Every set of terrain needs a collection of small “scatter” pieces that can be mixed in amongst the larger pieces. These little pieces add texture to the battlefield and can make a big difference in how the battle flows by blocking off lanes of travel, or just by adding a little bit of cover to help units cross a heavy firing lane.
Tank traps are a great example, and an easy one to add to your collection. Tank traps have come in a wide variety of forms throughout history, and there are just as many ways to add them to your table. In my case I’ve decided to cast them in plaster.
Ingredients for the Tank Traps
This method for tank traps requires two primary ingredients: plaster and a mold. I am using plaster of paris because it’s easy to find and fairly inexpensive. I know there are higher quality plasters out there, but this works well enough for me.
I like to mix some coloring into the plaster. By mixing the color into the plaster I ensure that it will still be colored even if it gets chipped or broken later on. I also like to mix some sand into the plaster to add strength and a little heft. This is similar to adding gravel to cement to make concrete.
Per the manufacturer’s instructions, I mix two cups plaster to one cup water. I add 1/2 cup fine sand to the mixture. For coloring I used some old black fabric dye that I had sitting around, but paint should work as well.
I stir in the coloring until I get a grey that I like. This stuff sets up fast so you have to work quickly. Make sure you have all of your ingredients and your mold ready to go before you mix anything.
The Mold for the Tank Traps
For a mold I used this plastic egg carton for the tank traps. This had three sections to it. The eggs sit in the middle section, the right section sits over the eggs to keep them in place, and the left section goes over that to hold it all together. It seems a bit elaborate compared to the standard paper ones but I’m not complaining!
The right piece has 12 identical pockets that would make good tank traps, but I decided to use the bottom because it had some more interesting variation.
I simply mixed everything together and poured it into the egg crate. It sets up in about 30 minutes, but I waited an hour just to be sure. I neglected to lubricate the mold but the plastic is flexible enough to pop out the pieces without too much trouble.
The Finished Tank Traps
As you can see I got three different shapes of tank traps from this cast. These are about as tall as a typical infantry figure, so the barricades on the left actually block line of sight to infantry behind them, and will grant cover to most vehicles.
The others allow line of sight, but still offer good cover.
At some point I will add some battle damage by drilling/cutting into the plaster. Then I’ll drybrush and wash them, but since I colored the plaster these are ready to be used as is. I used the last of my plaster on these tank traps, but when I get around to buying more I plan to cast the other side of the egg carton to add another 12 individual pieces.
How’s that for a fast, easy, cheap way to clutter up your battlefield?