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"Plastic Surgery on (plastic) Wooden Fort" Topic

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Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP03 Feb 2021 12:45 p.m. PST

I converted this toy Wooden Fort (see Photo1 link, below) for use with my 28mm fantasy 2e BattleSystem games, and my RPG, as it is better scaled to those figures, rather than the 54mm figures it was intended to be used with, originally. It is a Marx playset, intended for use with Old West figures, Union Cavalry and American Indians (not PC, I know, but that is the term used when it was first made, in the 1960's?).

Anyway, I thought I would share how I configured it, initially, what happened to it causing it to need repairs, and how I repaired it, making it stronger, and far more durable. I'll touch on some cosmetic issues, as well.


This is how it looked, originally, for my fantasy games. It saw use in several games, like this. You can see the foamcore which I initially attached to the plastic catwalks, with the paper ladders for access. You can also see, at the base of the exterior wall, the bump-out's which I applied epoxy to, to attach it to the MDF base. Also note the hideous yellow paint used to represent freshly chopped wood.


I initially mounted the Fort onto a large piece of MDF. I textured and painted the MDF, first, using sand, and green craft paint. Once this dried, I used 5-minute two-part epoxy to attach the Polyethylene plastic Fort (soft, Army Men plastic, which will adhere to very few glues, with any strength at all…) to the base. I applied the Epoxy sparingly, at around two places only, per side of the Fort. Lifting the base caused a lot of flexure in the Fort, which led to separation, after around five years of gaming use, and one house move.

I also made the mistake of painting the chopped tree ends, atop the Fort's walls, a dark yellow… Hideous, but I didn't realize how bad it was, until after I was done. Always hated that yellow -- should have been a light tan.

I need this Fort for an upcoming 2e BattleSystem game, so it was time to make some repairs.

I game with Army Men figures, and I mount them to 2-inch squares of MDF, using Hot Glue. Hot Glue holds onto the PE Plastic, rather well -- better than anything else I've tried. I've been gaming with Army Men figures since 1998, so I've tried a number of adhesives…


Note the square dowels, at the base of the inside walls, the clump foliage, on the outside, covering the plastic bump-out's, and the newly Sand colored log tips.

I had some square wooden dowels (base of the interior walls, above), so I measured, and I cut them to size, to fit inside the walls of the Fort. Two sides are long, without interruptions; the other two sides have a Gate in them, so those two sides would be limited. I Hot Glued the dowels into place, using the High Temperature setting, as this would give me much more working time before the Glue hardened. I applied a bead of Hot Glue along the base, in front of the wall, then I applied a bead onto the side of the dowel which would butt against the plastic Fort wall, on the inside. This created two lines of Hot Glue, one attaching to the wall, and the other attached to the MDF base. The two beads of Hot Glue created a fairly strong bond to the dowel, and the base, and the Fort wall.


I added a bead of Hot Glue along the top of the dowel, creating a stronger bond with the plastic Fort wall. I did the same along the bottom edge of the dowel, strengthening the bond to the MDF base. I will hit these with matte Clear Coat, to dull the shine of the Hot Glue. The dowels were coated with the Minwax Polyurethane Stain, to seal the wood, and to darken it a bit. Once the MDF catwalks are attached, the square dowels will be hard to notice, as they will be mostly in the shadow of the catwalks.

I used shorter lengths of dowel along the remaining two walls, keeping the dowel well away from the gates. They still provide plenty of bonding strength, securing the whole Fort to the MDF base.

I took the opportunity to cover that ugly yellow paint with a Sand craft paint color. I still need to paint over the yellow on the studs piercing the walls, but here you can see the improvement it made. I also need to brush on some Minwax Polyshades Royal Walnut over the Sand paint, to darken it, and give it some weathering.

The catwalks will be covered in strips of MDF, which I will Hot Glue to the plastic catwalks (the foamcore has been stripped away, leaving the plastic catwalks exposed). I will put two layers of MDF strips atop the plastic catwalks, as this will bring the figures to the proper height to shoot over the walls.

There are some small square areas jutting out from the wall sections, which needed to be covered up. I glued on some clump foliage (bushes) to cover these up. It is not much, but it hides the bump-outs, very well.


I will be finishing this project within the next two weeks. I will post more photo's once I finish the project.

If you are converting any type of plastic toys, like this, for gaming terrain, the best glue to use, is Hot Glue. Low Temperature Hot Glue will give you less working time, before it hardens. I normally use Low Temperature Guns, but for this project, I needed longer working times, so a High Temperature Gun was required. Cheers!

jdpintex03 Feb 2021 2:12 p.m. PST

Considering the number of injuries I've caused myself with scalpels, I'd hate to see what I would do with a hot glue gun.

The sand color is much better.

Can't wait for more.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP05 Feb 2021 9:29 p.m. PST

So today I took my 2' x 4' chunk of MDF to the Table Saw, and the Band Saw. I cut up 1-1/2" wide strips, which I Hot Glued to the plastic catwalks. I need to seal them with Minwax Polyshades Urethane Stain -- Royal Walnut, but they are glued into position. The extra width works quite well, as now I can place figures on 2"-square bases atop them, and they do not fall off. The normal 1"-based figures have extra room, and they are less likely to fall off.

Between the square dowels, attaching the Fort to the base, and the MDF strips Hot Glued to the molded plastic catwalks, the structural strength of the Fort model has increased, dramatically. It is very much stronger than it ever was, before. It should outlast me, by decades. Another gaming inheritance for my boys. 8-)

I decided to print out the cardstock ladders from my old WorldWorks SeaWorks Skull Cove set, again, for this model. Originally, I just used cardstock printouts, glued to the foam core catwalks up top, letting them hang down. They looked acceptable. This time, however, I will print them on label paper, and I will apply them to MDF, which I will cut to shape. This will give a full, 3D appearance to the ladders (much thicker than cardstock!) -- and no painting…

I also discovered that I need more clump foliage to cover up the plastic bump-outs. I had to re-attach one, and since I had the Hot Glue Gun ready, I used that, rather than PVA Glue. Worked superbly. Note to self: use Hot Glue whenever possible, especially for attaching clump foliage!

Had a long discussion with one of my players, tonight. We talked about figures for the upcoming battle. I finally realized that I can use my "Gnome Army", as stand-in's for Dwarves (collectively, we do not have enough for the game's needed forces). Unless I tell you that they are Gnomes, not Dwarves, you would assume they were, in fact, Dwarves! Now, collectively, we will have plenty of "Dwarves" for the attacking army! What a relief! Here they are: Gnome Army. The only thing that looks out of place, is the Mole-pulled Chariot. "Congratulations, Class of… Friday, at 4:30! If your name is not on your certificate, please, WRITE IT IN! You are now members of the Dwarven King's Army. Salute!"

I have gobs of 1/72 Dwarf figures, which I planned to use for Hill Dwarves (around one foot shorter than Mountain Dwarves, per 1e AD&D rules). Unfortunately, only a couple of them are painted. The game is roughly penciled in for the end of this month, so expediency is required.

Here are some photo's of what I accomplished on the Fort project, today: Photo6, Photo7. I hope to finish it, tomorrow.

I try, very hard, to craft things I can use repeatedly. Otherwise, they are not worth crafting, as storage space is a premium. I have too much stuff, already… This Fort is quite big, so it needs to be used as often as possible, or else I need to be rid of it. ["NOooo!"] The great news is that for BS games, and for my RPG sessions, a Wooden Fort, such as this, is incredibly useful for a variety of scenarios. The occupying races may change, but the Fort can be recycled, just like aluminum cans, over, and over, and… Cheers!


I may glue some wooden dowels underneath the MDF catwalks: they would help support them, making them structurally much stronger, but I think they would look better, as well. Hmmm…

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP08 Feb 2021 6:25 a.m. PST

Here it is, completed, and ready for the tabletop game in 2-3 weeks: Photo1. I added the MDF ladders, clad with label paper printouts of a ladder, courtesy of the Skull Cove PDF, from the mostly defunct WorldWorks company.

I added some stilts, beneath the catwalks, as it just seemed impossible for them to exist without support. I cut some leftover bamboo barbecue skewers, using my side cutters. I attached them to the underside of the MDF using Wood PVA Glue. We will see how well they survive gaming usage. The catwalks do not look so white in person. I added a few more bushes within and without, as well.

Here are some addtional photo's, for your crafting pleasure: Photo2, Photo3, Photo4, and Photo5.

Oops! I still need to wipe away the Hot Glue wisps hanging around, I'll carefully wipe it with a microfiber towel. Then I still need to hit it with Matte Clear Coat. Grrr!… Cheers!

Albus Malum09 Feb 2021 8:36 p.m. PST

Looks Great!!! One small thing you could easily do, put a little stain on the top of the Fencing to darken the tops.

First thing I wanted to say, when I saw this, is

Remember the Alamo!!!

only I think the Alamo was Pueblo.

If you get done using it for Fantasy, you could us it for Revolutionary or French and Indian also.

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