Friday Quick Tip: Doll House Accessories

A long while back now, I started a Cityfight mini board that I used as a test bed for a lot of different terrain building techniques and materials I had never used before. From that 2x2 mini table I still garner a lot of inspiration for different terrain projects and today, it's the source of a very simple, but very helpful details that adds a lot of character to otherwise bland terrain.

The idea came to me when I was perusing the doll house section of my local hobby shop. I found a great street sign right away that would end up being a central detail of the entire table! I had a perfect intersection on the table to use the sign on right near a huge blast crater. To make the sign fit more with the scene, I bent it back on itself some as if bent out from the bombing. I then painted it up, adding some roman numeral street names to the signs and viola!

Some additional paint lines to help denote the area as an intersection and we were golden! Note the dust and dirt up on the sign. It's weathered slightly, but not quite to my current weathering standard, so someday, I might end up going back to it with the sponge method for damage. There are some damage scrapes on the other side using the old black and metal method though.

But that wasn't the only piece I picked up while I was at the hobby shop! I also found a sheet of fantastic scaled tile! The second I saw it, I knew it would be a prominent feature in my floors for the table. The beauty of the flooring that many hobby stores offer is that there are multiple kinds of flooring. They even offer carpeting for those of you looking to REALLY add some spice to your terrain!

The Tile Flooring I picked up was nice and thin and was quite easy to cut to fit! For most of the floors I simply did a basic color with a wash or drybrush. In this example you can see I went a bit off my rocker and hand painted a bunch of Fleur De Lis! In fact you could do any tile variations you see in real life with just a bit of practice and a steady hand!

My dig through the doll house section ended after I stumbled across a set of two scale paintings. The paintings themselves were of horses, which were of no interest to me, but the frames! They were perfect! And with that I ran home and got to work. I stripped the card painting from the back and cleaned it up a bit. For my paintings I had an extra 3rd Edition 40k box laying about taking up space, so I cut out some of the old John Blanche art from the rim and trimmed them to size. Glued them in and put them into place inside my buildings! When it was time to paint the terrain, I just masked over the painting with some masking tape and once painting was complete, I removed the mask! The end result is a really great detail that makes your building feel and look like it's been occupied! Not the cold dead uninhabited mess that many terrain tables seem like.

There are so many things that can be conscripted from the world of doll house building into our more brutal vision of the future (or past!)! You just have to be willing to look for the things that will fit nicely with the scale and feel you are going for. With all of the small details I picked up from a single trip to the hobby shop, I will be digging through these sections for many many years to come as they will forever be a fantastic source for many of the things that make the battlefield feel more real, and worth fighting over.

Have you found a great alternate source of terrain features? We would love to hear about them!


  1. Great article! I often think about using the doll house and/or train pieces to incorporate into my terrain but could never find the cohesion to do it. Now I have with your suggestions, I might just head there today!

    The only thing that I have problems with is that I often play historicals, mainly ancients, but it's been difficult to find things to incorporate into that period. Any ideas?

  2. Ryan, Glad you like the tip!

    My main advice as you look for period additions would be to stick to things that are a bit more 'timeless'. Also just digging through some of the web for things would also broaden your spectrum of available products as well.

    While much of this is for the great availability at a local shop, the net is jam packed with stuff that could fit a specific need by many.

  3. An alternative source of terrain that I have used are sprues. When you clip them apart they can make excellent fences or debris walls amongst other things AND they're free!

  4. I've heard of many using a meat grinder to break up sprue and used it as scatter on boards. Not that I have a meat grinder sitting about the house! But a neat idea none the less!

  5. Awesome tip- amazingly, despite having used dollhouse stuff for dioramas in the past, I never thought to use this stuff in wargaming because it didn't seem gritty enough. But you're right, done well it makes these places look a lot more lived-in.

    Ryan- as for historicals, it might be tough for ancients, but you could always look for stuff like old-style wooden chairs and have them tipped over or broken apart to look like the house was looted. Also, building a stone fireplace (or if you could find one to buy) that would be a really cool touch.