Category Archives: Scenery and Terrain

Museum Siam

Opened in 2008, the Museum Siam features state-of-the-art displays primarily aimed at kids (think lots of games, interactive screens, and photo props). While it doesn’t quite achieve its self-professed mission of deconstructing Thai national identity, the museum does offer a number of fantastic dioramas.

Of these, the most impressive are the three that depict the long-destroyed kingdom of Ayutthaya that flourished between the 15th and 18th centuries.

Some of the set-ups wouldn’t look too out of place on a WWII tabletop.

This drum tower probably won’t, however.

Whereas this warehouse is too Thai (and of a style that had probably disappeared by the 1920s).

Piers like this, on the other hand, still exist, and can probably be found elsewhere in the region.

A large samurai contingent existed in 17th century Siam, for the sharp-eyed among you are wondering about the presence of kimono-wearing figures.

There is a massive diorama devoted to early 20th century Bangkok. Sadly it lacks the craftsmanship of the previous diorama.

Funnily enough the semi-fascist period that saw the refinement of modern Thai nationalist thought is only briefly glossed over.

The examples of Thai Second World War propaganda more than make up for it though.

My favourite of the bunch: the June 1941 cover of Modern Thai magazine celebrating the annexation of territories gained at the end of the Franco-Thai War.


Colonial Architecture of Indochina: Savannakhet

Lying astride the mighty Mekong is Savannakhet, Lao’s second largest city and the birthplace of Kaysone Phomvihane, the bullnecked éminence rouge of the Pathet Lao. A good embodiment of what Martin Windrow calls “the ultimate Buddhist languor of Laos” (a rather orientalist comment if there ever was one), Savannakhet has a wonderfully atmospheric old quarter graced with colonial mansions and shophouses. Sadly the chief reason for their existence is poverty and not conservation, and apart from a few beautifully restored ones it’s unlikely they’ll see out the decade.





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Colonial architecture of Malaya (part II)

Housed in a magnificent printing house built in 1899, the recently-opened Kuala Lumpur City Gallery offers an impressive diorama showing what the city centre would have looked like back in the day.



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Malayan architecture

All wargames-related activity have ironically been suspended ever since my moving to the Holy Land of wargaming; that being said, this blog still warrants a long-overdue update. So here are a bunch of displays present in the various museums that dot Melaka’s old quarter.





But because Melaka’s something of a time capsule (not unlike Luang Prabang and Hoi An) equally inspiring examples can be found outside on the streets:

Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre

A small but spectacular museum dedicated to the Siamese capital’s 17th Century heyday. Hopefully these amazing dioramas will inspire a few gamers to put in a little more effort on the accuracy front (no giant Buddhas plopped in the middle of a field please!).



More jungle pieces. Note that many of them have yet to be flocked.

A wargamer’s guide to Burmese architecture

While browsing through pictures taken at 2007’s Historicon I came upon this extremely annoying photo:

Mark Hayes’ Battlefront game portrayed the British attack on Pagoda Hill in Mandalay in 1945. See those three pagodas there? Yeah? Well, they are absolutely ludicrous. Why? Well, because it’s dead obvious that they are Chinese pagodas.

So? Imagine having a Russian church on a tabletop that’s supposed to represent Normandy or Sicily. Know what I mean now?

So here’s a short little something on the architecture of Burma.

Traditional Houses
Traditionally-styled houses were set up on a raised platform, which allowed for one to stay cool below the structure on extremely hot days. Until the British came most residences were built with wood (particularly timber) and bamboo.

Wealthy people had houses that had decorated windows, doors and shutters. A good example of such a house is that of Kinwun Mingui U Kaung (pictured below), which is made up of a complex of pavilions set on a raised patio.

Rural farmers often had much simpler homes, which were set up on stilts, had woven walls and roofs made of sun-dried grass.

Monasteries, Pagodas and Stupas
I’m sure the following images can speak for themselves.

Many wargamers seem to have a penchant for setting up Buddha statuettes – many of them oversized and too Eastern-looking (i.e. Chinese or Japanese )  – smack in the middle of a field on the table, exposed to rainfall , when they should instead be located under a pavilion’s roof within a monastic complex (unless it’s a ruined one). Of course, oversized Buddhas do exist, but, like Rio’s Christ, they are more the exception than the rule. More ubiquitous are stupas and spirit houses, but to date I have seen very few gamers do them. Compare this to those who bother getting the layout and buildings of the area around Oosterbeek or Pegasus Bridge correct.

Lastly, here’s a couple of pictures of Mandalay’s palace.

Note: this was originally posted on one of the The Guild’s older incarnations.