To help get ready for some rumble in the jungle Pacific War action, I've been working on putting some palm trees together. How can you have tropical island paradise warzones if you don't have lots and lots of palm trees? Well, if you ask me, you just can't! So, I'm making forests.
I have used model railroad palms for a while for the desert, so that's what I started with here. My personal favorites for 15mm use are the Woodland Scenics brand Woodland Classics Palm Trees in the 3" to 3-3/4" height (TR3597).
I just dry brush a little Vallejo Iraqi Sand or Grey Green on the fronds to tone them down a bit, glue to washers, and use my typical desert basing. Easy and they look good. You also don't need many, because it's the desert! You're looking for a few palm groves, maybe a small oasis, and that's it.
However, at $14.99 for a box of 5 (well, I only ever pay 8.99 with my ever-present 40% off coupon for Hobby Lobby), they are not what you'd call really cheap. And considering I wanted at least forty trees, that's getting up there quickly. So off to eBay, where I found Chinese plastic trees to buy. $5 for 20 trees? Heck yeah! I bought three different sorts, each a different height, ranging from 2" to 3-1/4" tall. One has coconut clusters (2-1/2"), one is sort of a fan palm (2"), and the last has a nicely textured trunk and a bulb at the top (3-1/4").
Naturally, they look pretty cheesy straight out of the box. Very shiny plastic looking, really. The first thing I did was to spray them down with some matte clear coat (I like Testors ModelMasters series Lustreless spray, personally). Then I started doing a few different shades of green as a dry brush on the palm fronds, both top and bottom. I used Vallejo paints, as usual: US Dark Green, Grey Green, Luftwaffe Camo Green, Yellow Green, and a few others. Painted the trunks a nice medium brown, then gave the trunk a wash with Army Painter Strong Tone Ink, again, one of my favorites. One last drybrush of that medium brown color (I forgot which one - sorry) on the trunk and the tree itself is done.
For bases, I have a few of the smallest trees mounted on single washers, but most of the trees are on multiple tree bases on bigger washers. The washers provide weight at the bottom and also make them magnetic, which I like for storage and transportation. Paint those in Flat Earth, put some grit and static grass and flock and grass tufts on them, maybe a few bits of cork for rocks, and there you go. So far I have only done a few of them, as test pieces, but now that I have my technique down, I expect they should go pretty quickly.
And here's a snap of the test pieces. I trimmed one down to make a sort of fern, there in the front. Also nipped the base down on one of the coconut palms to give them a bit of variance.
The next step is to make some area bases for the trees to sit on, to indicate the jungle regions. I figure to make these about six inches to a side, sort of square but with rounded corners and not rigidly straight edges. I haven't decided what material to use, but am leaning towards a thin MDF, maybe 3mm thick? Another option would be to get some of those skirmish/ mob formation bases sold by a few different manufacturers. If I put magnets in the holes, I'll get a way to mount the trees but still have them removable to move figures around on the base. It's a though, at any rate. Any suggestions from anyone?