Above is a pic of Lt. Colonel James Galbraith, Regimental Colour in hand, alongside Bobbie the regimental dog and some of the other "Last Eleven" survivors of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment, making their last stand in one of the walled gardens just South of Khig village, a few miles West of the Afghan town of Maiwand.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Last Blue Boards EVER!!!

Right now I'm at the tail-end of a 2-week trip with my family through Pennsylvania and New York, for my son to visit colleges he's interested in possibly attending next year.  The last time my family and I visited Pennsylvania was to attend the 2007 Historicon, the theme of which was "The Wars of South Asia 1800-2007," which of course meant an abundance of games set in India and Afghanistan, something I couldn't pass up!

Unfortunately Historicon is already a month past, so there's no Wargaming Convention on the schedule this year for me to report on, but I do have something more low-key to report on -- one of the last things I managed to do before leaving home on this trip, which was to stop by FOAM SALES & MARKETING located at 1005 Isabel Street in Burbank, California -- CLICK HERE FOR HANDY LINK TO THEIR WEBSITE -- and purchase the last two blue styrofoam boards I will ever need for the purpose of building Afghan terrain.  I suppose that last statement is more a hope than a promise, but it's a very fervent hope indeed, and I do believe it will turn out to be the case!

I bought one 2" thick 8'x2' board, and two 1" thick 8'x2' boards, and had them all cut down to 6'x2', with 2'x2' short-ends.

I'll use the 2" thick 6'x2' sheet to create one more clear ground-cover terrain board, and I'll combine the two 1" thick 6'x2' sheets to build my Kabul River board, which will run from one 2' end to the other.  Building the river this way will be MUCH EASIER than having to dig 1" of depth out of a 2" deep sheet, as I had to do for my first two 2' square river boards.

I'll use the pair of 1" thick 2'x2' short-ends to more easily build a second 90-DEGREE CURVE board, again much easier than having to dig 1" out of the board's 2" depth.

I plan to build 2 more 2'x2' STRAIGHT river sections, which will have to be dug out of spare 2" thick 2'x2' short-ends I still have from my original Maiwand Day boards.  If I manage that, I should be able to lay out 12' of continuous river in a straight line, which would be great for creating terrain for the 1880 battle of Baba Wali/Kahdahar, the last major action of the Second Afghan War, which the Afghan army fought with their backs to the Arghandab River.

Since my river sections are all designed to match up at their edges, I should also be able to mix and match them, creating a wide variety of lay-outs featuring rivers.

If I can finish another pair of 2'x2' plain ground cover boards (which I already have the blue foam for sitting in my garage), I'll also be able to lay out up to 10'x6' of simple ground-cover without nullahs, ravines, or rivers built into them, which should be very helpful when it comes to setting up different historical and fictional tabletop scenarios.

Needless to say, this will all take time, which is something I don't have much of, but even the longest march starts with a single step, and I'm already a good way down this road.  The thing is, after buying these last two boards and having them cut down close to their final sizes (I will unfortunately have to trim down the river boards to make room for their wood frames) I now have in my possession ALL the raw materials necessary to complete my Afghan Wars/NWF terrain system, which somehow makes finishing the job -- despite how big it may be -- seem much more achievable.  After all, I've already built all the rocky hills I'll ever need, using the good old "wood-chip" method, and that was probably the most difficult part of the whole job.

So here's the visual evidence of this exciting -- at least for me! -- progress...

Enough blue foam to create terrain-boards for every battle known to humankind:

For better or worse I was not buying enough to require use of the forklift inside the warehouse...

My boards cut down to size and packed for travel...

Note the furniture blanket I brought along to protect the interior of my beloved wife's car from those inevitable bits of pesky blue foam...

Moved into the garage and stored safely -- hopefully for not too long before I manage to turn them into usable terrain...

6'x2' Masonite sheets waiting for the wonderful but as yet unrealized day when they will be covered forever in blue foam...

And finally, a portent of things to come: my beloved wife's car (both she and the vehicle are beloved by me)...

It's the only vehicle available to me (without renting a truck) capable of transporting my terrain boards to conventions near and far.  It did this many times for my Maiwand Day game and hopefully in the not-so-distant future will do the same for the finished Charasiab lay-out.

That's it for now from Ithaca, in the Central region of New York State, home to Cornell University, where it's possible this time next year my son will return as an incoming freshman.  This fact continues to blow my mind, mostly in a good way.  Whether he's off to Ithaca, Manhattan, Philadelphia, or other higher education parts as yet undetermined but likely far from Los Angeles, California, I will miss him.  Many if not most of my best wargaming memories came courtesy of games played with him, figures painted with him, models built with him, giant terrain boards carved, textured and painted with him, and epic convention games played alongside him.  Sending him off to college remains another year away, so I'll do my best to get some more gaming in with him before that year is up.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Greener waters

Well, after living with the results of my first round paint-job on the Logar River for a couple of days, I came to the inescapable conclusion that though it looked good, the color was just too blue and not enough green for my purposes.

Going by the photographic evidence there are in fact rivers in Afghanistan that do have water as blue as what I'd painted, but neither the Logar nor the Kabul River, at least in the area around Charasiab, qualify, and I'd always imagined them being finished with a more green/brown hue.  My expectation is that I'll be adding a tint of BROWN ink to the Envirotex resin I plan to pour into the riverbed, so I'd hoped to get more of a GREEN look for this paint job.

Unfortunately, the "Olive Green" Winsor & Newton acrylic was the only color I bought that didn't come close to matching its swatch on the exterior of the tube.  But I didn't let that stop me.  I mixed up my own olive drab river water color, using YELLOW OCHRE with some BLACK and just a touch of BLUE for good measure...

And finally, a side-by-side comparison...


Though personally I prefer the green finish to the blue, I admit the blue has a bit more of a watery "sheen," but since the surface will be covered with hi-gloss resin, that shouldn't be a problem when it's all done.

Sometimes it's funny how things work out.  Now that I've painted the "bottom" of my first river channel, I must admit that if I hadn't already bought a container of EnviroTex clear resin a couple of months ago... I would be vey sorely temped to just opt for some Acrylic Gloss Medium and turn my "riverbed" into the river surface.  I'm very pleased with the coloring and my go-to texturing material Elmer's Wood Filler -- which I only used because it was handy and what I always use for sealing foam before I paint it -- has given the finish of the river channel a sense of movement which I think fits well with a river fed by mountain runoff such as the Logar and Kabul Rivers are.  I could just coat it with the glossy medium, applying it in a manner that would add just a bit more "choppiness" to the surface, highlight the top edge of the "raging waters" near the rocks with just a touch of white paint, and be done.

However, having already spent about $40.00 on a jug of EnviroTex, and having hollowed-out the riverbeds to a substantial 1" depth... I think I will have to proceed with my original plan.  My concern is... I like the color so much now, I don't want it to be lessened in any way by the addition of the resin.  I had always planned to make the first pour a clear one, with no tinting whatsoever.  I've read that doing it that way creates a greater sense of depth after you add a second, color-tinted, pour, and perhaps more pours after that, with an eye towards building up the thickness of the "water."

What I really need to do now is build a quick and dirty -- and TINY -- mock-up of my channel and test some different color tints in the resin pours.

Wish me luck, and I'll try to keep you posted with any progress...

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Sneak peek of Logar River...

Well, it's been a few months now since I started building my Logar River boards for use in my Battle of Charasiab terrain lay-out.  It's been an extremely busy time for me, at work, at home, and also with an unfortunate call to serve on Jury Duty, which lasted almost three weeks.  Nonetheless, I have kept working to finish this seemingly unfinishable project, and though not done yet, have managed to make some real progress.

Unfortunately I missed putting up a post on the recent 134th anniversary of Maiwand Day, during which I was down in San Diego with my two daughters who wanted to visit Comicon.  We had a great time and I was able to answer a fellow hobbyist's Second Afghan War-related question on TMP before midnight hit on July 28th (the day AFTER Maiwand Day), so at least I felt like I had done something appropriate to commemorate the day.

Right now I am in the midst of compiling one of my typical posts complete with a ton of WIP pics and some hopefully useful tutorial details concerning how I built these river boards, but it won't be done for some time yet, and to be honest, I'm tired of waiting to show this stuff off!

So I've decided to cut to the chase by posting a handful of pics I took after putting the first coat of artist's acrylic paint down onto the base of the river channel on these two 2'x2' boards.

It's not really the end of "The Chase", as these boards still need some work done, as I have to do some touch-ups in places along the river's edge, and will likely add another coat to tweek the exact mix of colors in a few spots.  Then I will glue down some REEDS -- courtesy of an inexpensive whisk brown bought at my local Hardware Store -- along the river's edge, and then -- finally -- I'll be able to do what I've been looking forward to doing since I started cooking up this epic enchilada months ago: pour on several coats of clear two-part EnviroTex Lite resin.  The first pour will be clear, the next two or three (each 1/8" deep) will receive a drop of brown and possibly also a drop of green artist's ink.

Then... I will collapse -- but only from an overabundance of joy course!

So without further ado, here's where they're at right now...

The next question for me is whether I am going to go on and truly complete this pair of boards for the Logar River, or just do my touch-ups and probable second coat, glue on the reeds, and then shift gears to build the 6'x2' Kabul river board for use along the other -- Western -- flank of the table.  Then when I've reached this same point, with the base of the river channel painted, I'll be able to pour the resin onto all three boards at the same time, so their tint, depth, etc., will hopefully all match as closely as possible.  I'm not sure yet how I'll proceed, but I'll have to make a decision pretty soon, as these two boards really don't have much work left to be done to them before it's time to fill their river channels with some resin.

Thursday, July 3, 2014


You may be familiar with the LIEBSTER* AWARDS, given out to promote the efforts of fellow bloggers.  I am humbly happy to report that "Maiwand Day" has received one.

It's given by bloggers to bloggers, to help "spread the word" about them (relatively) far and wide across the internet...

(*In German, Liebster can apparently mean "sweetheart", "dear", "favorite", "loved", etc.  But as a hardcore military history geek and longtime historical wargamer, the first thing that jumped to my mind was "Lobster" -- as in 17th Century "Lobster-tailed helmet".)

I owe this thoughtful consideration and distinct honor to GARY AMOS of "wargamesleadslifenstuff" AKA: Happy Valley blog, so first off:



Gary was actually kind enough to nominate me a couple of months ago, but I was so busy with various "Real Life" distractions I couldn't get around to accepting until now.  You see, officially "accepting" the award requires a bit of effort, as delineated here:

1.  Post and explain the award.


2.  Thank and link to the nominator.


3.  Answer questions about yourself, as posed by your nominator.

Here goes...

1.    How would you describe your blog?  

Very humbly!  For various reasons it strikes me as a mere shadow of its former self, back when I was able to devote more time to it, had more gaming friends handy to play with, and my three children were younger and therefore less consumed with school-work, sports, music, etc. -- AKA: Ye Good Ole Days!

A more positive and useful description would be:

Gaming the Second Afghan War of 1878-1880 in 28mm, with terrain-building, figure-conversions, uniform guides, historical info, references, sources, etc.

2.  How did you pick your blog's name? 

It was a no-brainer, since the blog started when I built armies and terrain to refight the 1880 Battle of Maiwand on its 130th Anniversary, July 27th, 2010.  "Maiwand Day" was/is an actual pseudo-holiday which has been remembered and somewhat celebrated by British Army units descended from the 66th Berkshire Regiment and E/B Battery, Royal Horse Artillery, as members of both units performed heroic service on the day of the battle, despite being defeated.  Oddly enough, another battle I'm obsessed with -- Camerone, 1863 -- also is celebrated by the side that lost, the French Foreign Legion, so I have two blogs about two 19th Century battles, and both have "Day" in the title: Maiwand Day and Camerone Day.  The battle of Maiwand and perhaps the term "Maiwand Day" itself also provided the inspiration for the Rudyard Kipling poem "That Day", a painful reminiscence by a soldier who was present at a battle where his Regiment broke and ran.

To read the poem CLICK HERE

3.  Why did  you start blogging?  

Good question!  A combo of showing off and helping out.  A big part of it was having stumbled onto an incredibly-useful website -- Clarence Harrison's original Quindia Studios site  (handy LINK)-- while I was first researching how to build my terrain boards.  His site had, and still has, an article on building a set of desert terrain boards, and also a much longer article about building a more extensive set of temperate terrain boards including a river.  Finding those articles was a godsend for me, and I felt, in a much smaller way, I might be able to do something similar, by sharing how I built my own terrain.  That was a big part of it, and the other part was wanting to show off what I and my kids and our friends managed to pull off just in time for Maiwand Day 2010.

4.  How do you relax (if it's not blogging)?

Playing games with my kids (indoor and outdoor), rewatching high-quality TV shows from start to finish (The Wire, Breaking Bad, Fawlty Towers, Black Adder) and great old movies (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Kelly's Heroes, The Wind and The Lion, The Wild Bunch, The Wrong Box) with my kids; lying on the couch with my wife; and of course building terrain!

5.  Is figure painting a chore or pleasure?  

Yes.  (it's both)

6.  How do you deal with burn out? 

Oh, man... same as at work or wherever else, just grit my teeth and force myself to "power through".  Of course that's in reference to particular projects, which in my case usually drag on for a ridiculously long time.  To be honest, after being into it for about 40 years, I doubt I will ever feel burnt out on "The Hobby" in general.

7.  What are the three things you cannot live without? 

Hmmm... that one's pretty profound...

1.  Hot dogs
2.  My wife
3.  Motorhead


 4.  Sam Fuller movies

8.  What was the last book you read and the last you bought? 

Read:  A World on Fire, Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War by Amanda Foreman, 2010, Random House (a very nice birthday gift!)

Bought: The North-West Frontier, British India and Afghanistan, a pictorial History 1839-1947 by Michael Barthorp, 1982, Blandford Press Ltd.

9.  Who is your favorite fictional character? 

Ooooo... that's a very tough one.  So many and varied great choices from so many great novels, short stories, and movies... but I think I will have to end up with... The Sergeant, as portrayed by Lee Marvin in Samuel Fuller's 1980 movie THE BIG RED ONE.

10.  Ball points, rollerball or fountain pen?

Ball point (for purely practical reasons)

4.  Nominate 6 blogs for the Liebster Award.

There are a lot of very good wargaming blogs out there... but as a colonial gamer, I freely admit I'm biased towards those who share my particular niche interest.  All these wonderful blogs delve into the Colonial period on a regular or semi-regular basis -- in between focusing on Zombies, Venetian galleys, and Tiger Tanks!

NOTE:  The below six blogs are arranged in NO ORDER WHATSOEVER.

NOTE #2: CLICK on the blog titles to VISIT the blog in question -- which I strongly suggest doing for each and every one of this Magnificent Six/Dirty Half-Dozen*...

(*I use "Dirty" here in only the best sense of the word, meaning very hard-working!)

(1)  Wargaming With Silver Whistle

Pat's blog is one of my go-to locations on the web.  He is a perfect gentleman who builds incredible terrain, paints beautiful armies, and actually plays wargames and manages to blog about them on a semi-regular basis.  His Empress Miniatures Zulu War armies were so awesome they were featured in the Black Powder Zulu War supplement published by Warlord Games, but he also has a very impressive AWI, Ancient and Wild West collections, and lately has been churning out tons of gorgeous drab-and-gritty WWII Germans, Brits, and Russians.

(2)  The Anderson Collection

Willie Anderson's site is one of the first hobby blogs I found my way to.  His collections seemingly have no end, to the point where sometimes I'm not sure if I'm in awe or jealous -- but Willie comes across his blog pages as such a good-natured and generous spirit, no one could stay jealous for long!  He builds and collects armies and terrain for everything from Ancients to Colonials -- and I do mean everything in between -- including such rare and exotic periods as 15th Century Ottoman Turks and Eastern Europeans, and the Sikh Wars of the 1840s.  Lately he's been on a spectacular Crusades binge.  Willie's wide-ranging collection includes a fleet's worth of Renaissance and Napoleonic ships, and a variety of Castles and fortresses.

(3)  28mm Victorian Warfare

Michael Awdry... the man's name sends shivers of excited anticipation through miniature gamers across the blogosphere!  It's ironic, Michael's blog is literally named, "28mm Victorian Warfare" but probably features less of that than all the other blogs on this list of mine, filled as it is with his own miniature works of art from across an eclectic range of genres, including gothic horror, dinosaurs, and the aforementioned Zombies -- as well as Pathan tribesmen, Naval artillery crews, and a wonderful collection of Third Burma War figures.  Michael's cheerful enthusiasm for all things hobby-related oozes off every page of his blog.  I suppose in a way he and I have opposite approaches to the hobby, in that my efforts are pretty much all focused on one tiny sliver of time and place, while his galavant around the globe and historical timeline, as well as into the fantastic realms of horror and sci-fi, but that's probably one of the reasons why I love his blog so much.

(4)  Waziristan on a Fancy

I remember the excitement I felt when first discovering Juan Mancheno's refreshingly original blog focused on the Third Afghan War and Waziristan campaigns of 1919-1920, about a year ago.  The North-West Frontier and Afghanistan are somewhat popular theaters of colonial wargaming, but the post-WWI sub-genre has always been a sparsely-populated one.  Juan has dived into it with great gusto, generating well-painted figures, tanks, and biplanes, and sharing his palpable excitement over the new Empress Miniatures range devoted to these campaigns in particular.  He's also commissioned some nice custom Afghan terrain pieces, which he's using for 1919 as well as modern Afghan gaming.

(5)  Last Stand Dan

I met Dan in November 2011 at the first-ever "Colonial Barracks" convention in Metarie, Louisiana, just outside New Orleans.  A couple of years later he began an impressively entertaining Sudan campaign which he's been blogging about since it kicked off.  Featuring cool terrain, scenic backdrops, and a small fleet of exquisite homemade Nile gunboats, it's a campaign not to be missed by any Horse-&-Musket gamer.

(6)  Sgt. Guinness

Jeff Baumal, AKA: Sgt. Guinness, is something of a legend in the wargaming circles of Florida, if not the United States in general, for the high-quality of the games he runs for his club and at various conventions.  My son and I met Jeff when we met Dan, at that first Colonial Barracks con in 2011.  My son and I were lucky enough to play in Jeff's "The Wind and The Lion" game (based on the climactic scene of my favorite movie), one of the most enjoyable games I've ever been a part of.  Now Jeff has started a blog of his own, which has featured several posts devoted to another iteration of his awesome "The Wind And The Lion" game which he recently ran at the Hurricon convention in Miami, Florida.  When it comes to running or playing games, Jeff is a jack-of-all-trades  -- equally focused on fun, playability, game balance, and historical accuracy, and his new blog has started doing the same online.

Whew!!!  Almost done with my part...

5.  For the 6 lucky (at least I hope they see it that way!) bloggers above, here's my version of the requisite TEN QUESTIONS for you to answer should you choose to claim your Liebster Award...

1.  How would you describe your blog?

2.  How did you choose your blog's name?

3.  Why did you start blogging?

4.  What is your own favorite post from your blog?

5.  What is your first miniature wargaming memory?

6.  Single-base or multi-figure base?

7.  What are three things that make you happy?

8.  Terrain cloth or terrain boards?

9.  What is your all-time favorite movie?

10.  Convention games -- play in them, run them... or run from them?

One last word to all my NOMINEES: please do not feel obligated to go through the steps outlined above.  I know how busy people are these days, and I will take no hint of umbrage if you are too busy with other stuff to spend the time required for this.  Even if you don't officially lay claim to your LIEBSTER, you're ALL WINNERS on my blog!

Now for whatever reason I usually wait until I'm all done with a terrain project before blogging about it, but my current project is taking so long, I'm going to break that tradition and post a few pics showing my pair of Logar River terrain boards as they now appear, probably about three-quarters of the way to being completely finished.  All the difficult stuff is done, except for the resin-mixing and coloring and pouring and drying, which will no doubt be an adventure unto itself, but for now, I hope you enjoy this handful of pics showing the proto-boards en route to completion...

All that remains is to glue down sand and pebbles over the open ground-cover, then paint them, and fill the river channels with clear two-part resin.  All things considered, I think they'll be done before the end of the Summer, though whether or not I'll manage to also complete the far less complicated but still time-consuming 6'x2' Kabul River board by the end of the Summer is anyone's guess!  If not, hopefully I'll get that one done soon after, still in time for the 135th Anniversary of Charasiab this coming October 6th.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Verdant fields of the Logar Valley - via latex caulk & scenic flock

Though Afghanistan is known for being filled with arid and mountainous terrain, many of its valleys are incredibly green and fertile.  Here's a good example:

The October 6th 1879 battle of Charasiab, was fought over arid foothills and rocky heights, but also over a good deal of green farmland.

After using Google Earth to study the Charasiab battlefield for some time, I realized much of it was -- and still is -- covered with this type of terrain:

...and an even closer view:

The same thing is gleaned from reading contemporary accounts of the battle.  In General Roberts autobiography, he describes it thus:

"...In front of this formidable position were a succession of sandy hills, forming a series of easily defensible posts, and at the foot of these hills ran a bare stony belt, sloping down to the cultivated land surrounding Charasia and the hamlet of Khairabad. "

(selection highlighted by me)

As seen here, the one contemporary illustration of the battle which I'm aware of, when tinted with color, has its share of GREEN FIELDS surrounding Charasiab village, just as described by General Roberts...

My Maiwand Day terrain boards were built to recreate a battle fought on July 27th, 1880, at the height of the Summer, during an especially dry season.  The only green on that battlefield was the handful of trees lining the dusty road connecting the twin villages of Mahmundabad and Khig, and the scrub brush scattered across the Maiwand Plain.

So, if I was going to make my table resemble Charasiab battlefield, I needed to add some farmland.  As visible in both period illustrations and the satellite view courtesy of Google Earth, the arable land in this area is divided up into many, many small holdings.

This raised several questions/issues... in reality each field is surrounded by a wall of stone and/or mud-brick.  Should I recreate those?

None of the contemporary histories of the battle that I've read make any mention of Anglo-Indian forces having difficulty traversing the walls or irrigation ditches which lined the fields, so I decided to leave the property line "dividers" out.  But I still wanted the fields themselves.  They were there, and still are there, so in order for the miniature battlefield to accurately resemble the real one, it needs to have them. I could potentially treat movement across them as open terrain, or assess a slight penalty, or even treat them as rough terrain.  My guess is I will have them assess a slight movement penalty.  In TSATF or 800 Fighting Englishmen, perhaps DROP THE LOW DIE FROM MOVEMENT ROLL.  Doing this will also give more than aesthetic purpose to the roads that wind their way through the crop-fields.

Virtually every valley in Afghanistan sports green crops, so once I'm done with these fields for Charasiab, they should prove useful for many more scenarios.

My requirements for these fields included:

1)  Look pretty good.  

Doesn't mean "museum quality" or even "diorama quality" but it means anyone glancing at the table should instantly know what the model terrain represents, and that is at least equal in quality to those elements of the table that already exist.  I don't want this new stuff to bring my table down, so to speak.

2) Be very playable.

Looking good counts for nothing if single-based figures (as per classic TSATF rules) are unable to traverse the terrain in question.  Although you might not know it from reading this blog over the past couple of years, I build stuff to play games on, not just to look at!

3) Be resilient.

This goes hand-in-hand with number 2 above.  If the terrain can't stand up to being used -- and occassionally abused -- by a variety of players, than it's not worth building.

When I started thinking over how best to build these crop-fields, I was already in the midst of building the road network for the Charasiab layout.  I did some tests and ended up using white latex caulk.  But my first test was with BROWN latex caulk.  I decided to try using my remaining brown latex to make the base of a CROP FIELD, which I would then glue lines of scenic flock to in order to create rows of crops.  Most of us have seen this done many times using corrugated paper or hardboard or similar baseboard materials.  The problem with corrugated paper is that in my experience single-based figures don't stand up on it very well, and because it's so light, fields made from it can easily slip and slide and shift around on the tabletop while playing a game.  Hardboard bases might have worked, but they would have been thicker, and I would have had to do a lot of sawing, even if I'd made just a few much larger base boards and then turned them into a dozen or more different fields all based together.

My prototype field turned out pretty well, so I made some more.  This morning I dusted off the excess flock from the 5th and 6th fields I've built, laid them all out and took some pics.  I think 6 is just enough to get an impression of what 16, or 60, or however many I will have to make in order to cover the approrpiate areas on the table, will look.  I think they turned out okay.  Not brilliant, but solid enough to cover my three requirements of "not bringing down the quality of the table," being "easy to play on," and "standing up to wear-&-tear."

Usually I wait until I'm all done with a terrain project to post about it, and then include a ton of WIP "how to" pics.  I will post the WIP process pics for these when they're ALL done (who knows when that will be, as I still have A TON MORE to build!), but for now I just wanted to show how they turned out...

But before I get to the pics, I will tell you the VERY SIMPLE manner in which I built them, in case anyone wants to try...

(1)  squeeze out enough brown latex caulk onto a clear plastic surface (I used old plastic bags from the Dry-Cleaner, taped tightly over a piece of Masonite/MDF) to cover a 6"x6" or 8" by 4" or whatever size field you want to make;

(2)  smooth the caulk out, then use a hobby tool or popsicle stick or BBQ matchstick or similar to etch in some crop-crows (though you could easily just smooth the surface flat and use the scenic flock alone to create the crop-rows in the next and final step);

(3)  wait a couple of days for the latex field to dry, carefully peel it off the clear plastic, lay down some some parallel beads of white glue on its surface, cover with scenic flock or static grass or turf -- I've been making fields using each of those -- let dry overnight, recover excess flock, and your crops should be ready for harvest.

Here's a few pics of the first 6 finished products...

And finally, single-based figures standing, no problem...

...and a couple more bucolic farming shots for good measure:

5-12-14:  Just discovered a couple more nice pics, posting them for good measure...