Turning Toys into Terrain

Want some beautiful, big terrain pieces on the cheap? Let's make some magic with toys!

As evidenced by past posts, I love cheap and effective terrain solutions. This is certainly easier for smaller pieces, but thanks to the wonderful world of CHEAP PLASTIC COMMERCIALISM we’ve got some really neat options for low-cost, big-sized terrain in Star Wars toys.

However, you’ve got to be careful: the wrong size can look silly next to Legion’s 1:44(ish) scale.

Thankfully, the community has already identified several toys as being more or less in line with the 1:44(ish) ratio. None of them are perfect, per se, but with a little imagination (and perhaps a bit of plastic abuse) they’ll fit right in. (As a reminder, I never collect affiliate or referral fees for links like these.)

To-Scale Toys71Tx6fU6ILL._SL1500_

Legion Units

You could, of course, also buy additional Legion units to use as terrain or wreckage.

X-Wing and Armada Miniatures

And if you, like me, made the jump to Legion from a game like X-Wing or Armada you may not need to buy anything at all. With just a bit of creativity…51r0ja7zkPL

Today, however, we’re going to focus on just two pieces. First, creating a centerpiece from the large TIE Striker toy as a to-scale crashed ship. Second, creating a small hologram from one of my old X-Wing Miniatures TIE/FO units.

Let’s take a look.

A Striking Centerpiece

The TIE Striker, first featured in Rogue One, functions both as a really pretty toy from a purely aesthetic standpoint and as a perfect piece of terrain for a miniatures game thanks to its large, flat wings.

In a pinch, you could pull this right out of the box and plop it on a table, but with just a bit of elbow grease we can really make this an excellent centerpiece for any terrain set-up.

First, use a screwdriver to remove the foam dart holders under the wings. The launcher on the bottom of the model doesn’t come off easily, but we can also ignore it.

AMYQS1001_1Second, give the whole thing a bath in Nuln Oil, Army Painter Quickshade, or your own homemade wash. Don’t worry about precision here – two coats generously applied should give the whole thing a gritty, sooty look that fits in much better with a warzone. Paint the cockpit windows, too – even a light covering of black wash makes it look like the windows have been covered in soot from smoke.

Third, take a sponge and generously dab or smear on brown paint. Whether you want to say it’s grease or dirt, having the extra color makes the wash look more stark and provides some depth to the toy.

Fourth and finally, use a hammer and nail to punch some holes in the cockpit window. We want to tell a story here, and with a few small holes in the cockpit window, it becomes obvious that this TIE Striker pilot was shot down and crash-landed here. Maybe the battle is now waging over the valuable intel they had, or maybe it’s a rescue mission. Let your imagination run wild!

And voila, an eye-popping centerpiece that costs less than $30 USD in total to purchase and make over.


A Miniature Hologram

While I love X-Wing for bringing me into the world of tabletop miniatures, Legion is my one true love now. And since I never flew Empire anyway, I’m going to transform one of the TIE/fo fighters that I got in my sequel core set.

First, prime the whole thing white, making sure that you’ve got an extra clear peg. Alternately, you can prop it up with a pencil and some blue tack. Since X-Wing miniatures are pre-painted you could always just paint the whole thing white, but I found this to be a much quicker route.

screen_shot_2016-12-13_at_1.20.02_pm_0Second, paint the TIE a deep or royal blue. Most holograms in the Star Wars universe, as you probably already know, are tinted blue, beginning with Leia at the beginning of A New Hope. We’re going to approximate that look here.

Third, do a heavy dry brush on the miniature with a powder blue color, then do a very light dry brush with white on the most extreme edges. This will give the miniature some depth and at least hint at the striated white lines we see in the films, since doing that on a miniature level would be painstakingly difficult. We don’t need it to be perfect!

Fourth, find a spare pill bottle lid or an extra Legion/Warhammer base and prime it white, then paint it a color of your choosing. I’m going to use the same metallic grey that I used in my Corellian Shipyards tutorials, but go with whatever you feel like. If you choose a pill bottle top, make sure you’ve got a nice flat top to work with for the next part.

Fifth, paint a circle on the top of your base white, then feather in a little bit of blue around the edges of the circle. The best reference we have for these is in the Clone Wars cartoon, pictured below. We want to make it look like the base we’ve chosen is projecting the hologram from below.


Finally, use a nail to poke a hole in the top of the base, then mount your miniature on a clear peg and glue it down. It’s not perfectly levitating, of course, but this is the closest we’ll come.

And there you have it. Perhaps not the all-encompassing centerpiece like the Striker above, but it’s a nice and unique piece of terrain that you can throw onto a table as part of a larger set piece, or perhaps even a substitute objective marker.


I hope you enjoyed these tutorials and suggestions, and as always I would love to see your take on these creations in the comments below, on Facebook, or on Reddit!

Happy playing, Commanders.

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