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Introduction <> Jungle Terrain

Jungle Terrain 
My Fighting Tigers Space Marines are based on a fictional planet called Veda, much (but not all) of which is covered in jungle. The planet Chult, the setting of the Goth Girls Gone Wild! campaign, also features vast jungle areas. So lately, I've begun making and acquiring representative terrain for my home collection. 

Bear in mind that what you'll see on this pages is stuff I made at home, on a limited budget of time and money. It isn't (and wasn't meant to be) anywhere near as nice as what you'll see at gaming stores or in White Dwarf. This terrain is “beer and pretzels” quality, meant to be easy to make, easy to paint, durable, and inexpensive. So long as it looks halfway decent, I'm happy with it.

Crashed Orky Kopta
The following piece has been at least a decade in the making: it was one of those things I meant to do but never got around to. Quite a long time ago, I bought a Blue Thunder helicopter model (which tells you how old this project is) and thought it would make a keen crashed Ork Kopta. I assembled and painted the model but then stashed it in my bitz box. Recently, I dug it out and, with the help of my older daughter, Elizabeth, finished it. 

Click on the thumbnails for close-up views

To simulate a crash, we carefully, by hand, broke the model in several places, cracking open the tail, snapping off the rotor, puncturing the cockpit canopy and fuselage. We epoxied the model on its side to three metal compact discs, also epoxied together, that we had glued sand on and painted green with Goblin Green highlights. 

Years ago, I had painted the model in Orky-style camoflauge of Bubonic Brown and Bestial Brown, as if the Kopta had belonged to Blood Axe Orks, who are known to use camo. To make the Kopta look weathered, Beth and I washed it several times with watered-down Chaos Black and liberally drybrushed it with Boltgun Metal and Dwarf Bronze. I also liberally stained the area under the Kopta with watered-down Chaos Black to look as if the Kopta had (and still was) leaking a great amount of oil. 

Left:  The Nob "supervises" a Boy at work.  Right:  The Mekboy surveys the damage done by foe and fauna
Click on the thumbnails for close-up views

While I was happy with the Kopta itself, the piece needed some visual context, so I dug through my bitz box again and found four Ork models that I painted and arranged to hint at a backstory. These Orks--possibly Goffs, by their black outfits--found the wreckage in the jungle and decided, despite the fact that the Kopta had been there a long time--to attempt repairs. 

Click on the thumbnails for close-up views

To make this a jungle piece, I added plastic aquarium plants and pieces from Games Workshop tree sets. I completed the piece by adding lots of mechanical-looking gear (such as part of an old Shokk Attack Gun), "copper wiring" (actually painted twist ties), and other stuff, scrounged from my bitz box, that looked like it might have once been part of a vehicle. This is certainly no Golden Demon winner, but I'm really happy how it turned out.

Special Jungle Pieces
There are only so many bases of jungle trees you can put together before you need to do something a little unusual to break the monotony. The piece below left features a plastic crocodile that started life as kids' meal toy; once painted in Goblin Green and washed in thinned-down Chaos Black, it makes an excellent giant croc that I'll use with my river sections (see below). He looks like he could swallow a Space Marine in one gulp: how's that for "dangerous terrain", eh? 

Click on the thumbnails for close-up views

I found the skull in the center photo at an after-Halloween sale at my local K-mart: it's plastic and cost me 50¢. I painted it as if it were a huge stone sculpture and added some real stones from my driveway. What self-respecting jungle, I ask you, doesn't have a spooky giant stone skull, probably carved by head-hunting cannibals?

The third piece I made with my younger daughter, Ally. The brightly-colored critters on the base are plastic scarabs from a kids' meal toy promoting The Mummy Returns. Ally picked out the colors and painted them herself: in her words, they're "giant jungle beetles." I epoxied them onto the base, made from a junk-mail CD. Is Ally ready to win a Golden Demon any time soon? Of course not, but I'm proud of what she did and I'm glad she thinks my hobby is cool and fun. Hopefully, when she gets older, she'll start playing 40K.

A jungle's gotta have trees, right? Right. But while I may have been daft enough to paint a 7000-point Space Marine army in tiger stripes, but I'm not so screamingly insane as to make and paint jungle trees from scratch. Not when I found pre-made, pre-painted palm trees for dirt-cheap prices at The trees are sold in pairs, one tree 5½" tall, the other 4", and if bought in bulk, each pair is (at the time of this writing) only 79¢. I bought 25 pairs (50 trees) for about $25, which included shipping.

Jungle trees thumbnailJungle trees thumbnailJungle trees thumbnail
Click on the thumbnails for close-up views

To make this clump of trees, I painted a styrofoam disc in Goblin Green, then pushed holes in the base with the blunt end of a paintbrush. The palm trees come joined on a flat plastic base that was easy to cut off and discard. I separated the trees and used two-part epoxy to glue them to the base, along with some aquarium plants, Games Workshop jungle trees, pebbles, and bitz. 

I went over the base again with a darker shade of green paint ("Christmas Green") that I purchased at Jo Ann's craft store: 50¢ for 2 fl oz (59 ml) compared to however much Goblin Green costs these days for 0.4 fl oz (12 ml). I drybrushed Bestial Brown over the base, and there it was: an easy-to-make, easy-on-the-wallet clump of jungle trees. Now I only need to make enough of these to cover a 4' x 8' table....

Jungle Trees from Junk Mail
I have found that the price of styrofoam, which I use for terrain bases, has really gone through the stratosphere: the same sized disc that I had purchased for 59¢ a few years ago now goes for $3.79! Fortunately, a much cheaper alternative arrives in my mailbox quite frequently: those promotional compact discs that companies like AOL send out as junk mail. With some work, they make good bases for jungle trees. 

Let me amend that last statement: with quite a bit of work, they make good bases for jungle trees. As you might imagine, a CD is not exactly made for serving as a terrain piece. For each disc, I epoxied a scrap of cardboard across the center hole and primed the CD with black paint; the CD didn't want to take the primer, but I persisted. I then painted each base with "Christmas Green" paint from Jo Ann's. I separated pairs of the jungle trees and this time left the base on them. In attempting to glue the trees to the CDs, I experimented with Elmer's rubber cement (which I found at the hardware store) but it wasn't as good as superglue ("good" is a relative term, by the way, as superglue sucks),  and was certainly not better than epoxy, which I wound up using. 

Jungle trees thumbnailJungle trees thumbnailJungle trees from CDs
Click on the thumbnails for close-up views

While flocking each base with cat litter (unused, of course), I learned two things. One was that rubber cement was no better at gluing cat letter (which is really nothing more than finely ground gravel) to a CD than it was at gluing plastic tree bases to a CD; I soon gave up and went back to using regular Elmer's white glue. The second thing I learned what that my wife had recently changed cat litter brands and had purchased the kind that clumps when it gets wet. So when I sprinkled it on the glue-covered bases, it tried to do its thing, clumping up and leaving cracks in what had been a nice even layer I had put down. This happened again (to a lesser extent) when I tried to paint each base. 

*deep sigh*

As for painting, I did another coat of the "Christmas Green" over the flock, then painted here and there (especially the cracks) with Jo Ann's Spice Brown (which looks a lot like Games Workshop's Bestial Brown, at considerably less cost), then followed with some Goblin Green and even some Dark Green Ink. I added various aquarium plants, GW jungle tree bitz, etc. 

I made over a dozen bases, and for variety, I tried some different things. For one base, I epoxied three CDs together to make one big, clover-shaped base and cemented to it a ceramic palm tree from a Nativity set. On the same day as I was finishing my bases, my kids were using a craft kit to make some brightly-colored insects out of plastic goo you "bake" in the oven. They were kind enough to donate two to me: I put them on my bases to serve as "giant jungle bugs" (see below). No, they aren't realistic, but my kids like to help with my terrain projects and I like involving them in my hobby (hopefully, they'll become gamers, too!). 

Click on the thumbnails for close-up views

"Lost" Jungle Pieces
I don't normally watch television, but I am addicted to Lost, the series about survivors of a plane crash stranded on a tropical island full of bizarre places, creatures, and people. In homage to Lost, I made two special pieces of jungle scenery: "the Hatch" and a polar bear. 

Click on the thumbnails for close-up views

The polar bear is simply a plastic toy I found while out shopping with my kids. He stands about 55 millimeters at the shoulder: a giant compared to a Space Marine figure, which stands about 30 millimeters tall (excluding base). But I'm okay with the bear being so huge, as it makes him more visually impressive.

"The Hatch" is inspired by, but not meant to be a direct representation of, the hatch found in the first season of the show. The piece itself is part of a leftover McDonald's Happy Meal toy from their Jungle Book promotion a few years ago. I created a jungle base out of a CD, as described above, epoxied the toy to it, and painted it. I also added the infamous "numbers" to its surface (see below)

The numbers
"Dude! Don't open it! The numbers are bad! THE NUMBERS ARE BAD!!!"

In the Grim Darkness of the Far Future, There Will Still Be Mickey D's
Like most American families, we have accumulated a hefty amount of small plastic toys from McDonald's Happy Meals. Once our kids have outgrown/lost interest in them, most of the toys go The Way of All Things. But some of them I hang onto, recognizing that they could make interesting terrain pieces. 

Click on the thumbnails for close-up views

The one on the far left is the lander from E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial. I primed it black, painted it Boltgun Metal, then drybrushed Dwarf Bronze (to represent corrosion) and smeared it with Dark Green Ink (to represent mold). I epoxied it to a CD base, then wrapped it in a long strand of plastic aquarium plant. It could be an ancient, abandoned Vedic temple...or it could be a small disabled spacecraft that made an emergency landing long, long ago.

The next piece over is a simple building made from plastic Jungle Book wall pieces I epoxied together, adding a roof and a floor. Painted in Fortress Gray, smeared with green ink, and covered with aquarium plants, it could also be a forgotten ruin. Its base, by the way, is made from a square cork drink coaster.

The "tiki huts" (as my wife calls them) are also Jungle Book pieces. They looked as if they had been fashioned from tree trunks, so I painted them in Bestial Brown, washed them in black ink, and drybrushed on some Bubonic Brown. Their "grass roofs" are Bubonic Brown with some Sunburst Yellow highlights. The huts don't actually have doors, but that's one of those annoying "realism" details that only finicky modelers insist on....

The last two pieces are...well, I'm not quite sure what they're supposed to be, besides a mixture of stone and wood. Needless to say, they're Jungle Book toys painted similarly to the others.

Purists might sneer at turning Happy Meal toys into terrain, but they didn't require a lot of assembly (the square stone building was the hardest thing to put together, and it took all of 5 minutes and a lot of epoxy), weren't hard to paint (always a plus, as I dislike painting), and didn't cost me any extra money I hadn't already spent on Chicken McNuggets. 

Tiger Shrine
As one might imagine by their name, the Fighting Tigers revere the tiger as a sacred animal and have built shrines to them throughout the jungles of Veda. Below is one such shrine. The base is a roughly square piece of thick Styrofoam, painted Goblin Green, drybrushed here and there with Bestial Brown (to cover up spots I missed with the green), and flocked with static grass. The large tree is ceramic and came from a Nativity set. It came pre-painted and I got it for $2.50 (half price) at an after-Christmas sale. I used two-part epoxy to cement it to the base.

Tiger shrineTiger shrineTiger shrine
Click on the thumbnails for close-up views

The rest of the plants are either standard Games Workshop jungle trees or pre-painted plastic aquarium plants (leftovers from the Idol of Kali piece below) I bought at the pet store. 

The tiger is a ceramic figure I found at a yard sale and bought for 50¢. It came on its own base and was pre-painted as a white tiger. I washed it in Codex Grey and Chaos Black to make it look like a statue without obscuring the "fur" texture carved into it. At the shoulder, it's about 1 ½ " high, or a little taller than a Marine, assuming the Marine was standing next to it. As with the tree, I used two-part epoxy to cement the tiger to the base.

Jungle Table
I have often called my pal Luis Nunez the "#1 Jungle Fanboy." He's been around from the earliest days of this site, often sending me e-mails of praise and encouragement. But what he's done recently has cemented his title forever. On his own volition, Luis built, painted, and mailed me a first-class jungle table, as you can see in the photos below

Jungle tableJungle table with riverJungle waterfall
Click on the thumbnails for close-up views

Similar to what I did for my desert terrain, Luis has built the table as four wooden sections that can be laid side-by-side to form a 4' x 8' gaming surface. After painting and drybrushing the base sections in shades of brown, Luis laboriously flocked the surface with static grass, leaving broad "jungle trails" that run from one board section to the other. 

He then created winding "river" sections which can be configured in different ways. But the piece de resistance is a gorgeous waterfall made from stacks of cut pink insulation foam, painted and flocked to look like the real thing. 

The whole set is of such high quality that it looks like something you'd see in a Games Workshop store or at Games Day. I can't begin to comprehend how many hours it must of taken Luis and his wife Michelle to make and paint this table, nor would I like to think about how much it must of cost to ship it across the United States. Luis asked for nothing in return--the table was his way of saying "thank you" for this site--but I sent him a big, fat check anyway to spend on Michelle and his son, David. 

Thanks again, Luis--you da man! I'll use and treasure this table for many, many years. 

Luis Nunez: #1 Jungle Fanboy

Idol of Kali
The Fighting Tigers follow a 40K-version of Hinduism, and one of the many gods they worship is Kali (below), the death-goddess patron of my Assault Marines. I came across this 12" vinyl figure at a toy outlet store last year while Christmas shopping for my kids. It's manufactured by X-Plus USA as part of their line of figures based off the work of Ray Harryhausen, a legendary pioneer in motion-picture special effects. The Kali figure is from the film The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. I thought that with a little work, it would make a terrific scenery piece, and the price ($7.00, discounted) couldn't be beat.

Kali statue by X-Plus USA

The figure's head, arms, and waist can turn and be posed in a variety of ways. The swords are plastic and are removable. The base, though it looks like stone, is plastic and can be removed as well. The base has two small pegs that fit into holes in the bottom of the figure's feet. The statue stands upright quite sturdily, with no tendency to tip over.

I imagined that the idol had stood in a jungle for several thousand years. I drybrushed it (and its base) with Goblin Green to look as if it were covered in moss. The sword blades had a very shiny, obviously-plastic look to them, so I basecoated them in Chaos Black, then covered them in Boltgun Metal. I drybrushed Goblin Green (for moss) and a mixture of Bestial Brown and Dwarf Bronze (for rust) over the blades. 

I bought a package of plastic aquarium plants (about $6.00) from a local pet store and wrapped/glued them to the figure to represent jungle vines growing over the idol. To dress up the base, I glued on some static grass, a few Games Workshop jungle trees, and a brown creepy-crawly critter made from Necromunda bits. 

Click on thumbnail for closer viewClick on the thumbnail for close-up viewClick on thumbnail for close-up viewClick on thumbnail for close-up view
Above: The finished Idol of Kali, with Space Marine figures added for scale
(click on the thumbnails for close-up views)

Introduction <> Jungle Terrain

Related Pages
Goth Girls Gone Wild!

Last updated: June 2007


Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle