For most of the world, in any even slightly urban (or even rural area) wherever there are people, there are cars. And not just a few — lots of them.
Adding a giant pile of cars to a 15mm game could be problematic, as most of them are non-combatants (ie, scenery), and painting a giant pile of them would be a pain without a great deal of benefit.
Luckily, there’s a far easier method. It’s possible on ebay to buy cheap Chinese prepainted HO scale cars (which are actually labelled as 1/100). For example, this shop should have at least one lot of 100 HO scale cars for about $12 US. The vendor is extremely reliable and ships very quickly, in my experience.
Admittedly, they are not of the very highest quality. However, you can either repaint them (if you’re offended by the quality), or realize that quantity can, in this case, make up for quality. Your streets can now be lined with double-parked vehicles, just like in real life.
And all for the price of of one 15mm vehicle.
That’s not the real benefit, though. Urban warfare isn’t complete without the burning and destroyed carcasses of local transport. These cheap cars are easy to turn into flaming obstacles, using the following simple procedure.
Use a screwdriver to pry apart the car. Remove the glass pieces. The car is glued together, but it usually pops apart with little, if any damage. Seeing as the result is to be a wreck anyway, it’s not really an issue.
Burned and exploded cars aren’t generally found with doors closed and bodywork undamaged. You have two options:
- Carefully cut out the doors and hood/trunks that you want open using a knife and some care and attention.
- Roughly cut out the doors using some flush cutting nippers.
I recommend option 2; it’s much faster, and the car’s a wreck anyway.
To damage the bodywork in at least a somewhat realistic manner, you’ll need a heat source. A lighter works, or a heat gun (which most people, including me, don’t have).
What you don’t want to do is actually melt the model; you want to soften it so that it can be hammered into a dented shape. Heat the model over the flame until it becomes somewhat spongy, but not flowing over the heat source. Quickly, in this softened state, press the model against a hard, preferably disposable or easily cleanable surface like a brick. This should produce a relatively realistic dented surface. Remember to crush the bumpers, and if you’re considering an angry crowd, push the roof down.
The most difficult step in the whole procedure follows.
Glue the doors and hood back on, preferably in an open position (otherwise there was no real reason to remove them). Make sure they’re glued in solidly using modelling cement.
Once that’s done, paint the model to look incinerated. I did this by painting (and not very carefully) shades of grey, black and white onto the carcass. For added variety, leave some of the original colour showing through, or scratch some of your a paint off in a random manner.
Here’s some inspiration to see what sort of thing you’re looking for.
Of course, it’s possible to add more realism by spending more time on the model, but at ~15 cents a shot I wanted 5 done in an hour or so.
When you’re done, this is what it looks like.
Of course, it’s more fun when the cars are ACTUALLY ON FIRE.
This is even easier than slicing up a plastic car.
Find some pillow stuffing or cotton batting (white preferred). Don’t use the pillows in your couch.
Airbrush a coat of black on the top 80% of it. Don’t use too heavy a coat; just enough to cover the outside.
On the bottom 20%, airbrush some red, orange and yellow, in that order, moving downwards from the black areas.
After the paint dries, or before, if you don’t mind paint on your hands, tease the ball of stuffing apart to show some (or a lot) of white. Voilà! A fireball!
Vary the amount of orange/red/yellow to determine the ferocity of the explosion.
The last step will require a crochet hook or tweezers. Shove the “flaming” part of your fireball into your wreck.
Using tweezers and your crochet hook, pull the stuffing through the openings in your destroyed vehicle. The end result is surprisingly realistic for the minimal amount of effort taken to achieve it.
All of this for about an hour’s work and a few bucks.
Airbrush and compressor not included.