This tutorial describes detailing and basing a set of Mantic “20th Century Red Brick” terrain. Mantic Games produce these plastic terrain kits for a variety of their games such as Deadzone and Mars Attacks, and Mighty Ape stock them locally.
These kits are great value for money, and come with the pieces already removed from their sprues, with a bag of clever connectors which you can use to snap them together without glue.
In 15 minutes you can put a whole box together and create a collection of terrain ready for a game. The kits really shine though if you spend a bit of extra modelling time on them, which this tutorial will cover.
Step One: Dry fit a wall section and find a base
Take the Mantic Red Brick sections and dry fit together the terrain you’d like to build. Don’t glue anything yet though, because it’s easier to work on the separate parts as we go. For this tutorial I’ve put together a simple ruined corner from three pieces. For the base I’ve used a section of 5mm MDF which has been cut with a jigsaw and sanded down by hand. The straight edges on the MDF have also been sanded back so that they will fit against the sloped bottom edge of the Mantic walls.
Step Two: Fill the connector holes with a texture stamp
The Mantic connector system is clever and allows you to build a variety of buildings from the same basic pieces. One unfortunate side effect of the system, however, is that there are visible connector holes all over the assembled terrain. To address this, we’ll patch the holes that aren’t filled with connector pieces. The easiest way to do this is to make a texture stamp, using green stuff and a little olive oil from the kitchen.
Smear the olive oil on a part of the wall to keep the putty from sticking, and then press a large pea of green stuff firmly against that area. After leaving it to set overnight, the green stuff should be easily removed and the olive oil can be washed off. I also cut notches in the set texture stamp to make it easier to align with the brick texture on the wall parts.
To fill each hole, take a little mixed green stuff and push it into the hole, using either a wet sculpting tool or your fingers. You want to get the green stuff smooth, and as flat as possible against the wall. If you find you’ve put too much in the hole so it’s overfilled, remove it and try again otherwise you’re likely to end up with a bulging patch which is harder to paint.
Wet the green stuff in the wall, and then carefully line up the texture stamp and press down with reasonable amount of force. If you’ve lined everything up and the green stuff is wet enough, you’ll be able to lift the stamp away and find a nicely textured section covering the hole. You’ll probably have to tidy things up a bit with an Xacto knife or sculpting tool, particularly around the bevelled edges of the wall. With a bit of practice, you should be able to patch each hole in a couple of minutes! Once again, remember to leave the green stuff overnight to set.
Step Three: Cover the wall edges and corners with plastic card
Once everything is patched and set, glue the wall sections together with polystyrene glue. You might notice there’s still obvious gaps between the connected wall sections and on the corners. The next step is to hide those with a bit of cut plastic sheet or styrene. Mighty Ape stock “Evergreen” styrene sheet which is what I’ve used here. At this point I’ve also cut the broken ‘glass’ out of the original windows, as I plan to replace these with cut blister plastic in the finished piece.
To cover the corners, I used a piece of thicker Evergreen rectangular rod which has been cut down and lightly sanded for texture, before being glued flat over the corner join. It’s a quick and dirty solution but works well to hide the corner seam. To cover the joins between the flat wall panels, I trimmed some strips off a piece of 1.5mm Evergreen sheet, and then cut them down and glued them in place on both sides of the wall, into the triangular space made by the wall seam.
Step Four: Pinning the wall to the base
Now those seams are hidden, attach the wall to the MDF base by drilling three small holes through the bottom of the wall with a pin vise (or similar). Two of these holes are visible in the base of the long part of the wall in the photo. The tricky part here is you’ll have to drill the holes low enough that they can be continued into the MDF base behind the wall. I then pinned the wall to the MDF base using some cheap 0.9mm garden wire and a bit of superglue, using the Blu Tack method which I’m described on my blog in the past.
Here’s another photo showing how blutack can be stuck on the base and then wet slightly to guide the position of the wall; just press the wall against the blutack to show the position of the holes, then remove the wall carefully, before drilling holes into the MDF base at the points where there’s obvious nubs of blutack. Doing it this way means the holes in the base will properly align with the holes in the wall. Remove the blutack and then put everything together by gluing sections of garden wire through the wall and into the MDF with superglue.
Step Five: Detailing the base
Now the wall is built and firmly attached to the base, improve the plain MDF base with some simple detailing. I keep a mixture of beach sand, kitty litter and Woodland Scenics Railway Ballast handy for instant rubble. Using watered down builder’s PVA the mix can be glued around the bevelled edge of the base to suggest exposed ground underneath the ruined corner.
A simple trick when gluing rubble down like this is to apply PVA first, scatter the rubble over the base, shake off any excess, then take a large brush and some more watered down PVA and dab it liberally over the glued down rubble. That will help the PVA from underneath to “wick up” through the sand and small stones, gluing everything in place firmly (which is what you can see in the photo).
Once the PVA is dry, wait overnight, then start building up the base with a cheap, flexible plaster. I use Polyfilla for this, which comes in a tube with a handy plastic scaper attached to the back. The Polyfilla can be applied in two layers using the slightly wet scraper. The first layer covers the MDF base, and some of the glued down rubble. Polyfilla dries pretty quickly, so you can usually work on the second layer after a couple of hours. The second layer creates a smooth final surface. It’s easy to get Polyfilla on the walls while you’re applying it, but just clean it up with a wet brush while you work.
After the second Polyfilla layer has dried, take a sharp sculpting tool and Xacto knife, and cut and score the edges of the Polyfilla to try and make it look like cracked, ruined concrete. Dried Polyfilla is fairly easy to work with and cuts nicely. After carving the edge, I sanded the whole surface with a 120 grit sandpaper just to give it bit more texture for painting.
Step Six: Paint
Here’s the painted terrain piece. I’ve used several different products to paint it as follows. To seal everything, the brick work and base was primed with an Army Painter ‘Dragon Red’ spray can, another excellent product that Mighty Ape stock. Dragon Red is a rich, deep colour which is a touch too bright for real bricks, so it can be toned down considerably by lightly drybrushing a variety of browns over it, working from a dark earthy brown, up to a light tan which you can see on the edges of the bricks. The trick with drybrushing is to use a large brush and to drybrush at a 45 degree angle rather than straight up and down or side to side. The window frame was painted with Vallejo Game Colour acrylics, with a couple of layers of quick highlighting. I didn’t bother trying to paint the Mantic connectors any differently from the wall as I noticed they blend in nicely anyway.
The brick wall and window frame were further toned down by painting with Wattyl ‘Kauri’ Satin Polyurethane floor varnish. You can use an ink wash, but hobby ink is fairly expensive so I tend tosave it for painting figures, and use cheaper products from the hardware store for terrain. The varnish collects nicely between the bricks too, and has the added bonus of sealing the paint and making it harder to chip.
The Polyfilla base was painted in simple grey tones mixed from cheap student’s acrylic paints, with a few lighter layers drybrushed up around the edges. The rubble was painted with the same paint used to drybrush the bricks, and then the rubble and concrete cracks were washed down with watered down Army Painter ‘Strong Tone’ ink wash. Once everything was dry, it was varnished lightly with an Army Painter ‘Anti Shine’ Matt spray can. This is mainly to flatten down the shine left on the wall from the floor varnish, but also to seal the base further.
Finally, to replace the plastic ‘broken glass’ I’d cut out from the original wall, some old blister plastic was trimmed, lightly varnished with the Army Painter Matt spray, and then painted with some thinned down AK Interactive ‘Dark Mud’ Weathering enamel wash. The idea here was to try and make the jagged glass look filthy. The painted glass was glued into the window frame using PVA, which dries clear and won’t add any frosting to the blister plastic.
Here’s the same terrain piece with some added props and a couple of 28mm figures on Games Workshop bases for scale. As you can see, the Mantic terrain provides an excellent base to create and build great terrain for a number of different game systems such as Bolt Action, Moderns, or Post Apocalyptic gaming.