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Crashed escape pod

by Dave Capon

Crashed spaceshipFrom the time Dave Capon first saw Owen Branham's crash site in White Dwarf he wanted to build one. He was rather disappointed to find that step by step instructions were not featured in the Terrain Book later released, even though the terrain items were pictured in it.

So he decided to make his own, using Owen's as a guide for reference. This is how he did it.


  1. A suitably shaped container for the body/hull. Nappy wash containers are usually about the right size and shape.

  2. 3 or more screw on toothpaste tube caps (or glue or anything else that comes in a tube)

  3. PVA Glue

  4. Polystyrene foam

  5. A strong base board (I use thin plywood)

  6. rocks, sand, flock and other terrain "finishes"

  7. Tools: hacksaw, "hot-wire" foam cutter, paint, paintbrushes


Crashed escape podCut the container with a hacksaw at about a 30-45 degree angle from the base to the side. This will be where the base is attached. Glue the container lid onto the container.

Crashed escape podStick the hull to the base. This is a little tricky as the sides of the container are thin, and don't offer too much surface area for gluing. I used a wall filler to stick mine to the base, as I prefer lightweight terrain. I do not recommend this, the filler shrunk and warped the base board. Instead I would use plaster, or add cardboard tags to the inside of the container and use lots of PVA glue.

To get an idea where to place the plaster/glue, put a small amount on the edge of the container, and position it on the baseboard. When you remove it will leave a small amount marking out the shape of the container. Use generous amounts of PVA/plaster to ensure your container will adhere to the base. Clean up any excess that has flowed to the outside of the container, but make sure that you leave a good amount climbing up the sides to ensure a good hold. Later we can add details to "hide" unsightly bits as required. Leave to fully dry.

At this stage we want to add any details to the escape pod itself.

The only detail I added was the access door, and some venturi like nozzles. The door is made from card. Make a tray like that found in matchboxes with the sides that will create the depth you want. Glue this to the hull parallel with the side. When it is dry cut some reasonably thick card to fit onto the box and cover the gaps created by the cylindrical surface. Measure the diameter of the cylinder - you don't have to be accurate, as close as you can see with a ruler should be fine. Then use a compass to mark out the arc, and sides on your card. You will need two of these and it is probably easiest to use the first one as a template for the second. The top and bottom should be simple rectangles as they run parallel to the container sides. The door I used is a cardboard door from the Space Crusade game, but you make one out of card, or the sliding cover off a 3 1/2" floppy. For the venturi nozzles I simply used toothpaste caps arranged in a triangle pattern glued to the container lid. Other details you might like to add could be metal panels made from thin card, rivets, or loose wiring hanging out, let your imagination run wild. From here, its add the ground details that suit your terrain theme.

My stuff is all woodlands and rocky outcrops, and so I have detailed it to look like it has plummeted to earth and smashed into a rocky patch. To achieve this I cut a rectangular block of polystyrene foam with a "hot-wire" foam cutter, and then trimmed of the corners until it no longer resembled a rectangle. These are then stacked against the crash hull, leaving platforms large enough for at least a 25mm base, and within normal squad coherency (2").

Something you might like to try is leaving a gap or overhang that allows the base of a miniature to "hook" into, 3-5mm should suffice.

Add some small rocks along the edges of the hull where it joins the base. The best way of fixing rocks is to coat them in a mix of 50% PVA, 50% water. This gives the rocks a good coating that will adhere well without leaving thick goo between the rocks. Use this to your best advantage to cover holes and places where excess plaster has created a bad spot. Make sure you put some different sizes around the edge, and make some spots where there are large gatherings of rubble to give a "natural" look rather than a fairy ring of stones. Add a bush or two along the base, as you think looks good. I only added one, unfortunately it's on the other side and not shown in the photo above.

The base and rocks are then finished with sand and the whole lot is painted and highlighted. I use sand for all my terrain, as it is cheaper than flock (ie free), and matches the bases of my miniatures. The down side of this is the sandpaper finish.

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