with tools and bits strewn across it. Bits used include planting trays (halved 20mm square bases filled with ballast for dirt), bullet shells, Dreamforge ammo box bits, brass rod, paperclip, and vases (beads)



  • External details outside of the building including additional ammo boxes, bins (ammo shells), resin stowage bits, backhoe heavy equipment parts (a large hookshovel piece from a zoid), 40k bits (shovel, pickaxe), a hose (again made from plastic covered twist wire), gears, and beads, and a large water tank (an old vacuum tube, zoid parts, plastic model bits)


Following detail work, I distressed the windows (photos to come) using a variety of techniques:

  • Drilled bullet holes with scored edges all over the model
  • Cracks scored into the windows
  • Panes cut in part or whole leaving jagged holes or bits of glass remaining, or gaps where a pane used to be. People who live in glass houses… and all that.
  • Scratched graffiti including lines from semi-obscure poems ‘Childe Roland to the dark tower came…”, mis-quotes and random slurrings... “NEEL B’FOR ZED”

Tune in next time for the Part II where-in painting the greenhouse green (…overly literal?) commences.

-- Jon, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member

0 responses to “Post-Apocalyptic Greenhouse Scratchbuild, Part 1 – Assembly

  1. Inspirational stuff. All that amazing details gonna make for a very original terrain piece. Love the idea of using watch parts for sprinkler heads.
    Your gaming group is very lucky to have someone so talented! Great terrain always helps for an atmospheric game and the post apoc stuff on this blog has been out of this world.
    Sorry gush over! Nice job.

  2. Great effort.

  3. Wait until you guys see it painted! (and based!)

  4. Thanks for all the great comments! This piece was a ton of fun to build. Cheers,

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