Plastic bonsai trees
I’ve been creating a lot of scenery for Sengoku period Japan recently, and I was looking for different ideas for trees, other than using plastic bamboo to make bamboo clumps (they look effective, but are a bit of a pain to construct) or using cherry blossom trees. Basically, I wanted something that looks different from a ‘standard’ wargames tree – something that says ‘Japan’ at a glance.
I spotted on one of the Facebook Groups I was in (I think it may have been the Test of Honour group, but I can’t be certain) that someone suggested using plastic bonsai trees – it seemed a bit off the wall, but I thought I would give it a go.
They are quite easy to find – if you search for ‘plastic bonsai tree’ on eBay you will find a few different ones.
It looks like most of these ship from China – they cost around £4 – £5 each, inclusive of shipping.
The tree comes complete in a plastic ‘pot’. It is easy to remove as it is simply glued into a piece of polystyrene which has been covered in flock. Once removed, you then have to cut off the plastic ‘screw’ from the base of the tree to give yourself a flat surface to work with.
Once that has been done, glue the tree to a suitable base – I used an MDF base with contact adhesive – and leave to dry thoroughly. Then it is simply a case of texturing the base, painting and flocking, and applying a light drybrush to the tree trunk to bring out the texture that has been moulded there. You don’t really need to paint the foliage unless you want to – it’s very similar, if not the same, to the material used artificial aquarium plants.
The result looks pretty good:
These trees are the basic green colour. They are available in different colours, most of which are pretty garish – you might just get away with the pink one?
However, there is a second style of tree which has some two-tone leaves. The trunk looks far more ‘unnatural’, but may well fit in with a more ‘fantasy’ type of setting:
Quick and easy trees with a Japanese theme – the only problem is storage, because they are actually pretty big.
Excellent find. They look a tad artificial, but a drybrush and matt varnish on the leaves may fix that. I could also see texturing the trunk would give a good result.
When I owned real bonsai trees, I had planned to turn them into scenery once they died (which happened all too often) by adding moss/flock to the branches. Sadly I never got round to trying it, but this is definitely the next best thing.