Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Sci-Fi Hangar by Impudent Mortal

I don't like MDF building kits. There are so many minor details that irk me —  the perfect 90 degree accuracy, the little pegs that show through on corner joins, the uniformity of design and identical thickness of every wall and element — each one contributes to breaking the immersion for me. I've held off on assembling any large MDF kits, but after seeing the Impudent Mortal display at Historicon last summer I couldn't resist any longer. I need to fill a table with sci-fi buildings, the Impudent Mortal kits were some of the best I'd seen and scratch-building my own wasn't going to cut it. I figured with a little extra care I could reduce the issues that bug me about MDF kits and still save time by using a pre-manufactured model. Check out my build after the jump.

I picked up three kits and just before Christmas got to work on the first one, the Kessel Repair Shop. My first step was knolling all the parts. Seeing the multitude of small pieces nearly cover my 6x4 wargame table was a but daunting.

The directions downloadable from Impudent Mortal are a bit light on detail, consisting only of photos of each stage of the build. They only gave me a little trouble and I was able to finish the whole construction up over the course of a few nights.

I could see right away I'd need to hide the telltale signs of the garage being an MDF kit, so using bits of plasti-card and cardstock I started adding details to the building.

I left the protective paper on the various acrylic windows so make painting easier and gave the whole building a quick coat of spray lacquer to help seal the MDF and paper sections.

I paint terrain in several layers:

  • Primer to give an even coat and tooth for subsequent layers to grip
  • Base Coat + variable colors. Nothing in nature is a single absolute shade of color. I add blotches of wildly different color I hope will peek through the final layers of paint to add verisimilitude to the finish.

  • Second Base Coat to obscure the variable colors and provide a base to weather. In this case I used a light overspray of gray for the structure walls and a teal/blue for the roof.

  • Paint Chipping with a sponge on corners or areas that would be worn down by human contact or the elements
  • Wash of dark browns, blacks, rust for weathering
  • Drybrush of brown and sand in areas that would receive a lot of dust and dirt.
At this point the kit was good enough for the tabletop and made an appearance in a Star Schlock battle, but I wasn't quite done with it yet.

I added some real gnarly rust to the roof as a contrasting color to the teal and added some lighting to the interior as well.

The interior of the garage was a bit too clean, so I added some detritus while still leaving the inside playable. 

The mechanical bits are made from my bits box: wind up gears I ripped out of the toy cars I cannibalized for Gaslands, a panel from an ancient Robotech kit I've squirreled away since the 80s, bits of sprue and mdf offcuts, and crumpled paper I cut from the tiniest text I could find in a Vallejo catalog. 

The office received some resin lockers I picked up from Crooked Dice (I think).

The lockers, just visible through the door, fit perfectly between the office desk and wall.

So, after working on it for three weeks it's finally done, and I got to spend the bulk of my time and attention on the details I really enjoyed. 

I have a few more Impudent Mortal kits to build, but most of the sci-fi kits MDF kits I've found are so heavily steeped in a "Warhammer 40K adjacent" aesthetic I don't really want to use them for Star Schlock. If you have any generic sci-fi terrain kits or models you'd like to recommend please drop your tips in the comments!

If you are interested in Star Schlock, the sci-fi skirmish game I've been working on, you can sign up for updates on the Star Schlock website or stop by Scrum-Con on February 29, 2020 in Silver Spring, MD where I'll be running it.


  1. That is a wonderfully impressive kit, great job on the painting John.

  2. Wow, really wow. The extra bits you added to this kit make such a huge difference. Very impressive indeed.
    Outstanding work!

    I think there are quite a few more Generic sci-fi kits out there. Sarissa comes to mind. Also, with the release of the Star Wars Legion lot game, a lot of manufacturers started releasing terrain with a very different flair. A look which perhaps be more suitable for Star Schlock as well.

    1. Thanks Wouter. I'll have to review Sarissa's catalog. I've played a lot of Legion and the guys I game with have some 3d printed terrain, but it's scaled to Legion's 32mm scale which looks a little wonky with my 28mm non-Star Wars figure collection. I'm hoping to get a 3D printer up and running to rescale and print what I need but until then I'm limited to other commercial kits and scratch building. Thanks for the tip!

  3. It's Mark. That Mark. Love seeing the process that went into this. Really inspiring me to finish my terrain projects :).

    1. Suuuuure "Mark" "from State Farm." You sound hideous.

      If only you had a blog where you could share your own progress :P Thanks for playing with the half baked version of this terrain and overlooking its lack of detail at the time!

  4. It's a beast! Great job on that


    1. A big rusty boi at that. Thanks for the complements Matt!

  5. Nicely done on the upgrading of the MDF kit and a good paint job. Looks the business.

    1. Gracias Hendrid! Hoping to add some more MDF kits to the spaceport now that I'm satisfied with this one :)

  6. That's the way to do MDF kits; treat them like a sub structure you can build on. Really nice work.

  7. Your painting skills have totally made this kit shine! Well done!

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