SAM StationI wish I had a pound for every time someone has sent me a tip saying 'Hey! Styrofoam packaging makes really cool buildings'.

The fact is, they usually look like styrofoam packaging. Unless, like Salvatore, you finish it properly and detail it up. I'd be delighted to have this superb building in my collection. Lead on, Salvatore...

Packing manufacturers surely have model terrain in mind when they design these Styrofoam marvels! The benefits of saving Styrofoam packing material are threefold. First, the stuff is absolutely free (indirectly). Second, the shapes are so perfect for futuristic buildings that very little, if any, additions are needed. Finally, think of all the landfill space we could save if everyone made at least one wargames building from packing Styrofoam!


  1. Packing Styrofoam (an endcap, in this case)

  2. Joint compound

  3. 1:1 mixture of PVA and flat latex house paint (a pre-mixed jar of this is handy)

  4. Acrylic paints: black, white, boltgun metal

  5. Spray paint: flat black

  6. 1" bristle brush or spackling knife


  1. Haphazardly dab on joint compound over the entire outer surface.

  2. Lightly sand when dry.

  3. Seal with PVA/latex paint mixture and allow to dry.

  4. Spray paint flat black.

  5. Dry brush in light shades of grey.

  6. Highlight with white.

Missile Launcher Materials

  1. SAM launcherSuperglue

  2. 0.030" sheet styrene

  3. Plastic square tubing

  4. Plastic rectangular tubing

  5. 1/35 and 1/72 scale model tank bits

  6. Brass rod

  7. Wooden doweling

  8. Plastic bottle cap

  9. Frozen food or cereal box card stock

Missile launcher method

  1. SAM Launcher instructionsConstruct two boxes (or one box, if you prefer) using eight 2" pieces of square tubing. Join with superglue.

  2. Using superglue, cover the sides and rear of each launcher with .030" sheet styrene panels. Leave one end open to accommodate the missiles.

  3. Add some spare model bits for detail. A tank kit is my favorite source for bits.

  4. Join the boxes together with superglue. If you have a plastic bit separating the two boxes as in my launcher, drill a couple of holes and insert a brass pin for extra reinforcement before gluing. The diagram indicates all pinned joints in red.

  5. For the launcher rack, cut some rectangular tubing and join with superglue.

  6. Glue the launcher assembly to a plastic bottle top.

  7. Glue the completed launcher to a platform made from two layers of card stock.

  8. Spray paint black and dry brush boltgun metal.

  9. Missile construction: I used a mechanical pencil sharpener to shape the tips. You can try an electric sharpener, but it may not have the power to cut the doweling. Each missile measures 2.5". It is better to sharpen the dowel first and then cut rather than cutting eight pieces and then sharpening each in turn.

  10. Sand the missiles smooth.

  11. Paint the missile tips any color you wish (mine are codex grey).

  12. Add a dab of PVA to the bottom ends of the missiles and insert into the launcher tubes. Take care not to glob on too much glue at this step as is may drip onto finished surfaces.

Radar dish materials and method

This radar dish is a collection of junk, model tank parts, and a plastic bottle cap spray painted black and dry brushed boltgun metal. The assembly is glued to a platform made from two layers of card stock.

SAM Station Side of SAM

Rear door and side doors-materials and method

The rear door and side doors are thick card stock spray painted black and dry brushed boltgun metal. The rear door details are model tank bits, hinges are plastic rod, and the handles are bent brass rod.

Ladder materials and method

Rear of SAMThese are O-scale ladders made by Plastruct. I heated the tops of the ladders over a candle flame and bent them with tweezers to create the look of hand-holds. As you may notice, the tops are not exactly even.

Heat-shaping plastic is not an easy task, especially with these thin ladders. I recommend a paint-stripping gun. It will heat the plastic in a more controlled manner than an open flame. The ladders were spray painted flat black and dry brushed with boltgun metal. I have elected not to build a base for this piece so it can be used with any variety of terrain.

This SAM site is the second in a series of armed fortifications I am building.

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