The ‘Shell’ Game

In the first proper post regarding scratch-built buildings for wargames, I will be using my Kura as an example of the type of building I call a ‘shell’. There’s probably a proper ‘terrain-buildier’ term for this kind of structure, but this is what I call it. Essentially, it’s a hollow structure with no bottom, so similar to a walnut shell, hence the name.

The advantage of this type of building is that it’s one-piece, so you won’t lose any parts, and because it’s hollow, it’s both lightweight and allows you to hide things inside. However, the disadvantage is that you can only access the interior by moving the building.

I have already gone over how I constructed this particular building here, so go there for full details. This is where I’d got to last time:


Whilst pretty much done, it still required a door, so I gathered my bits and bobs and started work. However, my first attempt was bloody awful, so into the bin it went and back the drawing board I went.

After some thought, I decided to use a single block of thick Balsa, with the individual planks scored in using a bradawl. As the ‘door’ looked a little bare, I decided to add ‘bolts’ to the door by pushing pins through the balsa and snipping off the excess shaft at the rear. A lock-plate was made by using a piece of textured self-adhesive floor tile and a door-handle from a picture framing screw-in hoop. And this was the result;


As I had the ‘bits box’ out, I decided to add a ‘guest’ to the structure in the shape of a plastic rat from the HeroQuest game, whose tail I managed to snap off and lose…somewhere.


So, the first order was to paint the rat, which was undercoated in white, then painted with Docrafts Flesh, the fur then painted with GW *something* Brown, then a wash of the same brown mixed with black. And this is how he ended up;


The door received a couple of coats of GW *something* Brown until it reached the same/similar colour to the rest of the wood on the building, with the bolt heads, lockplate and handle initially painted with GW Chainmail, followed by GW Black Iink. And it was done…finally.


A pretty nice looking building, made from various scraps I had lying about, which means that it was cost-effective (i.e. cheap). And yes, that is the bank in the background, but you’ll have to wait until next week for a closer look.



10 thoughts on “The ‘Shell’ Game

    • Thanks Simon. Most pre-painted Japanese buildings seem to be red, white and black, so I wanted to try a slightly different colour scheme. As for the rat, seemed appropriate. Can’t let Andy take all the praise for Japanese buildings, can we? 😉


    • Thanks Andy. The first attempt was using coffee stirrer planking on cross struts. Whilst a more realistic build, it was unstable and looked crap. This one was simpler and actually looks like a door.
      And feel free to borrow any ideas you want – I shall be pinching your koi carp pond idea, because it’s awesome.


  1. Smashing work Jez, I actually thought it was finished before you added the door, not very secure though I guess, the rat was a nice touch (god is in the details as they say).

    Cheers Roger.


    • Thanks Roger. I was undecided as to whether the door was to be fixed, separate or movable, so didn’t finish it at the time. This month has given me the opportunity to finally finish it off.


  2. I see you have been channelling the spirit of Robert Thompson, a noted furniture maker whose trademark was a carved mouse which featured on every piece he made. His nickname was “the Mouseman”. Do a Google search for him, if you’ve never heard of him. I have a wooden tray carved by him with his mouse on it. As soon as I saw your rat I immediately thought of him.


    • Thanks Bryan. This rang a bell with me, which was confirmed once I’d read up on him – must have seen a feature on him (possibly on Blue Peter) at some point. But I wouldn’t have been able to name him, so thanks for the reminder. I don’t think I’ll be adding a rat to every build, although one or two ‘special features’ does appeal.


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