Home Forums Terrain and Scenery Buildings for Mabila 1540

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    I recently finished two buildings for my 28mm Mabila 1540 project. Mabila was the town where the Great Sun Tuskalusa made his bid to wipe out Hernando de Soto’s marauding conquistador army in a surprise attack. I have been building armies and terrain for a Las Florida campaign for a long time.

    Both models were built from kits that I bought at the Sunwatch Village gift shop. Sunwatch is an archaeological park in Dayton, Ohio, site of an excavated and reconstructed Fort Ancient culture village dating from the 13th century. I highly recommend a visit if you’re ever near western Ohio:
    I’m sure a talented modeller could build freehand something that looked at least this good, but I was glad to work from the kits, ‘For age 9 and up’. I found them challenging enough.

    The piece on the left is a wooden post sundial, that was used as a solar observatory and calendar. This installation stood in the village plaza at Sunwatch. Similar post calendars have been found in Mississippian contexts, such as Woodhenge at Cahokia, so I will use this model in my Mabila.
    After gluing the balsa posts into the cardboard base, I painted and flocked the base and stained the posts with a thin black wash, to tone down the fresh yellow of the wood. Done. Simples. I threw out two sketchy paper ‘houses’ included in the kit, they were too poor to salvage. I judge the nominal scale of this model to be about 1/144 or 10mm, but without any size referents, it will fit into my 28mm collection. In fact, the reduced size is convenient for a wargame model.

    The nominal scale of this Fort Ancient House, modeled on those found in Sunwatch, is 1/32 or 54mm. It would work well as a dwelling for the Toob Powhatan Indian figures. Since it’s so big, I will use it as Tuskalusa’s palace, set on a low mound overlooking the town.
    My wife gave me a funny look one night as I worked on this model. “Are you actually gluing individual pieces of straw on that roof?” “Yes, I am dear.”, I answered levely, just as if that was something a reasonable person would do, every night for three months. They didn’t give me as much straw as I wanted in the kit, so I found an old straw broom that matched the color and texture, and cut it up for more stock. The kit instructions said to use hot glue throughout, but I used rubber cement to attach the broomstraws. Then I was advised that the rubber cement would give out after a few years. So I hosed the whole assembly down with Krylon spray Artist’s Fixative, and then killed the shine with Dullcote. I hope it will hold together as long as I do, which can’t be that much longer, after all.
    Although Fort Ancient was not a Mississippian culture, this style of architecture was commonly used in the Mississippian south, at Cahokia and elsewhere, so I’ll use it to model Mabila. Here’s an example reconstructed at Oconoluftee Indian Village in Cherokee, North Carolina, just over the Great Smoky Mountains from Gatlinburg Tennessee, another place well worth a few day’s visit:

    I improved on the kit instructions by making the roof detachable. There’s plenty of room inside for a real modeller to add detail like interior partitions and sitting/sleeping platforms, but I left my model empty, for ease of play and, um, because I’m not that skillful.

    I added these supports, so the roof would sit stable on the walls. The under structure of the roof is just a piece of copier paper, cut, folded and taped together. If I ever build another, I’ll paint the roof a dark brown instead of this yellow-buff, so that any little gaps in the roof straw appear to be shadow.

    You'll shoot your eye out, kid!

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