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Basing Winter Trees


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Revision Log
8 September 2023page first published

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©1994-2024 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian writes:

Have you noticed how the trees change from season to season? Somewhat of the same thing occurs down at Dollar Tree, where TMP has been paying attention for over 20 years!

Winter tree

The original trees were green 'brush bottle' trees in a wooden base. Then came the same trees with a little snow added, and some funky trees with little green styrofoam balls for leaves, then fully snow-covered trees, and finally, brightly colored metallic trees (even in Halloween colors). The trees for this year have not come out yet, but I picked up a small collection last season, with an example seen above.

Winter tree base

The trees come two to a pack, one tall and one short, and now have hollow plastic bases.

Winter tree base

The base bottoms are indented with a lip around the bottom. The bases are adequate for displaying the trees on a shelf for the holidays, but I didn't think they were substantial enough to survive the wargaming tabletop. So I'm going to rebase them.

Before you do anything with these trees, spray them down with matte clear spray! The 'snow' effect includes little bits of sparkle, and if you don't seal the tree, you're going to get sparkle on your workbench and everything else you're working on.
Primed wooden base

I picked up some 3" diameter wooden circles (⅛" thick) at the local Hobby Lobby. Four in a pack for $4 USD. Shown above, I've primed it white.

Winter tree based

Now I've glued the tree down to the base, using gel superglue along the edges and a big glob in the middle.

Winter tree base

Now, you could stop at this point and consider the project done! But I thought I could improve the appearance…

Winter tree base

I want to blend the plastic tree base into the wooden base.

Spackle

Time for some cheap lightweight spackling.

Spackled base

Now I've applied the spackling, pressing it into place with a contouring tool, trying not to get it into the branches. (Though if you do, it's white on white, hardly noticeable.)

And That's When The Tree Broke

Broken tree

Funny thing is, I've already based up quite a few of these trees, and this is the first tree that was 'loose' and came out of its base. And now I know how the trees are assembled! The wire at the base of the tree is inserted into the plastic base, but it is not glued there. Instead, there's a big glob of soft, clear adhesive (hot glue?) on top of the base, which the tree is pressed into.

What that means is that if you gently twist any of these trees, it comes right off the base, and the blob of glue can be removed with your fingers.

So, in future, I'm going to disassemble the trees, and only glue the plastic base down to the wooden base. That makes everything a lot easier!

Base with paint

So, when the spackle is dry (wait overnight), you can smooth any imperfections out with a sanding block or emery board or whatever you like to use, glue the tree back on, and call it a day. But… I'm going to seal the spackle with a coat of inexpensive white paint.

Painted base and glue

Wait for the paint to thoroughly dry, then apply whatever glue you prefer for flocking…

Flocking the base

…and dredge the base in your flocking container. For 'snow', I use white sand which you can buy at hobby stores. It comes in fine particles or rougher particles, and I'm using a rougher sand that gives a glittery effect.

Flocked base

I forgot – stick something in the hole before you apply the glue, so you can find it later! Here, I used a wire, but round toothpicks work best. Let everything dry, then apply a spray coat of clear matte to seal the sand in place. Let that dry, remove the wire or toothpick, add glue of your choice, and cement the tree into the base.

Based trees

Now, that looks snowy! (Shown with a 32mm figure.)

Based trees

Now, where did I put my 'snow' groundcloth? grin