Saturday, 15 March 2014

VBCW - Pillboxes 28mm

The Shed Wars terrain factory keeps giving !


A couple of weeks back when we played our first VBCW game my good friends Mark & Matt suggested that a couple of pill boxes might not go amiss on the table for future games. How could I refuse and my mind began whirring on how such items could be constructed.

Again the following outline is not meant to be an exhaustive tutorial but does demonstrate how easy it is to build these defensive structures. In the following photos you’ll see how these have come about and will hopefully provide inspiration for others out there. Before I kick off I should say that my builds are meant to be easy, anybody with a modicum of artistic ability could do what I do, it just takes a bit of planning, the right tools and materials and some patience. If you can rope in others to help even better – despite offering to pay my 13 year old son to do some of the painting I have yet to find a willing helper myself!

Virtually all my projects have something in common – they do not start with a plan, I let the image of what I want to do ferment in my head for a few days and then taking the materials I have to hand I start the build. There’s no pre drawings, no sketches and no measurements !  

In this particular case I started with the view that I wanted to build three units – each slightly different and ranging in size. To begin with I was going to build all of the structures from foam core (5mm) but when I discovered some off cuts of blue foam in the shed I switched two of the units into this material.
Recalling from memory that pill boxes and block houses can come in a variety of shapes – squares, rectangles and hex style shapes I began to think about the design – again in my head. I settled on a height of 4cm, thereby allowing a 28mm mini to stand upright in the finished structure..

Pill box #1 (foam core)


Like all my constructs they are based on hardboard – rough side up to give a better key fort the glue.  Three bases of different sizes were cut.

Pill Box #2 (blue Foam)

The shape of the pill boxes themselves were then roughly drawn on the board using a permanent marker. Then taking the ‘wall’ material I measured out the walls and the firing slits. The firing slits were cut out first with a really sharp blade – it is much easier to do this n a larger sheet than the smaller wall sections if they are already cut. Once the slits were done the walls were cut out. These were then glued with pva to each other and onto the base. One of the units would have a mortar pit attached. After a few hours they were dry and I could move onto the next stage.



I wanted to give the impression that the positions themselves were slightly buried so I needed a bank to run up half way round the walls. This was achieved in two easy steps. I firstly cut triangular banks from polystyrene (the cheap packing stuff to fit round the outside of the walls. These were glued into position and once dry they were covered in filler to give a hardened surface. Drying time for this stage was about 12 hours. Once dry I didn’t bother sanding the filler as it was going to next be covered in ballast and sand. This was fixed using pva – I use so much of this stuff!


Pill Box #3 (with raised embankment)
Pill Box #2 (with raised embankment)

Again this was left to dry for 12 hours. Each of the following steps only takes a few minutes so I tend to do them just before I go to work – getting up early can be so productive – as I then can proceed with the next step that evening or the following morning. With the sand and ballast fixed the units were then painted black using an acrylic paint.

Pillbox #2 (painted black/brown)

Pill Box #3 (the mortar pit is closest)


Before I moved onto the final painting I realised that the roofs were yet to be manufactured. These would be constructed from hardboard. Two units would have plain simple concrete surfaces and the final one would be grassed. The measurements of the buildings plus a 5mm lip were drawn onto hardboard and cut out. In the case of the concrete tops these would be shiny side up whereas my grassed unit would have a roof rough side up. A piece of foam core the dimensions of the inside of the building was then cut and glued to the underside of the roof to give it a snug fit.

Inside of roof

Testing it fits

For the grass topped unit I simply covered in ballast and treated this the same way as  the base.

Onto the final stretch and the best bit. The ground areas were highlighted light brown.
The bunker walls were painted dark grey then highlighted with light grey.



The final touches were some static grass patches - ill add some other detritus later

And here they are in all their glory


Ill be using these in Monday nights action so more photos on the way

Thanks for reading

Eric the Shed 







  1. Like all your terrain, simple methods produce really effective pieces, especially when viewed on the table in the games! Keep up the good work!

  2. Excellant bunkers and great build report.

  3. Great work as ever, your work is always inspiring.

  4. Wow, great work, I need to get with my friend and build a few of these for Bolt Action!

  5. Hi, I have been checking your painting and it is awesome!
    I have started an online hobby magazine and would like your permission to use this tutorial for an article.
    The magazine is called The Golden D6
    Thanks in advance,
    Adam (