I visited a local model railroad shop yesterday and sourced some new styrene tile sheets to experiment on some walls for the legation compound. You can see the results below. I decided to cut the walls from solid wood, 1/4" thick and 2" high. There were a couple of reasons for this. First, I wanted something more solid and durable than foamcore. Second, I wanted to screw and glue the walls to the base. Yes, glue and screw. Normally, carpenters glue would suffice but the base in this particular case is 18" x 6". By screwing and gluing the walls to the base, I hope to avoid most (if not all) of the inevitable warping on a base of this size. It was bit tedious to drill pilot holes and put in the screws (from the bottom, obviously) but the end result is as solid as I think I could make it. An added bonus is that all the walls are a uniform height (more so than I could ever achieve with foamcore, even with the most careful cuts).The wall caps are two strips cut from the new tile sheets and hot-glued at angles. A single strip from the sheet has been added along the top to cover the join.
An end view of the wall mounted on mdf base. Here you can see the small strip of balsa I glued to the top of the wooden wall to provide an angled base for the tile strips. I struggled for a bit about this. I first tried cutting a long strip of card and scoring it down the middle to crate a tent the length of the wall. I could then glue the tile sheet over it. This didn't work so well and I came upon the simpler solution shown above.
Another shot of my first attempt at wall capping. Here you can see the corner posts of 1/2" square dowel. These will be capped with suitable ornamentation. And the walls will be suitably textured (stucco of some sort, I think).
The other end of the base, showing temporary corner caps. The gap in the wall will have a small wooden gate (or a wrought-iron version, if I can find something suitable from which to build it).
The entire base. You can imagine how a base of this length could warp significantly. Hopefully, I've mitigated the possibility with the screw & glue.
So why a base 18" x 6"? Good question. After putting the legation building and Chinese cottages together to see how they could be arranged on a base, I realized the whole complex would need a base 18" x 24". My favourite plastic storage boxes can take a maximum base size of 18" x 12" and a 18" x 24" unit would be a real pain to move around. "Simple," says I. Make two 18" x 12" bases that fit together and store in two plastic cases. Then, of course, the megalomaniacal side of my brain took over (ask people about my D-Day game and the 12 feet of beachfront!). If I could make two more 18" x 6" bases, I could have four bases, all with outer walls on three sides and an open fourth side to match up with any of the other bases. I could then have two 18" x 18" walled compounds, or one 18" x 24" and one 18" x 12". Make sense? Maybe some pictures to explain...
The full 18" x 24" compound. You can see the base split down the middle and the spot for the planned main gate (front right of the picture).
The same two pieces shifted apart to show the split more clearly.
The new 18"x 6" base married to one of the 18"x 12" bases.
And the same two bases shifted to show the split.