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CONVERSIONS AND ACCESSORIES
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Monolith models are complete and fully finished. However, with a little work, they can be individualised such that several copies of a single model can be used to represent a number of different buildings, each with a character of its own. Alternatively, small details can be changed to suit a particular period or location.

For example, the adobe-brick building has been invented by a wide range of cultures and is still, climate permitting, a totally practical method of building even after many thousands of years. With a little ingenuity, most of the adobe and Ancient Egyptian models can be adapted for use in a wide variety of situations, from the Ancient world to the south-western United States of America, Mexico, Spain, North Africa, Middle East and India. They are also ideal for "low-tech" native buildings for use in science-fiction gaming.

Several copies of the same model can be "customised" (modified) to make each a unique model by repairing dislodged adobe cladding and scribing in new detail. Use two-part epoxy putty (Milliput, Duro or similar), adding surface detail with a stiff brush or a sharpened matchstick. Alternatively, pre-mixed DIY wall-fillers have an inherent surface texture that closely matches the original model (use the cheaper, "own brand" types rather than the expensive stuff. Apart from saving money, it has a much more realistic granularity to it that gives a much more interesting surface finish).

Additional wooden details such as veranda’s, sidewalks and ladders can be added. Features can be made using wooden strip such as balsa or obechi, obtainable from model and hobby shops that stock flying scale model aircraft or model boat materials. Glue with cyano-acrylate (superglue), white glue or two-part epoxy. Pieces can be fully finished and painted and then added to a pre-painted model, or added before painting and primed with the rest of the model.

One interesting addition would be to add the ends of the roof or floor supporting poles to the outside of the walls. These can be added using short lengths of cocktail stick. Compare the roofline of the building against the outer surface of the wall, and, just below the roof level; lightly mark a straight pencil line. About every "scale" 1 feet (half a metre), drill a row of holes, then clean off the remaining pencil line. Into each hole, epoxy a piece of cocktail stick, making sure to keep the same length of stick at each location. When the epoxy has set, prime the model (sticks and all) and paint as normal. The supporting poles were seen on two opposite sides of the abode, or all four sides. If all four sides are treated, remember to have one set slightly lower then the other to show the overlap of the poles.

Keep an eye open when shopping in supermarkets for packets of Sate' sticks and wooden kebab skewers. A packet of each is a cheap supply of ready-cut scale wooden rods than can be used for a wide variety of applications from fence posts to flag poles.

Science fiction or fantasy models offer a huge scope for modifications. Additional decorations, including rows of carved trim can be added, together with statues, half-pillars and decorative lintels over the doors. The existing doors and windows can be ground off and replaced with pressure doors and armoured gun slits. Air conditioning trunking, air vents, communications antennae and a limitless selection of technologically impressive bits can be scavenged from other kits or scratch-built from plasticard. Rust and debris spills can be formed in Milliput (smear a patch onto the model and texture it with a stiff stipple brush).

Debris can be added from the bit box, or look out for model railway trackside kits for scrap machinery pieces and girder work. A professional model suppliers called EMA (Engineering Model Associates) produces a selection of angles and beams for hobby modellers under the name Plastruct - again, check out your local model shop for bits. Additional pipework can be added with sprue, microrod or single-core transistor wire (single core wire can be bent to shape more easily). Alternatively, MONOLITH produces a selection of hatches, windows and detailing in the SF Corridor accessories series. Use superglue to add the extra details. If you do modify the models, remember to leave enough room on the floor pieces for figures and other gaming items. The only limit is your imagination.

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GROUNDWORK
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For gaming, the buildings are likely to be used without bases. For more permanent layouts, or dioramas, groundwork makes for a more attractive presentation. The buildings' position on the baseboard should be noted, and then painted as normal. The groundwork can then be built up almost to the correct level using balsa, expanded polystyrene or polyeurethane blocks. The packing is then covered with the first layer of groundwork - plaster or DIY wall filler - and worked roughly to the correct level, leaving gaps where the buildings are to fit.

The buildings can then be placed onto the baseboard, ensuring that they sit level. The top surface of the groundwork can then be added, carefully working it into the bases of the walls of the buildings such that they appear to be built there and not simply placed on the ground. Keep a brush and water handy to wipe any groundwork off the buildings. A stipple brush can be used to work detail such as walkways, paths and cart tracks into the groundwork as it sets.

When the groundwork is dry, it can be painted with acrylics or inks. Grass, (chopped and dyed string) loose stone and gravel (model railway scatter materials) can be added using the paint-and-scatter method (cover the groundwork with a 50-50 mix of water and white glue - PVA adhesive - and sprinkle on the scatter material). After the glue has dried, ink washes and dry brushing can pick out any obscured detail. Dried used tea leaves make terrific fallen leaves, and privet hedge clippings (minus leaves) need only to be given a dry-brushing of yellow ochre and white to make convincing tree logs.

Debris can be provided from chopped-up kit bits, model railway scenery dressing and (clean) cat litter, otherwise known as Fuller's Earth, is a simple and effective way to represent rubble and broken masonry. Fuller's Earth is very absorbent, and the white stuff can be stained to any colour with ink, acrylic or oil washes. Dry-brushing

Glue the cat litter down with Resin W Woodworking glue ("white glue") thinned about 50:50 with water, applying the glue to the baseboard with a cheap dope or primer brush (available from shops that sell radio-control model aircraft and accessories), then scatter the litter. Don't forget to wash the brush well in warm water after use. Allow to dry, stain with thinned ink or acrylic and allow drying out again. Finally, a light dry-brush with white and yellow ochre (acrylic or enamel) accentuates the surface texture.

Thinned woodworking glue can also be painted onto tissue paper to make heavy canvas or linen suitable for door curtains, wagon covers and tents.

Rust streaks and mud spatters can be added with burnt umber oil, acrylic or enamel. Use a stippling brush to apply smoke and oil streaks. Additional wooden details (sidewalks, fences, etc.) can be made of balsa or obechi strip. Wood can be weathered by staining it with ink and then dry-brushing with white and yellow ochre to bring up the grain, or primed and painted to match the woodwork on the resin models. Finally, signs of occupation (barrels, boxes, ladders, furniture, etc.) adds to the "lived-in' look even before you start adding people and domestic animals.


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